Both tourists and locals alike want to see Broadway shows. Some get “sticker shock” when they are confronted with the retail ticket prices. All of a sudden, a night out at the theatre for two looks like it might run you $400 or more. Never fear, there are multiple ways to get discount Broadway tickets and enjoy some of the best theater in the world without breaking the bank. While you are at it, be sure to check out our Broadway and the Theater District Tour.
And remember, you could always get Broadway show tickets for certain at full or close to full price.
This is the well-known discount Broadway tickets seller run by the Theatre Development Fund. They offer discounted tickets (between 30% and 50% off) and they have multiple locations around the city. NOTE: these are “day of” show tickets, so you can’t stand in line Thursday wanting to get tickets for Saturday. It does eat up some of your day, but it is well worth the discount!
How does TKTS work
There are four booths located throughout the city (see below for full information). There are often lines at the TKTS booths, so be prepared when it is your turn. At the booth there will be a board with available shows. TIP: If you want to have an idea in advance of what might be available visit TKTS website.
You will be asked what show you want to see and they offer you the “best available” seats for that show. This does NOT mean the cheapest price – this means the best seats in terms of view. The booths use a computer automated system to see what seats are available, so you cannot ask about other seats.
If the booth staff says they can offer an “obstructed view” or “partial view” ticket, this means that from that seat you wont have a 100% perfect view of the stage. Often it just means that there is a mezzanine overhang that will cover the very top of the set from your viewpoint. For most shows it isn’t something that will ruin the experience, and these tickets are often MUCH cheaper. It can be a good option for someone on a budget. That being said, “obstructed view” can mean something different from show to show, so don’t be afraid to ask how obstructed it is!
It is essential that you have a list of a few shows that you would like to see. Your first choice may not be available and they like to keep the line moving as quickly as possible. The shows available for discount don’t vary that much from day to day. Don’t expect that tickets will be available for the very best shows of the moment. Still, some great shows are often on the list.
Good to know
Credit cards, cash and travelers checks are all accepted
Best availability is usually for Tuesday evenings and matinee performances.
The Times Square location is the best-known and the busiest. You will likely have better luck at the other locations, especially the Brooklyn location. They may have fewer shows offered but the line is shorter. Now with the real-time website and app (see highlighted section below), you can decide beforehand if it is worth going out to any of the booths if your show is not available.
There is a separate line for “Play Tickets Only” at the Times Square location. It is frequently much shorter, so if you are only interested in plays make sure you get into the right line!
Don’t restrict yourself to Broadway musicals! Plays and Off-Broadway shows are also available at TKTS. They often have better availability and, in the case of Off-Broadway, are cheaper. Not sure what off-Broadway is, see our post Broadway vs. Off Broadway Theater.
IMPORTANT TIP: You can now check via website or app what shows are available in real-time!
You can now check in real-time what is available at any of the TKTS booths! Their website and app are coordinated with the display boards at all four TKTS Discount Booths, so you don’t have to go running to a booth just to find out the show you wanted was gone hours before. This is an essential time-saver!
Website and app offer real-time display of what is on sale at that moment at all 4 booths
The app has approximate wait times at each booth so that you can plan your visit
The app feature, “My List”, lets you make a list of shows you want to see. You will receive a notification to let you when tickets are available at which booths!
Click here to download the iOS or Android versions
Playbill is Broadway’s official magazine. Their website has an up-to-date listing of rush, lottery, standing room, and student/young professional discounts below. Find out everything you need to know about what’s playing, get reviews, dates of upcoming shows and when certain shows are closing.
Broadway for Broke People website is great to get information about particular shows such as their performance schedules and which method is will get you the cheapest ticket – such as in-person lottery, rush tickets, Standing Room or digital lotteries. From this website you can click on links to the particular show’s lottery procedure.
TodayTix is a great website to see what shows have rush or lottery tickets that day. They also have a fantastic app where you can enter some of the digital lotteries. Once in the app, choose “All Shows” menu and choose the filter for “Rush/Lottery” This will pull up all shows with current digital lotteries. Make your choices and give it your best shot! Cross those fingers!
Some shows (including those that aren’t available at TKTS) hold a lottery drawing before each show. To participate you must go to the box office These tickets are usually in the front half of the orchestra section and are usually between $25 and $35 dollars. Each lottery may have slightly different procedures in terms of start time and payment accepted so check with the box office of that particular theatre for details.
Lotteries begin 2 or 2.5 hours before the curtain time
Some shows only accept cash for lottery tickets, so be sure you check with the box office
Each person can enter their name ONE TIME
You can get up to 2 tickets if your name is drawn
Tip: If you are two people, each of you should enter the lottery – this will double your chances!
Sample of shows with in-person lotteries (as of May 2017)
Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
The Book of Mormon
A Bronx Tale
On Your Feet!
The Phantom of the Opera
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
School of Rock
Six Degrees of Separation
Digital Lotteries (website or via mobile device app)
Some shows have begun offering the ability to enter a lottery on their website or through a lottery app you must download onto your movie device. Each show has its own website or app where you can enter the digital lottery.
Most shows have very specific procedures, so be sure to check the show’s information. You can do this by looking at a few sites which list shows with digital lotteries and contain links to those shows’ websites to enter the lottery. Tickets can cost $25 – $40.
Again, check one of the above essential websites to find out what shows have a digital lottery to enter.
Rush tickets are another inexpensive way to see a show, though it can involve a bit of time spent in line. Like TKTS, you can only get these tickets the day of the show. There are a few different types of ticket rushes, but in general rush tickets are available for purchase as soon as the box office opens (usually 10am.) Many box offices will allow one person to buy 2 tickets, but some only allow one per person, so be sure to check with the box office of your preferred show. As always, check one of the essential websites to find out what shows have rush tickets.
Some Tips For Getting Rush Tickets
Even though the box office opens at 10am, people will start lining up quite early in the morning (as early as 6 or 7am for very popular shows). There are only a limited number of tickets available and they are first-come, first-serve.
Rush tickets are anywhere from $25-40
When it is your turn at the window just ask if they still have rush tickets available. If they say yes, tell them how many you would like and you are all set. If they are out, they may offer you another option, like Standing Room (see below).
If you don’t get rush tickets it will still be early enough in the day to hop down to the South Street Seaport TKTS for their 11am opening. You can still see a show that day!
Some Variations on Rush Tickets and What They Mean
Student Rush– same as General Rush, but only offered for students. You will be required to show a valid student ID. You can frequently get two tickets per ID, however, and your guest does not need to be a student.
Under 35 Rush– same as General Rush, but only offered to those under 35 years of age. You will be required to present a valid photo ID
Sample of shows with rush tickets (as of May 2017)
Some shows will offer day-of-show standing room tickets. This is exactly what it sounds like- you stand in back of the last row of the orchestra. These spots are numbered just like a regular seat would be. Obviously this is not a good option for you if you are bothered by standing for long periods of time (remember- many Broadway shows are well over two and a half hours with intermission.)
If you don’t mind standing, though, this is a great option for someone on a budget. Standing room tickets are often as inexpensive as $27. As with rush tickets, these are limited in number and go very quickly. Many box offices do not sell standing room tickets until 2 hours before curtain, but it varies from show to show. The best thing to do is stop by the box office of the show you would like to see and ask what their procedures are. NOTE: Many shows only offer standing room tickets when the show is sold out.
Attend a mid-week show Prices are highest on Friday and Saturday evenings, so change things up by visiting on a weekday night.
Attend in the off-season Show tickets tend to be less expensive in spring or fall to avoid the peak prices of the summer and winter holidays.
Attend during “Broadway Week” This biannual event happens in January and September, and allows guests to purchase two tickets for the price of one. Check the official New York City website for Broadway Week information.