How to Get Free or Discounted Tickets to Shows, Parks and Museums

The best things in life are free, as the saying goes, but that’s hard to keep in mind when your favorite concert is playing in town, and you’re low on cash. There are plenty of ways to get free or discounted tickets to shows, parks and museums, not to mention sporting events and other entertainment venues. Even better, these are ideas that don’t involve pulling out a strategy from a sitcom and dressing up as a package delivery guy for the venue or sneaking into the back entrance.

Scoring free tickets to events has been possible for a long time. Radio stations, for instance, are famous for their concert ticket giveaways to the seventh caller or whatever number the DJ settles on. But these days, there are more ways than ever to find free or discounted tickets to shows, parks, museums and other venues.

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Radio Contests

Just because it’s an age-old idea or kind of a long shot doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good one.

Amy Nguyen is the director of sales and marketing with Catalina Home, a flooring products manufacturer. But if you could make a career out of winning tickets from radio stations, she probably would be at the top of her field. “Just to name a few, I’ve won tickets for ‘Wicked,’ Nickelback, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Keith Sweat, ‘Shen Yun,’ The Killers and many more,” Nguyen says. “In fact, after winning the concert tickets for John Mayer, I was entered into the grand prize drawing for front-row tickets — and won those tickets!”

She adds, “I won my first Instagram contest this year, but most have been from the radio.”

Nguyen has some tips for those who want to follow in her footsteps. “I say luck has a lot to do with it, but having the number dialed right as they are announcing the call-in contest helps,” she says.

Nguyen says you can’t get discouraged and try to think strategically as you call. “Continuing to hang up and dial repeatedly is what it takes. To be the correct 20th caller for example, I know that if I’ve dialed three times or more and don’t get through, they would’ve already gotten a winner.”

Sweepstakes

Don’t forget that along with radio stations and Instagram, there are numerous brands and companies offering free tickets as prizes.

Sweepstakes Fanatics, for instance, is a website that specializes in sweepstakes and often has giveaways to movie tickets, sporting venues, concerts and theme parks. Other sweepstakes websites worth checking out include SweepsAdvantage.com, ContestGirl.com and GiveawayFrenzy.com, among many others.

Check Out Groupon

Groupon is well known for offering discounted coupons to social events, like theme parks and concerts, museums and trampoline parks, among other things.

“I’ve used Groupon to get concert and sporting tickets for extremely cheap,” says Ben Michael, vice president of operations at Michael & Associates, a criminal defense law firm in Austin, Texas.

“Usually the seats aren’t super close, but when you can avoid spending hundreds of dollars, it’s totally worth it. I think a lot of people don’t realize that Groupon can be used to score great deals on tickets since it’s typically associated with things like groceries or travel.”

It’s worth a shot. You aren’t likely to find free tickets — Groupon is a business, after all, that probably wants to stay in business — but will you find discounted tickets to a plethora of places? Definitely, and you’ll likely find tickets to shows and events that weren’t on your radar.

Become a Member of a Seat Filling Organization

Larry Snider, vice president of operations for Casago Vacation Rentals, suggests you check out SeatStir.com, an entertainment membership program.

According to Snider, you would be functioning as a seat filler. “Event promoters want their events to be packed. It looks bad when a venue is empty. To avoid this, sometimes they’ll find people to fill seats, so the venue looks packed,” Snider says.

This isn’t an idea that will work for everyone. With Seatstir.com, you pay a monthly membership fee of $9.50 for two free tickets or $16 a month for four. If you sign up, you should be committed to the idea that you’re going to see some shows, but you won’t know what tickets to which shows you’ll get until after you sign up.

If you and your family or friends don’t like the shows being offered, obviously, you don’t go. But you may find that you’re being offered completely free (other than your membership fee) tickets to comedy shows, the opera, concerts, theater performances and so on. You may get amazing seats; you may find yourself in the back row. If you aren’t picky and have a sense of adventure, it could be a fun way to see a lot of shows for free. SeatStir.com is available in 25 cities across the country.

Look for Volunteer Opportunities

“If you want to get into events for free, consider volunteering for the event,” says Nick Mueller, director of operations of HawaiianIslands.com, a website offering information about Hawaiian vacations. “Most event organizers need local help with logistics — meaning that if you sign up as a volunteer you can get into the venue for free as long as you’re helping out.”

For instance, in Hawaii, Mueller says that many of the state and national parks rely on volunteers to keep things operating year-round.

“One event that’s always a tough ticket — unless you help with crowd control or ticketing — is the Pearl Harbor Day remembrance activities at the Pearl Harbor memorial,” Mueller says. Granted, volunteering and working hard at an event may not be the way you wanted to experience it, but it’s an option.

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Go to Your Library

It’s never a bad idea to visit your library. But Gary Grewal, a certified financial planner in Sacramento and author of “Financial Fives,” has a lot of ideas on getting free tickets — and he says that the library should be on your list of places to turn to.

“Many libraries provide free passes to state parks, museums, and art exhibits. Denver Public Library offered this when I lived there,” Grewal says.

Grewal also says that if you belong to a credit union, they’ll sometimes have free or discounted tickets to events.

Follow Your Favorite Places on Social Media

Grewal says that this works well with music venues. “Many bands will list giveaways to stir up excitement, and you can score free tickets as easily as answering a trivia question correctly,” Grewal says. Frequenting the website of places you’d like to go to can pay off for a lot of venues and not just bands.

“For example, the National Park Service publishes its lists of annual free days every year, like National Public Lands Day,” Grewal says. (National Public Lands Day in 2023 is Sept. 24, a Sunday. There are other days throughout the year that your favorite national park will be open for free.)

Lower Your Expectations

Kind of like volunteering for a venue, it may not hurt to think strategically about where you want to go. You may come up with a way to partially experience something, rather than experience the whole event. For instance, Grewal says that he has strategically gone to festivals and events when they were close to ending — and has been allowed to come in after the ticket booth has been closed.

Look Into Making the Event a Side Gig

If you like the idea of working for free to access an event, you could look into taking on a part-time job at an entertainment venue. Last summer, my 18-year-old daughter worked at a concert venue, where her main job was to show people to their seats. It was actual work that she was paid for, and she didn’t always get to sit in a seat and watch concerts, but sometimes, she did — and was always at least hearing the concert. She saw — or at least heard in the background — Rod Stewart, the Backstreet Boys, Jimmy Buffett and Chicago.

[See: 35 Ways to Save Money.]

The Last Word on Free Tickets

You won’t find free and discounted tickets for everything, but if you look hard enough, you may get lucky. Your odds of scoring free tickets will vastly improve if you make your own luck by searching high and trying all the options above. In other words, to get discounted or free tickets to the right place, you’ll need to try to be in the right place at the right time.

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How to Get Free or Discounted Tickets to Shows, Parks and Museums originally appeared on usnews.com

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