Boutique event Fyre Festival set to take place 28-30 April and 5-7 May, held in The Bahamas with ticket prices ranging from £450 – £250,000, was cancelled on the first day after it was stricken by bad weather and headliner cancellations.
Headliners Blink 182 announced via Twitter that they would not be attending the event, claiming that they, “were not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give our fans.”
Guests arrived on a remote island in Exuma in The Bahamas expecting luxury but were greeted with delays, bread for dinner and broken sewage facilities, according to social media.
— Tr3vor (@trev4president) April 28, 2017
Rapper Ja Rule and tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland founded the festival after falling in love with the island.
“The morning of the festival, a bad storm came in and took down half of our tents and busted water pipes,” said McFarland.
“Guests started to arrive and the most basic function we take for granted in the U.S., we realised, ‘Wow, we can’t do this.’ We were on a rush job to fix everything and guests were arriving and that caused check-in to be delayed. We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problem.”
The guests stayed in disaster relief tents instead of the luxury accommodation they were promised, and some had no accommodation at all. They were fed cheese sandwiches and salad when they were expecting ‘gourmet cuisine’ and the sewage facilities around the site broke. After the festival was cancelled on its first day, many were unable to get home because of delayed flights from the island.
Attendees were then locked indoors with no food or water.
— Ja Rule (@Ruleyork) April 28, 2017
An official statement from Ja Rule on the Fyre Festival’s website claimed they had not anticipated the popularity of the festival, despite knowing how many tickets they had sold.
“We simply weren’t ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get,” the statement read. “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.”
No reporters were on the ground at Fyre Festival, however social media quickly filled up with disappointed festivalgoers. An account was even dedicated to the event @FyreFraud.
Supermodel Bella Hadid had promoted the event on her Instagram to her 12m followers. TMZ, the US website, reported that high profile guests were warned not to attend to the event. Hadid tweeted that it was “not my project what so ever”.
— Bella Hadid (@bellahadid) April 29, 2017
Various reports claim that McFarland has been arrested, or kept on site by Bahamian officials. The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism told Good Morning America that officials were keeping the festival site on lockdown because McFarland had not paid customs duty taxes on the items that were imported onto the island for the event.
“Customs has the area on lockdown because [festival organiser] Billy [McFarland] has not paid customs duty taxes on the items that he imported” the ministry told US network ABC. “He and his staff have left the items with a security company guarding it.”
— William N. Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 28, 2017
But one attendee, Daniel Jung, has filed a $100m (£72m) lawsuit against the festival and its organisers for fraud, breach of contracts, breach of covenant of good faith and negligent misrepresentation. Rolling Stones posted the lawsuit from Jung.
Jung, who spent $2,000 on his Fyre Festival ticket and flight, said: “Festivalgoers survived on bare rations, little more than bread and a slice of cheese, and tried to escape the elements in the only shelter provided by Defendants: small clusters of ‘FEMA tents,’ exposed on a sand bar, that were soaked and battered by wind and rain.”