New York is home to one of the most prolific theater districts in the world. A thriving industry, last year’s season (2016) attracted over 13.3 million theatergoers and grossed a whopping $1.37 billion. Every day, hundreds of NYC locals and tourists flock to the city’s theaters. Some prefer to plan their theatergoing, others decide last minute, and some are mainly interested in where they can score the best bargain. TKTS discount booths have become a popular destination for theater lovers around the world, made famous by their half-price tickets. There are four TKTS booths in New York City, all of which are owned and operated by the not-for-profit Theatre Development Fund. This in-depth question and answer style post will tell you everything you need to know about scoring discounted TKTS Broadway tickets.
Your How-To Guide for TKTS Broadway Tickets
TKTS availability & inventory
1. What is a TKTS NYC ticket booth?
TKTS discount booths offer a variety of same-day Broadway and Off Broadway tickets at anywhere from 20% – 50% off. The booths are operated by the Theatre Development Fund (TDF), a not-for-profit service organization for the performing arts. Tickets are sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
2. Which shows are available at TKTS booths?
TKTS booths get their inventory directly from the theaters, on a day-by-day basis. In other words, tickets are dropped off at the booths throughout the day – meaning availability and inventory are constantly subject to change. There’s really no way to predict exactly which shows will be sold at TKTS booths. You can, however, view real time-listings on the display boards at each TKTS booth, on the TKTS website, or via the TKTS app. Another helpful tool for predicting show inventory is this table that tracks TKTS inventory weekly. The chart separates currently running shows into their corresponding category: often available at TKTS, sometimes available, and very rarely available.
3. There are several shows that are never on the TKTS board, like “Wicked,” “Jersey Boys” and “The Lion King.” Why is that?
Generally, the discount tickets available at TKTS booths are only for shows that are not likely to sell out. So don’t expect to find tickets to new shows or the most popular productions (such as “Hamilton”).
4. What days can I see a matinee show?
You can regularly catch a matinee show on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. Although rare, theaters will sometimes run matinee performances on Thursday. On Wednesday and Saturday, matinee performances usually start at 2pm. Occasionally, shows will begin at 1pm. On Sunday, most shows are at either 2pm or 3pm. *With the exception of the Times Square TKTS booth, matinee tickets are only sold the day before the performance.
5. What days can I see an evening show?
Evening shows run from Monday through Sunday. Generally, performances start at 7pm or 8pm.
6. Can I purchase tickets for the following day’s show at a TKTS booth?
For evening shows, you can only purchase same-day tickets at all four TKTS booths. With the exception of the Times Square TKTS booth, the other three TKTS booths offer only next-day matinee tickets. You cannot purchase same-day matinee tickets.
7. How many tickets am I allowed to buy at once?
There is a limit of 6 tickets per person.
8. Do the TKTS booths offer tickets with good seats? Will I get to select the seats from what’s available at the booth?
Once you’ve reached a TKTS booth agent, you will not be allowed to select your seats. You will, however, be informed of the seats you will receive before finalizing your purchase. Most often, TKTS booth tickets are for the orchestra. It is possible that you will get seats with an obstructed view.
9. I’ve heard you can get better seats if you go later in the day. Is that true?
Sometimes, if a large number of tickets have not sold for a particular show, shortly before curtain, the theater may send a batch of tickets to TKTS. In this case, visiting a TKTS booth shortly before it closes can be an excellent way to score last-minute tickets. But it is completely dependant upon how show sales perform that day.
10. Can I get wheelchair seats at the TKTS booths?
It all depends on what was sent to the TKTS booths on that particular day. You’ll have to stand in line and ask the booth rep what is available at the time you reach.
11. How can I know what tickets will be on sale in advance?
Since TKTS does not announce the shows that will be on sale in advance, you can refer to this table that tracks TKTS inventory weekly. The chart separates currently running shows into their corresponding category: often available at TKTS, sometimes available, and very rarely available.
12. Do TKTS booths have rush tickets?
No. All four TKTS booths do not sell rush tickets for any theater shows.
13. Do TKTS booths run lotteries for tickets?
No. All four TKTS booths do not sell lottery tickets for any theater shows.
14. Are premium tickets sold at TKTS? [Premium tickets are a reserved for a particular theatre’s best seats, and are thus, priced higher than the rest of a show’s tickets.]
If premium tickets have not sold 48 hours before the performance, computer software knocks most of them down to the regular top ticket price. Depending on the show and demand for tickets, any leftover seats are sent to TKTS anywhere from thirty minutes to two hours before the performance. If you are willing to take the risk, you can try your luck at TKTS 30-60 minutes before the booth closes.
TKTS ticket prices and payment
15. What discount can I expect?
TKTS booths offer tickets anywhere from 20% – 50% off the full price.
16. How much do tickets cost?
Everyday, each show will decide how many tickets they want to send to TKTS, as well what they’d like the discount to be (50%, 40%, 30%, or 20%). Since different shows have different ticket prices, it’s hard to say exactly what the average show will cost at a TKTS booth. TKTS display boards will show you a live feed of the shows that are being offered on discount.
17. On a day to day basis, is there a big shift in the discount price offered for a particular show?
As mentioned previously, theaters decide how many tickets they want to send to TKTS, as well what they’d like the discount to be (50%, 40%, 30%, or 20%) each day, dependent upon how the show is selling at full price. While TKTS booths do not provide any price information in advance, there are other tools that can be used to help predict potential show discounts and costs. This table contains an exhaustive report of last week’s TKTS discount percentage amounts for tickets sold at TKTS booths. This data is then compared to the last week’s corresponding Box Office prices. It acts as a valuable guide for gauging future TKTS ticket booth discounts. (TKTS information reflects the discount percentages that the TDF TKTS booth offered for same-day tickets. It’s the same information that is featured daily on TKTS booth display boards.)
18. What forms of payment are accepted at the TKTS booths?
All TKTS booths accept cash, as well as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards. Some Broadway shows require cash only.
19. What additional fees are added to the price of TKTS tickets?
All TKTS tickets are subject to a $4.50 service charge per ticket. Additional non-TDF service charges may also apply to some tickets. Once you reach the front of the booth, a TKTS rep will provide you with the details per each show.
20. If there are no discount tickets to the show I want to see, can I purchase full-price tickets at the TKTS booth?
You can purchase full-price evening show tickets ONLY at the Times Square TKTS booth.
21. When purchasing full-price tickets at the Times Square TKTS booth, can I apply other coupons and discount codes to my purchase?
No, you may not apply any other coupons or discounts. You will have to go to the theatre box offices to use any special discounts, or you can select from various other discount ticket options that often accept coupon codes.
22. What is the TKTS app?
TKTS app features include: a real-time display of what is currently on sale at the TKTS booths, a comprehensive show directory, approximate wait times for each booth, “My List” option to save a list of shows you want to see, access to TDF’s online theatre magazine, and updates on TKTS contests and giveaways. The app is available on iOS and Android.
23. Can I purchase tickets from the TKTS app?
No, tickets can not be purchased via the TKTS app.
24. Why can’t you buy TKTS tickets online?
TDF’s mission is in large part to promote conversations about theater. These discussions happen best in person. The interactions that patrons have while waiting in line, or when they speak with customer reps working at the booths all help achieve this goal. For that reason, the organization wishes to keep purchasing offline.
25. Are there other places where I can get discount tickets?
Yes, there are other places where you can get discounted Broadway tickets. Headout, an online platform, offers a large selection of discounted Broadway and Off-Broadway show tickets. You can book via the internet in advance, as well as the last minute. After purchasing your tickets, a Headout rep will meet you at the theater on the day of your show, a half hour before curtain, and hand-deliver your tickets. You will not have to wait in any lines. There are also frequent discounted Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets given out via RUSH tickets and lotteries, directly from the theaters. You can refer to individual theater websites for details. This roundup of 10 Tips to Buy Discounted Broadway Tickets also shares some excellent suggestions.
TKTS booth locations, hours & more
26. Where are TKTS ticket booths located?
27. What are the TKTS booth hours or operation?
TKTS booth hours:
Mon/Wed/Thur/Fri/Sat: 3:00pm – 8:00pm
Tuesday: 2:00pm – 8:00pm
Sunday: 3:00pm – 7:00pm
For Matinee Shows
Wed/Thur/Sat: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Sunday: 11:00am – 3:00pm
Lincoln Center, Downtown Brooklyn and South Street Seaport
TKTS booth hours: For Matinee Shows & Evening Performances
Mon – Sat: 11:00am – 6:00pm
*The booths regularly close for a 30-minute lunch break around 3pm daily.
28. When is the best time to go to a TKTS booth?
Because availability and inventory change quickly and frequently throughout the day, there is no set time that will guarantee you find the tickets you want. With that being said, TDF suggests going to a TKTS discount booth early in the day. Arriving 30 minutes to an hour before the booth opens will also help you get a spot in the front of the line.
29. Where are the shortest lines?
The Lincoln Center TKTS booth and the Downtown Brooklyn TKTS booth generally have the shortest lines. However, keep in mind that they are also the most inconvenient booths in terms of distance to the theater district. You will need to take into account the time it will take you to travel to the theater, especially during high traffic hours.
30. Does each booth sell tickets to the same shows, or do they all offer a different selection?
Each TKTS booth will have their own inventory on offer. Roughly, you can expect to find the same shows at all the booths, with the exception of one or two. But, keep in mind that, since the booths do not share inventory, more popular booths (especially the Times Square TKTS booth) may run out of tickets to certain shows before the others.
31. With the exception of Times Square TKTS booth, how far are the other booths from the theatre district?
To reach the theatre district from the Downtown Brooklyn TKTS booth, allow for 30 minutes by subway, or an hour by car. It’s about a 20-minute car or bus trip from the Lincoln Center TKTS booth and approximately 35 minutes from the South Street Seaport TKTS booth. Times may vary depending on traffic conditions.
32. What is the ‘Play Express’ line?
The Times Square location features a ‘Play Express’ window. This particular window ONLY sells tickets to plays – you cannot purchase tickets to musicals or dance productions. This lend tends to move quicker than the others, so if you’re interested in seeing a play, it’s worth purchasing your tickets at the Times Square booth.
33. Will the TKTS booths stay open even during extreme weather conditions, ie. snowstorms?
Yes, the TKTS booths will operate as per their normal hours (exceptions may be made on a need-by-need basis). The Lincoln Center TKTS booth is the only indoor booth, making it the preferred booth during winter months. Lines tend to get especially long during this time.
34. Are there many restaurants to eat at near the TKTS booths?
There are plenty of great restaurants to eat at near the TKTS booths in NYC. For recommendations near the Times Square TKTS booth, check out this round-up of the 30 Best Restaurants in the Theater District.
Are TKTS Broadway tickets worth it?
35. Is it easy to get from TKTS booths to the main Broadway theatres?
The Times Square TKTS booth is located right in the heart of the theater district. However, be aware that some shows – particularly Off-Broadway shows and some music/dance events – can be in more far-flung Manhattan locations. Ask where the venue is before you purchase your tickets in order to ensure you’ll be able to make it on time. If you wait until close to curtain time to visit the booth, you’ll need to rush to the theatre to make it, so only consider shows between West 44th and 50th street, with addresses in the 200’s and 300s.
As for the other three TKTS booths, you will need to allot for ample transportation time. (Anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour, depending on which booth you’re coming from and what that traffic conditions are a the time of travel.)
36. If the discount ranges from 20% – 50%, how can I know that the savings will be better than other discount vendors?
Since there is a chance that the discount be as little as 20%, TKTS tickets will not always be the cheapest ones out there.
37. Will I get good seats?
This is a risk you have to be willing to take. Some TKTS tickets are for seats with an obstructed view. Make sure you ask to know what seats you’re buying before completing your purchase, as there is no option to return or exchange tickets.
38. What benefits do I get with a TDF membership?
TDF members pay an annual $34 membership fee for access to specially-priced tickets. To become a member, you will have to first see if you qualify and then fill out an online application. *The inventory available online through TDF membership is not the same as that available at the TKTS Ticket Booths.
39. What is the “My List” TKTS app feature?
The “My List” feature allows you to create a list of shows you want to see and enable notifications that will alert you when tickets are available.
40. TKTS 7 Day Fast Pass
The TKTS Fast Pass allows people who have purchased TKTS tickets to return to the Times Square TKTS booth within seven days of their purchase and walk up to the front of window #1 by presenting their TKTS ticket stub.
While TKTS booths do offer excellent discounts, availability is limited and there is no guarantee you will get the tickets or seats you want. For those who prefer to secure tickets to the show of your choice, there are other discount options that don’t require you to book in person and also allot for advance reservations.
For more TKTS information, here are some helpful quick links!
Next, check out our round-up of 30 Best Theatre District Restaurants. Also, to help you make the most of your Broadway experience, see our individual theater guides featuring seating charts, transport information and other helpful tips.