Cheap Ways to Experience World Class Culture in New York (Part 1)

New York has some of the best cultural institutions in the world but they can be very expensive. But did you know that many of these institutions have programs that allow you to buy great tickets cheaply? Many museums are donation-based and pretty much all concerts and shows have either rush tickets or cheap tickets for young people. In this post, I’ll go through the many ways to get tickets to performances on the cheap. The next post will be about going to museums and galleries cheaply.

The New York Philharmonic offers students rush tickets up to 10 days in advance online, which is an awesome deal. My favorite program, however, is the 35 under 35 program. This program allows you to buy as many $35 tickets as you like for 3 or more concerts (you have to attend at least 3 concerts) as long as you prove that you are under 35 years old. The tickets can be in any section (hello Orchestra and First Tier!) and you can choose from almost any concert at the Philharmonic. I’ve been able to see Joshua Bell, Gil Shaham, and will be going to a Yo-Yo Ma concert in the spring.

The Met Opera offers rush tickets for $25 for anyone Monday – Saturday at noon and 4 hours before the performance for Matinees. You can buy two tickets and the seats are in the Orchestra or First Tier. You have to buy them online via the Met website

American Ballet Theater has the 1829 program, which offers $30 ballet tickets for anyone between the ages of 18-29. You can buy tickets for $30 to 3 or more concerts (you have to buy at least 3). All the seats are orchestra-level and pretty much all of the ballets are available.

The New York City Ballet offers day-of tickets for $29 for anyone under 29. You can buy 2 tickets and the tickets are on sale when the box office opens.

Carnegie Hall has a subscriber program for $20 for people under 40 years old called the Notables. You pay a membership fee of $20 (on the Join the Notables page, click the Notables Prelude level). This gives you access to $20 tickets to see some of the best classical music soloists in the world. A newsletter is sent out each month listing the concerts available.

The Brooklyn Academy of Music offers students 29 and under and seniors 65 and over tickets for $10. You can purchase up to 2 tickets at the box office 90 minutes before the show starts. I love BAM; they have such great theater programs from different acting companies around the world.

The Theater for a New Audience offers $20 New Deal tickets to anyone under 30 or students of any age. You can buy them online with the promo code NEWDEAL. This theater performs a mix of Shakespeare and contemporary plays and it does it extremely well.

Many Broadway shows offer rush tickets for $25 on the day of the show at the box office. You can use Broadway Rush Report to see which shows have rush tickets and how likely it is to get tickets. Most recently, I’ve seen No Man’s Land starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen using rush tickets!

Lastly, during the summer the Public Theater puts on Shakespeare in the Park. Amazing plays are performed at the Delacorte Theater (an outdoor theater, very cool to see theater under the stars) in Central Park. The actors in these plays are often marquee names from both Broadway and Hollywood. You can either line up starting very early outside of the box office or you can try to win tickets online through the virtual drawing (this is my preferred way).

Hope this was helpful! Stay tuned for my next post on museums…

Featured Image by Glyn Lowe

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