Fyre Festival Organizers Explain Why Event Failed: "We Thought We Were Ready, But Then Everyone Arrived"

Hundreds of participants cited "chaos" at the scene, with some saying they were robbed, had to fight over food and were made to sleep in "refugee camp"-like conditions

By Corinne Heller Apr 29, 2017 2:38 PMTags
Watch: Fyre Festival Attendee Screams for Food

Why did the inaugural Fyre Festival fail?

After paying between $1,000 and $12,000, which included a flight from Miami to the island to Exuma in the Bahamas in addition to a series of concerts, hundreds of participants cited "chaos" at the scene, with some saying they were robbed, had to fight over food and were made to sleep in "refugee camp"-like conditions. Hardly the luxury experience. In a lengthy statement released online Saturday, organizers explain what went wrong.

"Yesterday was a very challenging day for all of us," Fyre Festival organizers said. "[Tech entrepreneur] Billy McFarland and Ja Rule started a partnership over a mutual interest in technology, the ocean, and rap music. This unique combination of interests led them to the idea that, through their combined passions, they could create a new type of music festival and experience on a remote island. They simply weren't ready for what happened next, or how big this thing would get."

Farland and Ja Rule had commented on the botched festival Friday. The rapper denied the event was a "scam," adding, "I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT… but I'm taking responsibility."

The statement said that organizers "decided to literally attempt to build a city" on the site, setting up water and waste management, bringing in an ambulance from New York and chartering plans to shuttle their guests from Miami.

"We thought we were ready, but then everyone arrived," the statement said. "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."

They said everyone was concerned for the guests and "built as many tents and beds as fast as possible" for them, but as more people arrived, organizers were "simply in over our heads."


They announced Friday that the festival would be postponed because they did not think security was able to handle the situation. The result? Hundreds of stranded guests.

"We had no other options, so we began the process of getting guests quickly and safely back to Miami, which continued through the weekend," the statement said.

The process was easier said than done, according to eyewitness accounts.

Organizers said the Fyre Festival would take place in 2018 on a beach venue in the United States and that they would add "more seasoned event experts" to help. Meanwhile, those who purchased tickets to this year's event will be refunded and will also received VIP passes to the 2018 festival.

"We need to make this right," the statement said. "And once we make this right, then we will put on the dream festival we sought to have since the inception of Fyre."

Celebrities such as Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski had promoted the festival earlier this year. Neither attended it. Bella was spotted in Miami Saturday.