About SteemFest ticket levels:

SteemFest is a non-for profit event. The idea behind the event is to be as inclusive as possible and to facilitate that as many people as possible can attend the event, by keeping the entry price as low as possible. Sponsorships are used to discount the minimum ticketprice for minnows & plankton level users (newbies) lower than the costprice. 

So those tickets are sold way below the costprice. To pay for all this we have the sponsors and SteemFest asks from those who did well on the platform or elsewhere to kindly judge themselves and buy a non-discounted ticket and really keep those available to those who really need to use those. You can buy a regular ticket which is basically a "break-even" ticket or even sponsor a minnow a little (or a little more) by opt for even higher priced tickets. 

About the ticket price increase schedule: 

During SteemFest Lisbon 1/3rd of the bookings of the event came in the last 7 days prior to the event. That literally brought in unnecessary stress and costs because of last minute changes with catering and transportation logistics. If it is just up to me it is totally fine to book last minute, however the Chefs and such want to know prior to the event how much food they need to order :)

So this year, to force you into planning ahead, and hopefully preventing last-minute planning a dynamic schedule is implemented: 

Early Birduntil Friday 30 August - 23:59 UTC
Current Price30 August - 27 SeptemberTicketshop
Increase 227 September - 25 October20% of costprice increase
Increase 325 October - 5 November20% of costprice increase
Walk up rate6 - 10 November20% of costprice increase