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 associate with the festival, although his continued support, and level of involvement, was unclear as of press time.
When attendees first started arriving on the island, however, they found a much different reality. 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.
Last night, Instagram user @dropout.bear posted this video of what appears to be a flight cancelation of passengers headed to the festival site.
"We have been advised by Fyre, the tour operator of your flight, that they can no longer accept any guests in Exuma," an airline representative tells passengers, reading a statement from Fyre officials. "Due to overcapacity on the island, we need to cancel the flights to ensure the safety of our guests."
Despite the promise of a tropical paradise with private beaches, high-end sleeping accommodation and celebrity chef prepared meal, several fans on the ground tell Billboard they arrived in Exumas to find a half-finished festival site and woefully indicate conditions.
"There's no communication on the island," William Finley tells Billboard. The North Carolina resident paid $2,700 for an artist pass that was supposed to grant him access to the artist village along with catered food an open bar and overnight villas that Finley said were little more than badly erected tents.
"They're basically disaster relief tents," he said. "With a mattress on some sort of bed frame. They're not that uncomfortable but the tents are so poorly made that they'd blow over in a second if there was any wind or rain."
As midnight approached on Thursday, Finley told Billboard that many Fyre attendees are now boarding buses and heading back to the Exumas airport.
"We aren't even sure if it's open," he said.
As of press time, Ja Rule had yet to respond. But social media was alight with posts from those scheduled to attend, those stranded at the airport in Miami and those stuck on the island showcasing the uncertain situation.
Update (2:30 p.m.): Ja Rule just released a statement on Twitter about the Fyre Fest situation, which can be found in full below (sic throughout):
"We are working right now on getting everyone of the island SAFE that is my immediate concern... I will make a statement soon I'm heartbroken at this moment my partners and I wanted this to be an amazing event it was NOT A SCAM as everyone is reporting I don't know how everything went so left but I'm working to make it right by making sure everyone is refunded... I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT... but I'm taking responsibility I'm deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this..."