London theatre access information
We believe that everyone should be able to experience the magic of theatre.
So, we provide access information wherever possible for the theatres and shows we list.
This includes access telephone numbers, details of special performances such as BSL interpreted shows, and much else besides.
West End theatres
West End theatres generally provide a high-level of service and assistance for disabled visitors or those with special needs.
Some theatres have dedicated access teams and some, like the Apollo Victoria Theatre where Wicked is playing, have an Access Host who can meet you at the theatre and make sure your visit goes smoothly.
The video below describes what theatres in London's West End are doing to make theatre accessible to all.
Off-West End and Fringe theatres
Outside London's West End theatreland, there are a large number of theatres.
We have listings for over 100 of them!
Off-West End theatres can sometimes be almost as big as West End theatres and usually have excellent access provision, such as wheelchair ramps or lifts.
Fringe theatres can be quite small with perhaps only 50 or 60 seats, and they are often located in rooms above pubs.
This means that these theatres often have very limited provision for wheelchair users and those with other special needs.
Our advice is to always contact a theatre by telephone or email before you visit to check the venue's facilities and to advise them of your particular requirements.
Theatres provide a number of special performances for those with specific access needs:
Audio described performances
These are designed for visually-imparied theatregoers.
They provide a spoken commentary of a show which is delivered through a headset.
These provide text displays of spoken dialogue for theatregoers with hearing difficulties.
BSL interpreted performances
With these, a BSL interpretor will be in view during the performance to interpret the actors' spoken dialogue.
These are special shows where the aim is to reduce stress and anxiety, and provide a supportive atmosphere for those with autism spectrum conditions, learning disabilities and other sensory or communication issues.
The number of special performances is growing, so there are now many more opportunities for people with special needs to enjoy theatre.
Check our show listings for details of upcoming access performances, or see theatre websites for their latest access information.
West End theatres usually (but not always) have excellent access facilities for those who use a wheelchair and often provide special accessible seats in their auditoria.
Smaller Fringe and some Off-West End theatres are less likely to have lifts and ramps installed, so always check with theatres and advise them of your requirements before you book tickets.
Some theatres have dedicated access telephone lines to help meet your needs, otherwise you should call the theatre's box office to explain your requirements and you can then also book your tickets at the same time.
Most theatres welcome guide and assistance dogs and you can usually (but not always) take your dog into the auditorium with you.
Many theatres also provide a dog-sitting service, where your dog can be looked after by adoring staff in the manager's office.
Check with the theatre box office about their policy when you book your tickets and tell them of your requirements.
Booking theatre tickets
Many West End theatres have special access booking lines for people with special needs.
So, if you want to book for a special performance, or even a standard performance, give the theatre's access line a call to book your tickets and to get help with any special requirements you may have.
If the theatre does not have an access telephone line, then call the box office who will be able to help.
Some theatres have special ticket prices for those with special needs, and often provide a free or reduced-price ticket for a companion or carer.
The Society of London Theatre publish an access guide to London theatre three times a year called 'Access London Theatre'.
It includes listings for audio described, captioned and sign language interpreted performances, as well as venue information for over 70 theatres in London.
You can download a copy of the latest version of the Guide in pdf format, and you'll also find listings for upcoming access performances.
Some theatres, like the Harold Pinter Theatre, have downloadable visual stories to help visitors orient themselves before their visit.
You'll find the Harold Pinter Theatre's visual story here. and we indicate in our listings when a theatre has a visual or social story for you to download.
Disabled Access Day
Disabled Access day aims to allow people to try out new things at many different kinds of venues - theatres included!
A biannual event, the next Disabled Access Day is expected in March 2019.