How to get tickets to the Bayreuth Festival?
The Bayreuth Festival is a top destination for all Wagnerians. But attending a performance can become a real quest for the Holy Grail, and some people get the tickets after several years of waiting. How can you find them?
The traditional way
Note that you will need patience... a lot of it. If, just like other mortals, you have no connection whatsoever to the Wagner family, you'll have to sweat it out. Wagner's descendants are still running the festival, 141 years after its creation by Richard Wagner in person. In order to get the tickets and finally climb to the top of the picturesque hill where the theatre was built, you “just” need to fill out an order form. Every autumn before the festival, the form is made available and, once completed, you have to send it by traditional post to the ticket office.
In December - or sometimes January - you will get an answer if you are one of the lucky ones, and then they will send you an invoice to purchase your tickets. Don't worry if you don't get your tickets immediately on your first try, it's actually quite normal. You will then be able to reiterate your request through a ticket application form that you will automatically receive at your place. You will be sent a ticket application every year. Now, if you have not heard from them by mid-January, you'll have to apply again and again. On average, it may take up to 7 or 8 years to finally have access to the festival. It is important to remember that you must send the ticket application back with your request every year until you manage to get tickets. If you miss a year, you will lose your turn in line and you will have to start the process all over again. Also, your wait depends on the performance you have chosen and on the programme. If you want to see the premiere of a new production, this will diminish your chances of being selected.
It is now possible to fill out the form and select performances online, instead of sending a letter every year, although this does not speed up the process.
No shortcut is guaranteed; however, some Wagner lovers have found a way to get their tickets to Bayreuth in advance. Becoming a member of one of the many groups and circles dedicated to Richard Wagner can help you find reserved tickets. Anyway, some who have already tried say it is too unpredictable and it's not worth the price of the membership.
Another method that could actually work: joining the Society of Friends of Bayreuth. It is the only institution to have an influence on the festival, financing it and ensuring the maintenance and restoration of the theatre; they have a dedicated ticket office and you'll have to wait less time to get your tickets. But on the other hand, you will need to pay an annual fee (at least 200 euros) and you will constantly be asked to help with the restoration and the financing of the theatre. However, this method is not 100% guaranteed, since 20% of the applicants do not get their tickets. Plus, the number of members is increasing every year. There is an approximate demand of 500,000 and only 58,000 tickets to the annual event.
There are some tickets on the black market, which is risky and expensive, as you can imagine. Every year there are many fake tickets in circulation, with a price of up to 4,000 euros. Another technique is to send several application forms using different names for the same family, in order to increase your chances. Keep in mind that this contributes to increasing the demand as well as the price of each ticket...
A final word to the wise: it may be useful to check the festival website, where you can also find last-minute tickets!