This summer, the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park series brought King Lear to Central Park’s Delacorte Theater. Now, there’s just one week left to see actors John Lithgow and Annette Bening bring to life Shakespeare’s timeless tail of a King’s journey through love, madness, and tragedy. There are three ways to get free Shakespeare in the Park tickets for the remaining performances of King Lear. If you’ve tried looking for King Lear tickets on second-hand ticket marketplaces (like ours), we’re sad to say that you won’t be able to find them. The only way to obtaining free King Lear tickets is through the Delacorte Theater Box Office, or The Public Theater. Here’s how you can get free Shakespeare in the Park tickets for the last week of King Lear.
Free Shakespeare in the Park tickets will be distributed every afternoon before the performance at 12PM in the Free Lines at Delacorte Theater. This is done in the standard rushing style, aka, first come first serve. According to the Shakespeare in the Park website, the line for free tickets can start even before the park opens (so before 6AM). The website also suggests getting to the line no later than 10AM, but we would suggest being there much earlier than that. Now, because it’s the last week King Lear is showing at the Delacorte, we would say arriving to the line at 5AM is your best bet at getting tickets. Since King Lear has been well reviewed by almost everyone, tickets for the last week are going to be in high demand.[Here’s a Tip: If you can afford it, there are professional line sitters who you can pay to do the heavy lifting for you. So if you’re one of those who can’t get out of bed before the sun comes up (even if it means seeing King Lear for free), then hiring some help may be the solution for you.]
There will be three separate lines for free King Lear tickets: General, Senior, and Accessible. These different lines are meant to help those with special needs/accommodations receive proper tickets for the show. Otherwise, seat locations are distributed randomly, and are not dependent on your place in line. Each person who stands in line (ages 5+) will receive two tickets until each ticket has been distributed.
Our parting words of advice for rushing free Shakespeare in the Park tickets? Don’t show up empty handed. Four (or more) hours is a long time to wait. Any native New Yorker will tell you to prepare for ravenous hunger, fatigue, and rain. So bring plenty of snacks, your trusty umbrella, and a cheap lawn chair to save yourself from everything that makes rushing such a tedious process. Think you’re up for it? We hope so. Because if free Shakespeare in the Park tickets to see King Lear isn’t worth it, we don’t know what is.
The second, although less guaranteed way of obtaining free Shakespeare in the Park tickets is through the Virtual Ticket Lottery. This method is much easier, and just requires a quick Registration to Virtual Ticketing in order to enter the lottery. Alike to rushing, each person who enters the lottery is eligible for two free Shakespeare in the Park tickets. You will only be able to enter the lottery for King Lear the day of the performance starting at midnight up until noon (there will be separate lotteries for Senior and Handicap Accessible tickets, much like the separate free lines for rushing). Then, once the lottery is closed, an e-mail will be sent to you if you were chosen to receive tickets.
Once you are selected, it is very important that you pick up your tickets between the designated hours of 5PM and 7PM. If you haven’t picked up your tickets by 7PM, they will be released again to be distributed in the Stand-by line. This line, for all extensive purposes, is your last shot at seeing King Lear at the Delacorte. If all else fails, the stand-by line will start being monitored by Public Theater staff at 6PM. Free standby tickets will be distributed if and when they become available, 1 per person.
Check out the Full Calendar for Shakespeare in the Park to determine which date will work best for you. The next performance date is tomorrow, August 12th. We at TickPick wish you all the luck we can give in hopes that you will turn up with free tickets to King Lear in its last running week!
Things to Know Once You have Free Tickets to Shakespeare in the Park
1. You may bring food and drink into the Delacorte Theater, but they ask that you don’t bring in any glass containers. Feel free to arrive early and have a picnic before the show! There is also an outdoor cafe called Public Fare that offers a menu that is both adult and kid friendly.
2. The Delacorte Theater will open approximately 30 minutes before the show (all King Lear performances will start at 8PM). To ensure that you are settled into your seats in due time without causing a disruption, arrive early. And be sure that if you are picking up tickets from the Box Office through the Virtual Lottery, that you do so between 5PM-7PM.
3. You are lucky. Every year, tens of thousands of people line up to receive free Shakespeare in the Park tickets, but only a few are chosen. The Delacorte theater is one of the greatest outdoor performance venues in the city, and is truly a sacred stage where many greats have walked. The Public Theater’s production of King Lear is one that many critics have determined to be a “must see”. And to think, you’re about to see one of the hottest NYC summer events for free.