Having been to Berlinale almost every year since 2008, I might learn a few lessons in getting tickets and how to navigate through the festival. How and where to get them, and what you need to know and prepare beforehand.

1. Get Your Movie List Down

Yes, it’s an overwhelming choice. I wrote some tips a few years ago about the Myths of Berlinale here.

I would really recommend getting an account on Berlinale and use their online program search or the Berlinale app. Mark every single one you’re interested in (edit later). Also handy: if you only have a certain time slot to watch the movie (e.g. Friday night!) then don’t bother looking at all the movies and just focus on the time slot you have (with a few backups, if possible).

2. Calculate When You Have To Get Tickets For Those

There’s an art to this. Because

  • No, you can’t get all the tickets on the first day of sales.
  • No, you can’t simply ask a friend to get all the tickets you want because you know he/she is going to get some (with some exceptions).

So, the tickets are available for sale 3 days in advance from the screenings. If you want to see a screening on Friday, the earliest you can the tickets are on Tuesday (for the best chance of getting them). The 2019 Berlinale program search also has a note on when the ticket goes on sale, great improvement!

There are a few exceptions depending on where the film is being screened (you can check on the screening location). On these locations, you can get tickets on the first day of ticket sales (Monday):

  • Friedrichstadt-Palast
  • HAU Hebbel am Ufer (usually for the Berlinale Talent programme)

One can also get tickets from the first day for screenings in these categories:

  • Culinary Cinema
  • Berlinale Goes Kiez

Last but not least, one can also get tickets from the first day for the ones on Publikumstag, last day of the festival (in 2019 this is on February 17).

If you are not sure, you can always check out the berlinale online ticket store. They usually have a section called “tickets going on sale today” and see if your screening is really in on the list.

3. Is there a restriction on the tickets?

For each transaction, a person could only buy 2 tickets per screenings, as many screenings as they like. The only exceptions are Generation screenings (5 tickets – I think this makes a lot of sense for families!) and Culinary Cinema with dinner (unlimited, but ticket prices are €95 in 2019).

One can, of course, re-queue and buy another 2 tickets for the same screenings (if you want 4 tickets, but better get that “friend” to queue with you instead).

If you buy the tickets online you’d have to check out and pay for the first 2 tickets before getting another 2.

4. Where to Get Tickets?

The official Berlinale info on this can be found here.

Online

From the ticket link on berlinale.de in partnership with Eventim.de . This is possibly the only option if you have a 9-5 job and you don’t want to take a day off to queue. Ticket sales starts at 10:00 sharp, and for the popular screenings, it will go in less than 1 second, you better have quick fingers and fast internet!

Pro tip: make sure you logged in to Eventim, and have your card details stored there. Prioritize for the screenings you want and check out first, in case your connection crashed (Berlinale are getting better every year, but glitches still happen)

Online tickets are of limited quotas per screening, which means: It’s quickly sold out, and if it is sold out online, it does not mean it sold out everywhere.

On Ticket Booths at the Advance Sales Points

Here you can get tickets up to one day in advance of the screenings, within the rules of ticket sales in point (2). As a rule of thumb, be prepared to come very early for having the best chance (ticket sales starts at 10:00) and be prepared to queue for a long time (well into 4 hours). There are four points of sales:

Potsdamer Platz Arkaden

This is the central hub of ticket sales of Berlinale (the whole area is the Berlinale central point, actually). Located in the shopping mall, last year it has 6 usual ticket booths, 1 special booth for Mastercard holders (you can only pay with Mastercard or cash – but show your card), and 1 booth for people with disability.

I found this sales point as the most reliable, they are always prepared, if there is something wrong, it will get resolved quickly. As a plus point, it is inside a mall, so it is warm inside, and there are some benches and chairs (if you’re lucky).

Kino International

I have never been to this location to get tickets yet. As it is way across town for me, but it would make a lot of sense if you live in Friedrichshain! Shorter time from home to ticket booth means more chance to get the tickets ;).

Haus der Berliner Festspiele

Last year it has 4 ticket counters and it is also mostly indoor (but a little claustrophobic for my liking). It is slightly closer to my place than Potsdamer Platz, but unless it is really close for you, I would opt for Potsdamer Platz Arkaden because of the space vs crowd situation. For some reasons it felt like it took forever for the line to move.

Audi City Berlin

The newest place to queue, ever since Audi has been the sponsor of Berlinale. It’s not the most comfortable place, because most of the time you will be outdoor… in Berlin winter. They only have limited space indoor, and I never come early enough to get inside before the line is moving. In the last years you can get free hot drink(s) while you are queuing though.

At the Screening Locations

Only for the same day ticket sale. There are also different quotas for this, so even if it’s sold out online and at the advance ticket sales, it could be available here. The only catch is that you have to be the early one to get them, and you never know when they released the ticket.

At Box Offices Connected With Eventim

With an extra cost of €2 per ticket. I’ve had my successes with them, but mostly if the ticket sold out online and at the counter, it will be sold out there too (different quota, but as popular).

5. To Remember When Queuing

Write down the ticket codes of the screening. It is listed on the online program search and on the brochure. Also, write down the number of tickets you’d like for each screening. Don’t be that person who stammered and flipped through the book/brochure, still looking for the movie they want to see while they have time to do this while in the queue for hours.

Not a guaranteed success. Your best bet is either: (a) quick fingers and fast internet online, or (b) come early to queue. Remember to take account the size of the venue (HKW and Friedrichstadtpalast are quite big, while some cinemas are small) and the popularity of the film.

Enjoy the ride. Bring a book, meditate, chat with people around you. In the end, it’s just a movie ticket, not the end of the world if you don’t get it (and it might be in the cinema too, later on)

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