I've been lucky to enough to get to Wimbledon a number of times over the years seeing the action on both on Centre Court and Court 1 at SW19 but as many of you know it's not the easiest tournament to get tickets for. I've sourced them in a variety of different ways since I first went in 2010 including camping out in Wimbledon Park to buying online so I have a pretty good idea of how the general public can get their hands on them.
The reason I'm putting it together is quite a few of you have asked me here on the blog about attending Wimbledon and the best way of doing things so I thought rather than answer the odd question in the comments section I'd do a full-on post.
The focus is mainly going to be on obtaining tickets but I'll throw in a few other tips that I've picked up when I've attended. So if you want to go to Wimbledon and you're not a Corporate Banker, a coke addict from Made in Chelsea with the right connections or lucky enough to own a Wimbledon Debenture for the next 5 years 😆 then this post should prove pretty useful for you.
Your Options for Getting Wimbledon Tickets
There are basically 11 ways you can get tickets which I've listed below. There's probably a couple more if you know the right people etc. and work in the PR / Sponsorship world but for the vast majority of people the list of methods below are your only options and they are loosely listed in terms of cost from low to high.
- The Public Ballot
- The Overseas Ballot
- The Club Ballot
- Camping Out (Queuing Up)
- Resale Tickets
- Touts / Scalpers
- Debenture Sales
- Ticket Reseller Websites like Ticketbis & Viagogo
- Hospitality Packages
- Raffles / Giveaways
The Public Ballot
This should always be your first port of call when it comes to trying to bag tickets but you'll need to be on the ball as you only have a 4-month window to apply between September 1st and December 31st.
To apply you send a stamped self-addressed envelope to a PO Box address found on the Wimbledon website. They then send you a ballot form which you fill in and send back.
Once they receive your entry, you're into the ballot and successful applicants are drawn on various dates from February onwards. It's all down to luck whether you get drawn and there's no way to specify which tickets you want. But there's no obligation to buy should the ones on offer or dates not appeal to you either and for the price of 3 second class stamps it's worth having an effort.
Declined or returned tickets are also re-balloted, so there's an ongoing chance you may be successful.
The Overseas Ballot
The overseas ballot is for overseas residents who have a permanent residence outside of the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man or Channel Islands. Whilst the tickets are balloted, the process is a little different – the application is done online and you need a valid email address to apply. Once you have applied you will receive two emails from Wimbledon.
The first email is to verify your application and will require you to verify you applied by clicking a link in the email. The second email will be to confirm that you have officially been entered into the public ballad for Wimbledon tickets.
Once you're into the ballot the tickets are electronically balloted. Again declined or returned tickets are re-balloted, so there's an ongoing chance you may be successful.
The Club Ballot
The club ballot is an independent ballot specifically for British Tennis Members and LTA registered venues – basically tennis clubs up and down the UK. I play at a club and upon becoming a member you have the option to become a British Tennis Member – it's free. Then just like the public ballot, there's a ballot amongst all the registered LTA Venues.
The system has recently changed and now tickets are allocated based on the number of BTM members that opt-in for each LTA Venue. So the more British Tennis Members your club has that opt in, the higher the allocation of tickets. Once allocated the club then runs their own ballot amongst members. If you're successful you can then buy the tickets online.
Obviously, this method isn't for everyone as you'd need to join a tennis club to take part. If you're not interested in playing many clubs do offer nonplaying membership that runs at a slightly reduced rate so it could be an option.
Camping Out / Queuing Up
I've camped out for tickets a couple of times and I'd recommend everyone does it at least once. More and more people are doing it each year now though so it's getting tougher to secure tickets for the Show Courts especially Centre Court.
A few years ago camping was done on the side of the pavement leading up to the All England Club but in recent years it's got a bit more organised and now the queue is formed in Wimbledon park which is about 15 minutes from the courts.
To land tickets for Centre or Court 1 you'll need to plan things correctly. So in this example lets say you want Centre Court tickets for the first Tuesday of the Championships. I'd recommend you arrive on early Monday morning (potentially even Sunday evening) and pitch your tent. On arrival, you'll be given a queue card by an Honorary Steward with your number in the queue. Keep this safe as it's basically your ticket to the Championships. Usually if you're in the first 500 then you are pretty much nailed onto to get Centre Court (you can, of course, opt for Court 1 or another show court if you prefer the schedule elsewhere). If your card is numbered between 501-1000 then you'll get Court 1 tickets and so on. Generally, there are 500 available for each show court.
Once you have pitched your tent and gotten your queue card you're pretty much set. You can take a walk into Southfields where there's a Sainsbury's to get supplies but the rules say you shouldn't be away from your tent for any extended periods.
Once the sun sets, the honorary stewards usually recommend you try to get to sleep for about 10 or 11pm. You are then woken up at about 5am and you pack up all your things. Tents and Luggage etc. can be stored in left luggage – there are limits and surcharges though and bags deposited in left luggage should be no bigger than 60cm x 45cm x 25cm. Overnight equipment, along with oversized bags, picnic hampers, and other prohibited items cost £5, with the proceeds donated towards improving facilities in Wimbledon Park. Other standard sized items cost £1 to deposit.
Once everything is packed away you join the queue and slowly work your way up to the venue. Once you reach the first set of barriers things draw to a standstill; stewards then come around with coloured wristbands that relate to which Court you want tickets for. After the bands have been distributed you are led through the barriers where there is a bag search and walked to the main gates. This process is a bit of a drag and probably lasts 2 hours or so.
When things start moving again you're moved up to the main gates where at about 10.00am you can go in and buy your tickets. Cash only. You're then allowed into the grounds and it's time to watch some tennis with play starting at 11am!
N.B. If you are being extra cautious and decide to arrive 2 days prior to play to camp – e.g. you arrive Monday at 10pm, but want tickets for Wednesday. You will join the back of Tuesday's queue and get given a queue card dated for Tuesday. Once Tuesday's campers are packed, you will move up to the front of the queue for Wednesday and be given a new queue card.
What Items You Need for Camping
For this type of camping it's best to travel light and when I camped I took the following:
- Small backpack
- Sleeping Bag
- Mat or small inflatable mattress (you can go without but it's not too comfy)
- Few toiletry items
- Small towel
- Change of clothes
- Sun cream
- Cash – you need it for tickets, there's no card terminal on the gate.
In terms of facilities, it's piss poor with just portacabin style toilets and a few sinks for washing / brushing your teeth. Not great and it hasn't changed since I first camped in 2010 (Hm I thought the £5 for luggage was used to improve the facilities 😉 ) but bearable for 1 night. There is a shower over by the tennis courts in Wimbledon Park (operated independently from the Queue facilities) which is a few pounds and hot water might be a bit flaky. That will be useful if you camp for more than 1 night.
Food wise – I wouldn't bring any cooking equipment as there are plenty food options in Southfields, with lots on offer at Sainsbury's and guys from the local takeaways are on site taking orders that are delivered to the gates at the entrance of Wimbledon Park. It won't be the greatest Pizza you ever eat but again for convenience it's the best option. No barbecues are allowed in the queue either.
There are quite a few restrictions in place but the mains one are:
- One bag only per person will be allowed into the grounds (max size 40cm x 30cm x 30cm). Further, no hard-sided items (e.g. picnic hampers, vacuum flasks, coolboxes or briefcases) are allowed into the grounds.
- Bags deposited in left luggage should be no bigger than 60cm x 45cm x 25cm.
- Overnight equipment, along with oversized bags, picnic hampers, and other prohibited items can be left in the dedicated left luggage facilities. A £5 charge will be made for the deposit of overnight equipment, with the proceeds donated towards improving facilities in Wimbledon Park. Other items cost £1 to deposit.
- No barbecues are allowed in the Queue.
You'll receive an official guide to Queuing on arrival which details all this and more.
What Time Do You Need To Arrive
There are no exact times to adhere when it comes to camping and it changes from year to year depending on attendances. Generally, they are increasing all the time which means the earlier you will need to turn up.The best thing to do is keep up with the media coverage on the Queue. There's a lot of coverage on Twitter via ViewFromTheQ revealing how full the Queue is and what number queue cards they are up to so keep checking there.
I camped for Manic Monday (Mens 4th Round, very popular day) in 2011 and camped from Friday evening till Monday morning. We arrived at about 9pm Friday and were around the 10th people to join the queue. By Saturday afternoon all tickets for Centre Court had gone. So I was there a tad early but tickets soon dried up.
In general I would say if you want tickets for Centre Court then you need to get on site at the following times:
- 1st Monday of the Championships: 8am Sunday Morning
- Tuesday: 10am Monday Morning
- Wednesday: 10am Tuesday Morning
- Thursday: 10am Wednesday Morning
- Friday: 10am Thursday Morning
- Saturday: 10am Friday Morning
- Manic Monday: 8am Saturday Morning
- Second Tuesday: 6am Monday Morning
- Second Wednesday: 6am Tuesday Morning
Please note the times above are just my estimates and what time I'd look to arrive. I haven't camped since 2013 and it's getting busier every year.
If you want court 1 tickets, just add 2/3 hours onto the times above. And the same again for Court 2 and 3. Ground passes are in plentiful supply but I'd recommend arriving at about 6am on the day of play and you'll be queuing a while for them (you may miss the start of the play). You could even camp overnight for a grounds pass, just arrive in the middle of the night and you'll likely get into the grounds before play starts.
Rememeber there are no tickets for Centre Court or Court 1 after the Quarter Finals.
Alongside the queue the AELTC also release a limited number of tickets on Ticketmaster, there's usually 2 opportunities to buy for each day of play – returns that can be repurchased and a small amount kept back for general sale. They go on sale the day before play.
It's a complete lottery as to whether you'll pick any up though – everybody wants them – touts, online resellers, and genuine fans. Quantities are always small too – I hear < 500 per day so naturally they get snapped up in no time. Worth a punt if you're sat at your computer but don't hold your breath on getting any.
Resale tickets are tickets that are resold when ticket holders leave Wimbledon early. Anyone leaving before the end of play is requested to place their tickets in the red boxes provided or have their tickets scanned on exit from the Grounds. They will be re-sold inside the Grounds, not before 15:00, from the kiosk to the north of Court 18 near the top of St Mary’s Walk. So you will need to be inside the grounds to stand a chance of getting one which requires a grounds pass.
Of course, you won't see a full days play with this method, but if you're in the grounds there's always a chance you might catch one of the big names in the last match on Centre. Especially if there have been a few long matches during the day.
You'll see plenty of touts around the tube entrances at Southfields and Wimbledon but with the advent of online ticketing, they don't seem to have the quantity or quality of tickets they once had. In fact, most of them are looking to buy spares to move on themselves.
I spoke to quite a few of them at Wimbledon 2015 and tickets for Centre and Court 1 were very had to come by. Ground passes do tend to be available though but you'll have to part with a few hundred pounds to get one.
Generally, I'd say if you live relatively close to Wimbledon, and have the cash then, by all means, turn up and see if you can buy from a tout but don't travel from afar with your hopes pinned on securing tickets from one.
Naturally be wary of things that sound too good to be true or obvious scams but in my experience, most touts aren't out to rip people off or supply fraudulent tickets. Wimbledon state they have an anti-tout policy but from what I've seen it's not heavily policed. There's, of course, a chance that if you buy a ticket from a tout you may be refused seen as though all non-debenture tickets are non-transferable but it really boils down to your appetite for risk (or desire to see Federer play 😉 )
A Wimbledon Debenture is basically 5-year ticket. A customer can purchase a debenture ticket and in return receive one ticket for every day of the Wimbledon Championships every year for 5 years.
They're priced at around £50,000 for Centre Court and £15,000 for Court 1 but interestingly they are the only Wimbledon ticket that can, as per the rules, be transferred or resold. This can be done privately or via a stockbroker.
Whilst lots of holders pass the tickets to family and friends, many debenture holders opt to sell their tickets on days they won't attend. Some choose to use some of the specialist sites like Wimbledon Debenture Holders that connect buyers and sellers whilst others will use other marketplaces.
If you go down this route then be prepared to cough up a fair chunk of cash to get your hands on a ticket as they sell well in excess of 4 figures depending on the day of the championships.
All the major reseller sites that connect buyers with sellers list Wimbledon Tickets throughout the championships – Viagogo, TicketBis and StubHub all had availability when I looked last year. The market dictates the prices for resellers so with Wimbledon the prices are sky high. You would be unlikely to see anything on Centre Court listed for less than £1500 per ticket.
This is by far one of the easiest ways to get tickets as you don't have to queue or camp – but do be careful buying online. Whilst most sites are legit (avoid ones that look fly by night and stick to the mainstream ones) – they can't always be fully policed. And you may be buying tickets that are deemed nontransferable, as per the rules.
The AELTC works with two official hospitality partners for Wimbledon: Keith Prowse and SportsWorld. As I understand they must bulk buy a number of Debenture Seats and then repackage them into a hospitality offering.
The tickets are available to anyone from the UK and most overseas markets – the UK, Americas, Europe, Australasia. And usually contain something like the following service:
- Centre Court tickets in a prime location
- Luxury chauffeur car service all day, one per suite (for journeys within the M25)
- Car parking (one pass between four guests)
- Personal usher service to your seats
- A butler and experienced waiting and hostess staff
- Spacious balcony, elevating you above the crowds
- Air-conditioning within the suite for comfort
- Eye-catching floral displays
- Sunscreen for guests
- Plasma TV's to follow the day’s play
- Internal branding and signage opportunities
- A premium gift for all guests
Expect to pay around £3,000 per person early in the Championships, with prices rising as the tournament draws to a close. Not for everyone at those prices, in fact, I can't think of anything worse than an usher service to my seats but there you go 😀
Raffles & Giveaways
A couple of years ago I ran a giveaway right here on the blog and the winner got their hands on 2 Centre Court tickets and drinks in the Jacobs Creek tent.
If you look around online in then run up to the tournament starting particularly on the Money Saving Expert Forums then you'll see plenty of brands who have involvement with the Championships running ticket giveaways. You will, of course, be up against hundreds of thousands of others who enter, and you have to hand over your email address, but if you're feeling lucky then it's worth a punt.
Don't Get Hung Up on Wimbledon!
My final tip is: do not get hung up on Wimbledon tickets or paying over the odds to attend it. Whilst it's good, it's certainly not the be all and end all. And in terms of overall fan experiences, there are plenty of tournaments that match it. You only have to spend 5 minutes in the grounds to realise it's a place to be seen rather than an event for genuine tennis fans. “Who's his opponent?” “Dzhumur” “Sounds French”.
The food on offer in the grounds is shit and the prices are ridiculous so if you're thinking of paying over the odds for tickets rather than face value – remember that you could get to a smaller, fan friendly tournament in Europe with flights + accommodation and get to see a completely different city for the same price 🙂
Anyway, there you have it, my guide to getting Wimbledon tickets. If you have any questions just drop them in the comments below or email me and I'll do my best to answer.