If you’re looking for a fun night out in Toronto but don’t want to burn your entire paycheck, then let me fill you in on a little secret. As a student or new graduate, you can score some cheap tickets to experience the city’s vibrant performing arts scene. From the opera to the ballet, here are five suggestions on how to get cheaper performing arts tickets within the city.
- Toronto Symphony Orchestra
Do you adore classical music? Or perhaps you’re a former band kid who misses listening to live orchestral music? If so, then look no further to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) for your regular dose of mind-blowing performances at Roy Thomson Hall.
If you are between 15-35 years old, sign up for TSOUNDCHECK to score tickets for as cheap as $19! For tickets that are usually $60-$750, that’s a steal!
While single tickets go on sale two weeks before a performance, getting your tickets as early as possible is important as these seats sell out quickly.
Bonus: TSOUNDCHECK members can purchase up to four tickets per concert and your guests may be of any age. Therefore, the TSOUNDCHECK ticket buyer is the only one who needs to be between 15-35 years old.
After securing $19 centre balcony tickets to see the TSO Holiday Pops concert last December, and with shows like Copland’s Clarinet and Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty on the horizon, you will not regret purchasing tickets to see world-renowned TSO performances.
While I have never seen a Soulpepper production, it’s definitely worth checking out, considering it’s free through their Free 25 & Under program. That’s right; you can gain access to theatre productions and talkback events, all for free!
Tickets must be picked up by the purchaser with a valid ID at least 30 minutes before the performance. If you’re looking to attend a preview performance, you can get these free tickets in advance, while attending a regular show requires you to purchase your ticket online on the same day beginning at 8 a.m.
- Mirvish Productions
If you’re a musical theatre nerd or desperately want to escape from the craziness of everyday life for just a moment, then this is for you.
Two words for you: Rush. Tickets.
Same day rush tickets are tickets you can get on the day of the performance and are subject to availability. Upcoming musicals such as Six the Musical and In Dreams are offering $39 same day rush tickets (limit of two) that can be purchased online, by phone, or at the respective box office starting at 9 a.m.
Note that there is an additional $5 charge when purchasing rush tickets online or by phone. Even though these tickets are on the pricier end compared to the other performing arts options listed in this article, I promise you that rush tickets are much cheaper than the average $100 you will spend for the same seats.
Last October, I saw Singin’ In the Rain for $64 ($59 rush ticket plus a $5 service charge) and saved about $40 — not bad! As a big fan of all things musical theatre, it was honestly one of the best things I spent money on. For two and a half hours, my midterm blues magically disappeared after being immersed in the tap dancing spectacle and show-stopping tunes. The point is that money spent on musical theatre will always be worth it.
- The National Ballet of Canada
And if musicals are not your thing, check out a ballet performance instead! The National Ballet of Canada has some fantastic shows this season, such as The Nutcracker and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
If you are between 16-29 years old, you can sign up for a free DanceBreak membership to access seats for as low as $45. Similar to the other options listed above, DanceBreak tickets are not available for every performance and are subject to availability. Note that these tickets can be purchased as of midnight on the day of the performance. Also, something I just learned, tickets for The Nutcracker are not available through the DanceBreak program.
If you really want to see The Nutcracker this December like I do, you can get standing room tickets that will be available to purchase at 11 a.m. on the day of the performance in person at the box office only. At only $12, these tickets are much cheaper than the DanceBreak tickets. While I have yet to try this out, a friend highly recommended that this is a very good way to experience a ballet performance on a student’s budget.
A limited number of rush tickets also go on sale at 11 a.m. on the day of the performance. Discounts vary depending on the performance and can be bought online with the promo code RUSH, over the phone, or in person at the Four Seasons Centre Box Office.
With so many options available to get cheap tickets, there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t see a ballet performance at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.
- Canadian Opera Company
Interested in seeing an opera? With the Opera Under 30 program, you can get a $27 ticket ($22 plus a $5 ticket fee) to see an opera at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts if you’re between 16-29 years old. Similar to the TSOUNDCHECK program, those between 16-29 years old can bring a guest of any age for $27.
As someone who wasn’t a huge fan of opera going to seeing Tosca, the experience has taught me to never underestimate how entertaining operas can be. If you sit in the balcony section as I did, make sure to bring a pair of binoculars!
Also note that you have to pick up your tickets at the box office no later than 30 minutes before the show starts, so be prepared to show a piece of ID.
Like The National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Opera Company offers both standing tickets for $12 and rush tickets for same-day performances. Definitely check out these alternatives if you’re feeling a bit impulsive!
This season is shaping up to be a great one, with iconic operas like La Bohème and Don Giovanni set to appear in the next couple of months. Give the opera a chance! At the very least, you can say that you’ve seen an opera before.
Art doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Whether you’re looking for something to do on a Friday night or you’re just looking to try new things in the city, hopefully these resources give you some budget-friendly inspiration.
Who can resist a night out supporting Toronto’s performing arts and your wallet being able to breathe a bit better? It’s a win-win situation! Have fun!