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Shakespeare tickets: How to get free tickets to the Delacorte

Getting your hands on free tickets for Shakespeare in the Park is no mean feat; follow our tips to increase your chances of bagging Shakespeare tickets.

Photograph: Joseph Moran
Shakespeare in the Park

Every summer, the Public Theater presents Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. This year’s productions are The Tempest, directed by Michael Greif and starring Sam Waterston, and Cymbeline, directed by Daniel Sullivan and featuring Hamish Linklater and Lily Rabe. As has been the case since Shakespeare in the Park began in 1962, the Public distributes free tickets, but only the most perseverant will be able to secure seats.

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How to get Shakespeare tickets from the Delacorte

Tickets are distributed in front on the Delacorte on a first-come, first-served basis at 12pm on the day of the show, so you’ll have to wait in line—likely for a long time—if you want to get in.

The park doesn’t open until 6am, but although the Public doesn’t condone it, it is legal to camp out before then by the park entrance at Central Park West and 81st Street. A line monitor from the Public will escort any early birds in when the park opens. We recommend this option only for the extremely desperate; otherwise, arrive no later than 10am to give yourself a chance at tickets, though it would be wise to get there much earlier if you can manage to drag yourself out of bed.

In order to endure the hours-long wait, you’ll need a chair or a blanket, something—a book, an iPod—to occupy yourself and breakfast (bring food, or if you prefer, Michael Psilakis and Donatella Arpaia's Kefi will deliver its excellent Greek fare to the Delacorte). Also make sure to bring an umbrella in case it rains, but don’t worry, shows are very rarely rained out. Consider braving drizzle and choose a wet day to wait on line; there will probably be less of a turnout, which will increase your chances of nabbing a ticket.

Tickets are limited to two per person, and the number of available tickets varies from day to day. There’s no cutting, saving spots or leaving the line for any extended length of time. Patrolling Public Theater staff will ask you to give up your spot in line if you breach any of these rules.

How to get Shakespeare tickets in the outer boroughs
There are alternative ways of securing tickets if you’d prefer to avoid this (totally worth it) ordeal. Vouchers are made available in each of the five boroughs on specific days between 12pm and 2pm (while supplies last). These vouchers can then be exchanged for tickets at the Delacorte between 4:30pm and 7:30pm.

How to get Shakespeare tickets via the online lottery
You can also apply for tickets in a daily online raffle. Create an account at shakespeareinthepark.org and enter your name in the lottery between midnight and 12pm on the day of the show; then check back after 12pm to see if your name was selected.

How to pony up for Shakespeare tickets
Or you can turn your back on fickle Lady Luck and purchase a Summer Supporter Ticket. A tax-deductable donation of $175 to the Public will net you one reserved seat for either play (although only a limited number of these tickets are available).

The Tempest May 27–July 5; Cymbeline July 27–Aug 23.

Comments

10 comments
Christine
Christine

I had been to Shakespeare in the Park for many years. It has changed. Over 10 years ago was the last time I tried to get tickets. Drove in from across the GWB and I found parking at 0530 am. Waited in my car. Just before 6am I started walking towards the park. People started coming down the sidewalk from different paths. I fell in line and shortly after we all stopped in our places a man ahead of me started to threaten me, physically. He said I had cut in line. He had been in line on the sidewalk from 3 am. I stayed calm and no one around him seemed to be as committed to violence or speaking to me, which is odd. If I really cut in I would leave. I could not tell if the nut was telling me the truth. Finally the cops came and they said the man was right, that people had "unofficially" lined up outside the park first and then were allowed in. The cops wanted to know if I wanted to pressed charges on the threats, which I really did not want to do. So I went to what was now the back of the line. Guess what? Neither of us got tickets! (I thought he was going to start screaming.) Unless you have many days to keep trying, make one early bird effort and don't go alone. Me, I'm older now and intend to try joining the Public Theater at a level that provides a ticket.

Nina
Nina

I'd rather pay 10, 20 or even 30$ than stand in line all night, and then stand in line again half a day. it's stupid, crazy and does not worth it. So many other things to enjoy in NYC!

Javier Vázquez
Javier Vázquez

Good morning, I'm from México and I'm going to NY next month and I really want to go to one of these performances. Is there any way to get tickets on-line or something like that? Greetings from Yucatán, México. Javier V.

Javier Vázquez
Javier Vázquez

Good morning, I'm from México and I'm going to NY next month and I really want to go to one of these performances. Is there any way to get tickets on-line or something lie that? Greetings from Yucatán, México. Javier V.

Kevin
Kevin

It's HARD to get tickets. I tried 6 different times for Into the Woods last year. Finally on a potentially rainy Wednesday I was able to score two tickets, not next to each other, far house right. BUT, I got in!! Try both online and real line if you can.

noedir
noedir

We are from Brazil, we have much difficulty understanding English, better not watch?

malkin
malkin

Amusing that the only comments here are from people asking "how do I get tickets" at the bottom of an article detailing exactly how to get tickets.

alberta king
alberta king

Hello, I will be visiting New York City June 19th and 20. I was hoping to Shakespeare in the past with my daughter and girlfriend(3). I live in Atlanta Georgia and would like to know how to get tickets for those days.

Heather Manhire -Dover
Heather Manhire -Dover

I am an English teacher from the UK,Shakespeare is taught as a part of our curriculum.It would be fascinating to watch an open air performance of his works by a cast of American actors.Is there an opportunity for visitors to New York in July to purchase tickets?