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Getting seats to the best Broadway shows usually requires a lot of planning in advance. But if you need to find last-minute Broadway tickets—for shows the same day, or just a few days away—you do have some good options. It all depends on how much you are willing to pay, how much you are willing to wait and how much risk you are willing to take. If everything goes your way, you might even luck into cheap Broadway tickets, great seats or a chance to see hit shows that you would never have been able to get into earlier. (Hello, Hamilton!) Here is our procrastinator's guide to buying last-minute Broadway tickets.
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1. Line up at TKTS
The big red steps in Duffy Square, on Broadway at 47th Street, mark the flagship location of TDF’s TKTS Booth, the standard destination for discounted same-day tickets to Broadway shows. All but the biggest Broadway smashes are on sale there, many at 50 percent off; if you are not looking to see a musical, there is a "Play Only" window that will cut down your wait time. You can now also purchase tickets to the following day's matinee, when applicable. To see what is available on a given day, download the TKTS app or visit its website. A second TKTS location, at Lincoln Center’s indoor David Rubenstein Atrium, is less crowded and provides the same great deals.
2. Try TodayTix or discount codes
If you don’t feel like standing in line at TKTS, or you want to make sure you can get seats to a specific show you have an eye on, there are other ways of finding last-minute Broadway tickets for less than full price. The handy TodayTix app helps you find discounted tickets through your mobile phone on the same day as the performance (or up to week in advance). You may also be able to take advantage of discount codes offered by individual shows. One reliable online source for cheap tickets is nytix.com; good discount codes can be also be found at BroadwayBox.
3. Rush the theater
Many shows offer special same-day rush tickets—the only way, in some cases, to get tickets at a reasonable price for shows that are otherwise sold out. Rush tickets to Broadway and Off Broadway shows can sell for as little as $30 apiece. Go to the theater's box office as soon as it opens on the day of the performance; that means 10am on most days and 11am or noon on Sundays. If you don’t mind being on your feet, you can also try for standing-room tickets. To find out which shows offer rush tickets and lotteries (see below), consult the guide at Playbill or at Broadway on a Budget.
4. Play the digital lottery
Most Broadway shows now conduct digital lotteries on the day before each performance—or in some case, the actual morning of the performance. Others have drawings once a week, notably the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child lottery and the $10 Hamilton lottery, both of which happen on Fridays and cover the week ahead.
5. If at first you don't succeed, look again
If there's a specific show you want to see on a certain date, but you've looked online in the past and no tickets were available, check that same show's Telecharge or Ticketmaster again closer to the date of the performance; you may find that some of the best seats in the theater are suddenly up for grabs. All Broadway shows have allotments called house seats, which are set aside for friends of the production. But if those house tickets aren't used, they go back into the pool for general sale between 96 hours and 24 hours before the show. The same applies to premium seats, which are reserved for sale at higher prices but get bumped down to regular price if they haven’t been sold. If possible, visit the box office in person to find out when house seats and premium seats might wind up for sale at normal prices. If you’re nice, the box office manager might give you some tips. (Bonus: If you buy directly at the theater, you’ll save the big fees that the websites tack on.)
6. Hit the cancellation line
At most performances, at least a few seats go unclaimed. It's worth lining up at the theater on the day of the show to buy cancelled seats right before curtain-up—especially now that COVID is forcing some people to change their plans at the last minute. Of course, there's no guarantee you'll get in, but it's worth a shot if you've got the time (and perseverence) for it. Get to the theater a couple of hours early and keep your fingers crossed, as cancellation lines are first come, first served. You may see touts lurking around the theater selling tickets; be wary of fakes, because there won't be any chance to get your money back if you fall for one.
7. Try the secondary market
For better or worse, the practice of buying tickets and reselling them for profit—once known as scalping, now more politely euphemized as the secondary market—has gone legit in the past 15 years. Sometimes these sellers are the only ones with tickets to the most popular productions, because they buy seats early in bulk. So if you simply must see a certain show and money is no object, see what you can find at Broadway.com, StubHub, VividSeats or even Ticketmaster itself, which has areas devoted to resale. Depending on the show and the seller, the markup can be very high indeed. But if you check the sites very close to curtain time, the prices sometimes fall dramatically, as vendors try to avoid taking a total loss on tickets they haven’t sold yet.