Bargain time for holiday shows; discounted tickets available online

Discounted admission to José Mateo Ballet Theatre’s “The Nutcracker” at The Strand and “Black Nativity” at Roxbury Community College are just some of thousands of bargains currently available through the Mayor’s Holiday Special (MHS).

Now in its eighth year, the marketing campaign is operated through a website ( which when used wisely, can really stretch those increasingly scarce entertainment dollars. This is Boston’s one-stop holiday entertainment website, which the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events created in partnership with local non-profit ArtsBoston and the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The site offers information about ArtsBoston’s year-round half-price day-of-the-event sales (most shows will offer something in this category) as well as easy access to buying full-price tickets for a later date.

The “special” part of the MHS is that here many productions slowly roll out half-price tickets for future dates. This year’s site offers both holiday-themed and non-holiday shows. Popular attractions in the first category include the newly revamped “Radio City Christmas Spectacular” starring the Rockettes, Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker,” The Christmas Revels and Boston Holiday Pops and Handel’s “Messiah” presented by Handel & Haydn Society and Boston Baroque. Non-Yuletide options include “Peter Pan,” “Shear Madness,” even First Night buttons.

Since its inception, The Mayor’s Holiday Special has welcomed over 86,000 people to a holiday show – enough to fill Fenway Park more than twice, or Symphony Hall 33 times – saved ticket buyers over $2 million and put $2.5 million directly into the local arts economy. In 2010, the $10 restaurant voucher attracted nearly 15,000 downloads for twenty restaurants.

MHS reinvests every dollar patrons spend on theatre, dance and music tickets back into Boston’s arts community, helping to sustain and grow local cultural programming.

Half-price ticket quantities are limited, and allotments change daily. Visit early and often, and be the first to know about new additions and special offers with email and social media alerts. In addition, MHS is a great resource for free events like the December 9 “Mayor’s Holiday Special at the Strand- Celebrating 10 years of Boston Community Gospel.”

The site also lists restaurants participating in the special voucher program ($10 off a $40 or more purchase,) including Brasserie JO at The Colonnade, Masa in the South End, Kingfish Hall at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, and Upstairs on the Square in Cambridge.

The two-month program runs through January 1.