That One Time I Went to Fyre Festival

Clarissa Cardenas | December 12th, 2023 (Volume 2)
Clarissa Cardenas vividly recounts her experience at the infamous Fyre Festival, a supposed luxury music event that disastrously failed to deliver on its grand promises. Lured by the prospect of top-tier artists and lavish accommodations in The Bahamas, she found herself in a survival situation, facing chaotic conditions and severe resource shortages. Her account serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of deceptive marketing and the resilience required in the face of unexpected adversity.


Imagine being told that you’re going to the best luxury music festival experience of your life. You’re going to be surrounded by models like Haley Bieber, Bella Hadid. You’re going to have your dream music festival lineup, Blink-182, Kanye West, Disclosure. And you’re going to be partying in your villa till the wee hours of the night surrounded by the beautiful waters of The Bahamas. That’s what was promised and definitely not delivered in what will go down as the worst music festival in the history of the world, also known as Fyre Festival.

I was on the first flight out there, and so I saw everything firsthand and I had to really survive off of my adrenaline and just survival instincts. I made the really bright decision to go by myself. I only told my close friends and family, and to their dismay, I didn’t tell anyone else because I didn’t want anyone else to really convince me otherwise. I was very stubborn and this decision would blow up in my face for the entire world to see.

We were first shuttled out to a resort and we were promised breakfast by Ja Rule at 8:00 AM. And we were quickly divided into two groups. You had the group that was the party group taking shots at the bar at 8:00 AM, and the second group, which is the group that I was in that was tired, we took red-eyes and we were basically all passed out on our tables. Now, I forgot to mention that this was my first time traveling out of the country, so I had no idea that anything happening was out of normal.

These are our private jets that were actually out of commission planes that probably wouldn’t even pass safety inspections on commercial flights. Like I said, I didn’t really know that anything wrong was going on until we got to the airport in The Bahamas and they took our luggage away and I was like, “Wait, wait, wait, where’s that going?” And they were like, “We’re going to deliver it to the villa.” And I’m like, “But I don’t even know where I’m staying, so how are you going to deliver that?” And that was red flag number 124 at that point.

This fine gentleman was there. And I saw a girl that basically just rolled in with her luggage, and I was like, “Wait, where did you get that?” And she’s like, “Pay this guy $20 and he will take you inside Fyre Festival to get your luggage. He’ll take you, there’s a tractor trailer there, he’ll take you right to it.” So that’s what I did, and I proceeded to record the entire golf cart journey, which would then be leaked as the first look inside Fyre Festival.

As you can see, the villa was actually dome tents, like FEMA tents. There were stacked mattresses in the dirt that were being piled into tents, and workers were literally shoveling out garbage pails full of water. And the royal bathrooms were not so royal. So this is right when we’re about to pull up to the tractor trailer where I would then proceed to steal my luggage from the Fyre Festival staff. So that was real fun.

After we left, I immediately got back in the golf cart. I was still filming everything, and Billy McFarland himself stopped me and he asked me what I was doing there, to which I responded, “I was getting my luggage. How are you going to pull this off?” He looked at me and he just goes, “Hi, my name is Billy. Thank you for your patience. If there’s anything you need, just let me know.” And he sped off. It was like talking to a robot. He zoomed up to the front of the festival and made sure that the festival grounds were basically cut off and nobody else could go in there. So after that, we were going to the day party, which I was so excited about because this was the first time that we were actually told we were going to be able to swim with the pigs, which was kind of the reason why I wanted to go to Fyre Festival in the first place. I didn’t realize I would be spending six to eight hours on this beach without any sunscreen, no festival, and no running water. Yeah, moment of silence for that one.

I made it to see the pigs, and this is a very Instagram versus reality because right after this, the pigs attacked me. They were overwhelmed by everyone that was there, which is totally understandable. And so I quickly made my way back to the original island, to my luggage, which ended up getting ransacked by other festival goers there who stole my shoes, stole my bathing suits, stole my clothes. And so I proceeded to take my luggage and park it on a spot on the beach where… I used mine as a pillow. This man did not have a pillow. But we would stay there and they just kept dumping multiple buses of people and multiple festival goers into the same day party.

It was finally, finally, finally in the evening and the sun was starting to set that they told us they were going to take us to Fyre Festival. Nothing had changed since I had seen it in the morning. I got in a line, and in this line there was Billy McFarland that was really just kind of directing people. There’s Billy right there. We got in a line. I was like, “Where’s our villa?”, thinking I had this real fancy villa still. He’s like, “Everyone that has a villa, follow this guy.” So I did. We followed one of the workers and he basically just dumped us at a set of tents and was like, “Here you go.” And we didn’t know, he’s like, “This is what we were told to do. Sorry.” So I went into survival mode. Half the group that I was going with, only three of the girls actually made it. One of them ended up faking a heart attack to leave. Brilliant.

So this is one of two tents that I attempted to reserve. There was only a mattress in there at the time. I just proceeded to go try to find things. It was literally just mass chaos. I found a whole group of just boxes that were completely unmanned, and I would go and open a box and find towels, and I’d grab all these towels and then run back to the villa. See, I still call it a villa in my head. Run back and dump in there. I just kept repeating that process, and I’d find another, and then it’d just get raided by all the festival goers. Two of the girls that were left, they stayed with me and I ended up seeing two of my friends from Dallas. And we pretty much just made the best out of the situation. So this is our bottle service that we had, the airport nuts. And we proceeded also to go skinny-dipping with 50 other festival goers and just really, like I said, tried to make the best of it. What else were we going to do?

So we ended up sneaking onto a shuttle the next morning and basically hijacked our way to the airport. I ended up getting on a commercial flight that was going out of the Exuma Airport. These are all the actual festival goers. So we kind of snuck out. I didn’t tell anyone When I got home. I hid from everybody. I didn’t want to be attached to all the negative media attention. And I was just really, really traumatized and I didn’t want anyone to know. And so this has actually been one of the core pillars of my why, and why I do what I do, and I vet everybody out because I never want anyone to go through what I went through and to be put through that kind of experience. So the saying is true here, I went to Fyre Festival and all I got was this lousy T-shirt. Thank you.

Clarissa Cardenas
Austin's #1 music and festival expert, known by most as the Concert Queen.