Obonjan festival turns to shambles

Written by
Beth Ryan

Organisers of Obonjan, a new well-being and music festival set to take place on a Croatian island, yesterday announced that its start date is to be postponed. The festival was due to open yesterday, but the last-minute announcement came amid seemingly catastrophic issues with electricity and water. 

Obonjan was being touted as a 'curated island destination'. The first of its kind, it boasted a music line-up (Roy Ayers, Four Tet, a grand orchestra) matched only by its well-being programme (energy healing, anyone?). A programme of cultural talks covered topics from architecture to marine biology, and guests were to stay in luxury tents and dine from gourmet kitchens under the scar-scattered sky. The best part was that festival goers would be the sole occupants of this abandoned island. 

They were offering, they claimed, 'all the things we love in one place'. But in their search for perfection, they seem to have overlooked a few practicalities. On Thursday morning organisers emailed ticket holders to announce the delay, citing problems with electricity and water. Their Facebook post read, 'Urgent message about customers heading to Obonjan in the next couple of days - the island is currently without running water and electricity, if you have not yet travelled we advise that you don't.'

The last-minute news wasn't taken to kindly by guests, some of whom were hours away from travelling to the island. One festivalgoer, Eleanor Shakespeare, tweeted: “How could something so fundamental like water and electrics not be functioning at this late stage? Unbelievably disappointed. And why on earth did you wait until five hours before everyone got on a plane to let us know? No more info on site or SM. Really poor.”

Currently, advice is that guests booked to travel between 28 July and 3 August should cancel their plans, while those attending later should be fine. Organisers are offering full refunds to guests.

“We’re working round the clock to rectify any problems and open the island as soon as possible,” they assured guests via Facebook “For people visiting later in the season, there is no need to call, your booking will remain unchanged.” 

Obonjan comes from the team behind Hideout and Unknown festivals, forerunners of the Croatian festival scene. Unlike most music festivals, which offer a few days of intense hedonism, Obonjan was to be an all-round experience, open for six weeks of the summer. Its location - an unoccupied island off Sibenik, on the Adriatic coast - is improbably beautiful and remote. But that seems to have come with a price.

Amid all the chaos, some guests have been a little more forgiving: 

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