The Aldeburgh Literary Festival Ticketing Policy

Over the past 18 years we have developed a system.  We have decided that this is the least worst system for our particular problem, which is horrendous oversubscription. 

We will endeavour here to answer some of your frequently asked questions about our first-come first-served system. 

Please remember that we are a completely independent festival, without sponsorship or grants, which is the way we wish it to be. 

When will I receive a Booking Form?

Booking forms are sent out in the post with the brochures at the beginning of January.  We cannot give a precise date as we don't know ourselves how quickly the printers can deliver the finished product.  We aim to post it as soon after New Year as possible.

Why can't I book by telephone or email?

Applications can only be made by returning the completed form to the bookshop either in person or by post.  We have neither the staff nor the e-commerce resources to set up a telephone or website system for an event that only takes place once a year.

By taking only physical forms we are giving the advantage to local Aldeburgh and Suffolk residents.  These are the people whom we hope are our regular customers and who support the bookshop throughout the year.  So please note, Aldeburgh, you do have the advantage.  We don't mind if you make multiple applications for friends.

Last year I brought my form in to the bookshop as soon as I got it but didn't get all the tickets I wantedWhy is that?

We date-stamp the forms in the order that they are received at the bookshop.  Last year some of the forms arrived on Friday, but all the brochures were posted at the same time second class on Thursday.  So even if you brought your form in at 10.30 on Saturday morning, your ticket application could still have been unsuccessful.  We had several hundred applications by mid morning Saturday last year.

There will always be some element of lottery in this process.  All the brochures are posted at the same time.  If your postman delivers it early than your neighbours, then this is completely out of our control.  (We have had reports of the postman being bribed to come early!)

Some of the more popular events sell out within a few hours of the tickets going on sale.  Every year it gets faster.  We have over nearly 3,000 people on our mailing list.  We have only 235 seats in the Jubilee Hall.

We could charge more for each event, which might limit the applications: but we do like the idea that the Festival is open to all.  We don't want to exclude people on grounds of expense.  We have kept the ticket price reasonable over the past years.  And also please note that there are no hidden extras for using credit or debit cards or sending the tickets out.  Unlike other web-based ticketing sites.

Why don't you limit the number of tickets per household?

We have explained over the years that we don't mind people putting in multiple applications or pooling applications.  Bookclubs sometimes wish to come together and we don't feel it is up to us to limit any group.

Will I have more chance of getting tickets if I buy the Rover Ticket to all events?

Not really.  We allocate the same number of Rovers each year.  So for a few hours of booking, some people will get tickets to everything where some individual events have already sold out.  But it all evens out.  In the past few years all the Rovers have sold out as well, in which case we will ring you to offer you what tickets we do have.

The Rover encourages people to go to some of the talks that they might not otherwise select.  Every year people express surprise about enjoying a talk that is slightly outside their normal area of expertise.

Why don't you have a Friends Booking Scheme?

We don't have a Friends or Priority booking scheme, because the Festival is just not big enough.  There is no charge to be on the mailing list.  If you paid to be a Friend or be on the mailing list, then you would be understandably annoyed if you didn't get the tickets you wanted.  We just aren't big enough to have a Priority Booking system.  We do now explain the situation to people when they ask to go on the mailing list.  If you don't want to be on the mailing list and enter the fray, then do contact us and we will take you off the mailing list immediately.

Why don't you select the applications by ballot?

As we've explained, the postal and physical application process favours the locals.  And it's a Postcode Lottery, as to when your post arrives.

Everything sells out, so is there any point trying to apply for tickets?

As soon as one event sells out, the rumours fly that it is all sold out.  This is rarely the case in the first week of booking.  Not everything sells out, and we encourage you to be adventurous and try the lesser known names.  We keep a waiting list for every event and endeavour to contact you as soon as any tickets become available.

And to conclude ...

We hope that covers most of your questions.  Do please try and remember that we want you to come and we want it to be a happy and stimulating Festival.  We do hate having to disappoint people, but we are often oversubscribed so it is inevitable that some people will not get tickets.

If you don't get tickets one year, then do try again.  Or move to Aldeburgh.




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