Fyre Festival Flop: Luxury Event in The Bahamas Turns Into Nightmare

There was no luxury accommodation or gourmet cuisine as promised to festival goers who paid thousands of dollars.(Photo: Twitter/William N. Finley IV)


EXUMA, The Bahamas, Sunday April 30, 2017 – It was promoted to wealthy millennials as the cultural event of the decade that would give them the experience of a lifetime. But the Fyre Festival on the Bahamian island of Exuma, founded by American rapper Ja Rule and Billy McFarland, turned out to be a nightmare for patrons who had shelled out up to US$12,000 for tickets and booked festival/accommodation packages costing up to US$400,000.

In the end, the festival was called off and organizers promised patrons refunds and VIP passes for the 2018 event, as well as donations to charity.

The chaos was clear from the outset. When ticket holders on Thursday began arriving at the festival that was to stretch over two weekends, they found a site in disarray, with a half-built stage. There were no promised luxurious villas and lodges – only rows of white tents –, no gourmet meals, and no musical acts.

Performers like Blink 182, Major Lazer, Migos, Lil Yachty, Matoma, Claptone, and Le Youth had been scheduled to perform at the festival that had been heavily promoted as an opportunity to mingle with models and influencers.

Model Bella Hadid was one of several celebrities who had promoted the event. And she addressed the controversy on Twitter yesterday.

Ja Rule said he was heartbroken by what had unfolded and insisted the festival was not a scam as was being reported on social media.

Festival co-founder McFarland, meantime, expressed his regrets, sought to explain why the event had turned out the way it did and promised to come back better next year.

More explanations were provided in a statement on the Fyre Festival website which confirmed that all patrons would be refunded and the organizers would “work tirelessly to make this right”.

It promised a better organized event the next time around, saying there would be “more seasoned event experts” for Fyre Festival 2018 which will take place at a yet undisclosed beach in the United States.

“We will be working on refunds over the next few days and will be in touch directly with guests with more details. Also, all guests from this year will have free VIP passes to next year’s festival,” it said.

The organizers also sought to explain what they described as “the worst day we’ve ever had as a company”.

“As amazing as the islands are, the infrastructure for a festival of this magnitude needed to be built from the ground up. So, we decided to literally attempt to build a city. We set up water and waste management, brought an ambulance from New York, and chartered 737 planes to shuttle our guests via 12 flights a day from Miami. We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived.

“The team was overwhelmed. The airport was jam packed. The buses couldn’t handle the load. And the wind from rough weather took down half of the tents on the morning our guests were scheduled to arrive. This is an unacceptable guest experience and the Fyre team takes full responsibility for the issues that occurred.

“Everyone was very concerned for our guests. They needed a place to sleep and everyone did their absolute best to rebuild. We took everyone to the beach and built as many tents and beds as fast as possible, but as more guests arrived, we were simply in over our heads. Ultimately, we didn’t think security could keep up, so we had to postpone the festival,” it said.

It expressed gratitude to the Bahamian Government and Ministry of Tourism for their assistance during this challenging time, describing their efforts as “exemplary”.

“We want to thank the people of the Bahamas for their support and for graciously allowing us the privilege of visiting their islands. We apologize for any inconvenience the past 24-hours has caused and we look forward to making a considerable donation to the Bahamas Red Cross Society as part of our initiatives. We need to make this right. And once we make this right, then we will put on the dream festival we sought to have since the inception of Fyre,” it added.

Local tourism officials also responded, saying they were extremely disappointed in how events had unfolded.

The Ministry of Tourism, which was not an official sponsor of the festival but had given its support, issued an apology to all who traveled to the country for the event.

“Tourism is our number one industry and it is our aim to deliver world-class experiences and events. Hundreds of visitors to Exuma were met with total disorganization and chaos,” it said in a statement that it posted on Twitter, adding that the event organizers “clearly did not have the capacity to execute an event of this scale”.

The Ministry of Tourism said a team of representatives is assisting with the organization of a safe return of all Fyre Festival visitors.

“It is our hope that the Fyre Festival visitors would consider returning to the Islands Of The Bahamas in the future to truly experience all of our beauty,” it added.

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