Since they first went on sale in June 2016, Elbphilharmonie tickets have been in very high demand – this spurs illicit black market traders to offer tickets at elevated prices. Even tickets for concerts that do not even exist or will exist, but haven't yet gone on sale, are offered on the black market.
One example: Viagogo
A current example: the online ticket platform Viagogo is currently offering tickets for sale for the »Concerts for Hamburg« series. Tickets for the »Concerts for Hamburg« series were actually only available via ticket registration and were delivered to customers by post. Even before the start of the registration period, www.viagogo.de was offering tickets. This is a clear case of so-called short selling, as not a single ticket for the »Concerts for Hamburg« series actually existed at the time. As tickets will be allocated at random, no seller can expect to obtain the tickets offered on Viagogo.
Viagogo has failed to respond to the Elbphilharmonie’s questions or to block the relevant offers of tickets. The moderately priced tickets for »Concerts for Hamburg«, which officially cost €8, €16 or €24, were on offer on Viagogo for up to €1,144 including booking fees.
Key questions & answers regarding black market tickets
I want to attend a concert at the Elbphilharmonie and have found diverse websites offering tickets. How do I know which websites are official and are selling authentic tickets?
It is crucial that you book the tickets for the selected concert directly on the Elbphilharmonie’s official website (www.elbphilharmonie.de). From this website you may be redirected to the website of the external promoter via the ticket button, where you can then purchase tickets. If a concert is described as »sold out« on www.elbphilharmonie.de, then you can trust that there are no further official tickets on sale in the public marketplace.
All other tickets that are offered for sale on other websites are secondary market tickets. If you search for Elbphilharmonie tickets in search engines, the top results are consumer-to-consumer platforms that give the impression of being official ticket shops. In reality, the tickets on these websites are offered by private individuals at often hugely elevated prices.
What is the risk of buying a ticket on a consumer-to-consumer platform such as eBay or Viagogo?
Tickets offered via consumer-to-consumer platforms are usually not for sale at their original prices. The original price is sometimes not visible at first glance, which makes it difficult for customers to estimate the difference in price. The published price is not always the final payment amount: multiple extra costs accumulate during the booking process. On some websites, customers are urged to complete their booking quickly to secure the apparently »last remaining tickets«.
Event promoters assume no responsibility for tickets purchased via consumer-to-consumer platforms. In the case of a concert cancellation, the admission price will not be reimbursed to customers who have bought secondary market tickets.
What measures is the Elbphilharmonie taking to prevent the illegal resale of tickets at elevated prices?
A ticket limitation has been put in place to prevent the illegal resale of tickets. A maximum of ten tickets per concert may be booked per customer per transaction for the 2023/24 concert season.
The Elbphilharmonie takes legal action against individual traders who engage in the unauthorised commercial resale of tickets. So-called short selling as well as fraudulent sellers have been reported to consumer advice centres (Verbraucherzentralen) and the Centre for Protection against Unfair Competition (Wettbewerbszentrale) in Germany, as well as to the Viagogo platform
For many events in the future, personalised tickets will be issued. The person authorised to visit the event must enter his/her/their name on the ticket; thus, the ticket is only valid for this person. Be prepared to produce a valid photo ID at the entrance!
How many tickets are being sold on the black market?
Only a very small fraction of the tickets sold for Elbphilharmonie concerts each season are sold on the black market. The Elbphilharmonie continues to work towards combating unauthorised ticket sales.
Are there other ways to get hold of remaining tickets even if a concert is officially sold out?
Remaining tickets are occasionally available at the box office 90 minutes before the start of the event.