10 Failed Festivals Not Named ‘Fyre’
By now you’ve probably seen one or both of the documentaries dissecting just how Ja Rule’s Fyre Festival tanked so completely. But despite the thousands of people stranded, the millions of dollars lost, and the worst cheese sandwich ever to show up on Twitter, it could have been a lot worse. How much worse? Here are 10 other terrible, horrible, no good, very bad festival fails.
Erie Canal Soda Pop Festival, Indiana 1972
This event featuring The Eagles and Black Sabbath was all set to go in Evanston, Indiana, until the mayor cancelled its venue at the last minute. It was moved to swampland where 200,000 people — four times the expected draw — camped out. Sanitation failed, food ran out, bands cancelled, fans were angry… it culminated in a riot where, of course, someone set fire to the stage. No major injuries were reported — unfortunately, we can’t say that about all the entries on this list.
Bloc Festival, London 2012
What should have been an incredible night on a boat in London turned bad quickly when opening night suffered from overcrowding, bad sound quality, and worst of all, beer bars that ran dry. Snoop Dogg failed to show for his midnight set, and concertgoers were stranded dockside until the wee hours of the morning when the organizers announced the entire event cancelled. There were no injuries reported, which is the one good thing about the event — and which organizers were quick to take credit for.
Indiana State Fair, Indiana 2011
An outdoor concert turned deadly when thunderstorms formed over the fairgrounds. At the very moment country band Sugarland took the stage, event planners decided to pull the plug due to safety, but before they could announce the cancellation, a massive “gustnado” collapsed the stage and sent parts of it flying, resulting in 7 dead and 58 injured and lawsuits costing the band and the festival over $50 million in damages.
TomorrowWorld, Georgia 2015
When Belgian EDM festival TomorrowLand crossed the Atlantic (becoming TomorrowWorld, of course), heavy rain turned the farmland venue into a mud pit. Anyone not camping on site was made to leave, but because of cancelled shuttle buses, unusable access roads, and Uber surge prices at almost 6 times above normal fare, 40,000 people had to hike out. TomorrowWorld did not see another day.
Glastonbury, UK 2005
Glastonbury is one of the UK’s signature festivals, and it’s a badge of honor to have attended “Farmageddon,” when it not only rained, it flooded. Lightning destroyed two stages, and mud flowed like lava. When the rain was over, the concertgoers, in true British fashion, stayed to watch the rest of the festival, and though many people’s belongings floated away, only nine injuries were reported.
Sled Island, Canada 2013
This Calgary, Canada festival decided to do a homage to Farmageddon when in 2013, the venue (and the entire city) massively flooded the day before, forcing cancellation of the entire thing before it even started. But between massive damage to property and all the equipment from all the bands scheduled to appear, and refunds to ticket holders, the only injuries were to the promoter’s pockets.
Roskilde Festival, Denmark 2000
The 2000 Roskilde Festival in Denmark is remembered as a tragedy. Headlining band Pearl Jam watched, horrified, from the stage as the muddy mosh pit turned into a death trap. Frontman Eddie Vedder halted their performance and told the surging crowd to move back; nine people had been trampled to death and 26 more sustained injuries. Roskilde is still a huge event, but this incident rewrote European safety regulations and Pearl Jam’s song “Love Boat Captain” is a memorial to the tragedy.
Altamont Free Music Festival, California 1969
The same year as the original Woodstock, this West Coast festival had a few things the more famous event did not. The Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club had been hired to handle stage security, allegedly paid in beer; they handled their job with chains and sticks, resulting in horrific injuries to concertgoers — one of whom was stabbed and stomped to death by the bikers during the Rolling Stones’ set.
Love Parade, Germany 2010
German music festival Love Parade, begun in 1989, came to a permanent end when the venue was changed from Berlin to Bochum. With a minimum estimated attendance of 400,000 being herded through a single egress tunnel that emptied out onto a staircase, the worst happened — a stampede. Over 20 deaths and 500 hundred injuries resulted, and the festival was cancelled permanently out of respect for the victims.
Woodstock ’99, New York
Compared to the disaster of Woodstock ’99, the 1969 festival was a pleasant experience. Severe water shortages led to over 700 victims of dehydration and heat prostration. Thousands of counterfeit tickets meant horrific overcrowding. Security quit; the crowd got angry and anarchy ensued, resulting in an actual “fire” festival as vehicles were lit on fire. All of this on land that housed a hazardous army landfill. Eventually state troopers were called in to restore order. The 30th anniversary was the exact opposite of the original Woodstock.