Electric Picnic Festival

Posted by Neil Hand on the 22nd of August 2014 at 12:17:00

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Ireland is a wonderful place to visit for more reasons than I could fit into a blog. This week I’ll be turning my attention towards festivals, taking a look at the biggest one of them all:

Electric Picnic is Ireland’s biggest and best music and arts festival. Similar in scope to Glastonbury in England (one of, if not the most famous festival in the world), but on a smaller scale (what isn’t?), it’s been running since 2004 and gets better and better every year.

Compared with other festivals in Ireland, EP is known for its friendly, fun vibe, and has a deserved reputation as one of the most good-natured annual festivals or events in the country. It’s all kicking-off next weekend, so here’s a quick overview of what exactly’s going down:

The festival takes place in Stradbally, County Laois, a gorgeous part of the country, and very much ‘the midlands’. Laois is the only county in Ireland, believe it or not, that doesn’t even border a county that has a coastline. It’s most definitely dry-land. Watersport enthusiasts look elsewhere!

The overall feel and style of music at EP would probably be best described as ‘Left-Field’. If you are just interested in seeing the latest chart-toppers, boybands and pop-sensations, the music at the festival will not be your cup of tea. But if you are interested in artists and musicians with a high-degree of critical acclaim, talent, energy and excitement, this is the festival for you. The headliners of the festival this year are English Trip-Hop outfit Portishead, American rap duo Outkast and Beck, the wonderful, genre-defying and truly ground-breaking musician and songwriter. Also featured on the bill are global conquerors Blondie, 80s giants Pet Shop Boys and Ireland’s own Sinead O’Connor. For variety of genre and bands beloved by different generations, nothing compares 2 EP. ;)

In addition to music, that other major Irish language is out in force at Electric Picnic: Laughter. The comedy stage is a massive element of the experience, and this year features wonderful acts such as Dublin’s David O’Doherty, English joker Simon Amstell and straight outta Limerick City, the one and only Rubberbandits. I caught the Rubberbandits at a small show last year (well, the venue was small at least), and it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been at. They were voted the best act at the festival in a poll in 2010 and are back to make the crowds cry with laughter again this year.

The festival is extremely well served by transport, tying in with the professional manner in which it’s organised and run overall. You can get there by bus, train, car, bike or on foot. There’s plenty of onsite parking available for all.

Tour de Picnic will be operating for the 6th straight year in 2014, and I’m sure you’ll agree is a fantastic concept. The basic idea is that festival-goers reduce their carbon footprint (and that of the festival overall) by using green methods of transportation to get to the festival. There are two options on ‘Le Tour’: An 80km cycle from Citywest, Dublin to the festival, with a couple of stops along the way OR a 15km run to the festival from Athy, Co Kildare to the festival. Rather than pay a standard entry fee to the festival, participants in the Tour de Picnic raise money for charity and receive entry to the festival should they raise a certain amount. Festival kit is transported for participants in the Tour de Picnic by bus, so there’s no need to worry about trying to cycle or run with a heavy bag on your back.

I attended the festival myself in 2005, but haven’t managed to get back since (for shame!). It was an amazing event, a stunning setting, and extremely well organised. That year I saw The Flaming Lips, Kraftwerk, Fatboy Slim & Arcade Fire, amongst others. Nearly a decade has passed since, but I have followed the festival closely and am delighted by the expansion I’ve seen, not to mention envious of the friends and family of mine who’ve attended in the interim. Researching and writing this blog really makes me want to go back. Maybe I’ll see you there in 2016! You never know.

Electric Picnic is an incredibly friendly, good-natured festival, and should be fun to stay at whatever choice of ‘accommodation’ you choose for the weekend. There is the old-fashioned tent option available as ever in the well-facilitated campsites, but something which Electric Picnic has become famous for and was pioneering in is ‘Glamping’. Essentially, Glamping is posh-camping. More expensive, but better equipped and although you will be staying in some form of temporary dwelling, there is no shortage of luxury or comfort. Tipis, Yurts, Podpads and well equipped, comfortable wooden huts are amongst the options available under the Glamping umbrella. Why compromise your comfort just because you’re at a music festival?

While the festival is fully sold out at this point, it will return next year, and is definitely something you should try to attend on your travels around Ireland. County Laois has plenty to offer visitors, including Heywood Gardens and the beautiful county-town (capital) of Portlaoise. Contact us today and discuss getting to Ireland, Electric Picnic 2016 and experiencing Irish hospitality for yourself. We’d love to help make your dream vacation a reality.

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