The first-ever Fyre Festival promised luxury accommodations and entertainment, but delivered what looked to be a total disaster
They were promised luxury accommodations, private beaches, and “the best in food, art, music and adventure.” But ticket holders to the first-ever Fyre Festival got anything but on Thursday, as they were dropped into an environment described by one attendee as having “barely any food or water or security or electricity” before the event was finally postponed indefinitely.
The new immersive music festival was billed as the next Coachella — set over “two transformative weekends” on the private Bahaman island of Fyre Cay, once inhabited by Blackbeard and Pablo Escobar. Created by Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland, tickets for the event ranged from $4,000 to upwards of $250,000 (for a VIP package split between 12 people).
Kendall Jenner and a series of flashy Instagram videos helped announce the event, with images of clear blue waters, yachts, private planes, and models Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski traipsing around in bikinis.
Performances from Blink 182, Rae Sremmurd, Skepta to G.O.O.D. Music acts Desiigner, Tyga, and Pusha T were expected.
According to attendees who flooded social media with complaints, the reality was much different.
Those who arrived on the island were met with complete disorganization and sub-standard living conditions that were far from ready.
Luggage was handed to passengers from the back of storage trucks in the dark. Tents — which included bare mattresses — were not set up, many blowing over in the wind. Latrines were unavailable. Reports of theft ran rampant.
As things got worse, one commenter on Twitter referred to the festival as a Lord of the Flies sequel.
“Fyre Fest is a complete disaster,” tweeted writer William Needham Finley IV — who documented much of the scene on his social channels. “Mass chaos. No organization. No one knows where to go. There are no villas, just a disaster tent city.”
The food looked to be particularly bad.
As one meme spread on the internet put it, the perception between what was billed and what actually occurred was very different.
Headliners Blink-182 pulled out of the festival on Thursday.
“Regrettably, and after much careful and difficult consideration, we want to let you know that we won’t be performing at Fyre Fest in the Bahamas this weekend and next weekend,” the band said on Twitter. “We’re not confident that we would have what we need to give you the quality of performances we always give fans.”
Fyre Festival representatives issued a statement early Friday, promising to “deliver a great experience” for those still on the island and canceling all those coming into the island “due to circumstances beyond our control and in line with a culture of safety.” Ticket holders have been refunded, and a revised itinerary was being planned for the rest of this weekend and next, the festival said at the time. Late Friday morning, they postponed the entire event indefinitely.
“Fyre Festival set out to provide a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience on the islands of Exuma. Due to circumstances beyond our control, we must postpone this experience,” the event organizers said in a statement. “We are working tirelessly to ensure each guest leaves the island safely and ask for everyone’s patience and cooperation as we continue to provide ongoing updates via email and our official social media channels as they become available, including refund information.”
Many attendees appeared to have learned about the festival’s flight cancellations after waiting at airport terminals and aboard airplanes for hours.
“Due to overcapacity on the island, we need to cancel the flights to ensure the safety of our guests,” angry passengers in an Instagram video on one flight were told by pilots, who read a messages to ticket holders from Fyre officials.
Meanwhile, those at the event spent all night trying to — as one user put it — “escape from hell,” boarding and departing plane after plane as flights were continuously delayed.
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, who were not an official sponsor of the event, issued a statement on Friday saying they’re “extremely disappointed with the way the events unfolded” and apologizing to “all who traveled to our country for this event.”
“Tourism is our number one industry and it is our aim to deliver world-class experiences and events,” they said. “Hundreds of visitors to Exuma were met with total disorganization and chaos… The event organizers assured us that all measures were taken to ensure a safe and successful event but clearly they did not have the capacity to execute an event of this scale.”
“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.”