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9 Tips for Visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London

9 Tips For Visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre In London

This post is probably only going to interest my London or close-by readers, but I still feel the need to announce it! Summer performances are coming to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre next month, and if you live around here (or are traveling here soon) and haven’t been to one yet, you need to go!

We have been to the theater quite a few times in London, even to a couple shows in the nicest theaters in the West End, but none of them, not a single one, came close to being as memorable as seeing a Shakespearean play performed at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. We went for the first time during last year’s summer season and saw Romeo & Juliet. I’d been waiting for that one to show up on the Globe’s schedule since we arrived here, and it did not disappoint. Just being in the reconstructed Globe Theatre (just a few feet away from where the original once stood) was an experience in and of itself, but watching my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays performed as it would have been for those watching it back in the 1600’s took it to a whole different level!

At Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, in the absence of elaborate sets and costumes, the focus is all on the acting. And the actors are amazing! They often play multiple parts and are very skilled at improvising when something unexpected happens, like a bird flying onto the stage mid-monologue. (Open-air theater – it happens!) Although I’m sure the performances are meticulously rehearsed, nothing about the play or our experience here felt formal at all. It was like we were being performed for as friends, not spectators. I really cannot sing the praises of seeing something (anything!) at Shakespeare’s Globe loudly enough. If you have even the remotest interest in theater, this needs to be on your to-do list in London.

This year’s summer schedule is already posted on the Globe Theatre website and tickets are available for purchase, but performances will not begin until the end of April. A quick look at the listed performances shows some pretty major plays coming up – Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, and The Taming Of The Shrew to name a few. Overall, we had a really good experience when we went to see Romeo & Juliet last May, but I’ve included a few tips below that probably would have made our visit a bit more comfortable if we’d known about them beforehand!

9 Tips For Visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre In London

9 Tips For Visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre In London

9 Tips For Visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre In London 9 Tips For Visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre In London

9 Tips for Visiting Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

1. Tickets for seats sell out fast, so don’t wait! I booked our tickets on the first day they were available to the public and we still couldn’t get three seats next to each other. That probably had a lot to do with the popularity of Romeo & Juliet and that we were booking for a weekend performance, but you’ll still have the best luck finding good seats if you book as early as you can!

2. Choose a daytime performance if your show is early in the season. It gets cold at night in London, even in May and early June, so for the most comfortable viewing experience, choose a daytime showing if you’re booking during the earliest part of the summer season!

3. If you have to go at night in April or May, dress appropriately. Look closely and you’ll see I’m wearing a pair of leggings underneath my jeans in the photo above! We went on an evening in May and it was freezing outside. I was dressed in my warmest coat, hat, gloves, and scarf and I was still shivering for most of the last hour of the show. Worth it, of course, but a nighttime performance in July or August would have been much more comfortable!

4. Choose standing tickets only if you are prepared to lose all feeling in your legs. I’m kidding, of course, but shows at Shakespeare’s Globe often run as long as three hours, so keep that in mind. Standing tickets are the cheapest for a reason! Although, they do have the best view of the stage, so if you’re young and strong, perhaps they’re worth it?!

5. Get in the front row of the middle gallery for the best seats. Besides the standing room just below the stage, there are three different galleries of seats to choose from at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. In my opinion, the best is the middle gallery – sitting here, you’re not so high above the stage that you’re looking at the top of the actors’ heads, but you’re also not so low that you’ve got the people in the standing area blocking your view. If you get in the front row of this gallery, you’ll also have the bar in front of you to lean forward onto. (Nice if sitting for three hours causes you as much back pain as it does me!)

6. Pay extra for a seat cushion. Speaking of pain from sitting too long. Reserve a cushion when you order your tickets online and save your back and rear end from the cruel and unusual punishment that is sitting on something akin to high school gymnasium bleachers after the age of 30. (Just me?) If you forget to reserve online, extras will be available to hire when you arrive at the theater.

7. Shows run rain or shine. Something else to think about if you’re considering a standing ticket. The seats in the galleries are covered, but if you’re in the standing area you’re going to get drenched if a rainstorm comes through.

8. Don’t take photos during the performances. It’s not allowed and there are people watching to make sure you don’t. Photos are allowed before, after, and during intermission. (I didn’t even bother taking my camera which is why the photos in this post are all grainy iPhone-quality shots!)

9. Mark your calendar to return next year and see something else. Because you’re definitely going to want to!

9 Tips For Visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre In London

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre: Website
Address: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT

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9 Tips For Visiting Shakespeare's Globe Theatre In London

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  • Zachary Tomlinson
    September 27, 2017 at 7:15 AM

    Thanks Sarah for your cool tips!It comes soon my grandma’s birthday as she loves a theatre very much I’ve recently decided to buy theatre tickets. It really helped when you mentioned the best seats are in the front row of the middle gallery and for extra comfort I can pay for a seat cushion. I’ll certainly consider these recommendations in order to make this evening unforgettable for my grandma.

    • Sarah Shumate
      September 28, 2017 at 3:47 AM

      She’s going to appreciate that so much! How kind of you! I hope you both have a wonderful time at the theatre. Very happy to hear my tips helped, too.

  • Mandy Southgate
    April 24, 2016 at 7:24 AM

    This is a great guide Sarah! I know many people who’ve had an uncomfortable night at the Globe so your guide will be a lifesaver!

  • rorybore
    March 25, 2016 at 4:42 PM

    Seeing a Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Shakespeare Globe theatre is a DREAM!!! I went to our Stratford Theatre quite a few times while at school in London Ontario…. and there is nothing like seeing Shakespeare live! But I cannot imagine in HIS actual theatre. If I had a bucket list — this would most certainly be on it.

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 27, 2016 at 6:15 PM

      I don’t have a bucket list either! At least not a formal one, anyway. I’ve got a lot of ideas in my head, so maybe that counts?

      • rorybore
        March 28, 2016 at 4:59 PM

        I don’t have a “formal” one either — I’d rather focus on what I have already done than dream about what might never be. But, that’s not to say there are not a LOT of things I would love to try. So it totally counts.

  • JasminCharlotte
    March 24, 2016 at 7:32 PM

    Ohhh yes thanks for reminding me!! We’ve been about 4 times and I’ve loved it every single one. Definitely need to book in for a few – I’m thinking Hamlet or Taming of the Shrew!

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 27, 2016 at 6:15 PM

      The Taming of the Shrew was one of my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays growing up. I would really love to see that one this year!

  • Sarah C C Bence
    March 24, 2016 at 2:58 PM

    I LOVE the globe. literally, love it. I’ve never bought seats before – only standing…if you go early you can get a spot and lean on the stage ;) Can’t wait for Midsummer Night’s Dream! Sarah xx

    • Sarah Shumate
      March 27, 2016 at 6:14 PM

      Leaning on the front of the stage would be the best “seat” in the house! But I’m still not sure I could stand that long without needing to do squats or something to keep circulation going to my legs. ;) Enjoy a Midsummer Night’s Dream!