With so many shows in Branson, this small Ozark town calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World! For a rundown of what’s showing where, the Branson/Lakes Area Convention & Visitors Bureau puts out a weekly calendar on its website.
Branson’s history as a live entertainment destination started in 1959, when four brothers calling themselves the Baldknobbers began performing for tourists in a converted building by Lake Taneycomo. In 1968, the Presleys, a talented family that had been performing in caves, opened the first theater on a lonely Highway 76.
Today, Branson’s biggest draws are its 100-plus different shows. Its 48 theaters boast more than 60,000 seats, with many theaters offering morning, afternoon and evening entertainment. Although the original shows were mostly performances of country music, today they cover almost everything you can think of, from many different eras. Whether your interest lies in pop, gospel, Broadway musicals, country, classical, jazz, bluegrass, swing, cowboy songs, ’60s hits or rock ‘n’ roll, you can find it in Branson. There are also plenty of other kinds of entertainment as well, from magic shows and Chinese acrobatics to comedy and plays. It’s not unusual to find entire families on stage, spanning several generations. Branson is also a popular spot for touring performers. Christmas is a particularly busy time in Branson; starting November, theaters are decorated and special shows bring top entertainers.
Branson’s shows have some unique characteristics. Many families and siblings perform together; sometimes it seems like the whole town must be talented. Branson also prides itself on providing wholesome fun; all shows are suitable for all ages. Many also pay tribute to veterans and include patriotic songs and faith-based songs. And it’s a Branson tradition for performers to meet the audience during intermission or after the show to sign autographs and pose for pictures. Several also offer meals.
Christmas shows are usually more expensive than regular season shows. To order tickets, your first strategy is to go to the theater’s website to get an idea of prices. Most prices given include the 11.6% tax right up front, but sometimes they don’t. Some online services also add a $3 booking fee. Sometimes a variety of seats are offered (the prices I’ve given here are for general admission), with the most expensive being VIP seats right up front or in the most desirable sections, so you can save money with general admission. Children generally receive discounts (children younger than 4 or 5 are often free).
Because some theaters use outside booking agencies to manage their online sales, you should then call the theater’s box office because there are other discounts that may not be offered on the website. Some theaters, for example, offer a family pass for 2 adults and up to 3 or even 5 children, certainly the cheapest way to go. Similarly, veterans with ID and their spouses also get discounts of $5 to $10, but that, too, is often not mentioned on websites. Note, however, that some theaters tack on a $1 ticket fee for those purchased through the box office.
You can also check prices against giant booking agency Branson.com, which books everything from shows and attractions to hotels. Just make sure prices quoted are deals by checking them against what you’ve learned above. Prices are sometimes the same, but I’ve also seen deals offered on theater websites (like a Spring Break Special) that may not be offered at Branson.com.
Finally, if you’re willing to wait until you get to Branson, there are other discount ticket outlets everywhere in Branson. Some have strings attached (like being required to attend a condo sales pitch) but others can be very good deals. There are also booklets and maps at the tourist office and other venues with coupons offering slight discounts not only to shows but also attractions. If you have your heart set on a particular show at a particular date, however, you should purchase your ticket in advance to avoid disappointment.