Stradbally braces for Electric Picnic and €36m windfall
Town ‘rammed’ on Thursday as Electric Picnic campers are allowed on site for first time
Businesses in Stradbally, Co Laois, are bracing themselves as 55,000 revellers descend on the town for this weekend’s Electric Picnic festival which will be worth tens of millions of euro to the economy.
Festival Republic, the company behind Electric Picnic, commissioned a study after last year’s festival which found the total net economic impact of the weekend was around €36 million.
The two main components were spending by people at the festival, and expenditure by organisers in producing the festival. It found €11 million was spent on site by revellers, who spent a further €15 million off-site. Approximately 25 per cent of the spend was in Stradbally village, while the remainder was on the festival site.
Festival Republic spent an additional €10 million on suppliers and contractors as well as payroll staff, giving a direct spend of €36 million.
In Laois and surrounding areas (excluding Stradbally) the economic impact was found to be worth more than €4 million, while in the wider Leinster region it amounted to more than €25 million.
This year the economic benefits to the region are likely to be even higher as festival organisers facilitated Thursday night camping for 5,000 people. “It’s the first time we’ve done that, and Stradbally was absolutely rammed last night,” said a festival spokeswoman.
Richard Dunne, owner of Dunnes Bar and Lounge in Stradbally, said it would be a bumper weekend.
“It was very busy around the town last night because of this new scheme where people could come into the campsite early. There were no events in the festival so the lot of them came out into the town.
“Crowds come out for the sport on Sunday as well. There are no Premiership matches on, but the All-Ireland will fill the pub. We’ll have a marquee up out the back. It will be packed until an hour or so after the match and then everyone will go back in.
“Even before the weekend itself there are a lot of people working on site. It gives the place a great lift from a week or a fortnight beforehand. There’s never one ounce of trouble either.”
Gerard Mulhall, who is involved with business group Downtown Portlaoise as well as running a SuperValu, said the benefits to the wider region were “a thousand fold”.
“People are renting out their houses. All the hotels are full. There’s extra staff on everywhere.
“Drink sales are well up. There’s people carting out slabs of beer there. I know the owner of the SuperValu in Stradbally, and he said it’s busy for three weeks before the festival with contractors and all the rest.
Out the door
“Our best day is actually the Monday afterwards when everyone is coming out. The deli is just out the door. We have to put more staff on because everyone is looking for normal civilisation after the weekend.”
When contacted, the manager of SuperValu on Main Street in Stradbally was too busy to speak to The Irish Times.
Laois County Council chief executive John Mulholland said the weekend was an opportunity to develop Laois as a tourism destination.
“It establishes a positive reputation for Laois which – let’s face it – isn’t a tourism Mecca. Along with other high-profile events, obviously there is a spin-off effect for retail, hospitality, employment and so on.
“An awful lot of people pass through the county so hospitality is big here even though it’s not a destination like Galway or Kerry. We are trying to develop the local tourism product, and this very much forms part of that.
“The ripple effect is clearly felt by local businesses and, for many, it’s regarded as a time of the year when they make some extra money and can employ some extra young local people over the weekend.”