What do you want in your Picnic basket?
Ahead of next weekend’s Stradbally soiree, what exactly are the folks heading to Co Laois for the weekend looking for from a modern festival?
There will be 41,000 paying customers heading to Stradbally next weekend in search of kicks and thrills in those 600 acres in the middle of the town. It’s not quite Coleridge’s stately pleasure dome but it will do the job nicely for those 41,000 people who’ve helped make the Electric Picnic a sellout in record time.
But what exactly are those 41,000 punters after? Some will be there to see certain acts and many who will have a hitlist of bands they aim to see every hour of the day. Others will adopt a more casual approach to proceedings and duck and dive from stage to stage and back again via a rave in the woods or a cookery exhibition or a poetry reading. There will be even be those who won’t see a band all weekend and who will leave on Monday morning happy out.
That’s the thing about the modern festival experience: it has become an offering of Gay Byrne-like proportions with something for everyone in the audience. When you get all your ducks in a row, or enough ducks to attract 41k punters, you’ve a winner on your hands.
But it’s not easy. As we’ve noted on the blog, it has been a tough season for many. From Jabberwocky in London to Light Colour Sound in Kilkenny, there have been many examples of promoters getting things wrong with both pre- and post-event business affairs.
The Electric Picnic too has been through the wringer with legal disputes, which have now been settled, between founders and operators. There will, no doubt, be challenges to its crown in the years ahead as new festivals emerge or our predilection for partying in the open air fades.
Right now, though, the event is the only one that matters for 41,000 people. Here’s hoping all of them get what they want from it.