Frequently Asked Questions
Visiting Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site
Q: Is a ticket required to tour the theatre?
A: Yes. All visitors must have a ticket to visit Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site. A limited number of same-day tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at our Box Office beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Advance reservations are recommended during tourist season. Please note that entrance to the theatre may be a few minutes later than the ticketed time because of large crowds.
Q: Is admission free?
A: Advance individual tickets are $3.00. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $2.50. A limited number of free tickets are available at the Ford’s Theatre Box Office beginning at 8:30 a.m. for same-day tickets on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals are limited to six tickets per person for same-day tickets.
Q: What will I see while I am there?
A: A visit to Ford’s Theatre includes entry to the theatre, the Petersen House and the Center for Education and Leadership. Visitors may choose to visit the newly renovated Ford’s Theatre Museum. In addition, Ford’s Theatre offers a variety of programming to its visitors. A visit to Ford’s Theatre may include:
- A presentation by a National Park Service ranger
- A one-act play presented by Ford’s Theatre Society
Please note that Ford’s Theatre is a working theatre, and as such the theatre may close occasionally for performances or rehearsals.
Q: What is in the museum?
A: The museum tells the story of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, from his arrival in Washington in 1861 to the legacy he left. The exhibits also paint a picture of Washington, D.C., and the United States during Lincoln’s presidency. It features a remarkable collection of historic artifacts, including the deringer that John Wilkes Booth used, as well as the clothing and boots that President Lincoln wore the night of his assassination.
Q: What is the Center for Education and Leadership?
The Center is located at 514 10th Street, NW, across the street from the theatre and adjacent to the Petersen House, where Lincoln died. Two floors of permanent exhibits addressing the immediate aftermath of the assassination and the evolution of the Lincoln legacy. Featured exhibits showcase funeral artifacts from the National Park Service collection never before displayed for public viewing; a recreation of the Virginia tobacco barn wherein John Wilkes Booth was ultimately captured and killed; and a Lincoln Memorial theatre exploring Lincoln’s power to effect social change.
Q: What is One Destiny?
A: One Destiny is a 35-minute one-act play featuring two actors. It depicts the events of April 14, 1865, through the eyes of Harry Hawk and Harry Ford, two men who were there.
Q: Will I see the box where President Lincoln sat?
A: Visitors can see the exterior of President’s Lincoln box from both levels of the theatre. The box itself is rarely open to the public in order to conserve and protect the space and its furnishings.
Q: Is the site appropriate for younger children?
A: We recommend the site for children ages 8 and up. The exhibits in our museum and Center for Education and Leadership discuss death, assassination, violence and hanging, which may be inappropriate for younger children. If you are concerned about the content of the exhibits, please let a staff member know when you arrive to the site. Our staff can provide a Family Guide that focuses on content more appropriate for younger audiences.
Q: How long will it take to visit?
A: We recommend allotting the following amount of time:
- Ford’s Theatre Museum: 30-45 minutes
- Ford’s Theatre: 30 minutes
- Petersen House: 15 minutes
- Center for Education and Leadership: 45 minutes
Q: What are your hours?
A: The Box Office opens at 8:30 a.m. (except Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day). The site opens at 9 a.m. for visits. Final entry into the museum is at 4:00 p.m. Final entry into the theatre is at 4:30 p.m. Final entry with a historic site visit or performance ticket into the Petersen House and Center exhibits is at 5:00 p.m. The site is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, and the theatre may be closed at various times to accommodate rehearsals and performances. For a calendar of events, click here.
Q: Is there food available at the site?
A: Yes. Ford’s Theatre now has concessions, offering beverages and snacks in the lobby areas. Only bottled water is allowed into the exhibit and historic areas.
Q: Is there a place to check oversized bags/luggage at the site?
A: Ford's Theatre does not have a coat check. For safety reasons, we are not allowed to hold oversized bags or luggage for our visitors. For safety and because of space limitations, we do not permit oversized bags or luggage to be taken through the site. We recommend visitors leave their luggage with their hotel.
Visiting Ford’s Theatre for a Performance
Q: How do I purchase tickets?
A: Tickets can be purchased online or call (888) 616-0270. A $2 restoration fee per ticket and additional Ticketmaster surcharges apply. The funds raised by the restoration fee ensure that we can continue to upgrade the site, improve accessibility, replace equipment and create a welcoming and safe environment for our visitors. You can also visit the Ford’s Theatre box office in person to purchase tickets. Members may call the Membership Hotline at (202) 434-9545.
Q: Are there additional fees if I purchase at the Ford’s Theatre box office?
A: The $2 restoration fee per ticket is also charged at the box office.
Q: Is there a limit to how many tickets I can purchase?
A: Discounts are available for most of our Mainstage productions. If you are purchasing a discounted ticket (i.e. senior ticket, military ticket), there is a limit to how many you can purchase. There is also a 10-ticket limit for the run of A Christmas Carol. If you have a group of 10 or more, we suggest you contact our group sales office.
Q: I saw tickets to Ford’s Theatre available on a site other than Ford's Theatre site. Is it okay to purchase these?
A: Only tickets sold Ford’s Theatre and outlets authorized by Ford’s Theatre (such as Goldstar and Ticketplace) will be considered valid. Tickets sold through re-sale outlets and websites may not be honored.
Q: What should I wear to a performance?
A: We have no official "dress code" for attending plays at Ford’s Theatre. Our patrons usually dress in business casual attire. However, we'd rather have a patron come in jeans and a sweatshirt than not come at all out of concern for how they are dressed.
Q: What time should I arrive? What if I am late?
A: We recommend arriving 20 to 30 minutes before the performance begins, so you have time to pick up your tickets, pre-order concessions, visit concessions, the gift shop and the restroom, and find your seat. If you are late, the house manager will seat you at his/her discretion. There are monitors in the lobby that will allow you to watch the action onstage if you are waiting to be seated. If you are a group of 10 or more arriving late, you may also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Can I visit the museum, Petersen House and/or the Center when I come for a performance?
A: The Ford's Theatre Museum (located below the historic theatre) is open one hour before performance time and during intermission. Your performance ticket can also be used to visit the Petersen House before 5 p.m. Sometimes, Ford’s Theatre will have a special exhibition related to a performance in the Center for Education and Leadership (located across the street from the theatre). If the special exhibition is related to the performance, a performance ticket also includes access to the Center’s exhibits. Patrons with tickets to an evening performance can visit the Center exhibits beginning at 5:30 p.m. The Center remains open until 6:30 p.m. Matinee patrons can visit the Center’s exhibits before or after the performance. You can find out more about special exhibitions here. Please note: The above does not apply to One Destiny.
Q: What if I can’t find my ticket?
A: The box office staff can reprint your tickets for you. Please allow additional time to visit the box office when you arrive.
Q: Where do I pick up my tickets? Do I need to show ID or a credit card?
A: The box office is inside the new theatre lobby. Please have a photo ID ready.
Q: Is this show appropriate for younger children?
A: We recommend the following ages for our productions:
- One Destiny: ages 8 and up
- History on Foot: Detective McDevitt: ages 8 and up
- A Christmas Carol: ages 5 and up
- Come From Away: ages 12 and up
- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: ages 17 and up
- Ragtime: ages 12 and up
Ford’s Theatre Society does not recommend children younger than five attend mainstage performances. All patrons regardless of age must have a ticket.
Q: How long is the performance?
A: Approximate run times are:
One Destiny: 35 minutes
A Christmas Carol: 2 hours (including one intermission)
Come From Away: 90 minutes (no intermission)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf: Approximately 3 hours (including two intermissions) Ragtime: Approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes (including one intermission)
History on Foot
Q: What is History on Foot?
A: History on Foot is a walking tour of downtown Washington led by an actor in costume portraying a character from the Civil War. Currently, Ford’s Theatre offers one History on Foot tour:
- Detective James McDevitt revisits the sites and clues from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Both public and private tours are offered.
Q: How long are the walking tours?
A: The McDevitt tour lasts approximately 2 hours. The distance walked is approximately 1.5 miles to 1.6 miles. We suggest comfortable shoes.
Q: Does the tour include entry into the Theatre?
A: No. History on Foot may be paired with a theatre entry, but the walking tour does not enter the Theatre. To schedule a visit to the Theatre, click here.
Q: What if I want to go on a History on Foot tour, but I can’t do it at the time they are scheduled?
A: You can reserve a private tour for a group ranging from two to forty for a flat fee of $680. Private tours are subject to actor availability.
Q: Does Ford’s Theatre offer gift certificates?
A: Yes. Purchase online or call (888) 616-0270.
Q: I am with a D.C. school. How do I arrange a visit?
A: All schools in the D.C.-metro area that would like to schedule a visit should email our Education Department or call (202) 638-2941 ext. 537. Ford’s Theatre will waive the convenience fee for advance reservation and subsidize transportation for DC public and public charter schools. DC public and public charter high schools may also be eligible for free tickets and transportation to theatrical performances on select dates. We encourage all DC schools to download our education and community programs brochure from the website or call the number above for more information.
Q: Are firearms allowed at the National Historic Site?
A: Firearms are prohibited in Ford's Theatre, the Petersen House and 517 10th St. Please visit the NPS site for more information.
Craig Wallace and David Selby in "Necessary Sacrifices." Photo by T. Charles Erickson.