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The xx’s Iceland Festival Had Permit Troubles a Month Before Cancellation

On Tuesday, the Reykjavík Grapevine reported that Night + Day, an upcoming music festival in Iceland hosted and headlined by The xx, had been cancelled. According to an email sent to ticketholders, organizers canceled the festival because Skógafoss, the waterfall where the concert was to take place on July 14-16, was added to the Environment Agency of Iceland’s list of endangered places last week. “There is simply not enough time for the promoters to ensure that the event will have no impact at all on the site,” the email read. “The promoters have been working non-stop to secure another location but regrettably there is nowhere suitable that can host the festival with such short notice.”

However, Skógafoss’s newly endangered status is only the most recent roadblock for Night + Day, which also featured scheduled performances from Earl Sweatshirt, Sampha, Robyn, Warpaint, and others. On May 12, just two days after the festival was first announced, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV and the English-language Iceland Magazine reported that local authorities had rejected the organizers’ application for a permit to hold the festival at Skógafoss, citing fears that the expected crowd could damage the site. According to Iceland Magazine’s report, Night + Day’s organizers submitted a revised application to local authorities after the rejection. The band continued to promote the festival on social media as recently as June 11.

SPIN spoke with two fans, both based in Kentucky, who had purchased tickets and were planning to attend Night + Day until news of the cancellation broke this week. Both said they were frustrated with the experience and questioned whether the xx should have gone on promoting the festival and selling tickets after the permits were rejected. “Since I found out about the festival I’d been planning to go. I changed my summer plans to do this. To have them cancel so shortly before this is a huge disappointment,” said Rachel Foster, one fan. “It seemed odd to me that they would go on planning a festival at a site that seemed like it would be an issue.”

Foster and Jake Schatz, the other fan interviewed by SPIN, each purchased a Night + Day package which cost $1660.07, and included two general admission tickets to the festival, a hotel room in Reykjavik, and shuttle transportation to and from the festival site. The email announcing the cancellation stated that ticketholders would receive “automatic refunds” via the website where they purchased tickets. (Foster and Schatz both used a site called Festicket.) It also included an email address that fans could contact “for any further enquiries relating to flights, accommodation & transfers that have already been booked and will no longer be used,” but did not guarantee that refunds for such expenses would be provided. When contacted by SPIN, a representative of the band provided a copy of the cancellation email, but declined to comment further about travel refunds.

Schatz said he spent between $850 and $900 on a round trip flight from Kentucky to Reykjavik, and that he did not believe it was likely that he would recoup the cost. Both Schatz and Foster contacted the email address, but had not received definitive responses at the time of this writing. Foster was more hopeful than Schatz about the prospect of a flight refund.

“They tried to get permits, and they were denied the application almost two months ago,” Schatz said, comparing Night + Day to another recent cancelled destination concert. “It’s silly that we have to prepare for this sort of stuff, even after Fyre Fest,” he continued. “I’m just glad that we didn’t go all the way there and figure out that it’s not happening at all.”