UK festive extravaganza branded Christmas ‘Fyre Festival’ as kids left in tears

A huge Christmas festival has been likened to the infamous Fyre Festival, which saw parents paying to take their kids through slush and mud to see a mannequin of Santa . . . missing a hand.

The Enchanted event, at the Balgone Estate in East Lothian, Scotland, has been slammed as “overprice” with rides at the site being “too short”.

A Christmas-themed maze was also there, and angry parents claimed it was just a bunch of hay bales “barely tall enough to hide a child” behind.

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And, to add to the miserable event, a so-called enchanted journey was nothing more than a “half-lit muddy trail around a lake with half the lights missing”.

Visits to an actual Santa were extra, at £15 per child, and one dad, who asked not to be named, said their two-year-old tot was left in tears by the event.

The parent, who paid £25 for his family of three to visit, said: “When we arrived it was clearly going to be a huge departure from the marketing materials.

“It was a drive to a muddy farm field – the ‘carnival’ was a wheat shed.

“The event was severely understaffed, and mostly by young teenagers with little apparent training.

“My two year old started crying but we have another event planned which we know will be fine.

“We’re very lucky – for other families this must have been their big event and I know some could little afford it.”

One visitor, commenting on Facebook, called it the “Fyre Festival of East Lothian” – Fyre Festival is the infamous festival which, in 2017, guests paid thousands to attend but it ended up being more like a prison.

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It also sparked the famous story where event producer Andy King was willing to perform oral sex on a customs officer in order to get thousands of bottles of water released from customs for festival goers.

Back to Scotland, another parent, Craig Graham, spent £100 on the event with his wife and two daughters.

That cost broke down into £40 for tickets, and another £60 on food, drinks and rides.

While some complained that the rides were too short, his kids couldn’t wait for them to finish.

He said: “We went to the train, a staff member starts the train and then walks off out of the barn.

“We think ‘okay, he can't be away for long.’

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“After around seven minutes my two daughters were left going round and round on the train – I had to go find another member of staff to stop it.

“Then my oldest daughter went on the bungee ropes and again the staff member in charge of the area disappeared and was gone for 10 minutes.

“When she came back my daughter was just standing there wanting off.”

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Despite the long list of complaints, Sue Hitchen, director of Edinburgh-based Foodies Festivals which organised the event, highlighted positive comments that had been received by visitors.

She pointed to guests who “thoroughly enjoyed” their visit “and recommended it to other people”, and another who described “a lovely Christmas experience”.

Balgone Estate was emphatic that it had no role in the event besides providing a venue.

Spokesman David Grant-Suttie said: “We share the disappointment as we can see the event isn’t living up to the expectations of the customers.”

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