Tequila Festival. A festival for Tequila lovers. An event to celebrate the best parts Mexican culture was going on tour and it was coming to my new home of Edinburgh. The excitement was palpable, other venues around the UK were selling out quickly and with general admission tickets priced at £16.50. £16.50 for an event that had everything Mexican from tequila, mariachi bands and burritos? Well, I am a sucker for a bargain after all…
The event was set as an all-day event running from 1pm-11pm and I arrived with my friend around 5pm. With Scotland playing New Zealand earlier in the day, we felt this would be the best time to go. We get ourselves in and hand over our tickets and on arrival, we got told that this was not a cash-over-the-bar event and so they were using a card/voucher system which would cost £20. The voucher had 10 drink symbols so for each drink you get a member of the bar staff would stamp off a symbol. Although in the long run, it would weigh up as roughly the same. It just made everything more complicated in the long run. By the end, we only had 2 stamps but we wanted 2 cocktails – a cocktail was worthy of 2 stamps. This led to me and my friend both sharing a singular cocktail because it wasn’t worth another £20 for another card.
After we had at least had a drink we went on the hunt for food, Mexican food is my ultimate weakness so I was excited to try out some of the nibbles on offer. We entered this second room to find one man on food duty. £5 for a burrito is a great price for a burrito, the size and quality – not so much. But hey, a burrito’s a burrito at the end of the day and I hadn’t eaten all day so I gulped it down in like 0.85 seconds. During this time we noticed 2 “Mexican wrestlers” putting on a show as a bit of light-hearted entertainment. I could not tell you if they had been paid to put on a show or if they were simply paid to dress up and walk about and their show was just 2 random guys in costumes who were mucking about for a couple of minutes. The latter seems more plausible.
My friend and I proceeded into the main room and felt maybe another drink would help get into the swing of things and then we proceeded on to the half-empty dancefloor with the DJ playing a mixture of latino classics such as Ricky Martin’s Livin’ La Vida Loca amongst regular EDM & chart boppers. The music selection is what I expected going into the event and it seems suitable for the occasion. However, the atmosphere just left everything a big flat. In the space of 20 minutes, the crowd ranged from 4 people on the dancefloor to 50 people, this changed per song and just made it even more disjointed. It had the feel of arriving at a club really early where the only people in there were either really really drunk or really really sober. There was one saving grace – the mariachi band!
After an hour at the event, we were slowly admitting defeat and wondering whether we had missed everything and maybe we should just leave. As we headed to the bar to use up the last of our drink vouchers, a mariachi band take the stage and started performing. This was it, this is the game changer that the event had been missing! Within 5 minutes of them performing the dancefloor was flooded with people and there was a sense of fun about the event. The band even covered crowd-pleaser Despacito which went down an absolute storm & the full band injected the party with a big dose of energy that had been sadly lacking.
After 30 minutes of having actual fun, we had no drinks left and although we loved the mariachi band, it was not enough for us to invest £20 on another drinks card. That confirmed it in our minds why we were thinking about leaving before. If it was just a simple cash transaction then we would have more than happily stayed for a few more drinks.
It’s sad, this event had such a huge amount of potential and I was honestly feeling so excited about it but the reality of it was far from what I expected. The whole thing seemed disjointed which was probably due to it being an all-day event. Was it better earlier in the afternoon or was it better later in the evening? Did I miss something that others got to witness? I mean I was one drink away from missing the mariachi band. In my opinion, this would have been a lot better if it ran for just a few hours rather than overstretching. The people who had booked tables were looking worse for wear, while I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who stayed for an hour and then left reasonably disappointed wondering whether arriving earlier or later would have resulted in a better experience.
Having the voucher system was borderline ridiculous and not being upfront about this before tickets got purchased seemed incredibly underhanded. Having spent £32+ on two tickets is fine but to be then told when entering that you can’t drink unless you spend an extra £20 on a voucher. However, the only place you could use cash was at the food stall which accepted cash only. It just led to extra frustration.
I could put it all aside if it was a good event, but it just wasn’t. The mariachi band won me round slightly, they brought the atmosphere and were the only thing to make it even slightly worthwhile for me – oh and this cactus…
Save your money and go to a regular bar and drink tequila there.