The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
On the banks of the Avon, the Royal Shakespeare Theatre (RST), Waterside, Stratford-upon-Avon CV37 6BB (tel. 01789/403444; www.rsc.org.uk), is a major showcase for the Royal Shakespeare Company and seats 1,500 patrons. The theater's season runs from April to November and typically features five Shakespearean plays. The company has some of the finest actors on the British stage.
You usually need ticket reservations, with two successive booking periods, each one opening about 2 months in advance. You can pick these up from a North American or English travel agent. A small number of tickets are always held for sale on the day of a performance, but it may be too late to get a good seat if you wait until you arrive in Stratford. Tickets can be booked through Keith Prowse (tel. 800/669-8687 in North America, or 0870/840-1111 in England; www.keithprowse.com).
You can also call the theater box office directly (tel. 0844/800-1110) and charge your tickets. The box office is open Monday to Saturday 9am to 8pm, although it closes at 6pm on days when there are no performances. Seat prices range from £5 to £45. You can make a credit card reservation and pick up your tickets on the performance day, but you must cancel at least 1 full week in advance to get a refund.
Seeing the Sights
Besides the attractions on the periphery of Stratford, many Elizabethan and Jacobean buildings are in town, a number of them administrated by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (tel. 01789/204016; www.shakespeare.org.uk). One ticket -- costing £15 adults, £13 for seniors and students, and £7.50 for children -- lets you visit the five most important sights. You can also buy a family ticket to all five sights (good for two adults and three children) for £40 -- a good deal. Pick up the ticket if you're planning to do much sightseeing (obtainable at your first stopover at any one of the Trust properties).
Guided tours of Stratford-upon-Avon are conducted by City Sightseeing (tel. 01789/412680; www.citysightseeing-stratford.com), Civic Hall, Rother Street. In summer, open-top double-decker buses depart every 15 minutes daily from 9:30am to 6pm. You can take a 1-hour ride without stops, or you can get off at any or all of the town's five Shakespeare properties. Though the bus stops are clearly marked along the historic route, the most logical starting point is the sidewalk in front of the Pen & Parchment Pub, at the bottom of Bridge Street. Tour tickets are valid all day, so you can hop on and off the buses as many times as you want. The tours cost £11 for adults, £9 for seniors or students, and £5.50 for children 5 to 15 (children 4 and younger ride for free). A family ticket sells for £27. Tour frequency depends on the time of the year; call for information.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.