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Following official government advice theatres are currently closed to help slow the spread of coronavirus. For more information on cancelled performances click here.
Noma Dumezweni

How it all began

The Olivier Awards with Mastercard are not only world-renowned, they’re the most sought-after and highly regarded accolade in British theatre. The awards have always marked true theatrical greatness and celebrated excellence in the industry. However, they have not always been how we know them today.

In 1976, the Society of West End Theatre (now known as the Society of London Theatre (SOLT) created an eponymous awards ceremony to celebrate the very best performers and creatives in the West End. Among the winners were Alan Howard, Peggy Ashcroft, Penelope Keith and Jonathan Miller.




After that inaugural ceremony, things evolved quickly. In the second year, the number of categories rose from 12 to 16 and included awards for opera and dance. Since then, the number of awards given out has more than doubled with the 2017 ceremony announcing 26 winners.


The awards used the image of Sir Laurence Olivier in 1984


Though Lord Laurence Olivier was awarded the Society’s Special Award in celebration of his contribution to London theatre in 1979, it wasn’t until 1984 that the hugely acclaimed actor agreed to become the namesake of the awards. Not only did the name change, but the physical award did, too. Prior to 1984, winners would take home a blue Wedgewood urn, affectionately dubbed an ‘urnie’ rather than the bronze statuette of Olivier we know today.


The Olivier Awards at The Royal Albert Hall in 2017


Every year, the Olivier Awards is a glittering affair. To cater for the ever-growing number of attendees, it’s had quite a nomadic existence. The first was held at Cafe Royal on a wintry Sunday night in December. Since, it has been presented in ballrooms and theatres across London throughout the years including the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (from 2012 to 2016) and the spectacular Royal Albert Hall in 2017.


Kenneth Branagh is honoured at the 2017 Olivier Awards


A Special Award is given to a stand-out member of the British theatrical community at each ceremony. The list reads like a real who’s who of stage history. As well as Laurence Olivier, the award has been received by: Ralph Richardson, Joan Littlewood, John Gielgud, Alec Guinness, Peggy Ashcroft, Harold Pinter, Peter Hall, Judi Dench, Alan Bennett, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Alan Ayckbourn, Maggie Smith, Gillian Lynne, Michael Frayn, Nicholas Hytner and Kenneth Branagh.

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.