San Diego Civic Theater

Witness fantastic plays, ballets, and operas in Southern California's largest performing arts venue, the family-friendly San Diego Civic Theatre.
San Diego Civic Theater
A Theatre for All
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San Diego Civic Theatre: A Theatre for All to Enjoy

Upon opening its doors in 1965 the San Diego Civic Theatre has offered its patrons an unrivaled selection of brilliant theatrical events. Built at the cost of $4.1 million, and with a seating capacity of 2,967, it is the biggest venue for performing arts in the southern California region.

Upon entering the Grand Salon, you will gaze in wonderment at the Theatre's most famous architectural piece. The chandelier weighs 2,800 pounds, with 52,000 Bavarian crystals twinkling, drawing attention from all eyes around the room. The beautiful design fills the room with character, allowing you to immerse yourself in the full experience.

The Theatre is owned by the city of San Diego and operated by San Diego Theatres to benefit the local community and visitors alike. Throughout its history, it has played a role as the community's focal point during:

  • Inaugurations
  • Governmental announcements
  • Religious gatherings
  • Political rallies

The Theatre is also the home base of the San Diego Opera and Broadway San Diego. On a regular basis, it hosts the California Ballet and the La Jolla Music Society, as well as touring operas and dance companies.

This venue offers a wide range of performances! It presents many of the most popular Broadway musicals, plays, and concerts. The theatre has even hosted lectures by such luminaries as Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson and Maya Angelou!

The San Diego Civic Theatre aims to be an inclusive venue. As a beacon for the theatres and arts in San Diego, the theatre strives to offer performances that are staged to appeal to every type of audience. Many are intended for families, and children are very welcome at age-appropriate shows. It is the belief of the venue that developing a love of ‘theatre’ from a young age will enrich them their whole lives.

The best part? If you've ever wanted to go behind the scenes and learn more about how opera and other shows are created, the volunteers and staff of San Diego Opera are ready to show you around! Book a free backstage tour and access the parts of the Civic Theatre, which are not usually seen by the public.

You'll not only get to view the spectacular costumes and scenery up-close; you'll witness the inevitable bustle before a performance as the backstage crew and performers get ready to work their magic.

Backstage tours cannot be booked in advance and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis, for patrons with tickets. For apparent reasons, numbers are limited, but there are usually 3-4 tours of around 15 minutes each, before each show. It is worth coming early to guarantee your place, as this experience is guaranteed to deepen your understanding of the Theatre and enrich your enjoyment of the performance you've come to see.

Located in the heart of Downtown San Diego, the Civic Theatre is within easy walking distance of the city's buzzing nightlife. It's in the perfect location for you to get a taste of the sweet San Diego culture.

If you’re playing on visiting the Civic Theatre for a performance, consider staying at one of the many hotels within walking distance. Located within the Core-Columbia neighborhood of the Downtown San Diego area, the theatre is minutes away from some of the best hotels in San Diego. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to pick but we made a quick list of a few of our favorites we think you’ll enjoy!

Popular Hotels Nearby
Popular Hotels
Price
The US Grant
$265
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Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego
$206
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The Westin San Diego
$127
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The Sofia Hotel
$167
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What You Can See at this Award-Winning Theatre

World-Renowned Classic Performances

Few venues can claim to equal the range and breadth of productions offered by the San Diego Civic Theatre. Since opening in 1965, it has hosted over 5,000 different shows.

Broadway San Diego stages many of the world's best-loved musicals. Les Misérables comes to Southern California! Now in its 36th year and having been seen by over 120 million people in 52 countries, San Diego's Civic Theatre adds its name to the list of venues.

Other touring shows range from Mean Girls to 1776: The Musical. So, whether you're looking for the intensity of multi-Tony award-winning Hadestown or prefer the 'dance-in-the-aisles sparkly celebration' that is the Cher Show, you'll find something to suit your taste. San Diego Civic Theatre always has a packed and varied calendar featuring the best in contemporary dramas and musicals.

Local Tips
Meet the Cast
Some productions, for example, opera, may offer a free pre-performance lecture before the curtain goes up. In the evenings, these begin at 6:40 pm, and for Sunday matinees, they start at 1:10 pm.

Ballet Performances

San Diego Civic Theatre is also the perfect place for the staging of ballet classics such as The Nutcracker. Jared Nelson's innovative choreography for the California Ballet's most recent production, supported by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, wowed festive audiences and critics alike.

While the full run time was a little over two hours, in line with the Theatre's mission of inclusivity, the company also offered matinees featuring a 60-minute family-, toddler-, and sensory-friendly version.

Live TV Show Events

Who doesn't love popular TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance? San Diego Civic Theatre regularly plays host to the touring versions which feature the stars you've come to know over the seasons, and the performance you love them for.

The Theatre continues to offer a diverse calendar featuring the best global talent in every area of the performing arts, so keep an eye out for the latest attractions.

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Local Tips
How much can you save by using the Go Pass?

The Go San Diego Pass is the perfect way to explore more attractions and activities that the area has to offer, all while being cost-efficient.

With the Go San Diego Pass, you can save up to 55% off admission fees at some of the area’s most popular attractions.

The Theatre is Open Year-Round

San Diego Civic Theatre runs a year-round program of events, with outstanding seasonally themed productions such as The Nutcracker during the holidays. Whatever time of year you visit, you're sure to find a production you'll remember forever.

If you're planning to tour downtown San Diego during your visit, there are a couple of ideal times, depending on your preferences. If you're someone who loves any major city's tourist season, then June, July, and August are the best time.

If you're more of an offseason fan, March, April, September, and October still brings warm weather with less of a crowd. Since the Theatre offers programming year-round, you'll even catch an excellent performance during these times as well.

Featured Hotel
The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego
Exterior view, The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego
Historic
Historic
Luxury
Luxury
Near Bay
Near Bay
5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
History and luxury mix beautifully at US Grant, A Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego. Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, this distinctive hotel pampers every guest.
Prices Starting at $265
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Get Your Tickets to an Amazing Live Performance

To purchase tickets to these fantastic events, you can go to the San Diego Civic Theatre website. From there, you can select the show you want to attend. The ticket prices fluctuate depending on the play, ballet, or musical you choose.

You have balcony seating that usually starts at $39 per ticket. The orchestra and floor seating begin around $69 per ticket. If you can, you want to choose either orchestra seats or mezzanine as those are considered the best seats in the house!

Purchase an All-Inclusive San Diego to Explore the Area's Top Attractions

The San Diego Civic Theatre is located in the heart of downtown. Before your show, you can keep up with the art theme and visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, or even take a San Diego City Tour.

If you're staying in the area for a while, the Go San Diego Card All-Inclusive pass is an absolute must. This will give you free access to over 50 attractions, allowing you to save over 55% when you visit just two participating attractions in one day. If you purchase the pass via our website you can save an additional discount to the already discounted rates.

Popular Activities

San Diego Harbor Cruise
San Diego Harbor Cruise
$28 per person
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The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
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GoCar: Downtown & Gaslamp Loop
GoCar: Downtown & Gaslamp Loop
$34 per person
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The San Diego Maritime Museum
The San Diego Maritime Museum
Discounts Available
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Additional Tips and Information for a Worry-free Experience

Lot Parking
Lot Parking
Street Parking
Street Parking

Parking Information

The good news is that you can park, free, on the street, weekdays after 6 pm and all day on Sundays. As an alternative, for only $10, you can use a space in the nearby Civic Center Plaza Garage.

Arrive an Hour Early

It's a good idea to arrive an hour early, go through security screenings, and give yourself time to settle into your seats. You won't be able to enter the auditorium once the performance has begun.

Arriving early can also help you beat the crowd. This way, you can also take the time to enjoy the architecture and art that this venue has to offer.

You Can Meet the Cast!

Some productions, for example, opera, may offer a free pre-performance lecture before the curtain goes up. In the evenings, these begin at 6:40 pm, and for Sunday matinees, they start at 1:10 pm.

For some productions, there may also be an opportunity to meet the cast and creative team at a post-performance Talkback. When the curtain comes down, after a 10-minute break, these take place in the Dress Circle. They're a unique opportunity to meet the cast, ask questions, and find out more about what happens behind the scenes.

No Food or Drink Allowed in the Auditorium

Patrons are not allowed to bring food and drinks into the auditorium. However, there's no need to go without a tasty snack or your favorite beverage! You'll find food vendors on the Theatre Concourse from 5:30 pm (or noon on Sundays). They all accept cash and credit/debit cards.

Hours of Operation

The box office is typically open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday. The venue is accessible during this time as well and on weekends.

Hours of operation are subject to change without notice. It's a good idea to check the hours the day before your trip; this way, you have the most up to date information.

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Stay Nearby

The US Grant
Luxury Hotel
5 Star Rating5 Star Rating5 Star Rating5 Star Rating5 Star Rating
The US Grant
from $265 / night
View Hotel
Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego
Near Cruise Port
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego
from $206 / night
View Hotel
The Westin San Diego
Family Friendly
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
The Westin San Diego
from $127 / night
View Hotel
The Sofia Hotel
Near Cruise Port
4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating4 Star Rating
The Sofia Hotel
from $167 / night
View Hotel
Show more San Diego Hotels >>
Tours & Adventures
San Diego Harbor Cruise
San Diego Harbor Cruise
$28 per person
Buy Now
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
Learn More
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