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Friday Rush: the new way to get last-minute tickets for performances at the Royal Opera House

Please note: There will be no Friday Rush on Good Friday. Tickets will go on sale at 1pm on Thursday 13 April instead.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

2 September 2016 at 1.01pm | 42 Comments

It’s often said that Britain’s national pastime is queueing. We spend almost six months of our lives waiting in line. That’s an average of 67 hours per year spent in foot-numbing limbo waiting at the supermarket checkout, bus stop and – until recently for Royal Opera House customers – the Covent Garden Day Tickets queue.

With the aim of giving our audience some of their valuable time back, we recently launched Friday Rush, a new way for our audience to book tickets to sought-after shows (even those previously sold-out) at short notice. As Friday Rush tickets are drawn from the lower price bands, the new scheme also offers a great way to buy lower-priced tickets.

The scheme replaces our previous Day Tickets offer, with three major improvements:

Firstly, our new scheme allows customers to book two tickets per person instead of the one offered previously.

Secondly, you’re able to book short-notice tickets at your convenience wherever you are, rather than getting up early to stand outside the theatre at the whim of the weather.

Thirdly, Friday Rush allows those for whom getting to Covent Garden on the morning of a performance isn’t an option the chance to book.

Opening each Friday at 1pm, the scheme offers the chance to buy up to two tickets from an allocation of 49 for each of the following week’s Royal Ballet and Royal Opera performances at Covent Garden. Full booking information for these performances, as well as a countdown until the next release, is available from our dedicated Friday Rush page.

Of course, some audience members will still want to buy short-notice tickets in person or over the telephone. And while for convenience, speed and to avoid disappointment we’d always advise booking Friday Rush tickets online, our Ticket Sales desk by the café in the Ground Floor Foyer will be open to facilitate purchasing of tickets through our new scheme in person as well as via telephone.

We understand that some members of our audience have been buying Day Tickets for years and that this is a major change for them, but over the years we have seen a decline in the uptake of Day Tickets for all but the most sought-after performances. Our Friday Rush is an attempt to make sure that these attractively priced last-minute tickets are as widely accessible as possible. Our first week of the changed system resulted in all of the released tickets being purchased, which would not have been the case if we were selling them as Day Tickets.

For more information, read our Friday Rush FAQs

We’d very much value your feedback on our introduction of Friday Rush, so do let us know your thoughts via the comments below. We will be online to answer any questions during the Friday Rush, so do get in touch on Twitter or via our Contact us form if you need any help.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

2 September 2016 at 1.01pm

This article has been categorised Off stage and tagged booking, Box Office, cheap, day tickets, discount, Friday Rush, sold out, tickets

This article has 42 comments

  1. Andrew responded on 2 September 2016 at 1:45pm Reply

    If the shows are sold out HOW can you offer ANY tickets , I don;t get it, so are you in fact lying when you say shows are sold out!?

    also this only benefits people who live in London. I live in Bournemouth and when I want to go to an opera I have to sit in front of my computer for hours on the day of sale... who thing seems very unfair to me...

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 2 September 2016 at 3:24pm

      Hi Andrew,

      The Royal Opera House used to hold back a small allocation of tickets for the 'Day Tickets' queue; these productions would be seen as being 'sold out', as only those turning up on the day for Day Tickets would be able to get hold of any. With the new Friday Rush system, we will hold an allocation for those booking online instead.

      This system is designed to allow anyone, regardless of location, to be able to purchase tickets in the same way, as not everyone has time or geography on their side to be able to come and queue up on the day for a performance. We are hoping that by offering tickets on a Friday lunchtime, it will enable audiences to plan a trip to the opera or ballet into their week ahead.

      Kind regards,


  2. Andrew responded on 2 September 2016 at 3:20pm Reply

    This seems like a great modernised replacement for the old day ticket system, which seemed arbitrarily opaque and inconvenient.

    Now when my friends say they want to go see something at the ROH, I can tell them about this rather than explaining how they are too late to see anything until the next season opens, so by then the actual show could be half a year away.

    As someone who doesn't live in London, a week is more than enough notice for me to find a train. Thanks ROH!

    • Maggie responded on 5 October 2016 at 12:59pm

      Andrew, you and your friends will not be able to see anything at the ROH unless you win the technolottery. It is not just a glitch in a new system (see comments from Will G, Cade, Charles Bell and David Glynn). The system has not been thought through, as you can see by the ROH's failure to answer Henry Millman's questions.

  3. Thanks, this is a great idea. I can't always book so far in advance and I am not keen on day seats because of the restricted view, and also because I don't live in London. This is a really nice chance for those who fancy seeing a sold out performance for the following the week. Will you announce which tickets will be available? (Hopefully seats with full views throughout the theatre!)

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 2 September 2016 at 3:35pm

      Hi Sy,

      There are 49 tickets available, in the Stalls Circle (sides), Amphitheatre (rear) and Balcony sections of the auditorium. The Balcony tickets are for standing places. Friday Rush tickets are displayed in the same way as other tickets in our online booking system, so you'll be able to see the available seats before booking. If a particular performance is not sold-out, then you will be able to see all other available tickets at the same time as Friday Rush tickets.

      Hope that helps!


  4. Nelson jones responded on 2 September 2016 at 3:35pm Reply

    As someone who doesn't live in London, I welcome putting day tickets online. But the tradition of holding back some tickets for the day of performance is a good one. Having an unexpected free evening - or wanting to attend on impulse after reading a good review, as happened to me recently - can't be an uncommon experience. I also predict that having all the tickets available in a Big Bang at Friday lunchtime, rather than every day, will result in multiple system crashes and unhappy customers. Will be interested to see what happens...

  5. Richard Davis responded on 2 September 2016 at 3:39pm Reply

    While I can accept the geographical argument not everyone is going to be in a position to sit in front of a computer at 1pm in the afternoon.This system also fails to take into account (and it's a common failing nowadays) that not everyone has Internet access.

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 2 September 2016 at 3:50pm

      Hi Richard,

      We recommend where possible that Friday Rush tickets are booked online. For those unable to book online, these tickets may be booked over the phone or in person as soon as they are released on Friday at 1pm.



  6. Seiko responded on 2 September 2016 at 3:49pm Reply

    Bravo! I am thrilled to read this news. It makes it so much easier and convenient to get tickets for upcoming performances a week in advance. Glad to know that location of the seats will be shown just like the normal online booking system. Thanks a lot for your efforts!

  7. Keith Adams responded on 2 September 2016 at 10:42pm Reply

    A disappointing fix to a situation to which ROH could have made a more imaginative and helpful solution to. Yes it will be a Rush, but does it need to be? I have been fortunate to regularly queue for tickets confident that if I arrive early I can not only get a ticket but also my favourite standing place. Nevertheless, over the past year I have been aware that the numbers of people queuing have been reducing leading to unsold tickets. The sensible solution would perhaps have been to encourage new audiences to by putting the tickets on sale at an earlier time to enable those who have to arrive at work or college before 10.30 to buy at say 8.30.

    On a personal level, I have already purchased a seat for my wife for two ballet performances in October and December confident that I could get a standing place on the day, Now I may not be able to. I shall also miss the wonderfully idiosyncratic box office individuals.

  8. Chris Edwards responded on 3 September 2016 at 9:31am Reply

    Marvellous idea for those unable to attend in person; pleased to read that the option of phone and in person bookings are also available. For the more popular performances there will still be those that miss out however this appears to be a fair system, time will tell. Good luck with it.

  9. Kevin responded on 5 September 2016 at 10:28pm Reply

    Just to say that the old day tickets were very convenient for tourists and foreign visitors.

  10. Elizabeth Chan responded on 7 September 2016 at 8:58am Reply

    Will the sale of day tickets continue? This is very useful to brief visitors to London who could not have organised their entertainment a week ahead in advance.

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 7 September 2016 at 9:36am

      Hi Elizabeth,

      Friday Rush replaces the day tickets we used to offer. You may of course still visit our Ticket Sales desk in person to purchase tickets on the day of a performance, subject to availability, but the tickets available here will be no different from the tickets available online. Understandably this will have an impact on brief visitors to London but we'd urge anyone visiting to plan their trip a little further in advance and try for Friday Rush tickets, which will offer a cheap, flexible and relatively last-minute alternative for newcomers and regular patrons in comparison to booking months in advance for a performance when it goes on sale.



  11. It is a pity that this will not apply to the Oreste. All these performances were sold out even before Friends had a change to get hold of a ticket, let alone a member of the general public. No 'day' seats for these and never ever a chance of getting a ticket. Lets hope that the BBC radio 3 broadcast it so that we can at least get to hear it.

  12. Eastendelle responded on 9 September 2016 at 8:50am Reply

    I do not understand why one has to replace the other-day tickets availability is a strong signal of a place open to all audiences regardless of origin or IT literacy. if you show up it means you care, what does it mean to get a closed door then?

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 9 September 2016 at 11:38am


      We understand it takes effort to turn up in person on the day - and appreciate our audiences taking the time to show they care! It is, however, sometimes too much to ask for those who live outside of London, or who have to be at work, to queue in person. We've made these changes to ensure our performances are open to as wide an audience as possible, not only those who can turn up on the day.

      For the less IT literate, tickets from the same allocation may be booked over the phone or in person as soon as they are released on Friday at 1pm, although we would recommend booking online where possible.

      Thanks for your comments,


  13. Coppelia responded on 9 September 2016 at 1:14pm Reply

    Did you have to buy the tickets via the Friday Rush webpage? As I couldn't see any extra tickets appear when just looking at then normal production buy tickets page?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 9 September 2016 at 1:26pm

      Hi Louisa,

      You don't have to book via the Friday Rush page (you can go directly to individual production pages each Friday at 1pm). The Friday Rush page is intended as a quick overview of what's available each week.



    • Will G responded on 9 September 2016 at 10:43pm

      It was glitchy. Didn't work for me either. Will try again next week.

  14. Coppelia responded on 9 September 2016 at 1:17pm Reply

    Just to feedback to you, on the Friday Rush page it says I'm currently signed in as a 'student' when I'm not a student.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 9 September 2016 at 1:24pm

      Hi Louisa,

      Thanks for flagging - our technical team are looking into this glitch.


  15. Cade responded on 9 September 2016 at 5:28pm Reply

    Tried to book - on-screen error messages at each attempt for seats showing as available - N.B. not 'sold' or 'unavailable' notices but site 'error' messages. the site wasn't even fully functional at another crucial booking moment ! - what a terrible roll out.
    Two tickets means in practice reducing the customer base for the new fewer 'near-time-performance' seats. A ROH 'Box-Office-Lite' solution: an institution finding a solution to the former day ticket issue more to suit itself rather than find a better and truly wider public access one. Effectively restricting the customer base for live performance isn't progress especially alongside the ever rising seat prices.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 13 September 2016 at 3:44pm

      Hi Cade,

      Apologies that you experienced problems booking Friday Rush tickets. Our technical team have been working to resolve these issues for future weeks' releases



  16. Joy Lambrick responded on 10 September 2016 at 11:38am Reply

    I think this is a great idea as long as you also keep it open to people booking over the phone or in person. A couple of years ago my Mother discovered too late that Carlos Acosta was dancing Lescaut in Manon which she would love to have seen. She lives in Dorset and she would have been too frail to make the journey early in the morning and queue on the day. This way she might still have stood a chance of getting a ticket. On a similar note are you able to publish yet who is dancing Widow Simone and when for Fille please? Your production pages still say TBC except for the two principles but this is a really key role too. I already have seats but would book again just to see certain artists dance this role. Many thanks.

  17. Charles Bell responded on 16 September 2016 at 1:09pm Reply

    Was on the site at 1.00pm exactly. No tickets available at that time, except for performances not sold out.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 16 September 2016 at 5:54pm

      Hi Charles,

      Did tickets subsequently appear?

      Thanks for alerting and sorry experienced difficulty booking - I've passed this to our technical team.



  18. Henry Millman responded on 23 September 2016 at 1:40pm Reply

    Why am I not suprised I stayed home for nothing today when I decided to play your new Friday lottery game? Though I've never wasted money on a lottery ticket, I was gullible enough to waste half a day at home in order to be online at 1:00, knowing the notional allocation would be gone the instant I clicked, even if I clicked instantly at 1. When I used to be in rather than on line, sometimes as early as 7 on Floral Street, I knew where I stood and didn't waste time when I saw I was too late.

    Could you or your associates in New York please explain the mechanism that determines how 25 clickers are instantly chosen among, say, 50 or 100 or 1000 simultaneous clickers? Can you give me any reason to think staying home again next Friday won't amount to spitting in the wind again?

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 23 September 2016 at 4:13pm

      Dear Henry,

      I'm very sorry you spent the day at home and did not manage to get a ticket. The system, although new, is not a lottery - it is a first-come-first-served allocation. There is, however, a risk of a slight lag on the tickets appearing for a small number of performances, if you are already on the site bang-on 1pm - which our developers are aware of and working on. This is only the third week of Friday Rush and while we'd like to apologise for your frustration today, we are also still ironing out a few small issues. Tickets are available on a mobile device, which might work as a compromise; alternatively, while we'd encourage people to buy tickets online, we will honour the Friday Rush allocation for those who turn up in person at 1pm on Friday, if that is a more convenient option.

      Apologies once again.


  19. Henry Millman responded on 23 September 2016 at 7:26pm Reply

    Dear Mel,

    Thanks for your prompt reply.

    I'm not reassured that you appreciate the practical consequence of the 'slight lag' or of the 'few small issues' you're still 'ironing out' in what you say 'is only the third week of Friday rush', i.e. the next-to-last week of the lottery for 'Norma'.

    If you've explained how what I called 'the mechanism' should work when it selects which of numerous punters to serve first when they've all appeared simultaneously, I've missed it. Or do they not all appear simultaneously on the stroke of 1:00? If the queue isn't recognized until that moment, does it somehow blindly form itself in the minutes––or hours––before then? Should someone who's willing to queue for hours on the pavement therefore log on to this site considerably before 1:00––or not?

    Even someone with no understanding of information technology understands that its spiffiest new wrinkles sometimes need ironing out. I ask you again to explain how this innovation is supposed to work in theory––in other words, how it turns what feels like a blind digital scrimmage into what you call 'a first-come-first-served allocation'.


    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 30 September 2016 at 11:21am

      Dear Henry

      Thank you for your email, and apologies again for the disappointing experience you had during Friday Rush.

      Although we check new functionality thoroughly before we release it, bugs can appear in the live environment with real users, and this has been the case with Friday Rush. This means that there can be a delay in tickets appearing on the site, and so tickets can still appear as sold out, even if they are available. We are working on fixing this issue and hope to have it resolved soon, but in the meantime you can still use the telephone to book if you are unable to see the tickets you are looking for online.

      Sorry again that your first experience of Friday Rush was negative. We intend to have it working smoothly in the coming weeks.

      Best wishes


  20. David Glynn responded on 30 September 2016 at 1:27pm Reply

    It is unforgiveable to replace the excellent Day Ticket system with a system that you admit has bugs. It's all very well for you to say that it will be working smoothly in the coming weeks. In the meantime that is little consolation for those of us who have spent tens of minutes constantly refreshing the screen, driving up our blood pressure in the process, and totally failing to even see a potential ticket for Norma.

  21. David Glynn responded on 30 September 2016 at 1:34pm Reply

    Henry Millman's questions regarding this new disastrous system are absolutely to the point. I am sure that he would appreciate an answer, which so far you have failed to give. I also would appreciate an answer to his questions.

  22. Maggie responded on 5 October 2016 at 1:11pm Reply

    Are there any "Friday Rush" standing places in Stalls Circle? These used to be my (and many others') favourite places when we queued for day tickets. Last year you took away this option. But both the new season brochures still include a symbol to indicate that there are some "Day Tickets" (not Friday Rush) available here. Is this a glitch in the printing?

    • Rose Slavin (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 6 October 2016 at 9:49am

      Hi Maggie,
      Yes, we no longer have stalls circle standing places in our Friday Rush. The only standing places for the ‘rush lottery’ are now in the Balcony; all stalls circle standing go on sale along with all other tickets. However, we do have 10 ‘rush’ seats in the stalls circle sides with restricted view.
      All best wishes,

  23. silvia responded on 15 October 2016 at 7:47am Reply

    Hi i would like to know if there will still be the possibility to queue for (cheaper?) day tickets the same day of the performance in the morning? (I'm interested in the performance the nose on the 4th of November.) Thank you .

    • Mel Spencer (Senior Editor (Social Media)) responded on 15 October 2016 at 11:44am

      Hi Silvia,

      Friday Rush tickets have replaced our allocation of Day Tickets, and they are released at 1pm each Friday. We will, however honour those who turn up in person at 1pm at the Box Office.

      These tickets are made available to buy for each of the performances in the following week, from Saturday to the following Friday, so for a performance on the 4th November, your best option is to check the website from 1pm the Friday before (28th October). The tickets are generally at the lower end of our price range.

      Many thanks,


  24. Andrew responded on 21 October 2016 at 1:35pm Reply

    Just got tickets for Anastasia and The Nose next week for £8.00 each with not even the hint of a glitch!
    So much better than shlepping up in the early morning with my folding chair and Guardian.

  25. Mauricio responded on 7 May 2017 at 8:56pm Reply

    At least I knew that getting in line at 4 in the morning I could get myself a ticket. Right now I see myelf with a plane and a hotel booked already and no tickets for Kaufman`s Otello because when I went online the day they were release at exact 9h I had already 1030 persons ahead of me , so when I was able t acces the buying screen all was sold out. Will this happen again the Friday Rush the tickets of Otello wiil be sold? How many hours do I have to be in my computer before 1 to be able to get a ticket? If I won't manage to get a ticket for this Otello this would be the first time It will happen to me; over the years I have managed to see artist like Florez; Alagna, Dessay who were as famous as Kaufmann is now and If I didn`t manage to buy them ahead I always managed to buy them at the box office the same day of the performance, even if that meant queuing for 6 or 8 hours, Honestly, I don't see this as an improvement, but rather as a lottery to see if you managed to get a decent place in line to get some tickets before they run out as it happened the day they were sold

    • Asher Korner (Former Assistant Content Producer) responded on 8 May 2017 at 10:20am

      Hi Mauricio, thank you for your comment.

      Sorry you have been unable to secure a ticket; as I'm sure you'll appreciate, demand for these performances has been very high. Tickets for our sold out performances are released as part of the Friday Rush allocation, released at 1pm on the Friday the week before the performances take place. We have found Friday Rush is the fairest way for tickets to be sold, to ensure the widest audience possible is able to secure a ticket. Please check the Friday Rush page for updates:

      Hope this helps, and all the best,

      Asher Korner

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