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Shakespeare in the Park Tickets

5 Ways to Get Free Tickets

Updated: July 21, 2023

This post is about how to get a FREE ticket to see a Shakespeare play in Central Park, updated for 2023.

We include practical information like directions to this outdoor amphitheater and how to prepare for this most memorable evening!


OVERVIEW

For over 50 years, every summer, on several nights a week, Shakespeare plays are performed for the public for free at the charming Delacorte Theater in Central Park.

Shakespeare in The Park

The 2023 season features the classic drama Hamlet featuring Tony Award nominee Ato Blankson-Wood in the title role.

The show will run from Thursday, June 8 through Sunday, August 6.

There are 5 ways to get free Shakespeare in the Park tickets. 

Read more just below.


HOW TO GET A FREE TICKET

In-Person Distribution In Central Park

Free tickets are distributed at 12 pm on each public performance day via the free ticket lines at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park.  

Each person may receive two (2) tickets while supplies last.

** A free “Public Theater Patron ID” is required to receive a free ticket. It is simple to create an ID by registering with the Public Theater.

Do this in advance of the day you want to see a performance to save time.

There are three separate ticket distribution lines:

  • General Distribution Line
  • Senior 65+ Distribution Line (ID is required)
  • Access for People with Disabilities Line (ticket recipients must attest to the need for accessible seating)

Some things to know:

  • Seats are randomly distributed, and not based on where you are in the line. There’s no guarantee your group will be seated together but for the most part, you need not worry about this.
  • This line is hosted outdoors and close to the theater with access to benches, shade, and restroom facilities!

Digital Lottery With TodayTix

A limited number of free tickets are distributed via digital lottery on the TodayTix app on most public performance dates. 

Beginning at 12:01 am through 12:00 pm (Noon) on the day of each public performance, you can enter the digital lottery. 

Each winner will get two (2) tickets to that night's performance. 

To enter the lottery, download the TodayTix app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

  1. Open the app and scroll down to find “Free Shakespeare in the Park”.
  2. Enter the lottery for one or two free tickets. * Only enter your name once as duplicate entries will be voided.
  3. Monitor your phone or email at 12 pm (Noon) to see if you have won and claim your tickets for that evening's performance. 
  4. You will be officially notified between noon and 3 pm on the day of the show so make sure that your Todaytix push notifications are turned on, so you can receive confirmation of lottery status.
  5. You must confirm your winning tickets in the TodayTix app within 30 minutes of being notified. If you do not confirm, you will forfeit your tickets.
  6. All tickets must be claimed at The Delacorte Theater Box Office in Central Park between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm. After 7:30 pm your tickets are void.

For additional questions and support from TodayTix, check here.


In-Person Lottery At The Public Theater

On each public performance date, a limited number of ticket vouchers for that night's performance are distributed via an in-person lottery at The Public Theater in the East Village at 425 Lafayette Street (at Astor Place).

** A free “Public Theater Patron ID” is required to receive a free ticket. It is simple to create an ID by registering with the Public Theater.

Do this in advance of the day you want to see a performance to save time.

On the day of a performance, starting at 11 am, you can enter your name in a lottery in the lobby of The Public Theater. Names will be selected at random at 12 pm (Noon). 

If your name is selected you can receive up to two (2) ticket vouchers while supplies last.

You must exchange the vouchers for tickets at The Delacorte Theater Box Office in Central Park between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm. 

** Be on time! After 7:30 pm your voucher will no longer be valid.


In-Person Distribution In The Boroughs

A limited number of free ticket vouchers will be distributed on the day of select performances at locations throughout the five boroughs of NYC. 

Each borough has tickets for different performance dates. 

You can go to any of the boroughs on the distribution dates, which is good if there are certain dates you prefer to try to get tickets for.

The distribution dates are for tickets for that evening’s performances only.

** A free “Public Theater Patron ID” is required to receive a free ticket. It is simple to create an ID by registering with the Public Theater.

Do this in advance of the day you want to see a performance to save time.

Note that lines can be very long and there is no guarantee you will get a voucher for that night’s performance.

At all borough locations, ticket voucher distribution begins at 12 pm (Noon) and ends when all the ticket vouchers have been distributed, but by no later than 2 pm.

Here are the borough distribution dates and locations.


In-Person Standby Line In Central Park

After the final ticket is distributed for that day's performance, anyone who did not get a ticket can join a standby line at The Delacorte Theater.

** A free “Public Theater Patron ID” is required to receive a free ticket. It is simple to create an ID by registering with the Public Theater.

Do this in advance of the day you want to see a performance to save time.

If there are no-shows, which means that tickets may become available, then starting at 6 pm, those remaining tickets will be handed out to people waiting on the standby line. 

Depending on availability, free standby tickets will be distributed 2 per person, unless you only require one.


GOOD TO KNOW

Getting there: The closest subways are the A/B/C subways to 81st Street or 72nd Street along Central Park West.

Click on this Google Map link providing directions to Delacorte Theater from anywhere in the city. 

Delacorte Theater

For advice on using the subway and buses, see our post on how to get around New York.

In case of bad weather: Performances are never canceled for weather before 8 pm when the show starts. If the weather is bad at showtime, there will be a delay. 

If the bad weather continues past 8 pm, they may cancel the performance. Note: If a performance is canceled due to weather you do not receive a ticket for another day.  

Make sure you check the forecast before you go wait in line! Click on the links to get weather information for JuneJuly, and August.

No large bags/backpacks allowed: If you have large backpacks, shopping bags, or anything other than a small purse or very small backpack, you can store it for a few hours at very cheap rates.

See our post on where to store luggage in NYC.

Food and drink: You can bring food and drinks into the theater with you, as long as nothing is in a glass container.

Bathrooms: There are decent bathrooms available at the Delacorte Theater.

TIP: Why not set aside some time before the performance to explore Central Park?

After the performance, if you are still looking for other night activities, see our post about things to do in NYC at night for lots of ideas. 

Also, see below for more summer fun.


OTHER SUMMER FUN

If you don't get tickets, don't worry. Summertime in NYC offers you hundreds of events to choose from! 

Our New York City summer guide is a great place to start. Then take a look at our posts for things to do in MayJuneJuly, and August.

These posts include a top ten list, night activities, family-friendly events, and lots of things to do for free!

We also have a master post on things to do in NYC for any time of the year and a definitive post on NYC tourist attractions.

For other ways to save money, consider getting a tourist pass. Our post comparing NYC tourist discount cards can help you decide.


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About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo, Washington.org, and more.
Updated: July 21st, 2023
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