An EDM (electronic dance music) festival scheduled to take place just outside Hanoi from November 23 to 25 was asked to cancel only hours before its opening, despite sold tickets and foreign and local artists and volunteers already heading to the venue.
Artists and visitors on dozens of buses traveling some 40 kilometers from central Hanoi to the venue of the Quest Festival on Friday morning were shocked to learn that the event was canceled.
Quest Festival, now in its sixth edition, is known for its scenic setting against a backdrop of beautiful mountains and surrounded by a lake perfect for swimming in Son Tinh camp in the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism in Son Tay Town of Hanoi’s Ba Vi District.
The artists and visitors were stopped right outside the camp, with all entry denied.
They only got to know that the festival was canceled through a notice posted at the village gate at 7:46 am while it was due to open at 12:00 pm, according to the Vietnam News Agency.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Ngan, deputy chief of the village management board, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper the same day that she had been working with local police to stop the festival from proceeding.
According to Ngan, the decision is in compliance with the law as the music festival is not licensed by the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports as of Friday morning.
|Buses carrying participants from the Hanoi center to the festival were parked outside the camp of Quest Festival on November 23, 2018. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Jeremy Wellard, the festival founder, told Tuoi Tre that he was very shocked by the decision to stop fans and artists outside the village.
According to Wellard, the organizers suffered a loss estimated at more than VND10 billion (US$430,000), with about 3,000 tickets sold and 1,200 foreign and local artists and volunteers invited to the festival.
This is not to mention that each of the 50 service providers for Quest Festival also incur losses range from VND50 million to VND500 million ($2,150-21,500) due to the last-minute cancelation.
What’s worse is that he is not likely to be able to hold the festival again, Wellard added.
For each of the audience, the cancellation meant tossing $50-1,000 out of the window as many of them had spent money to fly to Vietnam to attend the festival.
Jeremy Wellard called the abrupt cancelation “an attack on the artist community in general and the cultural festival in particular,” and said that the Quest team strongly opposed it.
He was also concerned that if this festival was prevented from taking place in this way, the image and prestige of Vietnam will be compromised.
“We have achieved the [music] industry’s best standards of safety and health and are proud to welcome more than 600 music and arts artists to the festival in the past five years,” the founder asserted.
Allowed or not?
Quest Festival was in fact able to obtain a license by the Hanoi Department of Culture and Sports in mid-July hold its sixth edition from midday November 23 until 8:00 pm November 25.
But in September, the city’s administration enacted a temporary ban on all music festivals in the Vietnamese capital, following the deaths of seven people suspected of overdosing while attending the “West Lake Journey to the Moon” musical festival in Hanoi that month.
As the ban took effect, To Van Dong, director of the municipal culture and sports department, specifically sent a letter to the organizers of Quest on September 19, ordering them to halt all preparation activities for this year’s festival.
However, prep works for the fest have since remained underway, even though the village management board gave two warnings to the festival organizers over their ignoring the ban on November 15 and November 21.
|The artists prepare for the event before the cancelation announcement. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Quest Festival had sought permission to hold the event, guaranteeing that they can ensure all necessary safety measures in place, including medical facilities and procedures to prevent illicit drug use.
Quest Festival has become a global known music festival, bringing 2,000 visitors to Vietnam annually in the last five years. The festival was also featured on CNN and honored by The Guardian as the most beautiful festival in the world and nominated for a number of awards.