Experience more: saving money on entertainment events

Money-saving strategies for entertainment

It make take some effort to begin saving money on concerts and festivals. However, it can easily lead to experiencing more, and getting more value out of entertainment events for a smaller price.

Saving money on entertainment events ranges from savings on tickets and seats, to add-ons and daily costs of attending events lasting several days.

Learn about the strategies to save money on these entertainment expenses, and find out why the highest balcony seats at opera houses offer the most value, courtesy of Money Bear Club.


In general, the price range of entertainment tickets goes like this:

  1. Tickets for sponsors;
  2. Tickets for important guests;
  3. Tickets for the staff;
  4. Tickets for bargain hunters;
  5. Tickets for certain social/age groups;
  6. Tickets for all other people.

All tickets for sponsors and important guests are given out free-of-charge. Event and company staff may be given free tickets, or they are given an opportunity to buy them at a discount. Tickets for groups 4 to 6 are only given with, at most, a medium discount.

This means that for the majority of ticket buyers, getting a large discount, or a free ticket, is next to impossible. However, there are always unconventional approaches to saving money.

Even for small business owners, sponsoring events can pay off. Publicity; increased recognition of the brand, and the connection of it to positive experiences, can boost revenue. Receiving free tickets to events, and giving them away to staff can be an easy way to boost their morale, and consequently, their productivity.

Important guests often belong to the sponsor category or the local celebrity/influencer category. The only shortcut to getting free tickets to events by belonging to this category, is creating an entertainment review website, and writing reviews in exchange for free tickets.

Since many people (418,300 in USA) work in the entertainment industry, it is possible that someone in a friend or family circle of a ticket buyer also works in it. Inquiring politely about unneeded free tickets is always an option for people looking to save money.

Advanced ticket buying strategies

factors to consider before buying tickets
Important factors for ticket purchases. Copyright: Money Bear Club.

For events which focus on a more obscure pastime or a performer, it always pays to not rush to buy the tickets. Thinking logically, concerts of less well-known artists should be cancelled more frequently. This should happen because of smaller negative consequences the artists would receive. Hence, buying a ticket at a date closer to the event, could mean foregoing dealing with a ticket refund.

Tickets for obscure pastimes often deal with a lower demand. In contrast to more popular events, people selling tickets on the secondary market could post lower prices. Monitoring social media for cheaper tickets on the secondary market, is an option for people attending events of more obscure performers.

Few people explore the cheapest option first. Paying for event tickets, especially if an attendee can’t afford them, can be foregone by participating in ticket lotteries. Ticket lotteries are frequently organised by the organizers of events, ticket agencies, or B2C companies. Some ticket lotteries require effort to be put in to get accepted as a participant (e.g. creating a video). Yet, most are as simple as signing up to an email list or liking a post.

People who frequently attend various entertainment events and performances can easily save money by getting a card with lifestyle discounts. Many bank cards, phone contracts, and other long-term financial commitments, offer lifestyle cards or lifestyle discounts for their clients. Since these cards are given free of charge, getting one can be as easy as going through existing financial commitments, and searching for ones with lifestyle discounts.

Ticket price range

It doesn’t matter what is the exact event a customer is buying tickets to: show, play, recital, symphony or opera. If an entertainment event involves more than 2 tiers of ticket prices, then as a rule, the middle of price range tickets should never be bought.

Low-cost tickets have specific benefits. High-cost tickets have specific benefits. But middle range tickets don’t offer any of these benefits. They neither present the opportunity to save money, nor the opportunity to enjoy the comfort offered by high-cost tickets.

The main problem with middle-range products becomes clearer by examining the bigger picture.

Buying a good or a service implies a need for it. Buying a middle or upper price range good, implies a requirement for quality, and/or more additional opportunities for the use of the good.

By buying a middle range product, a buyer makes a choice to pay for a quality product with more functions and uses. However, the buyer does not take this one step further, and communicates that he/she is not willing to buy the (presumably) highest quality product. In the end, buying a middle range service, is making a tentative step towards quality, but not a strong leap.

In the article Finances and health issues: essentials and tips only few know, the price anchoring effect is discussed. In its simplest form, price anchoring is done by offering two products: one with a standard price, and one with outrageously high one.

This effect makes the middle (and low) price options seem more valuable. That’s a consequence of the fact that the lowest price option is far cheaper than the other option. Being aware of this effect, could contribute to a more critical glance towards middle range products.


The choice of a seat can make or break the entertainment experience. Even if seats that cost the most are booked, there is zero guarantee that they will be the seats that give the most entertainment and comfort value to the attendees.

This frequently happens with high cost balcony  seats (1, 2), and high cost front sitting seats at concerts. These seats tend to be in high demand.

There are people who enjoy music better if they are seated in a less crowded area, like balcony seats right next to the stage (1). However, fully experiencing a band’s or an artist’s performance is best done in the front row, right next to the scene. Popular music is a communal experience, and buying a standing zone ticket will give the most entertainment for the lowest monetary sum.

If visitors of an arena prefer sitting, then buying a ticket for the cheaper balcony seats (3, 4), would be a good choice. Those seats are rather cheap, and offer only a slightly worse view of the stage compared to more expensive balcony seats (1, 2).

arena seating plan
General arena seating. Copyright: Money Bear Club.

In contrast, operas and symphonies are musical experiences best absorbed by being separated from the crowd. Seats in the parterre leave much to be desired. Parterre seats are the cheapest, and often are said to provide the most value for their price. However, opera-goers have many complaints related to them. Frequent complaints include hearing those seated nearby murmuring, talking, or even eating during performances.

opera seating names
General names of opera seats. Copyright: Money Bear Club.

Side-balcony seats, or sometimes named lodge seats (in blue), are favoured by individuals looking for better seats than the parterre, but cheaper than the balcony seats. Side-balcony  seats can be one of the worst seats. The need to turn the neck towards the scene can ruin the whole experience.

A step above the parterre are mezzanine seats and highest balcony seats. Money Bear Club proposes that highest balcony seats, and then mezzanine seats provide the most value for their price to opera-goers. Mezzanine seats aren’t the best seats, as they are often pushed backed into the building, and under the balconies. This construction, along with taller people sitting in the parterre, can easily block the view of the stage.

Highest balcony seats are truly the best opera seats. The price for highest balcony seats often is very close to the price of parterre seats. Yet, highest balcony seats offer a very good view of the stage, lower chance of seat neighbours disturbing the performance, and rather good acoustics.


Most add-ons at concerts and festivals aren’t worth the price attendees pay for them. In this article, add-ons are defined as the extra perks that come with buying tickets of more expensive price tiers.

In contrast to freebies offered to early ticket buyers (this is discussed in the next section of the article), the add-ons of more expensive ticket tiers are an easy way to throw away money without a good use.

For some people that would be good deal, but for many, it isn’t. Paying more than the base tier most of the time is paying for overpriced perks. These range from complimentary drinks and T-shirts, to meet and greats and exclusive accesses.

Since concert and festival organisers are working to maximize their profits, some do it not entirely ethically. This is done by offering cheap perks with expensive ticket tiers.

A mental estimate of the price the event organisers have paid for add-ons, can help to decide whether to buy a more expensive ticket. If the price is close to the difference of a more expensive ticket, and a ticket without these perks, then buying the more expensive would be a rational choice.

Since there are many entertainment events there this difference in ticket prices will be very large, a mental estimate could help to save money.

Long events and daily costs

Lowering the daily cost of multi-day events can be done by following three simple rules. These rules are:

  1. Seeking out free opportunities.
  2. Buying in bulk.
  3. Booking early.

Seeking out free opportunities is an essential step to extreme budgeting. The same rule applies to saving money on events spanning several days. Giveaways, ticket lotteries, freebies, and free opportunities coming from social interactions, can lower the costs significantly.

Simply asking for free or reduced-cost access, inquiring about unsold perishable items, or creating a group with acquaintances for cheaper access to events, are free and easy ways to reduce the money spent on entertainment, and related costs.

Buying in bulk can come in many forms. Be it tickets or food, buying more than less leads to lower per item costs.

advantages of buying in bulk
Advantages of buying in bulk. Copyright: Money Bear Club.

Group tickets come with discounts. Buying discounted food in bulk leads to very big savings. Entertainment activities at events are cheaper for groups. Many necessary goods for multi-day entertainment events like music festivals are cheaper if higher quantities of them are bought.

Early booking, from smaller to larger parts of events, always helps to save money. Although booking early means a stronger commitment to attending an event, it helps to significantly lower the total cost of festivals or longer events. Since tickets make up the majority of the total sum spent on longer events, booking early is the most important step for lowering daily costs.

Moreover, booking early also often gives more free goods and options. Booking early can mean an easier access to better lodging or more highly-sought entertainment. People who book early are often “rewarded” for it by receiving freebies like accessories or goods useful for the event.

Even if the free goods offered in exchange for an early booking may seem to have a small monetary value, they still will help to lower the overall cost.

Fun and money

The acknowledgement that saving money can lead to better experiences starts the path to saving money on concerts and festivals. The acknowledgement that high-cost options can be provide better value for their price than middle and low-cost options, completes this path.

More money spent on fun experiences does not always produce more fun. Partly, because people can de-value experiences because of their reduced cost. However, the action of saving money can also give exciting emotions.

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