News & Politics

How to Get Free and Discounted Theater Tickets

Many Washington theaters and concert halls offer great discounts and deals on seats—some even give them away free. You just need to know where to look.

For more great information on fall theater and arts, check out the October issue of The Washingtonian, on stands now.

Free Night of Theater. The League of Washington Theatres holds its fourth annual Free Night of Theater, with Ford’s Theatre, the Folger Theatre, MetroStage, and many other venues participating. Tickets are limited, and they go fast—last year the league gave away about 4,800. The promotion is nationwide, and many cities expand it beyond the official “free night” of October 15. In Washington, tickets are valid for shows between October 6 and November 8. Online reservations can be made beginning October 1 at noon via, with a two-ticket limit per person.

Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. Free, non-ticketed concerts every evening at 6.      

Monday Night/Saturday Morning at the National. The Helen Hayes Gallery at the National Theatre offers free performances Monday nights and free children’s productions Saturday mornings. Tickets are released 30 minutes before showtime on a first-come, first-served basis. 1321 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 202-783-3372.

Nearly all theaters offer some kind of discount for these groups, sometimes as much as 50 percent.

Arena Stage. With the HOTTIX program, a limited number of half-price tickets are available 90 minutes before curtain until a half hour prior to showtime or until tickets sell out. Two-ticket limit per person. Arena’s temporary locations are 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington, and the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St., NW; 202-488-3300.

Olney Theatre Center. Rush tickets, limited to students and available the day of the show, are $10. Reservations are recommended. 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Rd., Olney; 301-924-3400.  

Signature Theatre. One hour before a performance, $30 rush tickets are released at the box office on a first come, first served basis. Limit two per person. 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington; 703-820-9771.  

Strathmore. A limited number of discounted last-call tickets for selected performances is available at the box office the day of the show. They’re available for 15 minutes only between two hours and an hour and 45 minutes before curtain. 5301 Tuckerman La., North Bethesda; 301-581-5100. You can purchase half-price day-of-performance (until 4 PM) and advance tickets to selected shows at various theaters at this online outlet. The ticket booth—open Wednesday through Friday 11 to 6, Saturday 10 to 5, and Sunday noon to 4—also sells day-of and advance half-price seats. 407 Seventh St., NW.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. “Stampede seats,” ten or more side-balcony spots, are available for all main-stage subscription performances—except special limited-run, VIP, and opening-night shows—for $15. Tickets go on sale two hours before curtain. 641 D St., NW; 202-393-3939. AGE DISCOUNTS
Arena Stage. On Mondays, theatergoers under age 30 can buy $10 tickets for the week’s performances (Tuesday through Sunday)—by phone, online, or in person—until the allotment sells out. Arena’s temporary locations are 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington, and the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St., NW; 202-488-3300.    

Kennedy Center. Through the Attend program, the center offers tickets as low as $10 to those ages 17 to 25. You must register at

Round House Theatre
. Wednesday through Friday, performances are discounted to $10 for patrons age 30 and younger; weekend shows cost $15. Tickets must be purchased by phone or in person; limit of two per order. 4545 East-West Hwy., Bethesda; 240-644-1100.  

Shakespeare Theatre Company. Ten-dollar tickets for ages 35 and under are available Tuesday at 10 AM for the week’s shows. Shakespeare Theatre also offers young-professionals events, where you can socialize and see a show for $10 to $25. Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St., NW; Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW; 877-487-8849. 

Strathmore. National Philharmonic concerts are free for children ages 7 to 17. Free tickets are not available online. 5301 Tuckerman La., North Bethesda; 301-581-5100.        

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. People under age 25 can purchase $15 tickets for any performance except pre-discounted limited-run performances. 641 D St., NW; 202-393-3939.         

American Century Theater. Most preview nights—and at least one Wednesday performance of each show—are “pay what you can” (PWYC). Gunston Arts Center, Theater II, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington; 703-998-4555.

MetroStage. Every show’s first preview is PWYC. 1201 N. Royal St.; Alexandria; 703-548-9044.   

Round House Theatre. The Bethesda theater offers two PWYC performances per production. Tickets go on sale an hour before curtain at the box office and are cash only. 4545 East-West Hwy., Bethesda; 240-644-1100.

Washington Improv Theater. Non-ticketed events are PWYC or free. Doors open 15 minutes before the show. 1835 14th St., NW; 202-204-7770.    

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. The first two nights of a new production—usually Monday and Tuesday—are PWYC. Limit two tickets per person. Tickets are available 90 minutes prior to showtime. 641 D St., NW; 202-393-3939.