Canada's Pemberton Festival Files for Bankruptcy With No Refunds for Fans

Tim Mosenfelder/FilmMagic
Atmosphere during the Pemberton Music FestivalPemberton Music Festival on July 16, 2015 in Pemberton, Canada. 

One of North America's most high-profile music festivals has gone bust and it's not offering refunds to fans who spent hundreds of dollars to buy tickets for the annual event in British Columbia.

Visitors to the festival's website were greeted by a bankruptcy notice advising that the July 13-16 event had been canceled and that refunds were currently unavailable.

"As [Pemberton Music Festival] is now in bankruptcy, it has no ability to provide refunds for tickets purchased," the letter reads. "However ticketholders may file a proof of claim form as an unsecured creditor with [Ernst & Young Inc.] in accordance with the claims process."

For their part, event organizers Huka Entertainment issued a statement saying the while the festival had gone bankrupt, the New Orleans-based concert promoter was still in business and trying to sort through the mess.

"For the past four years Huka Entertainment has worked to create a one-of-a-kind experience in the most beautiful place on earth. We are heartbroken to see the 2017 Pemberton Music Festival canceled," the statement reads. "As a contract producer, Huka did not make the decision to cancel the Festival. That decision was made by the Pemberton Music Festival, LP. We are extremely disappointed for our fans, artists and all of our partners who have supported the festival over the years."

The limited partnership was controlled by the site's landowners, who ultimately decided to file for bankruptcy, sources familiar with the situation tell Billboard. Last year, the festival's governance structure was changed to make Huka the primary producer for the festival, but control over all critical decisions were handed over to the limited partnership.

According to bankruptcy filings, the festival was likely to lose at least $14 million in 2017 due to weak ticket sales. The festival only sold 18,230 tickets this year, down significantly from 2016 when the event sold 38,423 tickets and 2015 when the event sold 25,151 tickets.

Officials with Huka Entertainment had spent the past several months looking for new partners to take an equity position in the event, shopping a partnership with a number of potential investors. Despite the decision to push the festival into bankruptcy, Huka Entertainment will continue to operate in New Orleans and promote the annual Tortuga Festival in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Ticketfly, which ticketed the event, issued a statement on its Facebook page saying, "We have just been informed that Pemberton Music Festival has been canceled. We are in communication with the event organizers and the bankruptcy trustee. We understand that ticket buyers want to see this issue resolved as soon as possible. We will report back when we have more information."