Your Foolproof Guide to Ballet-Going Success


At SF Ballet, we want your whole night to be magical—so we spoke to our resident ticketing guru Betsy Lindsey, our associate director of ticket and patron services, and got her top tips for success.

The Early Worm Catches the Ballet
Arrive early! The War Memorial Opera House is a great place to people-watch, so come early to check out what everyone is wearing, to have dinner or a nibble and a cocktail, and to just to generally soak up the excitement. Latecomers will be asked to stand in the back of the main floor or top balcony level for the first act, so arrive on time so you can enjoy the performance from your seat.

Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats!

Park Smart
If you are driving, arrive even earlier! The fun can’t start until the car is parked, and parking can be scarce. Consider the underground parking lot at Civic Center Garage, but most importantly, arrive early enough to snag a parking space so you can relax and enjoy your SF Ballet experience. Or take BART or Muni and leave the car at home.

You want to be in here, not waiting in your car.

Make a Meal of It
The theater opens one hour prior to the performance, but did you know there is a full bar and restaurant in the lower level of the Opera House that opens two hours before each performance (except Saturday’s matinee, when it opens one hour in advance)? Pro tip: for early food and beverage service, go to the North Carriage entrance on the courtyard side of the building.

Food: tastes so much better when you have more than five minutes to consume it.

Indulge in Some Retail Therapy
Did you know SF Ballet has a shop on the mezzanine level of the Opera House with unique jewelry, scarves, apparel and much more? Stop by to leisurely shop for friends, family, or yourself!

Treat yourself to some SF Ballet merchandise!

Be Wily at Will Call
The SF Ballet Box Office in the Opera House opens at noon on weekdays and at 10am on Saturdays and Sundays. If your tickets are being held at Will Call, consider picking up your tickets early and then going for food and drinks or a stroll through Hayes Valley shops. Will Call lines can be lengthy starting about 45 minutes before the performance.

Get those tickets in your hand, and enjoy the show.

What’s your top tip for a great night at the ballet? Tell us in the comments!

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  1. avatar Stephen Whitney
    Posted May 1, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Start early, so you won’t get too stressed if the traffic is bad, or if BART is delayed. It’s much better to arrive an hour early and have a snack or just relax.

  2. avatar Open Studio 455
    Posted May 2, 2013 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    So true, Stephen: if there’s just one tip we’d give our audience, it’s “be early”! It makes for such a better experience.

  3. avatar Peggy Rust
    Posted May 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Get there *very* early and have a chat with the ushers (before they start ushering, of course). Many that I’ve met are passionate, knowledgeable ballet fans and great fun to talk to. I even ran into one ushering at Zellerbach when the Mariinsky was here.

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