Sentosa sky lantern festival: No clarity on refunds, date & venue of supposed rescheduled event

Amid outcry by attendees, two representatives of the company who organised the event have given different messages.

Belmont Lay | March 01, 2024, 02:34 PM



The Singapore Sky Lantern Festival, which attracted more than 2,000 people to show up on Sentosa island on Feb. 21, did not go as planned.

And now, the only thing up in the air is whether they are getting refunds, partial refunds, attending another event — or none.

What happened

Attendees, who were expecting to fly sky lanterns on Wednesday evening were told they could not do so, as the organiser was not permitted to fly lanterns with open flames.

In its place, lanterns lit by LED lights were handed out after a site inspection on the day of the festival by the Singapore Civil Defence Force showed that fire safety guidelines had not been adhered to.

No proper tethers for the sky lanterns, fire extinguishers, or safety marshals were available.

There was also no food, which was promised as part of the event.

Developments after event

At least 15 complaints have been lodged against the event organiser, Asian Couture and Boutique, after it refused to refund attendees.

Almost a week after the event, Shiermie Bautista, a director of the company, said on Facebook on Feb. 27 that attendees can resell their tickets on TicketSwap or attend a rescheduled release event, supposedly to take place around the first week of April.

Tickets to the event were priced at about S$50 each.

The total number of attendees who showed up at Sentosa for the event was shared by Asian Couture and Boutique’s director Steven Lau, as reported by The Straits Times (ST).

It is understood that Bautista was not in Singapore on Feb. 21 when the event occurred, while Lau was on the ground that night.

Differing information provided

However, the duo have released different information.

Lau said on Feb. 29 that feedback is still being collected from customers and a final decision on the next steps have not been made yet.

In response to Mothership's queries, he said: "We are currently in the process of developing a request form, which we anticipate will be available by Mar. 4, 2024."

Lau also told Today that the attendees would be given a few options, which could include a partial refund and the option to attend the next event at a price that will be offset by the amount they had spent for the Feb. 21 event.

He also explained there "cannot be a full refund" for all, as some of the attendees paid for the tickets at a 50 per cent discount.

Rescheduled event when?

However, the current situation, when taking into account the authorities' responses, throws into question the status of the supposed rescheduled event.

The SCDF and Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) separately told ST that they have not finalised details with the organiser.

A SCDF spokesperson said it has not given any clearance for the rescheduled event and is still following up on the details and the implementation of the fire safety guidelines.

As of Feb. 28, no details on the date, venue and how the event will be executed have been shared, CAAS director for airspace policy Jean Yee said.

ST reported that it found that Bautista’s phone number is linked to a cancelled sky lantern festival in Dubai that was supposed to occur in 2023. She had also posted about the event on Facebook.

The event, which had tickets priced at 130AED (S$47.63), appeared to have been postponed due to last-minute issues.

A Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) spokeswoman said Asian Couture and Boutique has reached out to hold a similar event, and said it has reminded the organiser to get the necessary permits and licences.

The statutory board also said it was disappointed to hear that the event organiser had backtracked on the initial decision to provide refunds.

Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) president Melvin Yong said the association received 15 complaints so far and is engaging with the event organiser to give affected consumers a full refund.

Top photos via Singapore Sky Lantern Festival & @sarahhhh_k on Instagram