How to See the Entire 2017 San Francisco Ballet Season for Less Than $200

Do you love the Nutcracker? The San Francisco Ballet is performing it again this holiday season and I can’t wait to see it! It’s been a treat to see ever since I was a child. Living in San Francisco, I’m fortunate to be able to see the San Francisco Ballet (SFB) whenever the company has a performance and my schedule permits.

You might wonder how this is possible given that tickets to the ballet can cost a pretty penny. I used to feel the same until I learned of some of the company’s great deals. Here’s how to get discount tickets to see the entire 2017 repertory season plus the Nutcracker for under $200.

To give a bit of background, I admit that I’m a huge fan of ballet and the performing arts in general. The only thing stopping me from attending show after show is the cost of all those tickets. They really do add up. Add in an extra ticket for a guest and going out for dinner out beforehand and you might not want to tally it all up.

I’ve also noticed that ticket prices have gone up in recent years. In 2009, I sat in the Dress Circle Premium section for Swan Lake for (I think) approximately $90 per ticket. This past 2016 season, those same seats for a Saturday night performance of Swan Lake were $175. I’m confident that inflation can’t account for all of that.

I should mention though, that I understand why ticket prices have gone up. A tremendous amount of costs goes into putting on professional productions, more than I care to list without boring you. The one reason that I want to highlight is that ticket sales help to retain world-class dancers and pay them a professional wage. SFB is a business too and needs to sustain itself.

That said, I'm always looking for ways to enjoy the activities I love while sticking to a budget. Thankfully, SFB recognizes this and offers several ways for fans to see performances at discounted prices.


1)     Join The List

If you're a young adult, you can join The List, a program for people ages 21-39 to attend upcoming performances for only $25. An email is sent out the Monday before each week's performance notifying members of last-minute discount tickets. Click and purchase. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

Often some of the best seats are still available. In 2015, I watched Romeo & Juliet from the Grand Tier section. Last season, I saw Copellia and Onegin from the Dress Circle and Orchestra sections. All of those are excellent seating areas.


2)     Standing Room

This past April, I decided to attend a performance of Swan Lake at the last minute. The entire run was completely sold out so I knew I had no chance of getting tickets through The List or even at full price. I had heard about standing room and decided to give it a try for only $20 a ticket. 

Standing room is exactly how it sounds. You stand for the performance, which isn't the most comfortable position for 2-3 hours, but there is a partition to rest on and you can wander or sit during intermissions. I ended up with a great view of the stage from just behind the Orchestra section and went home a happy camper. 


3)     Student Rush

Being a student in and of itself can be a costly endeavor. But that doesn’t mean that you should have to give up on seeing the performing arts. If you’re a full-time student, you can see SFB performances for only $11 or $22 through the Student Rush option.

The easiest way to get informed and get first dibs on tickets is to sign up for an SFB account, register for Student Rush, and send a copy of your student identification. You have to be a full-time student to qualify.

Then, similar to The List, you’ll receive emails on Mondays with the week’s performances that have discount tickets available.


4)     Senior Rush

If you’re over 65, Senior Rush is another option. Tickets run $32. You can register for Senior Rush in advance by signing up for an account with SFB and sending in proof of age. Then you’ll receive an email on Mondays to notify you of the week’s performances with discount tickets. Click to purchase and you’re set.

Through the use of SF Ballet’s discount ticket options, it’s possible to see all eight programs of the 2017 season and the Nutcracker for under $200. That’s an incredible deal!

Whether you are a ballet fan or not, I hope that high ticket prices won't stand in the way of your experiencing the performing arts. Check out whether companies in your area offer similar options such as rush tickets or pay-as-you-can performances. You may get some great deals too.

The SFB repertory season starts January 24, 2017, and runs through early May. I can’t wait to see it all!


What deals do you use to see the arts on a budget? What have you seen that you’ve really enjoyed?


SF Ballet