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A guide to the accessibility of West End theatres

Box office sign at a theatre

Are you looking for a great stage production or a top night of entertainment in the capital? Heading to one of London’s many incredible West End theatres is a great option. With a lineup of world-famous shows in some of the grandest theatres around, a trip to the West End can be fun for everyone.

But how accessible are West End theatres for those with access needs? This is an important question for people with disabilities, such as those who rely on stairlifts in the UK. This guide examines West End theatre accessibility, looking at just how accessible the theatres are and what some of the biggest venues have to offer.

Lyceum Theatre

The Lyceum Theatre is one of the most popular stages in the UK, thanks in large part to the award-winning production of The Lion King, which has been running at the venue since 1999. The Lyceum Theatre is a Grade II listed building with a seating capacity of 2,100. With origins dating back to the 1700s, the theatre was officially opened in 1834 after a short stint as the English Opera House.

Speaking about her experience visiting the Lyceum Theatre, Becca, from the blog Becca Blogs It Out, shares: “I love theatres. They’re always so pretty. The Lyceum Theatre is no different. We got there almost an hour early, but they have a bar, and no one minds being in a cosy bar, right? The staff were friendly and helpful, and the toilets were clean – what more could we want?”

Regarding the Lion King performance, Becca says: “This show is just wonderful. It was wonderful when we saw it 10 years ago and it’s still wonderful now. From the very beginning, you feel like part of the show. The costumes are amazing, and the cast is great.”

Accessibility at the Lyceum Theatre

  • Accessible entrance
  • Lifts to all levels of the theatre
  • A visual timeline app for people with additional needs, such as autism
  • Blue badge parking spaces close to the theatre
  • Signed, captioned, and audio-described performances of The Lion King are available
  • Assistance dogs are welcome
  • Concessionary tickets for wheelchair users
  • Six wheelchair spaces in the stalls
  • Accessible toilets
  • There are no low counters at bars or confectionery kiosks (however, refreshments can be brought to seats by staff).

When it comes to accessibility at the Lyceum Theatre, the venue offers all the basic facilities, such as accessible entrances, lifts, and wheelchair spaces. There are also unique offerings, like a special app to support people with additional needs, such as autism – the Lyceum is the first West End theatre to offer this service. There are also special access performances of The Lion King available, helping people with varying disabilities to enjoy the production.

Full Lyceum Theatre accessibility information.

READ ALSO: The most accessible attractions in London

London Palladium

The London Palladium opened its stalls in 1910 and has since put on some of the world’s best-loved productions. Owned by the legendary Andrew Llyod Webber, this Grade II-listed theatre has seen productions such as The King and I, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cinderella, Snow White, and Fiddler on the Roof. It has also hosted the Royal Variety Performance 43 times.

Accessibility at the London Palladium

  • Accessible toilets
  • Fully accessible bars and kiosks
  • Assistance dogs welcome
  • Step-free access from the street to the stalls
  • Accessible seating
  • The Royal Circle and Grand Circle are not accessible to those who require step-free access.
  • Wheelchair spaces are available
  • Access staff
  • Periodic-assisted performances are available

The London Palladium has a range of facilities in place for those with disabilities and access needs. There is step free access available for those who require it, taking guests from the street to accessible seating in the theatre itself. Due to the historic nature of the building, the Royal Circle and Grand Circle do not offer, step free access, however. For visitors who don’t want to transfer from their wheelchair to a seat, there are wheelchair spaces available at the end of certain rows.

Nina Grant runs an accessibility blog and has reviewed the London Palladium after a visit. Nina spoke to us about what the Palladium has to offer: “I was very pleasantly surprised by the accessibility of the London Palladium, built in 1910, which has done a fantastic job of making sure disabled patrons can get around and have an equal experience to everyone else. Like many other old theatres of the West End, it has a separate entrance for wheelchair users to avoid the steps up to the theatre, and a lift took us down to the bar area where the auditorium was accessible by both stairs and ramp.

“One thing that I was really impressed by was that they had a dedicated member of staff who was in charge of looking after disabled patrons for each performance, so they really knew what they were doing. The new Elizabeth Line stations also make it far easier to get into the West End using a wheelchair than before, so I get the impression that things are gradually opening up in more parts of London for disabled people. "

Full London Palladium accessibility information.

Dominion Theatre

The Dominion Theatre is a former cinema that opened its doors in 1929. It was the location of various movie premieres before becoming one of the most renowned venues for live productions in the 1980s. Since then, it has hosted the Royal Variety Performance on seven occasions and ran the enormously successful We Will Rock You production from 2002 to 2014. Dirty Dancing has also hit its stage, along with The Prince of Egypt, and other world-famous stage performances.

Accessibility at the Dominion Theatre

  • Dedicated access hosts are available
  • BSL, captioned, and audio-described performances
  • Step-free entrance
  • Stalls can be accessed via a lift
  • Accessible toilets
  • Designated access seats
  • Step-free access to the bar behind the stalls
  • The Nederlander Box is accessible from street level
  • Assistance dogs are welcome

When it comes to accessibility at the Dominion Theatre, efforts have been made to help disabled visitors enjoy performances despite the limitations of the building itself. There is step-free access from the street to the Nederlander Box, where wheelchair spaces are available. However, there is no step-free access to the circle seating area. Those who want to transfer to a theatre seat can find recommended spaces, and special access performances are available for those with visual and hearing difficulties.

Full Dominion Theatre accessibility information.

READ ALSO: Best movies for grandparents

Apollo Victoria Theatre

Not only is the Apollo Victoria Theatre one of the biggest West End venues, but it's also one of the very best when it comes to entertainment. The Apollo Victoria Theatre opened in 1930, starting off life as a cinema. It was converted to a theatre in 1981 and has been home to the hugely successful Wicked ever since its debut.

Accessibility at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

  • Wheelchair positions are available
  • Step-free access via platform lifts
  • Those who wish to transfer from a wheelchair can do so
  • Access hosts are available
  • Accessible toilets
  • Audio-described, captioned, and BSL performances
  • Assistance Dogs welcome

Regarding disabled access at the Apollo Victoria Theatre, Wheelchair users who would like to visit can find step-free access from the street to the auditorium via two platform lifts. Row F of the Dress Circle is the best spot for those with limited mobility, with wheelchair spaces and step-free access available via the lifts. There are also visual and hearing impairment services available at the theatre.

Full Apollo Victoria Theatre accessibility information.

Palace Theatre

For Harry Potter fans, there is no better place to be than the Palace Theatre. This beautiful venue is home to the immensely popular Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage production. The theatre offers its own Hogwarts vibes, making it the perfect location to enjoy this magical performance. The theatre has seen many great productions since it opened in 1891, including Les Misérables, which graced its stage for 19 years.

Accessibility at the Palace Theatre

  • Access side entrance
  • Wheelchair spaces
  • All seats are suitable for transferring from a wheelchair
  • Accessible toilet
  • No level access to the bars, but assistance purchasing refreshments is available
  • Assisted hearing system available
  • Relaxed performances

Those with limited mobility can find an accessible side entrance to the Palace Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue, though it is requested that such visitors make themselves known to staff at the front door 45 minutes before the show. There are steps and slopes to navigate to reach the stalls, but wheelchair spaces are available. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing can utilise the venue’s assisted hearing system – headsets are available on a first-come, first serve basis.

Full Palace Theatre accessibility information.

READ ALSO: Accessible guide to the UK's museums

An overview of West End theatre accessibility

This has been a glance at a few of the theatres, but how are West End theatres doing in general when it comes to accessibility? Nina Grant has reviewed a number of West End theatres from an accessibility perspective and, perhaps unsurprisingly, found that the standard on the whole ranges quite widely:

"I find the accessibility of West End theatres incredibly variable. Many of the famous older theatres are listed buildings, and there are limitations on what can be done to make them fully accessible (placed on them by Historic England), so it's a compromise between retaining original features and abiding by the Equalities Act.

“Some of the older theatres have put in alternative entrances to avoid stairs, which let wheelchair users in right into the auditorium, or even a viewing box, but there are still issues with available space and facilities - wheelchair access itself isn't much use if we can't also go to the bar or use the toilet!

“Theatres built in the post-war period of the 20th century or later tend to be far more accessible and, although I always research their accessibility before I attend, I never expect to encounter many issues in the newer theatres.”

Five of the best West End theatres

  • Lyceum Theatre
  • London Palladium
  • Dominion Theatre
  • Apollo Victoria Theatre
  • Palace Theatre

If you are looking to visit a West End theatre, these are some of the very best options. Hopefully, the accessibility information provided will help you determine if one of these venues is right for you. There are many wonderful theatres in the West End, so book your tickets and enjoy a fantastic evening of entertainment.

If you are looking to make your home more accessible, take a look at our straight stairlifts and curved stairlifts and book a free home assessment.


To read more about accessibility, visit our news section or read some of our other accessibility articles below.

This news article is from Companion Stairlifts. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.