Playing the Broadway Lottery!

Before moving to NY, Rob and I agreed that we wouldn’t live the entire year like tourists. But we didn’t want to live entirely like locals either. Either way, we also wanted to be conscious of our budget and stay within it. We were both a little worried about whether or not we could do that while living in NYC, but not only did we succeed at staying in budget, we also struck a nice balance between living like locals and living like tourists. IMG_6918

When we were living like tourists, my favorite money-saving trick was playing the Broadway lottery. Broadway musicals and plays are a big part of the attraction of NYC and we wanted to be able to see as many as we could before leaving. Unfortunately if we bought tickets at face value for every show we wanted to see, we would have quickly had to throw our yearly budget out the window. Luckily, the Broadway lottery option exists and we were able to see a lot of Broadway shows without breaking our bank account. And it turned out that the lottery was an exciting experience in its own right.

Two and half hours before some shows (we checked Playbill to figure out which shows were available), you can put your name in a raffle to win tickets. Two hours before the show, they call the winners’ names out. The anticipation of wondering if your name will be called and the excited crowd make the lottery a lot of fun, even if you don’t win. The tickets don’t cost more than $40 and the seats are pretty decent. They are usually in orchestra, sometimes even in the first row! You can only win two tickets per name entered, so it isn’t ideal if there are more people in your group and you all want to see the show. If you are with a group and/or there is a show that you really want to see, I suggest just buying the tickets online.


Over the year, Rob and I participated in nine lotteries. Out of those nine times, a person’s name in our group was called six times (one time was for standing room only so we turned down the ticket). Rob and I saw Aladdin, Kinky Boots, The Tempest at Shakespeare in the Park, and Matilda. My cousin’s fiance won once and they got to see Book of Mormon (front row seats!). Four of the nine lotteries we played were for an extremely popular musical called Hamilton, but we never won tickets to see it. We also put our names in for Hedwig and the Angry Inch once and didn’t win tickets to that either. Out of all the musicals and plays we saw during our year in NYC Matilda was my favorite. The mostly-children cast were incredible and the special effects really elevated the show.

We are looking forward to trying out the Broadway lottery every time we visit NYC and we highly recommend that everyone experience the lottery at least once on their next trip to NYC!