The baseline info:
Tickets look exactly like the one pictured above. The Ring consists of one ticket only, which is valid for all 4 performances. On every ticket is a printed name and identification number. You are not allowed to use a ticket,which does not carry your name on it, and (in theory) you should carry identification with you (see below). If you do have a ticket, which does not bear you name (there may be a perfectly legitimate reason for that – such as going with a person who has another surname than yours) – you will need to go to the Ticket Office (Kartenbüro) and have the ticket re-named (which they do on the spot). The above precautions are an attempt from the Ticket Office to minimize the black ticket market.
In order to prevent the sale of Festival tickets an the black market er through
secondary trading we reserve the right to make admission to the performances
dependent not only an possession of a valid entrance ticket but also an
presentation of a valid means of identification with photograph. We wish to
point out that tickets which are acquired through unauthorized advance booking
agencies or intermediaries etc. or at exhorbitant prices cease to be valid. For
verification purposes the entrance ticket may be withdrawn upon entry to the
Festival theatre. During the time required for verification a duplicate ticket
will be issued. Defaced tickets are invalid. For copyright reasons, photography,
filming arid the use of video arid tape recorders are strictly prohibitet in all
parts of the theatre. Cameras arid all forms of recording equipment, together
with watches with digital alarms arid mobile telephones, may not be taken into
How to get a ticket through the well-established channels:
4) Get a paper to send you as their correspondent. Maybe not such a bad idea. I didn´t try it, but could work out.
There were no generel ID checks at the entrances to the Festival Hall the week I was there. I would assume half the audience were carrying tickets without their own names on. I actually asked about this in the Box Ofiice, and they told me that if you carry the same name (ie. last name) as your companion, you´ll have no problems - otherwise you should go to the Box Office and have your ticket altered. However, sporadic checks do occur.
I witnessed something curious during the Ring: Right before Walkure, one of the blue girls at the entrance carried a note pad with 4 numbered seats written down on it – when these 4 ticket holders then arrived they were being asked their names and if they were the owners of the tickets. A friend of mine sat next to one young man singled out this way, and I was convinced his name did not correspond to that on the ticket (even though he told the ladies that it did). He told my friend he was there for the entire Ring, but...after the ticket check in Walkure we never saw him again. He was replaced by an elderly lady for Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, and the ticket had been altered, with a Box Office stamp and what I assumed was her name on it. So, I gather, if the Box Office suspects some seats to have been sold illegally they will check the seat numbers for identification. And throw out the buyer if a satisfactory explanation is not forthcoming....And the sellers are banned for life as well..
On the other hand I have personal knowledge of 2 people who´d gotten in with tickets, which had appeared on the internet with a complete photograph incl. ticket number, and they were not checked at all.
Once in Bayreuth, you may ask around at all the hotels and "tourist" venues, and that may bring you a ticket as well. But these tickets will still be considered void and official policy has it you will be banned from life if found out.
Contrary to my thoughts before arrival, this may not be such a bad option..
The Ring (Ring III): 4 hours before start of the Rhinegold only 2 people were queing. I know at least 6 people who got tickets in this queue– and that is for the entire Ring. Also a young eastern-european musician carrying a sign reading "young latvian musician looking for tickets" was offered several tickets from the Box Office, which she turned down (too expensive) before buying from a young man passing by.
Parsifal: 12 people queueing 1 hour before. I am unsure how many got a ticket. This was the most extensive queuing I observed. For the following Parsifal a couple of young guys had camped outside the ticket office with sleeping bags the night before (the roof is covered with a baldakin, so raining is no problem. Toilets are just around the corner).
Tannhäuser: I don´t know. I heard this was the most popular showing. I didn´t go.
I spoke to the very helpful ladies in the Box Office about the general numbers of tickets returned every day etc. - obviously I didn´t get an exact answer to this, but was told, that a particulary large number of tickets were returned this year. But, as the lady told me, in the morning (before the performance, red.) they had nothing - the tickets started to arrive 1-2 hours before performance start.
My impression was, that the black-market (which I´ve been told has existed in previous years) immediately outside the Festspielhaus on the day of performance has been channelled into the waiting line. I saw several people just arriving trying to sell tickets elsewhere on the hill, and if they were spotted by some personnel, they were asked to come to the Box Office where tickets were distributed to the queue. It was my impression, that the relatively large numbers of return tickets were due to the reduction of secondary trading on the hill and not to a higher return of tickets, although of course I can´t be sure.
Of course, tickets are still being sold on the parking place behind the house, or just on the outskirts of the Hill - I noticed that too. But it wasn´t too obvious.