GLOSSY adverts promised a Santa’s Grotto made entirely of chocolate, unique artisan stands from all over the country and endless amounts of family fun.
But when shoppers arrived at the Scottish Chocolate Festival expecting mesmorisingly tasty displays, they were passed a goodie bag containing a Galaxy and a Milkybar before being shown to a room with just 12 stalls, a choir and a makeshift grotto – described as a “cardboard monstrosity”.
Disappointed families who had been expecting a festive day out are now demanding refunds from the organisers after the event, described as a “shambles”, finished three hours early on Saturday – due to stallholders and even Santa himself walking out.
Organisers cancelled the event on Sunday and dozens who had travelled from as far afield as Aberdeen were greeted with a note on the door of the venue informing them of the cancellation.
The event took place at The Biscuit Factory on Anderson Place, Leith, and was due to run throughout the whole weekend.
It had advertised various features, including an indulgent Chocolate Cocktail Bar and chocolate-making workshops, but festival-goers said none of those could be found.
One vendor, who has asked to remain anonymous, branded the festival an “embarrassment”.
She said: “It was pitched to us as one of the biggest chocolate events in the calendar.
“Just 12 stallholders turned up, and some of those were craft stalls.
“I was actually embarrassed to be there.
“It wasn’t cancelled on the Sunday due to unforeseen circumstances – it was cancelled because all the vendors left hours before it was due to finish on the Saturday.
“Even Santa left, his grotto looked like a monstrosity a child had made.
“I was just gobsmacked, it was a shambles.”
Organisers did not return calls from the Evening News, but in a post on the Scottish Chocolate Festival Facebook page they wrote: “I am terribly sorry that this year’s chocolate festival was such a disappointment and let down to you all.
“I have been answering my phone as much as I can and spoken to many vendors and customers.
“Being aware of the situation, we discounted entry at the door, as things deteriorated we waived the door fee and agreed to refund the entrance fee completely.
“Dealing with this has been the most stressful few days of my life, I don’t deny being naive and it’s easy now to look back at the mistakes that were made that turned this event into the disaster it was.”
It is understood some customers have already received their refunds for the tickets, which cost £12, but many are still waiting.
A spokesman for the Biscuit Factory said: “The Biscuit Factory is a venue only and we bear no responsibility for events.
“We are a ‘dry hire’ only.
“We will ensure customers receive their refunds from the event organised as promised.”