It was billed as the most glamorous festival ever: celebrities, influencers and rich kids flocked to the Bahamas – only to find a very different reality.
A new Netflix documentary focuses on where and how it all went so terribly wrong. FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened was directed by Chris Smith of the Emmy nominated documentary, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, and gives a first-hand view of the debacle from the organisers themselves.
Founded by young entrepreneur Billy McFarland with the involvement of rapper Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins) Fyre Festival was a music festival scheduled to take place on the Bahamian island of Great Exuma over two weekends in 2017. The event was promoted on Instagram by models and big name influencers including Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski – the hype was real.
It’s thought around 5,000 guests paid to attend but on the weekend of the festival things started out badly and quickly got worse. There were problems with accommodation, security and food – with all falling short of what was promised.
Above: A widely-circulated photograph of the food made available to stranded festival-goers
Guests were met with tents, rather than luxury villas, and sandwiches instead of gourmet food. Hundreds were left stranded without adequate food or water and had to be evacuated. The debacle soon went viral on social media and legal investigations followed.
So Fyre Fest is a complete disaster. Mass chaos. No organization. No one knows where to go. There are no villas, just a disaster tent city. pic.twitter.com/1lSWtnk7cA— William Needham Finley IV (@WNFIV) April 27, 2017
In 2018 Billy McFarland, described by a judge as "a serial fraudster" pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud related to the festival. He later admitted two further counts of fraud relating to another ticket-selling scam that he had set up while on bail. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened is available on Netflix from 18 January