Punchestown pilgrimage underway


Oxegen promoters MCD and those of its sister festival T in the Park have issued further statements confirming that headliner Eminem will be performing this weekend despite persistent internet rumours to the contrary.

There were posts on social networking site Twitter yesterday suggesting that the rap star, who is the biggest draw of both festivals, would not be performing. The organisers of T in the Park countered with their own tweet saying “Eminem will be playing on Sat, the roumers are not true people!”

A statement placed on the Oxegen website pointed that Eminem had landed in Switzerland for the start of his European tour on Friday night and said the rumours came from a bogus website set up in the UK to undermine the star.

About 40,000 fans are making their way today to Punchestown Racecourse in Co Kildare for the start of the festival. The early arrivals are likely to get the best of the weather over the weekend.

While it started off dry and bright today, rain is likely tonight and into tomorrow morning. Tomorrow and Saturday will have showers, some of them heavy. Sunday looks like the brightest day of the weekend. The good news is that it will be warm and rainfall levels will be nowhere near enough to saturate the ground, which caused so many problems in recent years.

A road safety awareness campaign will be launched at the festival highlighting the dangers of drug-driving. This national campaign, called “Be Part of It”, is headed by Kildare County Council, the Kildare Joint Policing Committee and the Regional Drugs Task Force, and is supported by the Road Safety Authority and MCD.

The initiative invites festival-goers to help promote the message by posing with a billboard of life-sized mug-shots which illustrated social and legal penalties such as “a drug conviction can lead to foreign travel restrictions”.

AA Roadwatch will be providing regular traffic updates through the iPhone application for this year’s festival.

Dublin Bus will transport nearly 20,000 music lovers to this year’s festival. Services get under way from midday today.

The headliners this year will be Arcade Fire (tomorrow night), Muse (Saturday night) and Eminem (Sunday night).

Many artists have written on their websites about their enthusiasm for the weekend festivals.

Singer and performer Eliza Doolittle, who opens the festival on the main stage, wrote: “Just rehearsing with the boys! Cannot wait for Oxygen and T in the Park this weekend!”.

Wicklow songwriter Wallis Bird wrote: “Can’t wait for Oxegen on Saturday! 3pm at the Heieneken Green Spheres tent!”.

Scouting for Girls bassist Greg Churchouse said the band had been “amazed” at the crowd they attracted when they last played the festival two years ago, even though they had been given an early slot.

They will now play tomorrow evening on the O2 stage. “If it is anything like the last time, it should be an awesome gig. We didn’t know what to expect, but it was wicked,” he said.

In tomorrow’s Ticket: Tony Clayton-Lea’s guide to the acts to catch further down the bill, festival veterans Biffy Clyro on making it to the main stage, Jedward tell Brian Boyd what they’ll be missing, Victoria Gallagher-O’Houlihan on keeping up appearances.