Carnegie Hall, a concert venue in NYC is one of the most prestigious music halls in the world for both classical music and ‘pop’ (popular) music. However, understanding the Carnegie Hall Seating Chart and choosing which seats to buy is a different story.
Before you buy tickets for Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium here’s what you need to know:
- 1 Detailed Carnegie Hall Seating Chart
- 2 Overview of Carnegie Hall Seating Chart and Sections
- 3 The Best Carnegie Hall Seats
- 4 Pictures of Carnegie Hall – Stern Auditorium
- 5 Carnegie Hall Official Seating – Errors
- 6 User Reviews of Carnegie Hall Seating
- 7 Additional Information on Carnegie Hall from Wikipedia
Detailed Carnegie Hall Seating Chart
For Dress Circle & Balcony: red circle means obstructed view, orange restricted legroom and black means partial view.
Overview of Carnegie Hall Seating Chart and Sections
Unlike most venues, there’s no clear science to how the seat numbers at Carnegie Hall work, instead they differ from section to section.
The Parquet sections have 29 rows, starting with row A, going to row Z, than AA and ending with row CC. When facing the stage from Parquet Center (aka Orchestra Center) seat number 101 is on the aisle on the right side, while seat number 114 is on the aisle on the left side. In the right and left Parquet sections, the lower seat numbers are on the aisle closer to the center of the stage. The Right Parquet starts at seat number 2, than 4, 6, 8 etc. and ends at seat number 24. The Left Parquet starts at seat number 1, than 3, 5 7 etc and ends at seat number 23.
Therefore when sitting in Parquet Right (which is on the right side when facing the stage) or Parquet Left, you want to buy lower seat numbers. However, unlike many venues where the side orchestra seats have obstructions or limited views, this is not the case at Carnegie Hall.
Expert Tip: If you want Parquet Center tickets and you are buying tickets on a Ticket Exchange like TickPick (which we believe is the best, because there no service fees) than you have to make sure the listing specifically says ‘Center’, if it doesn’t, you should assume it’s a side section.
First Tier & Second Tier Box Seats:
The physical seats in the boxes are movable, like dining room chairs. In almost every box there are three seats in the front, three in the middle and two in the back. Each box has two doors, with the outside one locking to prevent latecomers from entering during a performance. There is a small foyer between the two doors for coats and bags. Note there’s only a small wall waist-high that divides the boxes from one another. So if you are a large group, you can buy tickets in two adjacent sections and more or less feel like you are sitting together.
Limited / Obstructed Views: When looking at the detailed Carnegie Hall seating chart below the obstructed view seats are clearly labelled. Many seats in the side boxes on the second tier are considered obstructed view seats.
Warning: When buying Box seats (tier 1 & 2) you need to be careful with the seat numbers because many of the boxes have 3 seats per a row, so it’s possible that if you buy two tickets, they will not be next to each other. For example, seat 3 is in the first row, while seat 4 is in the second row right behind seat 3. With that said, since the seats are movable you may be able to move them around so that you can sit next the person you went with. See the pictures below to get a better sense of what the box and seats are like at Carnegie Hall.
Note: Boxes 4, 6, 8, 56, 58 and 60 only have 6 seats in the box, two rows of 3. Boxes 2 and 62 have nine seats in three rows, four seats in the first row, than three seats and than two seats.
The Dress Circle section only has 7 rows: it starts with AA and ends with GG. Each row definitely makes a meaningful difference and there’s typically a massive premium for the first row. There are a lot of obstructed views in the dress circle because of the columns, so most of the aisle seats have a column that may partially obstruct your view. If possible get seats in the center three sections and try to get as close as possible to the center of the venue.
The biggest complaint about the balcony seats is the restricted leg room, like many older theaters the room for your feet and knees are extremely tight (read user feedback below for more info). It’s also highly recommended to sit in the three center sections. Unless you are in row A, the section is much more important than the row number.
The Best Carnegie Hall Seats
The best seats depends on what show you are going to see and your personality type. Nonetheless, the best seats will be between the Parquet section and the First Tier. If you rather the orchestra type of view (which is level with the performer) the best seats are Center Parquet between rows F and M. Any closer you’ll have a stiff neck and a lack of depth and perspective in your view. The Tier seats will give you a great Balcony / Box seat type of experience. Once again depending on the performance, the Box that you choose may matter. The boxes along the side will get you significantly closer to the stage, however you will no longer have the straight on view. For a concert I would likely choose a box closer to the stage, while more traditional shows I would probably resort to boxes closer to the center of the Music Hall.
Pictures of Carnegie Hall – Stern Auditorium
If you are looking to buy tickets (without any fees on TickPick), or you’re just interested in seeing the Carnegie Hall Calendar visit here: Carnegie Hall Schedule.
Carnegie Hall Official Seating – Errors
While compiling the Carnegie Hall seating map I was surprised to come across some discrepancies right on the Official Carnegie Hall Site. What I saw was that depending on the event and how ticket sales were doing, the same exact section, row and seat number was labelled differently. Seat 41 in Row C of the balcony, was labelled as “Side Balcony Obstructed View”, while for another event it was labelled as “Center Balcony”. However, when you looked at the notes for both concerts the seat was labelled as “Obstructed View”.
So what’s the point of bringing this up? Really it’s just to share valuable information with fans. If you are going to buy the best tickets in the house you probably don’t need to worry about this, but when you are on a budget, these small details are important and can make the difference of having an enjoyable time or not.
User Reviews of Carnegie Hall Seating
1. Carnegie Hall Overview From a Fan on Yelp
There are bathrooms and bars on the ground and middle floors. Though the bars serve light refreshments and drinks (including bottled beers and wine), only bottled water is allowed back in the boxes.
The museum area is located on the 2nd floor (up one from the ground floor). It’s a fun little reminder that you’re in a very culturally important historic monument. There are also bathrooms located within the museum area.
The acoustics in the auditorium are amazing! And, though the place is decent sized, it felt very intimate. There are free throat lozenges stations set up at a number of key points filled with Ricola cough suppressants which everyone should take from. The number of coughs I heard throughout the performances was inexcusable, especially when free lozenges are available.
Carnegie Hall is magical and everyone, from the ticket takers to the ushers to the performers, endeavor to make your evening a pleasant experience. I’ve never been so well taken care of at a performance venue before. I can’t wait to go back.
2. Best Seats Feedback – From Fodors
I prefer either the First Tier or the Second to the Parquet; there are locations downstairs where, believe it or not, the sound is not particularly good.
Should you choose either First or Second Tier, try for seats in the first or second row, Seats 1 through 6. Avoid Seats 7 and 8. In the Second Tier, they are tucked between structural walls that extend about a foot or so from the back wall of the box, restricting the sound, in my opinion. This option is not so bad in the First Tier, though it’s still preferable to avoid 7 and 8, even in those boxes.
3. Second Tier vs Dress Circle Feedback
The box office agent was very friendly and helpful as well. They don’t just try to sell you a ticket, they make sure you have a good view as well. I really wanted second tier but he strongly advised against it since the seats left had partial views. I’m really glad we listened to him!
4. Dress Code Info – Balcony Seats
You just don’t even want to or shouldn’t walk in here without at least dressed business casual. And another thing, the seats were made for you to not bring too many things … really nothing more than your coat and your purse. This was my first ever visit to Carnegie Hall to watch a strings orchestra presented by what looked like teenagers and young adults from a music school. I was someone’s guest who had an extra ticket and we sat in the nosebleed seats. Very high up there but we had a fantastic and unobstructed view (that could have been caused by a beam or people’s head if they leaned forward).
5. Carnegie Hall Tour
The Carnegie Hall Tour is potentially the best $8 I have ever spent in NYC. We had heard about the tour through a friend and we decided to give it a go while we were in the area. The tour guide was great, the access to the facility is amazing, and the history and crazy facts will keep everyone in your party entertained.
6. Wheelchair Access Information
Wheelchair access: Absolutely great. When you get your tickets they ask whether you’d like a chair removed or not. I sit in my wheelchair so I had them remove a seat. The morning of the show they called to confirm this is what I wanted – how great is that. There’s an elevator to the lower level and an accessible bathroom is right there. Sometimes historic establishments use their ‘history’ as an excuse not to be very accommodating – not Carnegie Hall. The people and place get a standing (in spirit) ovation.
8. Parquet User Feedback
In addition to the excellent lighting, one of the great things about Carnegie Hall is that the seats and the floor elevation are designed that even if the person in front of you is tall, you can still see the stage.
9. Restricted Legroom Feedback
We sat in row M of the balcony. The legroom was practically nonexistent. I’m only 5’4″, but my legs were right up against the seat in front of me. I just prayed I wouldn’t accidentally knee the head of the woman in front of me. I had no room to reposition my legs, cross them, anything.
10. Tight Seating Feedback
As for the concert hall itself, the main stage, called the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage is the original “Carnegie Hall”. There are four levels and the people are packed like sardines. They will seat you behind a door if you let them. There are many seats with obstructed views and limited legroom. I highly suggest you avoid these as the regular seats are quite limited in legroom as it is. I can’t imagine having less legroom. The acoustics however, are amazing. You can hear every note even from the very top of the balcony. The entire auditorium is very old – although well kept. You can tell that this place belongs to another time and generation. I highly recommend the experience even with all of its bodily discomfort.
Additional Information on Carnegie Hall from Wikipedia
Carnegie Hall’s main auditorium seats 2,804 on five levels. It was named for violinist Isaac Stern in 1997. The Main Hall is enormously high, and visitors to the top balcony must climb 137 steps. All but the top level can be reached by elevator.
The main hall was home to the performances of the New York Philharmonic from 1892 until 1962. Known as the most prestigious concert stage in the U.S., almost all of the leading classical music, and more recently, popular music, performers since 1891 have performed there. After years of heavy wear and tear, the hall was extensively renovated in 1986 (see below).