Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — A senior city official has revealed the organisers of Quest Festival 2018 were well aware the event could not go ahead – two months before it was meant to happen.
Last weekend thousands of music lovers travelled to the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism believing they were heading to a three-day festival.
But when they arrived they were refused entry and told there would be no show.
Organisers frantically tried to convince the city’s government to give the event the green light, but late Friday night they gave up, and sent partygoers home.
Now a member of the Department of Culture and Sports has told Việt Nam News they informed those behind the event back in September the plug had been pulled.
This was after seven people died at the “Trip to the Moon Festival” at Hồ Tây Water Park from suspected overdoses.
Immediately after the tragedy, Hà Nội People’s Committee slapped a ban on all electronic dance music (EDM) festivals in the area due to safety concerns until further notice.
This included Quest Festival 2018.
“It wasn’t a last-minute cancellation,” said Nguyễn Văn Trực, head of the art management section at Hà Nội’s Department of Culture and Sports.
“On September 19, the department sent a document to Việt-Úc Co., Ltd – the organiser, the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism – the venue of the event, and Sơn Tây Town police requesting the event’s cancellation.”
On the day the event was due to start, a number of documents were circulating on social media, with some people claiming one, dated November 20 and signed by the head of the department, allowed the event to go ahead.
But Trực explained this was never an agreement.
After the initial document was sent on September 19, a second document was issued on November 15 to the organiser, this time from the Management Board of the Vietnam National Village for Ethnic Culture and Tourism, where the event was being held.
Trực said this was a reminder to the organisers the event would be cancelled.
He said Quest later sent a document to the culture department asking for reconsideration, outlining the fact they had held successful festivals in the past, which had attracted a wide audience of both locals, expats and visitors to Việt Nam.
In response to the organisers’ request, the culture department sent another document to the People’s Committee of Hà Nội as they had the final say on whether the event could take place.
Many people attending the festival thought this was an agreement, but Trực explained it was simply a recommendation and the final decision rested with the People’s Committee.
They never responded, meaning the festival could not happen.
Trực added that the culture department has always supported music events in the city because those events meet people’s demand and help attract tourists to the city.
"Other music activities are still going on," he said.
However, a lift of the current ban on EDM festivals will have to wait until there is a conclusion about the incident in Hồ Tây Water Park and a solution is drawn out to guarantee security and fire safety.
"And this would be decided by the city’s People’s Committee," he said.
Many of those attending the Quest event have been left with a bitter taste in their mouths and have taken to social media to vent their anger and call for a refund.
As far as Việt Nam News understands, there will be no refund from the organiser to ticket buyers.
Some vendors are also angry, having spent money on stock, like food and drink, only to find the event was cancelled.
One vendor, who asked not to be named, told us she is considering legal action against the group behind Quest.
“After the incident they just disappeared and never said anything to us,” she said.
“They didn’t refund our deposit and we also lost money for food and transportation fees. We are thinking of taking the matter to court.”
The Department of Culture and Sports said they will not be getting involved with people’s claims for a refund.
“It was the organiser’s fault for selling tickets and letting people come to the festival,” said Trực.
“The issue involves the organiser and the ticket buyers and they need to work with each other to sort it out. The Department of Culture and Sports will not interfere with this issue.”
We contacted an advisor for the director of Quest who told us after consulting with their lawyers, they would not be making any comment. —VNS