Every summer the Public Theater put on FREE performances at the outdoor Delacorte Theater in Central Park. It’s romantic, it’s memorable and it’s almost impossible to get Shakespeare In The Park tickets. People go to extremes for free stuff.
But follow these steps and you should be able to snag a ticket and cross this essential summer event off your NYC bucket list.
The performances this summer are Coriolanus, showing from July 16 to August 11 and a stage adaptation of the Disney musical Hercules from August 31 to September 8.
So, how do you manage to snag tickets to this amazing NYC experience?
The first thing you need to do is register for a Public Theater Patron ID by clicking here, subsequently adding yourself to lots of Public Theater mailing lists. Sneaky.
Secondly you need to get yourself to Central Park early. Tickets are handed out on a first-come, first-serve basis at The Delacorte Theater at 12pm on the day of the show.
Like we said, when it comes to free stuff, people go a bit weird, so there will likely be a VERY long queue. We’ve even seen people camping outside the entrance to the park before it opens at 6am.
We’d say a reasonable time to get there, to be in with a good chance of getting a ticket, is 9am. You are still left with at least three hours of queuing ahead of you so bring a book, bring a chair, bring snacks, show some commitment, people!
Do you want these tickets or not?!
Tickets are limited to two per person so don’t promise your friend’s colleague’s aunty that you’ll get her a ticket. And there are queue rules. No cutting, no saving spots, no leaving the line. The queue police make you leave if you break any of these rules. This is a serious business.
If you overslept and arrive at 11.45pm to find a queue 500 people long, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
Don’t despair, there is still hope. There is a standby line every night for unclaimed tickets. You still need to turn up early and queue but you could get a ticket half an hour before the show starts.
If the thought of queuing brings back painful memories of Disneyland with your parents, there is another way. The Public has a partnership with TodayTix which offers a lottery for free Shakespeare In The Park tickets. You can enter the lottery between 12am and 12pm on the day of the show. A random draw assigns the tickets on the TodayTix app.
There is also an in-person lottery at The Public Theater in Astor Place. Sign up by 11am and the winner is announced at noon.
Need a Plan B?
Or you could just throw money at the problem and make a donation of $500 to the theater to guarantee yourself a ticket for a night of your choosing.
It all depends how much you want these tickets?!