|No way in: Fans and artists camp outside of the village November 23 afternoon. — Photo courtesy of Josh Stewart|
HÀ NỘI — A popular music and arts festival planned for this weekend was cancelled at the last minute.
The organisers of Quest Festival 2018 arrived at the venue at the Việt Nam National Villages for Ethnic Culture and Tourism Village only to be met by officials who refused them entry Friday morning.
Thousands of fans travelled to the Việt Nam National Villages for Ethnic Culture and Tourism, 40km west of Hà Nội, only to find a cancellation notice posted at the village gate.
The festival was due to open at 12pm and the cancellation was announced on the festival’s at 7.46pm.
A statement on their Facebook page late on Friday read:
“After extensive discussion with the Ministry for Culture, Sports and Tourism, the police, the Hà Nội People’s Committee and other government agencies, we are deeply saddened to say we have exhausted all possibilities to run Quest Festival this weekend. As such, the event is officially cancelled.”
"The 1200 creatives, organizers and believers behind Quest are so disappointed to not be able to share this magic with you. For the moment our priority is to make sure our team and all Questers are home safe and sound. As such we have offered free transport back to Hanoi for all people stranded at the gates of the Cultural Village. We will provide a full statement shortly. Our love and deepest gratitude for your faith and support."
Fans took to the Quest Facebook page throughout the day to ask for information, with some showing support for the organisers and others expressing disappointment.
Video by Josh Roxas
In July, Quest Festival received a license to run for the sixth time at Sơn Tinh Camp inside the village. The original license allowed Quest festival should last from midday November 23 until 8pm November 25.
On September 16, seven youths died after reportedly consuming illicit drugs at the city’s West Lake Journey to the Moon Festival, an unrelated event, which prompted the city to temporarily ban all music festivals.
On September 19, Director of Hà Nội City’s Department of Culture and Sport Tô Văn Động sent a letter to Việt Úc Event Ltd. Company, the organisers of Quest, ordering the compant to halt all preparation activities for this year’s festival.
According to Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) Online, Jeremy Wellard, the festival founder, was very shocked by the decision to stop fans and artists outside the village.
Nguyễn Thị Thanh Ngân, Deputy Chief of the Village Management Board, told Tuổi Trẻ Online that she had been working with local police to stop the festival from proceeding.
Festival organisers said they had sold 3,000 tickets, with latest online three-day tickets costing VNĐ1,900,000 (USD$81). More than 1,200 artists and festival goers were on their way or at the site but had to turn around.
Having noticed that the organisers kept on preparing for the festival, on November 15, Acting Chief of the Village Management Board Lê Quang Anh sent a letter to the Feather Anh and Em Ltd. Company, a contractor with the village for renting out Sơn Tinh Camp for this event, reiterating that they should halt preparations.
In a letter dated November 20, Director of Hà Nội City’s Department of Culture and Sport Tô Văn Động wrote to Chairman of Hà Nội People’s Committee Nguyễn Đức Chung, asking that Quest Festival be allowed to go ahead, after the department received an appeal dated November 18 from Quest organisers.
On November 21, the organisers sent letters to both the Ministry for Culture, Sports and Tourism and the village management board asking for permission to hold the festival, ensuring them all necessary safety measures were in place, including medical facilities and procedures to prevent illicit drug use.
The next day on November 22, the village management board issued yet another letter to Việt Úc Event Ltd. Company prohibiting Quest from taking place.
Late November 23, Nguyễn Thị Thanh Ngân reportedly said Deputy Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Lê Quang Tùng was heading to the village to work with relevant parties. — VNS