Danielle Garrett
3 minute read
31 Jul 2019
11:00 am

‘Disappointing’ Christmas in July spectacle comes to an abrupt end

Danielle Garrett

After receiving complaints from visitors, Sanbi has decided to cut ties and is encouraging people not to buy tickets to the Giant Creature World Expo.

The Enchanted Forest of Lights was advertised to look a lot better than it does in reality, one of many problems that marred the spectacle. Images: Facebook

The Christmas in July event, also known as Enchanted Forest of Lights, has been cancelled with immediate effect, reports Pretoria East Rekord.

The South African national biodiversity institute (Sanbi) made this announcement on Tuesday.

The institute said in a statement: “Sanbi has after careful consideration taken a decision to terminate its contract with the service provider and cancel the remainder of the upcoming Christmas in July events.

“The organiser, David Huni, failed to meet the required standards of event delivery as per contractual obligation,” it said, adding that it promptly terminated its contract with organiser Gallery Naomi Arts.

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The event would have taken place at the Pretoria national botanical garden in Pretoria and at the Walter Sisulu national botanical garden in Roodepoort/Mogale City.

“Sanbi values all its stakeholders and, as a result of customers’ bad experiences at the Christmas in July events, Sanbi has also taken a decision not to enter into a venue hire agreement with David Huni for the Giant Creature World Expo event scheduled to take place between 30 August and 8 September 2019.”

Reasons cited for this include a string of bad customer experiences, which brings Sanbi’s national botanical gardens, which are “edutainment establishments”, into disrepute.

The institute is urging members of the public not to purchase the Giant Creature World Expo tickets at their gardens.

“Sanbi wishes to sincerely apologise to all affected customers and wishes to offer ticket holders/customers with proof of payment free access, for the whole family, at the Pretoria national botanical garden and the Walter Sisulu national botanical garden on women’s day, 9 August 2019.”

By the time of going to print, Pretoria East Rekord had not yet received a response from Christmas in July organisers.

However, on July 28, the Enchanted Forest of Lights Facebook page released a statement thanking all patrons for helping make this year’s event “the biggest Christmas In July event in Africa”.

They also apologised for long queues, explaining that they had put measures in place for future events.

They did not, however, address the fact that customers were left disappointed by rather misleading pictures of what they expected the display to look like.

What the lights were advertised as looking like, which one Facebook user said was simply an image stolen from a display in Brisbane. Image: Facebook

What the lights actually look like. Image: Facebook

All ticket refund queries must be directed to the ticket provider, Howler.

To get a refund, follow the following steps:

– Log into your Howler.co.za account.

– Select the “Tickets” tab at the top of the page.

– Select “Request refund” from the menu icon on the right.

– Submit your request.

If you are requesting a refund for a Christmas in July event that has already passed, you must provide a short motivation for why you should receive a refund.

For any other queries, the public can call the Sanbi support line at 011 880 2199 or send an email to support@howler.co.za.

For more information on Sanbi’s gardens, visit www.sanbi.org

Additional reporting by Nica Schreuder

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