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Friends Booking: How to ensure quick and easy ticket purchases

With high demand, tickets for some performances can be snapped up quickly.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Online Content)

11 June 2013 at 5.50pm | 38 Comments

Wednesday 12 June sees Friends booking for opera performances in the 2013/14 Autumn Season.

Following today's ballet on-sale, we'd like to offer a few booking day pointers. With the launch of our new website, and the lifting of the waiting room, the obstacle that stood in the way of buying tickets quickly has now been lifted. This means that rather than sitting in an online queue for an extended period you can book quickly – it also means that competition for certain productions, performances and areas of the auditorium can be intense.

If you're keen to avoid disappointment, it may be worth trying the 'Best available' option, which will avoid the possibility of competing with another customer for the same tickets. ‘Best available’ enables you to decide where in the auditorium you would like to sit and at what price, but ensures that you can book two seats together at the same time.

We also recommend ensuring your browser is up to date and that your cookies are cleared. Guides on how to do these, as well as which browsers are compatible, are available in our online help section.

If you experience any issues when buying tickets you can use the comment box below to contact us, or connect with us via Twitter.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Online Content)

11 June 2013 at 5.50pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged booking, Friends of Covent Garden, tickets

This article has 38 comments

  1. marilyn weston responded on 11 June 2013 at 7:21pm Reply

    at 10 prompt all tickets for ALL acosta ballets were sold before now have always manged one performance this was most upsetting

    • Ellen West (Head of Product Management) responded on 11 June 2013 at 11:01pm

      Hi Marilyn

      There still are tickets available for all of the Acosta ballets, but it may be that you were hoping for tickets in a particular area.

      You may well find that 'Best available' is a good way of ensuring that you secure tickets for your favoured area of the auditorium.

      Best wishes


  2. adrian cosker responded on 11 June 2013 at 9:13pm Reply

    very helpful, but it did not mention the exact time that friends booking opens - I know it says it in the leaflet sent out my mail, but it owuld be nice to have it here too.

    • Ellen West (Head of Product Management) responded on 11 June 2013 at 10:54pm

      Friends booking opens tomorrow morning at 10am.

      Best wishes


  3. AUDREY HUTCHINSON responded on 11 June 2013 at 11:41pm Reply


    • Ellen West (Head of Product Management) responded on 12 June 2013 at 10:06am

      Hi Audrey

      You need to have registered for the website rather than using a membership number. Have you managed to register and sign in?



  4. Miranda responded on 12 June 2013 at 10:25am Reply

    It's not true that Carlos tickets were sold out at 10. I bought tickets yesterday at this time, and true, the ones for the area I wanted were flying off the shelves but I did manage to get tickets at the price I had wanted. This new online booking service is SO much better and quicker than was the waiting room system. I have got access to tickets much much quicker so thank you web site makers

  5. Miranda responded on 12 June 2013 at 10:27am Reply

    Also the time for booking is always 10 am but it is listed on the ROH site and also emails are sent as reminders. The time was not listed in the magazine this time which was an oversight.

  6. Charmian Huggins responded on 12 June 2013 at 10:28am Reply

    The more efficient your website becomes, the harder I find it to get the ticket I want, and the more nerve racking the whole process. I am 81, I need a reasonable seat, not at the utmost distance from the stage. I used to love the side stalls circle over the orchestra but have not managed to obtain one of those for a very long time. Even if I am on line at the bang on moment, I don't stand a chance. Its very sad. I am sure many of your older audience feel the same way. Although a very long time Friend, half way back, or further, in the amphitheatre is the best I can ever hope for now. It is sad. If I feel like this, how must it be for the general public when their turn comes, or do you hold tickets back for them?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Online Content) responded on 12 June 2013 at 10:33am

      Hi Charmian,

      Sorry to hear about your disappointment. In order to ensure that you're online and the process is as quick as possible, we've made the recommendations above.
      In regards to ticket allocation, some are held back for public booking so it's worth looking again then - certain seats are in very high demand and so will have been snapped up quickly.

      Also, due to an issue with our system, boxes aren't available online at present and may be the kind of seats you're after. If you're interested in purchasing seats in a box, we'd recommend calling our Box Office team on +44(0)20 7304 4000 - they'll be more than happy to discuss ticketing options.


      Digital Content Producer

  7. Susy responded on 12 June 2013 at 10:44am Reply

    I agree it was difficult to get Carlos tickets, however, I was successful and the new system is so much better. Can you tell me what time public booking opens on 9th July?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Online Content) responded on 12 June 2013 at 11:16am

      Hi Susy,

      Booking will open at 10am.


      Digital Content Producer

  8. ScottA responded on 12 June 2013 at 10:59am Reply

    It's a shame some people are having so much trouble as I find the new website infinitely better than the old. It's gone from one of the worst booking experiences to one of the best, and I've managed to get the good cheap seats I want for everything. I post this not to gloat (maybe a little) but so that people aren't put off by the complaints. It's generally a pretty good system.

  9. Karen responded on 12 June 2013 at 11:00am Reply

    Frankly whatever 'technique' you use, as mere Friends you are now at the back of the queue. I do remember being able to get virtually any seat I wanted when booking opened even with the awful old 'waiting room' system. (There are only about half a dozen which I deem satisfactory so that's part of the problem!). Seems you need to upgrade to Supporting friend or above to get the good seats now (:

    Which is a cost I can't really justify sadly....

  10. Tony Boyd-Williams responded on 12 June 2013 at 1:07pm Reply

    Signed in at about 10.45 this morning and obtained immediate access to performance details and excellent seats for the performances required . Confirmation of bookings followed swiftly. Entire transaction most efficient and pleasurable. Many thanks!

  11. Enid Massingham responded on 12 June 2013 at 2:56pm Reply

    If there is no limit to the number of premium and supporting friends, mere friends do not have much chance of getting "good" seats. Indeed if there is no limit to the number of friends, the ordinary man in the street has little or no chance of a seat. This must surely be a way of increasing the price of tickets making going to the ballet more elitest.
    I very much wanted to see Alina Cojacaru. As she will not be dancing it was inevitable that there would be a huge demand for Carlos Acosta tickets

  12. kevin lavery responded on 12 June 2013 at 3:19pm Reply

    I am a Friend. Logged in successfully. Tried to book Nozze di Figaro in Oct. Tickets were "NOT ON SALE" although booking for Friends opened some days ago. Tried phoning to find out why, but was put in a queue and after half an hour waiting gave up as I had to go out.
    Not a good experience, Any suggestions?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Online Content) responded on 12 June 2013 at 3:24pm

      Hi Kevin,

      We'd suggest calling the Friends Office on +44 (0)20 7212 9268. They'll be best placed to help.


      Digital Content Producer

  13. CLARKE responded on 13 June 2013 at 8:08am Reply

    Tried all day yesterday to use your site to book.
    Fail to understand it, too complicated for older persons.
    Need a simple step by step that avoids computer-speak.
    Will book by phone!

    • Ellen West (Head of Product Management) responded on 13 June 2013 at 8:28am

      Very sorry to hear that. Would you like to let me know what difficulties you encountered? Would be keen to help (in plain language, not computer-speak!).

      Best wishes


  14. Peter Erdos responded on 13 June 2013 at 9:02am Reply

    Despite several correspondence since the last booking I am still unable to book my own seats with the most up to date "Firefox 20". By the time I get to Internet Explorer my choice of seats are gone. What is the secret? Internet explorer has pop up adverts which are difficult and long to get rid of.
    I am not a happy bunny!

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Online Content) responded on 13 June 2013 at 11:30am

      Hi Peter,

      We'd recommend contacting our Box Office team on - they'll be best placed to help you with purchasing tickets.


      Digital Content Producer

  15. Alexander Jacoby responded on 13 June 2013 at 2:29pm Reply

    Became a friend on Tuesday in order to book yesterday for the autumn season. Sadly, my basket emptied itself due to an unexplained "error" after I'd selected tickets for Elektra, Vespri and Parsifal! This is the sort of situation I became a friend to avoid. Although I did get tickets for all the shows I wanted, it means I'll be sitting right at the side for Parsifal, whereas my vanished basket had pretty much the best cheap seats in the house!

    Advice to everyone trying to book - pay for each show as you select it!

    One other thing - is there anywhere on the website that tells you which shows are restricted to two tickets per member? Two friends had asked if they might join me for Vespri and Elektra, but I went into the booking process as yet uncertain as to whether I'd be allowed to book three tickets. It turned out that only Parsifal was limited to two tickets per person, but it would be nice to know in advance where this limit applies.

    • Ellen West (Head of Product Management) responded on 14 June 2013 at 12:08am

      Sorry you had difficulties Alexander, hope that your booking goes more smoothly next time.

      You can see ticket limits laid out when you sign in to the website as a Friend and go to your account page (by selecting your name at the top of the page). You should be able to find the information listed there.

      Best wishes


  16. elinor williams responded on 18 June 2013 at 6:05pm Reply

    I have returned from holiday today and have just tried to book ticket for opera rehearsal Marriage of Figaro. It may be that all tickets have been sold -however I can't find out whether this is the case as don't seem to be able to see any info about rehearsal booking. Can you help?

  17. Sandie responded on 24 June 2013 at 12:26pm Reply

    I am glad I don't seem to be the only one who had a booking nightmare this time around. Needing four tickets for the Acosta/Osipova performance was awful; by the time you have loaded four tickets into the basket, somebody else has bought one or two of them and you have to start all over again. To make matters worse, having got tickets into my basket, then the system came up with 'unidentified error' and I had to start again. Tried for Don Q tickets instead and the same thing happened. By this time available seats for both performances were rows back from where I started. This happened several times so, although we managed to get tickets, we are much further back than usual. Disappointing and incredibly stressful. The waiting room was boring, but at least it worked.

    • Ellen West (Head of Product Management) responded on 24 June 2013 at 11:29pm

      Hi Sandie

      If you find it stressful to select a group of tickets on booking day why not go for the 'best available' option? This will ensure that all of your tickets are selected at once.

      Best wishes


  18. Sandie responded on 25 June 2013 at 5:01pm Reply

    Thank you for your reply Ellen. I have looked into 'best available' but you have no idea which seats have been allocated are until you check out. My husband has long legs and prefers an aisle seat. There is no 'preferences' option.
    I still had trouble with the 'unidentified error' on the system when trying to book two tickets to Don Quixote, so that was a separate problem again. Still, we stuck at it and got there in the end, but as I said before, several rows back from where we wanted to be

  19. Nick Byrne responded on 7 July 2013 at 7:17pm Reply


  20. Dr Celia Palmer responded on 1 September 2013 at 7:19pm Reply

    How do I find a Friends Booking Form please? I will be out of the country at the time Friends' Booking opens. I would like to book by sending in a form I cannot find one and the search facility does not help.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Online Content) responded on 2 September 2013 at 12:27pm


      We'd suggest contacting the Friends Office on +44 (0)20 7212 9268.


      Content Producer (Social Media and News)

  21. mrs c brandon responded on 28 January 2014 at 3:18pm Reply

    where do I find a booking form?

  22. Laura Tomlinson responded on 4 October 2015 at 5:57pm Reply

    I have been trying to sign in as a member since the 29th September to make bookings for January next year. Your site keeps telling me that I am signed in as a General member - I have renewed my membership as a Friend for a further year and it still says I am not signed in as a Friend - thus I have not been able to make any purchases

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Online Content) responded on 20 October 2015 at 12:25pm

      Hi Laura,

      I'd suggest calling the Friends Office on 020 7212 9268. They'll be best placed to help resolve this.


      ROH Content Producer

  23. King responded on 3 January 2016 at 11:27am Reply

    I have been a Friend for the past 2 years but not going to renew again - simply too stressful and I dread the thought of doing it. What a fiasco it all is.

    • Ellen West (Head of Product Management) responded on 3 January 2016 at 9:27pm

      Sorry to hear that is the case. If it is any consolation, we have been working hard on performance assurance for our systems and are optimistic about future on sales going smoothly.

      Best wishes


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