Festival-goers 'in the dark' over refunds following cancellation

Marie Pearce is one of the attendees hoping to get her money back.

Marie Pearce is one of the attendees hoping to get her money back. - Credit: Marie Pearce/Sonya Duncan

Festival-goers say they have been left "in the dark" over whether they will receive a refund after it was announced a new Norfolk festival would not go ahead.

Wide Skies and Butterflies was due to take place on the Raynham Estate, near Fakenham, from August 5-7.

However, in a statement posted online on Tuesday (June 28), it was confirmed the festival had been called off after a "challenging year".

Wide Skies poster

The line-up for Wide Skies. - Credit: Wide Skies

Prospective revellers said they had been sent no notice of the cancellation and only found out via the website or the report in this newspaper.

One ticket holder, John Selkirk, who was planning to travel to the event from Newcastle, said he only found out about the cancellation when looking on the website to try and see when his tickets would arrive.

His last payment was taken out of his account on June 25.

All of Wide Skies' social media accounts have now been taken down and the company behind the entertainment extravaganza, SMS Event Production Ltd, has ceased trading.

Mr Selkirk said: "We've heard nothing yet; there's been no correspondence at all.

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"The last email I had said they had taken the last payment for my ticket and we don't really have any contact details for them as they've taken their Facebook and Twitter down.

Wide Skies and Butterflies at the Raynham Estate

Wide Skies organisers outside Raynham Hall. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

"I was planning to come from Newcastle so, had I have not happened to have looked on the site, I may have travelled down without knowing.

"It's so disappointing. We were really looking forward to it."

Another festival-goer, Marie Pearce, had been excited to attend the festival with husband, who is having dialysis treatment and therefore unable to go away for long periods of time.

She added: "It's such a shame. It was ideal for us as it was close enough that my husband could go for his dialysis treatment and come back in time for the festival.

"We had no email notifying us it had been cancelled and we'd spent more than £500 on it, so we're quite worried.

Marie Pearce, who is unsure if she will get a refund.

Marie Pearce, who is unsure if she will get a refund. - Credit: Marie Pearce

"They were good enough to give us free car parking due to my husband's situation, but now we're completely in the dark as to whether we'll get our money back."

Joel, another ticket holder, said he was surprised the festival had given low ticket sales as a reason for its cancellation.

He claimed his friend had received a message saying it was sold out when trying to purchase a ticket.

He said: "I'm pretty annoyed; it's more frustration than anything. It seemed to me and my friend that the festival was completely sold out except for teen tickets.

"It's annoying they didn't come to us first rather than just putting it on the website. It's disappointing but now I'm looking forward to trying another festival like Latitude."

After receiving complaints, Event Genius - which has been handling ticketing for the event - opened a refund form for ticket holders on Wednesday afternoon.

It said this had been emailed to all would-be attendees. 

A spokesman for Event Genius said: "We were informed on Monday that the company behind Wide Skies & Butterflies has become insolvent. As a result, unfortunately the festival will no longer be going ahead.

"As the ticketing agent for Wide Skies & Butterflies, Event Genius is responsible for fulfilling refunds for the event.

"Over the last few months, Event Genius has been remitting funds from ticket sales to Wide Skies & Butterflies. We are now in the process of working with Wide Skies & Butterflies’ insolvency practitioner to reclaim this money on behalf of customers.

"We know customers will want their money back and we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that happens in a timely manner. However, please bear in mind that there is a strict legal process that we must follow and it will take time to work with all the relevant parties to process claims.

"Sharing news of cancelled festivals and event partners ceasing trading is not something we ever want to have to do. As a team that truly loves the industry we work in, it brings us great sadness to share this news. 

"Our commitment to you is that we will provide an update within 10 days of receiving your claim submission and will do everything in our power to ensure claims are fulfilled as soon as possible."

Wide Skies and Butterflies has been contacted for comment.