Theater: 5 Ways to Get Free Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park

Shakespeare in the Park
You could fill one of those seats at this year’s Shakespeare in the Park.
Credit: Joseph Moran

The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park kicked off its 2014 season on Tuesday with “Much Ado About Nothing,” directed by Jack O’Brien with park veterans Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater. It will be followed later this summer with Daniel Sullivan’s “King Lear,” featuring John Lithgow and Annette Benning.

Thousands will flock to Central Park for each performance. That’s because even the least patient of Shakespeare viewers can’t go wrong with a night under the stars watching top actors in some of the world’s finest works while sipping a glass of wine (and you can even bring your own — just remember, the bathroom lines get pretty long at intermission).

The best part, of course, is that the entire affair is free — as it always has been, since the festival’s first iteration in 1954 (which was eight years before it moved to its current home). The only downside is that it makes getting tickets a little trickier than your usual Telecharge routine. But don’t despair! Here are five ways you can get Shakespeare in the Park tickets:

1. Box Office.

Every day, beginning at noon, tickets will be distributed at the Delacorte Theater (81st Street and Central Park West). While supplies last, each patron in line can pick up two tickets. The park itself opens at 6 a.m., and enthusiastic theatergoers traditionally arrive as early as sunrise to stake out their places. Those 65 years old and up, along with disabled patrons, can wait in a separate, designated line.

2. Virtual Ticketing.

You can snag your spot while chilling out in your cubicle at work by registering at You can enter the online lottery for two tickets every day between midnight and noon, at which time you’ll be notified if you’ve won a seat at that night’s performance. Pick up your ticket at the box office between 5 and 7 p.m. If you’re late, your tickets will be released.

3. Standby Line.

If you happen to be hanging around the park after work without any plans, you can jump onto the standby line. Any remaining seats are filled starting at 6 p.m. Fair warning: Many people hop straight from the box office line to the standby line if they’re unlucky, so the queue will be long by mid-afternoon. (Unclaimed tickets are also given out to standby at 7:30 — so if you have them, don’t be late!)

4. Outer Boroughs.

Can’t make it uptown? You can still get a fair shot by visiting one of the following locations throughout all five boroughs, where limited tickets will be available on certain dates (two per person, only for that night’s show).

June 4 in the Bronx at The Point (940 Garrison Ave.); June 5 in Brooklyn at the New York City College of Technology (300 Jay St.); June 6 in Manhattan at Harlem Stage at The Gatehouse (150 Convent Avenue at W. 135th St.); June 7 in Queens at the New York Hall of Science (47-01 111th St.); June 10 in Staten Island at Snug Harbor Cultural Center (1000 Richmond Ter.); June 18 in the Bronx at The DreamYard Project (1085 Washington Ave.)

July 23 in Staten Island at Snug Harbor Cultural Center (1000 Richmond Ter.); July 24 in the Bronx at Lehman Stages at Lehman College (250 Bedford Park Blvd. West); July 25 in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (145 Brooklyn Ave.); July 26 in Queens at the Queens Museum (New York City Building); July 29 in Manhattan at The Public Theater (425 Lafayette St.)

5. Reserved Seats.

There is one other way you might have a seat held for you without jumping through any other hoops, and that’s by making a donation of at least $200. Summer Sponsors help keep the show running and free for all each year. Learn more at

Shakespeare in the Park: What if it rains?

Worried about getting rained out after you spent all morning waiting in line? In fact, it’s easier to get in on overcast days. Shows are almost never cancelled due to weather; when they are, it won’t happen until 8 p.m. So plan to arrive on time and take your seat. Just bring a poncho and a sense of adventure. The storm might pass over by 8:15, but the show must go on!


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