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Whether you object to the treatment of animals or you’re just bored with the usual dog and pony show, check out one of these animal-free alternatives to the traditional three-ring circus. For more amusements, visit cheaptickets.com/events. Use promo code TICKETS10 to get 10 percent off event tickets.

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil is big on artistry. Credit Walt Disney World and Cirque du Soleil.

La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil is big on artistry. Credit Walt Disney World and Cirque du Soleil.

Cirque du SoleilThe Quebec-based company started in 1984 and now showcases its stunts in 17 countries. Stateside, there are Cirque shows from California to Rhode Island. O at the Bellagio in Las Vegas adds water to the mix for a show that’s anything but washed up. Sin City is also how to Cirque shows celebrating the music of both Michael Jackson and the Beatles. On the kid-friendly end, La Noube in Orlando’s Downtown Disney lets families experience top-notch artistry without the top-tier theme park ticket price.

Circus Smirkus:
In this Vermont-based performance troupe, kids don’t just watch the circus; they are the circus. The cast features children ages 10 to 18 who spend summers touring New England in their one-ring, big-top circus tent. If young audience members are inspired by what they see, they can enroll in Circus Smirkus Camp to learn acrobatics, juggling and other circus skills.

Circus Center: This San Francisco training center offers adult and child classes in everything from flying trapeze to aerial (remember Pink at the 2014 Grammys?) to clowning around. If you’d rather just watch, then check out the venue’s monthly cabaret series. These professional, 21-and-up shows offer an intimate, speakeasy-style setting; a drink ticket is included with each entry for a circus experience that’s truly intoxicating.

Acrobats of China: This show is a lotcloser than it sounds. The New Shanghai Circus in Branson, Missouri displays feats of strength, flexibility and balance, including diving through hoops, juggling people and an entire family riding a single bicycle. Arrive early to see the “show before the show,” a traditional Chinese tea ceremony.

Circus Arts Conservatory: You could say Sarasota, Florida, is the circus capital of the world, being home to the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art to daredevil high wire walker Nik Wallenda. The conservatory brings performances yearround, from the kids’ Sailor Circus to Cirque des Voix, which combines circus acts with choir and full orchestra.

For more things to do, check out cheaptickets.com/events. Use promo code TICKETS10 to get 10 percent off event tickets.

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Tagged: California, City, Events, Family, Florida, Las Vegas, Tips & advice

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New York hotels
By Samantha Chapnick

With orchestra seats going for $300 (more than the cost of some New York hotels) even half-price TKTS tickets seem outrageous. It’s time to get drastic. These are the tried-and-true tested techniques real New Yorkers use to get the goods for far less.

1. Win the lottery

Several shows, for example Wicked, offer great unsold orchestra seats at a steep discount (under $30/per person) to 20 or 30 lottery winners. Each winner is entitled to two tickets. Be there at least two or three hours before the performance. Usually no more than 100 people line up so the odds are with you. Or at least better than getting hit by lightening.

If you absolutely, positively need to see the show, have a back-up plan.

2. Get rush tickets

Some shows will sell the remaining seats to either students or the general public at deep discounts ( about $20) an hour or so before the performance. Get to the box office VERY EARLY (at least 2 hours in advance) and expect lines. Most of the seats will be in the less desirable areas, but occasionally you get lucky and hit a nice orchestra seat. DO NOT EXPECT TO SIT TOGETHER in a good section. Most of these seats will be singles unless they are in the upper tiers or with a blocked view.

3. Become a member

Even if you only plan a New York vacation once a year, becoming a member of free or steeply discounted ticket brokers is well worth the price — if you are flexible. TDF.org, AudienceExtras.com,  BroadwayBox.com, and Goldstar all offer members free last-minute tickets to both major and minor shows, and discounted tickets to future shows.

For example, a membership to Audience Extras is $99/year and entitles you to two tickets per performance free ($4 service charge per ticket). In the past, I have gotten tickets to both excellent, popular shows and really terrible one-person shows. This week they are offering "To Be or Not To Be" (Broadway), Dolly Parton in concert, Branford Marsalis, and "The Tempest" with Broadway actor Mandy Patinkin.

Advice:

The good tickets go fast. Sign up to get the e-mail notification when a show is available and pounce on it. If you can’t go to a show, don’t get the tickets. They are doing these freebies to fill up the audience. If you don’t show up, you may lose your privileges and hurt others: if the theater gets too many no-shows it pulls the offer from these sites.

4. Bring a minor.

One of the main reasons New York vacations are so popular with families is because of the unprecedented affordable cultural opportunities the city offers young people. If you have a teenager or college student, especially one who attends a local NYC college, or a friend whose child you could borrow for a few hours, there are some remarkable discounts to be had out there.

First, try High Five Tickets. Anyone accompanied by a teen (13-18) from anywhere in the world can get two tickets for $5 a piece — one for the teen, one for the adult. Currently there are over 80 shows available including the Broadway show "39 Steps." Oh and as a nice bonus, High Five also gives museum entry for $5 for two to most of the major NY museums. (Again, the person picking up the tickets must have a valid student ID but can be accompanied by one adult.) Extra Bonus: There are no booking fees or service fees. Who-ho!

Next, do the student rush if the regular rush is not available.

Visit School Tix to see most family-friendly Broadway shows for about half price. Go to the "Shows Available" page and click on the icon for the show you want to find the coupon code offering the discount and book the tickets.

Finally, if your young friend goes to Columbia University, NYU or one of the other major schools in New York, get them to use their university Internet connection to get tickets. Many have sites accessible only to people with school IDs and logins that provide tremendous discounts to theater — and free entry to local museums as an added bonus.

5. Go Off-Broadway

For every one big Broadway blockbuster, there are a hundred theater companies providing a more intimate and unique experience — a much better value for your dollar in this current economic climate. Going to see a show at places like the Public Theater, Cherry Lane, Playwrights Horizons and Manhattan Theater Club rewards with brand-name bankable stars, a more intimate experience and extensive set design, without the high ticket price.

If you still want more tips, visit the ne plus ultra ultimate guide to cheap theater tickets and up-to-the-minute info: The Frugal Theater Goer’s Guide to Discount Tickets.

Oh, and next year, book one of your favorite New York hotels for mid-October when Free Night of Theater Day is held. This organization gives away 8,000 tickets to performances across the city. For more information about discounted theater tickets, visit Playbill.

CheapTickets resources:

Samantha Chapnick is a New York writer who scours international destinations looking for what hasn’t been found.

Tagged: City, FREE!, Tips & advice