Sandwiched between Boston Common and Chinatown, the Boston Theater District is known for its many historical theaters, as well as restaurants and nightspots catering to theatergoers. People have flocked to this area since the 19th century to enjoy everything from opera and dramas to dance, concerts, and comedy performances.
Having developed in the 1800s following the 1793 repeal of a Puritan ban on theaters, Boston’s Theater District reached its peak with around 50 theaters during the 1950s. Numbers declined with the arrival of movie houses, but the late 20th century saw a revival, with several historical venues restored and reopened. Today, the quarter hosts more than a dozen major theaters, including opulent early 1900s venues such as the Opera House, Emerson Colonial, and Cutler and grand spaces such as the Wang Theater—the biggest in the district.
Theatergoers can choose from a wide variety of performances, each given a distinct character by its venue. Options range from pre- and post-Broadway shows to classic dramas, concerts, and performance arts—the latter exemplified by the resident Blue Man Group at the Charles Playhouse. If you’re considering seeing a show, it’s wise to book ahead to secure seats, save time, and avoid potential disappointment.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Prebook your tickets online to save time and hassle once in Boston.
- Make a night of it by dining at a Theater District restaurant before or after a show.
- Many older theaters boast grandiose interiors. Leave extra time to admire the ornate lobbies and auditoriums.
- All key theaters are wheelchair-accessible.
How to Get There
The Theater District centers on Tremont Street, Boylston Street, and Washington Street south of Boston’s Downtown Crossing area and between Chinatown and Boston Common. Roads can be busy and parking garages expensive, so the easiest travel option is the ‘T’ subway. The closest stations are Chinatown on the Orange Line and, on the Green Line, Park Street, Arlington, and Boylston Street.
When to Get There
Most shows run daily, with evening performances usually starting at 7:30pm. Some shows also offer matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays. Peak seasons are May–September and pre-Christmas, when prebooking is advised.
Don’t-Miss Shows in the Boston Theater District
Aside from Broadway big hitters such as Les Miserables, the Theater District boasts its own crop of long-running shows. The Blue Man Group and comedy whodunit Shear Madness—America’s longest-running nonmusical show—draw crowds daily to the Charles Playhouse. Other hits include the annual Boston Ballet production of The Nutcracker at Boston Opera House every November and December.