Last year there were nine applicants for each of the 53,900 seats available for the Bayreuth Festival (www.bayreuther-festspiele.de). The festival ticket office keeps a waiting list for people who apply by mail before October of the previous year. Every consecutive year someone applies, that person moves up the list. “From what I've seen, after five to seven years, you get the jackpot,” said Harry L. Wagner, the publisher for the Wagner Society of New York. Applications: Bayreuther Festspiele, Kartenbüro, Postfach 100262, D-95402, Bayreuth, Germany.
Wagner Societies get tickets, usually not enough for all members. “Generally speaking, a new member will have to wait two to three years to get tickets,” said Mr. Wagner of the Wagner Society of New York (212-749-4561; www.wagnersocietyny.org), where regular memberships start at $50 a year.
Several tour groups offer travel packages. Value Holidays (800-558-6850; www.valhol.com) offers an 11-day trip to Bayreuth including airfare, hotels, sightseeing and tickets for $5,998 plus taxes.
The truly desperate can line up at the Festspielhaus on the morning of a performance in hopes of an unwanted ticket's becoming available. “When I was nine months pregnant I stood in front of the Festspielhaus ticket office with a sign saying ‘We Need Tickets,' ” said Eva Graf-Handel, who owns a hotel in Bayreuth. “It worked.”