Fyre Festival: the event that went up in figurative flames


Fyre Festival FEMA tents Photo credit: www.twitter.com/clotureclub

Hana Woodward, Social Media Editor

In a timespan of only six months Billy McFarland attempted to create Fyre Festival, a luxury music festival on an island previously owned by Pablo Escobar, that turned out to be the disaster of 2017. What was supposed to be a dream vacation in the Bahamas turned into hundreds of people stuck on an island with no plan set to get them home. As problems continued to arise, the employees of Fyre kept trying to find solutions.  

Two new documentaries have debuted on competing streaming sites Netflix and Hulu in January that reminded everyone about the fraud and exactly what transpired. McFarland wanted Fyre Festival to be an epic experience people talked about for years. Instead, it turned out to be a viral nightmare that people will be talking about for years.

The documentaries both showed what really happened with the Fyre Festival but from different perspectives. Hulu’s “Fyre Fraud” had footage of an interview with McFarland and focused more on an in-depth background of the scams he created. Netflix’s “Fyre” showed more of McFarland’s employees and the planning aspects. Hulu surprised their users with their documentary four days before Netflix’s was planned to air. The main topic that was agreed upon in both documentaries was that McFarland is a compulsive liar and a scammer.

In the “Fyre Fraud” version, McFarland talked about how he founded the festival. Halfway through, the energy shifted when McFarland said he couldn’t comment on the interviewers’ questions. The documentary ended with fact-checking all the lies McFarland told throughout the interview.

In “Fyre,” Samuel Krost said $38 million was spent trying to create this event. To ensure the festival plans continued, McFarland started to create wire frauds so investors wouldn’t pull out. Even a few days leading up to the festival when it wasn’t close to being finished, McFarland was in too deep and owed people too much money to pull the plug.  McFarland defrauded the investors $27.4 million, when the company actually wasn’t making any money. A couple weeks before he had ticket holders put money on cashless wristbands to use while at Fyre Festival. That plan raised $2 million.

When the attendees arrived for the festival, they were rerouted to a restaurant on the other side of the island to buy more time for the employees setting up. In the “Fyre Fraud” documentary we learn that instead of the immersive music festival that ticket holders were promised, they were greeted with what looked like wet FEMA  tents and chaos. Hundreds of indistinguishable black luggage bags were thrown out of giant shipping containers in the dark.

On Oct. 11, 2018, McFarland was sentenced to six years in prison for money laundering, wire fraud, identity theft, witness intimidation and obstruction of justice according to “Fyre.” He also agreed to a lifetime ban on serving as a corporate officer or director.