Chelsea Flower Show 2012: Touts want £300 a ticket as demand outstrips Coldplay
GARDEN enthusiasts are being charged up to six times the value of tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show (CFS) on the black market, with demand outstripping that for Coldplay, it has emerged.
All 157,000 tickets to the horticultural industry’s showpiece sold out in record time last week but second hand passes are being advertised online for up to £300.
On some sites, demand to this month's West London gardening event, is even outstripping interest in rock concerts such as Coldplay by five searches to one as touts offer hugely overinflated prices to cash in on the high demand.
Officials said the interest in Chelsea Flower Show tickets showed it remained one of the country’s most popular events despite the weather and difficult economic conditions.
But organisers on Monday night warned fans not to buy tickets off the internet, as they risked not buying genuine tickets and be refused entry.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) charges £45 for an all-day pass to the gardening show, which runs for five days from next Tuesday.
But one all-day ticket for May 22 was reportedly being offered on eBay at £315 while other internet ticket sites, such as World Ticket Shop, were offering passes for nearly £250.
On the Viagogo site, a secondary ticketing company, tickets were being advertised for nearly £240 while getmein.com was quoting tickets for more than £230.
Edward Parkinson, the director of Viagogo UK, told The Daily Telegraph that demand for flower show was outstripping Coldplay, the second most popular ticket on the site, by five searches to one.
The British band, whose lead singer is Chris Martin, is playing three sell out concerts at the Emirates Stadium, north London, later this month.
Mr Parkinson said the website, Europe's largest ticket exchange, was receiving one click every two minutes from fans who were attempting to buy flower show tickets.
“Despite ... Chris Martin taking to the stage, Chelsea Flower Show tickets are the most wanted on the site with demand outstripping the biggest names in rock and pop," he said.
"This year, it appears that consumers are choosing flowers over Coldplay."
But Alex Denman, Chelsea’s show manager, confirmed that it had sold out in record time days before the event’s opening but urged fans not to buy tout tickets.
“The high demand for tickets is both an indication of the event’s popularity as one of the hottest events of the summer and a reflection of the public’s passion for gardens and gardening,” she said.
“We ask that people don’t buy tickets at inflated prices from unofficial outlets, as they risk that their tickets won’t be genuine and that they won’t get access.”
Meanwhile Gardeners' World presenter Joe Swift admitted feeling nervous about the prospect of coming under scrutiny at this year's show with his own garden.
After years of presenting coverage of Chelsea for the BBC, Swift, 46, decided last year to "have a go myself".
He began filling his garden with trees he scoured from Germany, stone from a quarry in Yorkshire and selected shrubs from southern Spain this week.
Swift, who is not allowed to do any TV presenting this year because he is designing the garden for Homebase, told the Radio Times he expected criticism of his creation, which he first started work on in June last year.
A number of celebrity guests are expected to attend the show, including Kate Hudson and Gwyneth Paltrow, Martin's wife.