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Old Vic Theatre London

About the Old Vic Theatre

The Old Vic Theatre dates back to 1818, when it was first used as a playhouse and underwent several renames and refurbishments before settling in its current state in 1912 when Lillian Baylis took over management of the theatre. Baylis focused on producing Shakespeare at the venue and between 1914-1923 staged the Bard's entire First Folio – the first theatre in the world to do so.

The Old Vic was badly damaged during World War II, suffering multiple bomb explosions during the Blitz. In 1963, the National Theatre Company was formed at the theatre, led by legendary actor and director Laurence Olivier. The company remained at the Old Vic until 1976 when they moved their permanent premises on the South Bank. Many of the world's best actors performed on the Old Vic stage during this time, including Maggie Smith, Peter O'Toole, Judi Dench and Derek Jacobi.

The Old Vic celebrated its 200th birthday in 2018 with a major bicentenary season, which included starry revivals of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, Noël Coward's Present Laughter and an acclaimed adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which returns to the theatre every year for the festive season.

Plan Your Visit

The Old Vic Theatre is open throughout the day where patrons can enjoy the basement bar ‘Penny’ and cafe, as well as collecting pre-booked tickets. Pre-show service begins from 6pm where all the Old Vic Theatre’s bars open.
The Old Vic Theatre does not have a dress code and encourages attendees to wear whatever they feel comfortable in, with no expectation that this should be formal attire.
The Old Vic Theatre has air conditioning, ensuring the auditorium is nice and cool for patrons even on hot days.
The Old Vic Theatre has a cloakroom where patrons can check in coats and small bags for £1 per item. Please note large rucksacks and suitcases are not permitted in the auditorium or the cloakroom and you are advised to find alternative storage before the show.
As you enter the theatre, your bags will be checked by the security team. Please note that small bags and rucksacks are allowed, but large suitcases and holdalls are not. It is advised you arrive early to leave enough time for your bags to be searched.
The Old Vic Theatre has a basement bar and cafe called ‘Penny’ which serves a range of hot meals using sustainable and local produce. It also has a foyer bar that offers a range of hot and cold drinks and a selection of pastries, as well as bars in the Dress Circle and Lillian Baylis Circle. These bars are open in the daytime and after performances to non-ticket holders.
If Mexican is your thing, then Wahaca is a popular destination for pre-theatre dining, while Ristorante Olivelli is a local Italian favourite. Many theatregoers however choose to make the most of Penny, the Old Vic’s delicious cafe and bar located on the basement level and serving hot food all day.
With its proximity to Waterloo Station, there are a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets. The nearby Travelodge and Premier Inn offer comfortable stays without big price tags, while Park Plaza and Hampton Hilton Hotels both offer high class luxury that comes highly recommended.
The Old Vic Theatre was first opened in 1818, when it was called the Royal Coburg Theatre. Since then it has undergone multiple renamings and redesigns, resulting in the theatre that we know today.

Help Booking Tickets

All tickets can be collected from the Old Vic Theatre between one hour and thirty minutes before the show starts. If you have E-Tickets, you will not need to collect these but can use these directly.
The Old Vic Theatre Box Office is open all day, where you are able to book and collect tickets in person. An hour before shows start the box office primarily deals with ticket collections and sales for that night, so it is advised to avoid these periods for advanced bookings.
STAR (Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers) is the industry body that regulates the sale of London theatre tickets, including the Old Vic Theatre. When booking from a company you can check the STAR ticket seller database to see if they are registered and conforming to STAR practices. When buying online, you should also check for the padlock in your browser URL bar to ensure the connection is secure.
You can directly contact the Old Vic Theatre’s box office by calling 0344 871 7628, with calls being charged at normal geographic rates.
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