Over the past decade, the popularity of music festivals, especially “luxury” festivals catering to celebrity set, has taken off across the country. We in New Orleans have seen this trend with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. While the first Jazz Fest was held over 45 years ago, there is no denying that in recent years that attendance has grown along with greater diversity in the musical acts performing.
This year was supposed to be the debut of a new luxury music festival called Fyre Festival scheduled to take place over two weekends in April and May on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma. The organizers were entrepreneur Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule. Fyre Festival was billed as luxury music experience offering eco-friendly high-end lodging and celebrity chef catered meals. Attendees paid upwards of $12,000.00 for premium tickets that included chartered air shuttles from Miami. Promotions for the event included high production videos of celebrities and models.
On April 27th, attendees began arriving on the island and soon discovered that the Fyre Festival was not as advertised. Soon social media accounts exploded with reports that the lodging accommodations were merely disaster relief tents and that the catered food options consisted of cheese sandwiches. The situation was described as “Lord of the Flies” and “the Hunger Games.” Fyre Festival was billed as “money-less” festival with attendees encouraged to load money on festival bracelets for use during the festival. Accordingly, many festival goers found themselves stranded as bad weather contributed to the poor conditions at the festival. Reports were that many were not easily able to return to the U.S. after the organizers cancelled the festival before it began.
It is not surprising that lawsuits are beginning to be filed. On May 1, 2017, a $100 million class action suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Despite the failure of this year’s Fyre Festival, organizers have said that they intend to try again next year.