Bahamas Luxury Music Festival Becomes Infamous Island Debacle
The inaugural Fyre Festival, billed as an exclusive event, descended into confusion, disarray as site evacuation begins.
Organizers of the much-hyped Fyre Festival have thrown in the towel on their three-day, two weekend event in the Exumas, Bahamas amid reports of an unfinished festival site, underwhelming accommodations and a lack of food and staffing. As the festival’s organizers and Bahamian government officials assess the damage and begin to assign blame, hundreds of attendees remain stuck on the island trying to board a flight home.
"We received a email this morning saying they are ‘arranging' flights asap for guests,” festival attendee Tico Lorenzo tells Billboard. "We didn't want to wait any longer so we booked our [flight]. There were no pillows and most of people's bed sheets were wet so nobody got that much sleep."
Plugged by Instagram influencers and super models including Gigi Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Emily Ratajkowski, the festival promised attendees three days on a Caribbean island paradise with luxury accommodations, gourmet food — and, for those who paid six figures for the privilege to attend — access to private beaches, luxury yachts and Fyre’s artist compound.
Ja Rule was an early backer who was closely associated with the festival and he took to Twitter on Friday afternoon to say he plans to make a full statement soon.
"We are working right now on getting everyone out of the island SAFE that is my immediate concern," he wrote, adding that he is "heartbroken" and that the event was not a scam. "I don't know how everything went so left but I'm working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded." He added that though it's not his fault, he's taking responsibility.
When attendees first started arriving on the island, they found a much different reality than what was promised. Much of the sleeping accommodations had not been completed, staff were nowhere to be found and the festival’s closing headliner Blink-182 had canceled its plans to perform. Early Friday morning, Fyre organizers announced on their website that the three-day, two-weekend event was being put on hold and that attendees were being sent home.
"Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests,” a statement from organizers reads. "The festival is being postponed until we can further assess if and when we are able to create the high-quality experience we envisioned."
Officials with the Bahamian Ministry of Tourism issued their own statement, blaming the disastrous festival on Fyre's organizers.
"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," the statement reads. "A team of Ministry of Tourism representatives is on the island to assist 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."
The first concrete signs that Fyre Festival appeared to be on the brink of collapse emerged shortly after 8 p.m. last night (April 27), as Blink-182 officially announced that they were pulling out of their headlining slot at the festival. By 11 p.m. Eastern time, the situation had descended even further, with flights to Exumas canceled as organizers struggled to deliver basic accommodations to festival-goers, some who paid thousands of dollars for to attend the three-day festival.
The "gourmet cuisine" this weekend was included in the ticket cost. We are being fed salads and ham and cheese sandwiches out of this tent pic.twitter.com/MRv7U0RiyM— dylan (@DylanACOP) April 28, 2017
A version of this article first appeared on Billboard.com.