Ticketmaster staff choose their favourite theatre, music, comedy, sport and special events of the year.
As we reach the end of 2018, we look back on another year of incredible live entertainment. From emerging talent playing the biggest stages to the international superstars headlining stadiums, and from the largest sporting spectacles to stand-up comedians delivering hearty laughs, the last twelve months have been something to cherish.
With our dedicated Ticketmaster staff working across theatre, music, sport, comedy and special events, we asked our insiders to tell us what they fell in love with over the last twelve months.
Check out our democratically decided favourite live events of 2018, as chosen by Ticketmaster UK staff. And here’s to plenty more quality experiences to come next year.
Hamilton, Victoria Palace Theatre
Opening at the very end of 2017, 2018 was the year that Hamilton truly found its home in the West End. Welcoming sold out audiences across the last twelve months, the show also walked away with seven Olivier Awards including the coveted Best New Musical accolade. Now extended until at least the 27 April 2019, the tale of American founding father Alexander Hamilton looks set to go from strength to strength, continuing as one of the most celebrated musicals in West End history. [Find tickets]
Company, Gielgud Theatre
Twisting the original tale on its head by placing a female character in the lead, Stephen Sondheim’s Company has been met by a showering of five star reviews as well as acclaim for Rosalie Craig in the lead role of Bobbi. Directed by Marianne Elliot, and boasting one of the most exciting sets the West End has offered in recent memory (it needs to be seen to be believed), Company is as visually and audibly entertaining as it is life affirming. [Find tickets]
The Book Of Mormon, Prince of Wales Theatre
Consistently brilliant and ever timeless, The Book Of Mormon continues to wow audiences in the West End since its opened five years ago. Growing stronger every year thanks to its priceless formula, from the minds of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, alongside collaborator Robert Lopez, The Book Of Mormon shows no signs of slowing down come 2019. Hilarity is guaranteed. [Find tickets]
The Jungle, Playhouse Theatre
From a sold out run at the Young Vic, The Jungle – a telling of the creation, life and ultimate destruction of the Calais camp – transferred to London’s West End for a limited run in June 2018. Met with five star acclaim, and physically transforming the Playhouse Theatre, the play was as powerful as it was emotional. More importantly The Jungle encouraged reflection and thought over the fundamentals of humanity and the treatment of others.
Guys & Dolls, Royal Albert Hall
Live in concert for two days and nights at London’s Royal Albert Hall, Guys & Dolls brought a semi-staged celebration to the capital, directed by Stephen Mear and narrated by Stephen Mangan. Performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the live spectacle pushed the iconic music of the original New York tale firmly to the forefront.
The international superstar’s reputation world tour arrived in the UK and Ireland in June 2018, taking to Manchester, Dublin and London, with two nights at the vast Wembley Stadium. With friends Camila Cabello and Charli XCX in tow the live shows unfolded like a pure celebration of all-out pop, with Swift delivering music from her 2017 reputation full-length. With stunning production – including the now famed giant snakes – and a handful of special guests, it firmly cemented the so-called reinvention of Taylor Swift.
Jay-Z & Beyoncé
The OTRII tour reached the UK in June 2018, bringing global stars and power-couple Jay-Z and Beyoncé to the stage together. Across a 35 strong setlist, they delighted fans with their own solo material and a handful of collaborations. With Beyoncé bringing material from her smash Lemonade across the Atlantic, and Jay-Z recently unveiling 4:44, the live dates also coincided with the release of The Carters’ EVERYTHING IS LOVE collaboration. The epic screens, lights, fire and fully live orchestra helped push the magic to true brilliance.
Off the back of her brilliant Dirty Computer, Janelle Monáe arrived in the UK for a number of comparably intimate performances including two nights at London’s Roundhouse. A celebration of inclusivity, the shows proved to be a thing of beauty and acceptance. At a particularly powerful moment, Janelle invited a number of fans onto the stage to show off their dance moves, much to the joy of said fans and the crowd. A steadily rising star, the shows pushed Janelle right to the top. The sheer entertainment, and the shows jubilant atmosphere, were largely unparalleled. [Find tickets]
The rock legends performed a handful of huge shows across the UK, including two nights at London Stadium in June 2018. Blending blues with rock and roll, they proved the power of the music and performance, dazzling stadiums full of fans across the country. It was the camaraderie of the band members that truly elevated the shows as they joked and pranked, and took the audience with them for the wild ride.
Back in June and July 2018, Pearl Jam played two headline shows at London’s O2, having to postpone one of the originally scheduled dates due to illness. The July date, an in-person apology, saw the band perform for three hours, ignoring the turning on of the bright houselights and the long-forgotten curfew. 33 songs in length, the show was a sheer triumph and a celebration of an illustrious career. “This is our last gig,” vocalist Eddie Veddor proclaimed referencing the tour, as an apology for having to cancel the previous show due to a lost voice. “There’s no reason to save our voices because there’s no tomorrow.” Ending with a smashed guitar stand, it was a fitting close to a powerful show.
2018 has been quite the year for comedian James Acaster, who now boasts four Netflix specials to his name. Fans can indulge in his characteristic humour on his Recognise, Represent, Reset and Recap four-parter. But the year also saw Acaster take his brand new show Cold Lasagne Hate Myself 1999 on the road. The routine saw him discuss the importance of the year in the title, and contrasted it with his painfully difficult 2017. Acaster delivered observational comedy at its best. [Find tickets]
Borne out of the ever-influential RuPaul’s Drag Race series, Christmas Queens brought together Asia O’Hara, Blair St. Clair, Eureka O’Hara, Kameron Michaels, Manila Luzon and Sharon Needles and more, all hosted by season eight winner Bob The Drag Queen. The show offered festive fun like little before, camped up to the max for sheer, unadulterated fun.
Flight of the Conchords
The summer of 2018 saw the rescheduled performances by New Zealand favourites Flight of the Conchords. Combining surrealist comedy with music, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement delighted as they took to huge stages across the UK, including four nights at London’s Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. Favourites from the cult TV show were mixed with new songs, and a notably freshness and a relevance that has kept Flight of the Conchords alive.
Winner of this year’s Ticket of the Year fan vote, comedian Kevin Bridges brought his The Brand New Tour to venues across the UK, including a record breaking 18 night run at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow. His conversational tone took on topics such as Brexit and Trump, as well as the everyday issues that face families and individuals. His comedy was then – and remains – top class.
Comedy veteran Bill Bailey launched his Larks In Transit show this year, one that sees the atypical performer and actor well into 2019. Whether part of his early dates, or his current West End residency, Bailey has delighted with his off-kilter improvisation. Suitably silly, yet with the occasional serious undertone, Bailey’s delivery was – and is – effortless and flawless. [Find tickets]
NFL London Games
Three huge games in October 2018 saw some of the biggest stars of the league head to England’s capital for the NFL London Games. Seattle Seahawks took on Oakland Raiders, Tennessee Titans challenged LA Chargers, and Philadelphia Eagles competed against Jacksonville Jaguars, all looking for UK glory. The atmosphere at Wembley Stadium, home of all three games, was as electric as ever, offering fans a true transatlantic sporting experience. [Find tickets]
On the 17 March 2018 UFC returned to London for the tenth time, pitting Fabricio Werdum against eventual winner Alexander Volkov on the card’s main event. Volkov took Werdum down via knock out in the fourth round, ending an event which also saw Jan Blachowicz beat Jimi Manuwa in the light heavyweight devision. London’s O2 again transformed for the world class fights, boasting a vibrant and heavily charged air.
FIFA World Cup
Arguably the biggest sporting event of the year, the FIFA World Cup took to Russia to ultimately crown France the global winners, beating Croatia in a 4-2 final. With over two and a half million tickets allocated throughout the event’s month long running time, football fans from across the globe descended on various Russian cities to be part of the action and its electric atmosphere.
Wimbledon Championships 2018
Bringing the best in tennis to London for an event that offers fans some quality competition as well as a glass of Pimms and some strawberries and cream, Wimbledon once again hosted its fair share of upsets and surprises. Novak Djockovic took home the Gentlemen’s Singles title, beating runner-up Kevin Anderson, while the Ladies’s Singles final saw Serena Williams lose out to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.
The Scottish city co-hosted the European Championships in 2018 alongside German capital Berlin. The events brought together over 3,000 of Europe’s best athletes in a fierce competition, with the goal to be crowned the all-important European Champion. Aquatics, cycling, golf, gymnastics, rowing and the triathlon called Glasgow home for 11 days, with Great Britain finishing second in the medal table behind overall winners Russia, securing 26 golds, 26 silvers and 22 bronzes.
Special Events & Attractions
Having wowed audiences with their recreation of the world of Moulin Rouge last year, 2018 saw the Secret Cinema team take on Baz Luhrmann’s equally acclaimed Romeo & Juliet. Taking fans inside the sexy, dangerous and ultimately devastating tale, set in the hazy Italian sun, it once again proved a massive success throughout the summer. Next year the folks at Secret Cinema are set to take on the first in the rebooted James Bond series, Casino Royale. [Find tickets]
We grabbed our beer steins and headed to a little bit of Bavaria in South East London, when Oktoberfest arrived in the capital. It was friendly faces all around, bringing the German traditional to a whole new bunch of fans. Complete with oompah bands, flowing drinks, and hearty camaraderie it was as close to the authentic German experience as fans will find this side of the English Channel.
Disney On Ice: Dream Big
Heroes are often at the heart of Disney stories, so it’s fitting that in 2018 – a year that needed its fair share of heroes – the Disney On Ice: Dream Big live experience delivered. Big stunts met beautiful choreography, with favourites such as Mickie, Minnie, Aladdin, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and – for the first time ever – Moana taking to the ice. As ever, it dazzled young and old alike with its hefty dose of make-believe. [Find tickets]
A virtual and hyper reality experience delving into the world of lucid dreams offered a truly unique group activity in early 2018. Taking to North London, visitors flew through the sky, chose between a genuinely unsettling waking nightmare and a comparably lush dream, ultimately floating into the air or being buried alive. As vast as the imagination, the people behind Somnai pushed the boundaries of reality for an unforgettable experience that challenged both light and dark.
The world’s biggest inflatable obstacle course, designed specifically for adults, toured the UK throughout 2018 much to the delight of all the big kids here at Ticketmaster UK. Those lucky enough to take part were met by giant slides, seemingly unscalable walls, and a load of tunnels, tubes, and all obstacles in-between. With food and drink awaiting fans at the end, the choice is simple; test agility and run through or take time to savour the inflatable fun. Both were wonderful.
We’re looking back at 2018 across Ticketmaster. Head here for more.