Tickets for George Balanchine's Nutcracker that plays at the David H Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center in NYC

Nutcracker Tickets: Regular Tickets Discount Tickets, Student Discounts, Ticket Lotteries, Group Discounts and RUSH Tickets:

Nutcracker tickets are very popular so the show never officially offers any discounts on the Nutcracker ticket options on regular tickets sales. Group tickets sales are discounted by up to 30%. The show producers set the basic ticket price of the show as if it were a single event. What is more confusing is that on their website at the check-out page there is an opportunity to enter a discount code - but (according to the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center box office), this box should not appear on the web site as no discounts are ever available for individual ticket sales for The Nutcracker. We tested a number of promotional codes that have been used for the repertory ballet in the past and found none of these codes actually worked for The Nutcracker.

  • Student discounts are available for some NYCB shows, but not provided for Nutcracker tickets
  • NYCB also does not provide a ticket lottery and no form of RUSH tickets on this show.

Help Fill The Gap - Charity Donation:

Even though Nutcracker Tickets are already priced sky-high, the NYCB makes an appeal for you to donate even more money to their cause at the checkout. They state "Ticket sales cover only 60% of our operating costs. By adding a donation to your purchase today, you help fill the 40% gap, sustaining our founding promise to pursue innovation and excellence in dance." They provide ticket buyers with an ability to add on up to $1 million dollars of tax deductible donations in your ticket purchase.

Advantages Of Buying Full Price Nutcracker Tickets At The Box Office:

If you buy tickets in person at the David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center you will avoid the service fees that are applied to internet and phone orders that are often up to $15 per ticket.

Another advantage of buying tickets directly at the box office is that often they will have access to tickets that do not appear online or over the phone - usually they are cancellation tickets that have been returned or tickets that have been held back to thwart ticket brokers and have not yet been listed in their database of available tickets for sale.

Nutcracker Ticket Fees: Service Fee and Facility Fee:

This year the service fee is $3.50 per ticket and the facility fee is $7.50, so the total fee is $11.00 per ticket. The service fee was in line with standard Broadway show ticket fee pricing a few years ago but has once again increased their pricing. This extra fee is surprisingly expensive when you consider Broadway shows are forced through a for-profit third party like Ticketmaster or Telecharge, whereas Nutcracker ticket sales do not have to provide a profit to their internal ticketing service, just cover the basic costs of ticket management and printing. The $3.50 service fee can be avoided completely by purchasing the tickets directly at the David H. Koch Theater box office at the Lincoln Center at 20 Lincoln Center Plaza (Columbus Avenue at 63rd Street). In addition to the service fee, there is also a facility fee that cannot be avoided and is currently set at $3.50. It is not quite clear what the difference is between the service fee and the facility fee as both ticket fees go into the central Lincoln Center's fund. Perhaps, it just sounds better to break the extra charges into two smaller multiple fees than saying that there is a $11.00 per-ticket fee, which seems expensive on its own.

New York City Ballet Policy: Will Not Sell Unsold Nutcracker Tickets at a Last-Minute Discount

At every performance of The Nutcracker at the Lincoln Center, there are a few Nutcracker tickets that go unsold. During the most popular performance dates and times, these seats are usually single seats that have been orphaned by ticket sales of groups or other larger parties (as The Lincoln Center will not allow sales of two or four ticket that will orphan any single seats). These single seats often remain unsold (who wants to sit by themselves anyway) and often no one ends up sitting in them during the performance. The David H. Koch Theater will not sell these tickets for less than their face value closer to the performance time because they are more concerned about protecting the brand, name and value of The Nutcracker, as this is their cash cow that keeps all the other ballet shows running for the rest of the year. Having the proletariat running around their theater during the holidays is bad enough, but discounting the remaining seats close to the curtain is just too much. The Lincoln Center has decided it would rather take the loss in ticket sales than damage the overall brand of The Nutcracker and thus they leave the seats empty.

Nutcracker Ticket Buyer Tips and Tricks

Some enterprising patrons have found that if they can buy a cheaper seat that gets them into the theater, they can move to these better (unsold) seats during the performance. The only problem with that is other patrons at this theater have a bad habit of piling their coats and other belongings on these empty seats, so to avoid the mob scene that often accompanies the coat check at the end of every show.

Posh Patrons Buy Two Sets of Nutcracker Tickets. The Ultra-Rich Buy Them For The Same Night:

Bucking the trend of the modern Broadway theatergoer, many well-heeled Upper-West-Side New Yorkers will often see the show twice. Each time from a different vantage point in the theatre. It has also been known for a few a the very rich patrons to buy two sets of Nutcracker tickets to different sections on the SAME actual night and move position between the seats during the intermission to get the full effect of the show. Their ultimate goal is to see the close ups of the dancers from the orchestra in the first act and then experience the glorious large dance ensemble in the 2nd act from the 1st ring, especially for the later scenes in the show.

Student Discount Ticket Program:

The Lincoln Center does operate a student discount program for ballet and other shows at this theatre (and all it's other theatres too), but that program is not applicable to The Nutcracker. No ticket discounts are available for The Nutcracker for students The ticket price is what it says and there is no negotiation on price. Although the Lincoln Center has dallied with some offers on daily deal web sites, no offers for The Nutcracker are available through any of the common daily deal sites like Groupon, Living Social, Gilt, Amazon Local, Travelzoo and Goldstar. Even if the NYCB were inclined to do discounts to this show, these web sites are far too common for the management that runs the Lincoln Center as, for them, "money" is a dirty word and "discounts: is an expletive.

Discount Tickets For Children At The Nutcracker:

The Nutcracker at David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center is a magical annual event for adults and kids alike, but there are no Nutcracker ticket discounts available for children who come to this show. The ticket prices for children are exactly the same as the ticket prices for adults. Young children that do not occupy a seat also need their own ticket, which is the same price as an adult ticket, which is a good reason not to bring them in the first place.

Bringing Young Children To The Nutcracker:

The Nutcracker show is not suitable for children under 5 years old, even if they are asleep the whole time. The show is a long two hour ballet. If you insist on bringing your under 5, they can go on your lap (but they will get bored very quickly) Lincoln Center requires you buy Nutcracker tickets for your under 5, even if they are asleep the whole time (some old people nap too, but they still have to pay). Did we say don't even think of bringing your under 5. OK we just said it again. Just don't bring your under 5. Doc McStuffins doesn't like ballet tutu's that much and neither will your fellow audience members like you very much when your little precious bundle disturbs their enjoyment of this perennial New York ballet favorite. Not sure why Lincoln Center doesn't just come out and just ban the under-fives just like Broadway theatres already do, but they probably just want to appear family-friendly to everyone, even though they are decidedly not in this case.

Group Nutcracker Ticket Discounts:

Groups of 20 people or more will receive group discount rates for George Balanchine's The Nutcracker at a 30% discount on the face value of individual tickets.
Other than just discounts, group ticket purchases also come with some other benefits:

  • Groups only need to pay for a 50% deposit on the invoice to hold the tickets. Full payment (the other 50%) is due 30 days prior to performance, otherwise the tickets will be cancelled and provided back to other groups or will be be opened to normal retail sales of the tickets.

  • Groups are able to purchase a "behind-the-scenes" tour at the New York City Ballet, something right out of Black Swan with opportunities to interact with company dancers and the musicians on the show. See where the movie was shot.

  • Groups also get discounts at the exclusive Juilliard Cafe where they can provide many dining options or even gourmet boxed lunches for the group.

  • Groups can get reserved bus parking

Ticket brokers often buy group tickets, leveraging the group discount and the returnable nature of the tickets if they do not pay the remaining second 50%. The do not usually have to forfeit their deposit.

To get group tickets call the New York City Ballet Group Sales Department at: 212-870-4200

When Is The Best Time To Buy Nutcracker Tickets?

By the time each November rolls around, the best Nutcracker tickets (including the first few rows of the orchestra and the front rows of each of the rings) are long gone. Those tickets are usually snapped up by the various groups that have special ticket access before everyone else. These include senior patrons, guild members, inner circle and other priority members in the pre-sale that happens during the summer months prior to the show. These groups do not usually get a discount on the tickets, but they do get to buy all the good seats prior to the general public sale.

Many ticket brokers also have these memberships and they try to buy as many Nutcracker tickets as they can to resell on ticket services like Stubhub. The brokers also leverage the group tickets process to increase their yield on ticket resales. The NYCB does little to curb these actions.

The general and open public ticket sales for The Nutcracker usually starts in early September and continues throughout the run of the show into January the following year, although by late November almost all the ticket inventory is sold anyway. As the show progresses through its season, many cancelled tickets become available at the box office, but these tickets are often not available by telephone or internet.

Single seats are often left unsold to protect the brand and the NYCB eats the loss of these , rather than sell them at a discount and devalue the brand of The Nutcracker

Nutcracker Ticket Delivery Methods:

There are three choices for the ticket delivery method during the Nutcracker ticket purchase process (either on the website or over the telephone).

  • Hold at Box Office
  • Normal Delivery Method
  • Print at Home

HOLD AT BOX OFFICE: Pick up your tickets at the box office when you arrive at the theater on the day of your performance. For more details about how to pick up your tickets at the theater box office, please visit the Box Office Information page.

NORMAL DELIVERY METHOD: Tickets ordered at least two weeks before a performance can be delivered to shipping addresses in the United States via First Class Mail by the United States Postal Service. We are unable to mail tickets to international addresses.

Once your ticket order is confirmed, you will receive an order confirmation email and a second email containing a PDF file of your ticket(s) to the email address associated with your account. Please print this file and bring it with you to the theater to gain admittance to your performance. If your ticket type includes complimentary add-ons, the coupons for these services will be mailed to the billing address on your account, or held at the box office for orders placed less than two weeks before a performance.

Nutcracker Tickets: The best sight lines and best value tickets:

The David H. Koch Theater at the Lincoln Center offers a wide assortment of seating choices, but very few seats provide close-up views of the stage due to the oversize orchestra pit and the wide and deep shape of the seating in the theatre. As this show is not a play, it is actually good not to be too close to the stage. The David H. Koch Theater has 2,586 seats with five outer ring levels, which would be described in Broadway terms as balconies. When you start to move up the rings, this theatre can start to feel more like the immense Radio City Music Hall and by the time you get to the far reaches of the fifth ring (which must be 80 feet above the stage) it feels almost cavernous. Most orchestra sight lines are very good, with the center orchestra being decidedly the best views of the dancers, but poor for the large dance scenes themselves. The center sections of the five rings offer good views, but the views drop off rapidly the higher in the rings, or the further off-center you get.

Avoiding The Fifth Ring:

The fifth ring is a very odd location to see The Nutcracker. The location tends to offer better views of the ceiling than of the actual stage and therefore the tickets are priced accordingly. The "bleacher creatures" in those outer reaches are usually there to listen to the amazing orchestra and are more interested in celebrity-spotting than to actually see The Nutcracker performance itself. If you suffer from vertigo, these seats are also not recommended as people have been known to faint or throw-up during a performance as the stage is directly below you and the whole experience can be uncomfortable at best, nauseous at worst. It is like being a skydiver falling onto the stage, but never actually landing on it. The fifth ring is perfect for Extreme Games fans, but terrible for your Grandma.

The Best Value Tickets:

Many dance fans prefer to sit high up in the David H. Koch Theater to get the full scope of the dance, but too far away(or too high up) and they could feel like they are watching a distant television screen. This means that to get the best sight lines (assuming you won't be going to the show twice, the first in orchestra and the second in a ring) you have to find the perfect balance, which is very tricky at this theatre given its size. Ultimately, the best value tickets are the rear orchestra, first ring (center and sides) or 2nd ring center. These are the best spots that balance the views, sound, ticket price and overall experience.

Free Shipping On All Ticket Orders:

For online or phone sales there is no cost for shipping the tickets to you. The tickets will come via USPS, standard US Mail. If Normal Delivery Method is an available option on the website, tickets ordered within 14 days of a performance can be delivered to shipping addresses in the United States via First Class Mail by the United States Postal Service. Tickets ordered fewer than 14 days before a performance will be held at the theater box office for pickup on the day of performance only. For orders with shipping addresses outside the United States, tickets are automatically held at the theater box office for pickup on the day of performance only.

Audience Dress Code At The Nutcracker

If the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at The Radio City Music Hall is described as a wonderful holiday show for the masses, the annual ballet The Nutcracker at The Lincoln Center could be described as an amazing cultural festivity, steeped in history and pomp that has been reserve for New York high society for over 50 years. Given its cultural heritage, it is expected that patrons wear their Sunday best to the ballet and, although tolerated, only tourists from out of town would wear jeans and tee-shirts to this event.

Ladies should wear evening dresses and cocktail attire, while gentleman should wear suits or at least sport coats with shirts and ties. Children should be wearing their Sunday best, with girls in dresses and boys in suits. The Nutcracker at The Lincoln Center is the epitome of sophisticated culture in New York City and the expectation is that that it should be treated as such.

The show does not want to be viewed as high-brow, but It is also not designed to be a cheap dessert for the proletariat. Given the high expectations in dress (and bucking the Broadway theatre strategy), food and drinks cannot be taken into the David H. Koch Theater at any time.

Politically Incorrect Scenes - Stereotypes and Abject Racism In The Show

The Nutcracker is not known for having questionable content, but there are a few scenes in the show that are uncomfortable at best and quite racist at worst. We are not talking about the new 'woke' agenda that is finding its way into everyday life, but a clear and present dated attitude that permeates the show.

One has to remember that this show was conceived in a very different time period, in St. Petersburg, Russia at the Mariinsky Theater in 1892. This was a time when air travel did not even exist in people's imagination and when Chinese and Arab cultures were clearly a novelty. That time that has long since past, but the content in this show has not changed very much in those many years since and the ballet dancers in this show still depict caricatures that are downright demeaning to many cultures and ethnicities.

We are not talking about the ridiculous ultra politically-correct ethos of not having a Christmas tree because it is forcing the Christian ethos on other faiths; We are talking about scenes in the show that are overtly insulting to those of Asian and Arabic descent. Modern audiences embrace the show but have criticized the ballet’s ethnocentrism, which pandered to the original audience, an audience that has long since left this mortal coil.

What we are left with is a ballet written for them, that we embrace (rightly so, because it is a wonderful show), but with a few caveats. Balanchine's rework of the original ballet in the mid 20th Century did much to improve the rampant racism in the show, but it still lingers in many of the uncomfortable scenes like "Chinese Tea" and "Arabian Coffee" where racial and ethnic stereotypes abound, causing theatergoers to squirm in their seats at its content.

These scenes can feel like a short walk around a perverse version of Disneyworld's World Showcase and it seems no-one at New York City Ballet (NYCB) has the courage to make the changes to this glorious Christmas tradition to bring it up-to-date with modern sensibilities.

Balanchine's Nutcracker may be a beloved show at the Lincoln Center, but why does it get a pass on racist stereotypes?

The problem may be that the actual ballet form is not-at-all progressive, so the show is not designed to be highlighting racism to change it. It is an accepting art form that may be hiding covert racism behind its own steeped tradition.

Calls to get Balanchine's Nutcracker updated to a more PC friendly format has fallen on deaf ears as traditionalists have dug in their heels. It is anticipated that it is only a matter of time before the blatant racism in the show is finally removed and replaced with something more befitting a show of this kind. Many people believe that If Balanchine were still alive he would be the first to change the show as to not offend anyone.

The Nutcracker certainly needs updating, but in a way that adds value to it, not take it away. With the NYCB already doing very poorly at its own racial diversity at the board level and The Nutcracker cast of ballet dancers being mostly white (albeit with a light skinned Asian), an all-black cast would be the progressive shot-in-the arm that Balanchine's Nutcracker could use to bring it roaring into the 21st Century, instead of squeaking in.