Unprecedented demand to see Elton on the opening night of next year’s Henley Festival could leave just 700 tickets available for general public.
Tickets are currently on sale to “selected members” only, such as festival patrons, and will only be released to the public on Monday morning.
All 4,300 seated tickets in the grandstand and lawn in front of the “floating” stage for July 6th had sold out by Monday lunchtime, leaving only 2,800 of the £35 general admission tickets available.
Festival chief executive Charlotte Geeves said yesterday that more than 2,000 of these were still left but that 25 percent of the total would be earmarked for general sale following the huge demand.
The tickets give holders access to the festival enclosure but not to the main stage or seating area during the concert.
Miss Geeves admitted that the festival’s ticketing policy would be reviewed following next year’s event.
She told the Henley Standard that there had been some “unusual behaviour” in terms of purchasing habits and the festival had been been contacting buyers to ensure the tickets were for them or their families and not being resold.
The £35 ticket was introduced this year in a bid to make the event more accessible.
Lawn seating is offered at three different price bands — £70, £80 and £90 — and the grandstand at £160, £180 and £200.
Tickets have been on sale to corporate members and patrons since 8 a.m. on Tuesday last week, when Sir Elton was announced as the headline act.
Platinum members had the chance to buy tickets from Thursday last week and gold friends from Monday.
Silver friends will be able to purchase the remaining general admission tickets starting today, and bronze friends from Friday.
At least 700 may then be left over for the general public.
To become a bronze friend costs £30 a year and a patron £2,500.
Miss Geeves said the £35 ticket meant visitors could still stand right next to the concert area and watch.
She observed: “We have seen an unprecedented amount of sales in the last week for Elton John, much greater than we saw for Lionel Richie.”
Previously for any one artist the festival would normally see a 60 percent take up of tickets by the friends’ and members’ groups for an act like Richie.
But Geeves said they had seen 100 percent of its friends in all the groups applying for EJ tickets and some were left disappointed.
She stated: “The general public seem to think we prioritise and give away tickets to corporations and sponsors.
“We haven’t at all over-allocated tickets to Elton John to our sponsors. There has been no change to the allocation of sponsors’ tickets. It doesn’t increase because of one artist and it hasn’t done for Elton John.
“There are lots of events, festivals and shows in existence where tickets sell out before they go round to the general public.
“Ultimately, we want to sell as many tickets as possible and that enables us to make a profit and allows us to give grants.
“The majority of our friends are residents of Henley and have been coming to the festival for many, many years, so it’s not a corporate affair.”
She added that if restrictions were put in place that didn’t allow the festival to sell tickets it wouldn’t be meeting its charitable objectives.