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Summers in the Big Apple bring about the cherished annual tradition of Shakespeare in the Park, a quintessential New York experience that is both invaluable and free. Produced by the Public Theater and held at the open-air Delacorte Theater under a blanket of stars in Central Park, hear The Bard's words spoken live onstage just minutes after you hope out of a taxi is a one-of-a-kind adventure. This season's Shakespeare in the Park productions are Richard III, running from June 21--July 17) and a brilliant musical adaptation of As You Like It (performances are August 10--September 11). Performances are Monday through Saturday at 8 pm.


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This year's production will mark 60 years of Shakespeare in the Park--that's more than 150 productions! And, as has been the case since it began in 1962, tickets to these brilliant shows are distributed for free--which means, of course, that they are very, very hard to come by. Below is everything you need to know about how to see this season's Shakespeare in the Park.

Where To See Shakespeare In The Park

Every season of Shakespeare in the Park is held at The Delacorte Theatre, a beautiful open-air stage located off of 80th Street on the southwest corner of the Great Lawn in Central Park. Every summer, thousands of New Yorkers make the trek to see popular productions, which often feature renowned Oscar-winning actors, such as Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Kevin Kline, and Christopher Walken, to name just a few. There are six different ways to get tickets to see a production.

Waiting In Line For Free Tickets

The Public Theater distributes free tickets, but before you wait in line for them, please remember to register for a Public Theater Patron ID here. Two free tickets are distributed to each person in line on a first-come, first-served basis at 12pm every day of the show. The catch is that you have to get in line early to score tickets. And I do mean early. Think 6 am--8 am to guarantee these very coveted free tickets. After 9 am, securing them is often iffy because, at that point, the line stretches on and on and...on.

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Technically, Central Park does not open until 6 am, but if you are really desperate--or rather, if you just really want to ensure you will get tickets, you can actually camp out near the park entrance at Central Park West and 81st Street. There are line monitors to make sure there is no cutting going on, so if you are thinking of having a friend meet you in line later so you can see each score a set of tickets, think again. It's also worth noting that tickets are distributed randomly, and seat assignments are not closer because you are first in line. This is hardly a big deal, as the Delacorte Theater really does not have a bad seat in the house. Do yourself a favor and bring a chair to sit in as you wait in line for several hours! Individuals over the age of 65 or those with disabilities can wait in a separate line, but please note that providing evidence of the need for accessible seating will be necessary. There is also a standby line outside the theater every night for any tickets that have yet to be claimed... which, as you can imagine, is pretty rare. Still, if you want to try your luck at scoring these free tickets that won't require you to wake up at the crack of dawn, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get a good spot as eager theatergoers start lining up more than an hour before the show begins, with tickets handed out just a half hour before production begins.

No Time To Wait In Line? There's A Digital Lottery

Do you want to avoid waiting in any line, ever? Good news. The Public distributes free tickets via a digital lottery in partnership with TodayTix. Download the TodayTix app and enter the digital lottery between midnight to noon on the day of the show. If you win the digital lottery, you will be notified between noon and 3 pm, and in order to fully secure the tickets, you have to confirm and accept them within a 30-minute window on the app. Tickets can be picked up at the Delacorte Theater between 5:30 pm and 7:30 pm--after that time, they will be distributed to the standby line, so don't be late.

Want To Ensure You Get Tickets? Make A Donation!

Of course, if you don't want to wait in line or deal with the uncertainty of a digital lottery, there is an option if you have deep pockets and want to support this venerated New York institution. By making a donation of $300, you will receive a single ticket, and $500 will get you a pair of tickets to the show. All donations are tax-deductible and go to support the cherished Public Theater.

However You Score Tickets, Shakespeare In The Park Is Worth It

Whether you are a devoted Shakespeare fan or simply looking for a memorable date night on the town, you must experience this cherished New York tradition. There really is nothing quite like seeing Shakespeare in the Park, an incredibly dreamy way to experience live theater in the city that never sleeps.