Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

From boutique to bazaar: the Picnic comes of age

This was the year that the Electric Picnic grew up and stopped being a boutique festival. In fact, 2008 was the year of some subtle and not-so-subtle changes at Stradbally Hall, all of which combined to make this the event’s …

Fri, Sep 5, 2008, 09:58

   

This was the year that the Electric Picnic grew up and stopped being a boutique festival.

In fact, 2008 was the year of some subtle and not-so-subtle changes at Stradbally Hall, all of which combined to make this the event’s most successful outing to date.

It began with the Picnic repositioning itself as a music and arts festival, a direct response to fierce competition for acts from MCD/Live Nation’s Oxegen.

This was achieved by significantly improving and increasing what was on offer in the Spoken Word and Body & Soul areas, including bringing in some of the clout of the Arts Council to the former. This repositioning may also have been responsible for the downplaying of the Bodytonic dance stages, which were moved away from the main arena.

Add several other new features, from a hugely popular cooking stage to a vastly improved arts trail, and a bigger concentration on non-music areas, such as the consistently busy comedy tent, and it’s clear that the Picnic now has a range of attractions which cannot be simply replicated by another festival.

Of course, they do have festival toilets, but complaining about the toilets at a festival is as pointless as complaining about the weather.

However, it’s the increased scale of the Picnic that is the most significant change. While the festival still flies the boutique flag in areas such as the chi-chi campsite, the Picnic is more akin to a bazaar these days with the amount of stages, stalls and sideshows.

You’re truly bamboozled by the quantity of things competing for attention. There is simply no way for anyone to take in absolutely everything.

While some people may grumble that this overload means they miss out on bands or performers, it’s clear that more choices and options are what the vast majority of people are after. For them, the Picnic remains the only Irish festival truly worth their time and euro. Roll on 2009.

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