Shakespeare in the Park is a famed New York City institution that draws in visitors from all around the world. It takes place at the Delacorte Theater, an open-air theater located in Central Park, and showcases world-class productions of Shakespearean plays all summer long. A typical lineup includes at least one Shakespeare work, sometimes two, and a non-Shakespeare production. In the past, the theater has staged plays like Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, musicals like On the Town and more. Highly acclaimed actors like Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, and Martin Sheen have graced the stage before, and the festival has become popular with NYC natives and visitors alike.
The Shakespeare festival was the brainchild of director-producer Joseph Papp. In1954 he came up with the idea to give New Yorkers a chance to celebrate Shakespeare. He started up a series of Shakespeare workshops and then started hosting free productions in Lower Manhattan. In 1961, the Delacorte Theater was built, and the first performance, The Merchant of Venice, was held the following year. The theater and productions are managed by The Public Theater, which has the privilege of its exclusive use. There’s nothing quite like seeing Shakespeare performed by some of the city’s best actors in this exquisite outdoor location. The fairytale-esque Belvedere Castle standing tall in the background seems almost like part of the set decoration and adds to the charm of this unique experience.
How to Get Tickets
One of the greatest things about Shakespeare in the Park in NYC is that tickets are free! However, you can only get them on the day of the performance. Many people start lining up outside the theater at 6 am, when Central Park opens, and camp out until tickets (two per person) are distributed at noon. You can also enter an in-person lottery between 11 am and 12 pm the day of the performance at the Public Theater. Alternatively, you can use the TodayTix app to apply for the virtual lottery for that day’s show.
How to Get There
The Delacorte Theater is a beautiful open-air amphitheater located on the southwest corner of the Great Lawn in Central Park, closest to the 81st Street and Central Park West entrance. To get to the theater by public transit, take the B or C train to the 81st Street-Museum of Natural History stop.
This year, Shakespeare in the Park in NYC has three shows running. Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Kenny Leon, is playing from May 21 through June 23. Coriolanus, directed by Daniel Sullivan, is playing from July 16 through August 11. And they are also putting on a stage version of Disney’s Hercules musical from August 31 through September 8.
Shakespeare in the Park in NYC performances run from May 21 through August 11 in the summer of 2019. They are almost always held Tuesday through Sunday at 8 pm. If you can make it to a show during the first few weeks of performances, it can be easier to get tickets because reviews and word of mouth haven’t increased demand for tickets. Another tip is to try to get tickets on days when there is a chance of rain. They rarely cancel shows, so if you can endure a little drizzle you won’t have to wait in line as long!