The coronavirus and its subsequent lockdowns around the world have put festivals and its guests in quite the predicament. This year, millions of electronic music fans and festival-goers across the globe have dealt with the cancelation os festivals, difficulties receiving refunds, non-refundable airline tickets, and promises for unknown future rescheduled dates.
As festivals have adapted in the best way possible despite the current climate, some have gone above and beyond for fans by offering refunds, ticket upgrades, incentives, free tickets, and more to make up for the cancelled event. Others have fallen short of expectations by refusing to refund tickets, putting fans in a difficult place financially. The long-awaited Global Eclipse Festival falls on the latter side of this group.
Global Eclipse Festival is a trance and electronic music festival that has been in the works for approximately three years, set to take place on in Patagonia in Argentina on December 14th, 2020 with the backdrop of the next solar eclipse above. The festival boasts a huge international appeal, drawing thousands of fans from across the globe to join in for a weekend of festivities beneath the eerie sky as the moon covers the sun with views of the sweeping pristine beauty Patagonia is famous for.
However, Argentina is been deeply impacted by coronavirus with one of the highest infection rates and approximately one million cases. As a result, the Argentinian government has fully restricted international travel which means guests that purchased tickets from abroad will be unable to attend the festival because they are unable to travel into the county. Rather than cancelling the festival altogether, Global Eclipse Festival has chosen to forge onward with the event…despite the fact that thousands are unable to attend by no choice of their own.
To top it off, the festival has refused to issues refunds to those that cannot attend due to country travel restrictions. This has angered many guests and fans for obvious reasons considering they can neither get a refund nor attend the festival, with no other options available. After festival organizers ignored inquiries about accommodations, tickets, and lineups for months, it was confirmed that the event would take place regardless of restrictions.
Per an email sent to guests by the festival organizers, “Humans are social beings. Isolation has taken a toll on all of us. We are meant to connect and we are meant to gather. We plan to do it safely in the best way possible. We are producers with decades of experience who are 2.5 years into a three-year project and we’ve learned to prepare for permutations of earth, wind, and fire but none of us had ‘global pandemic’ on our 2020 bingo card.”
For fans, this response was not enough to justify keeping the money despite the email also referencing financial reasons for keeping the funds. Per Australian student Billie Calwell, “You have the right to receive goods or services to the standards that are expected to be delivered … It’s basically impossible to do that. If we’re not able to go to Argentina and to go to a festival, I feel like we should be entitled to a free 100% refund,” she said.
Others simply do not feel it is appropriate to force people that can travel to a large social event if they are not comfortable, while feeling it is not safe for Argentinian citizens potentially being exposed by travelers that can carry the virus. According to an an Australian resident named Mel, “I don’t think it would be ethical for wealthy westerners to be potentially taking coronavirus to vulnerable places.” Some guests even feel the refusal of festivals to refund tickets goes against what the electronic music community stands for when it comes to respect and unity.
In a time like this where the music industry as a whole is severely suffering, it has forced festivals to make harsh decisions and choices to stay afloat. The choices are often last resorts and dire resolutions to a global problem. Unfortunately, some of these choices also negatively impact the fans that are having withdrawals from the festival scene and are put in unfavorable financials situations in a lose-lose situation with no events and out the money for tickets that cannot be use. It is certainly a tough situation for all, so we can only hope that the world heals together and the return of festivals and life is around the corner.