Electric Picnic: Festival-goers warned of roadworks and delays
Stradbally set for 50,000 visitors to the three-day music and arts festival
Electric Picnic: With the summer heatwave a fading memory, Stradbally is predicted to be overcast with a risk, on Friday especially, of occasional showers. Photograph: Niall Bouzon/Red Bull/Inpho
The world’s most acclaimed rap artist, the pop maverick behind inescapable hit Happy and a Barcelona theatre troupe performing atop a 40 foot-high pyramid will be among the highlights as Ireland’s largest music festival gets underway on Friday.
Some 50,000 are due to attend the three-day Electric Picnic, headlined by Kendrick Lamar, NERD, Massive Attack and Prodigy. Festival-goers have been urged to depart early and allow for delays on the M7 motorway from Dublin, closed to two lanes and restricted to a 60km/hr speed limit between Junction 8 and 11 M9, due to ongoing upgrade work. From the south, the M8 is closed both ways for works between J13 Mitchelstown south and J14 Fermoy north until 8pm Friday.
They have also been advised to pack for the weather. With the summer heatwave a fading memory, Stradbally is predicted to be overcast with a risk, on Friday especially, of occasional showers.
However, intermittent sunshine is expected, too, and temperatures are set to nudge 20 degrees celsius Saturday and Sunday. And with the festival an instant sell-out, the Garda have warned against fake tickets, confirming “print at home” passes offered online are bogus.
Friday’s big draws include Los Angles rapper Lamar, widely regarded as among the most important musicians of his generation, who returns after selling out Dublin’s 3Arena in February. Saturday welcomes Massive Attack and NERD, whose frontman Pharrell Williams was responsible for the ubiquitous Happy (which the band are unlikely to play). Sunday will feature Picture This and Prodigy. Proceedings are kicked off on Friday by Northern Ireland rockers Brand New Friend, due on the main stage at 5pm.
The first campers descended on Stradbally on Thursday and campsites will re-open Friday at 9am. Holders of Sunday tickets can access the festival from 11am on that day.
Electric Picnic has expanded beyond recognition since Super Furry Animals and David Kitt headlined what was then a humble one-day affair in 2004. In 2018, more than 100 artists will appear across multiple stages through the three nights, with a myriad of other distractions, including spoken word, cookery demonstrations and an Americana-style “trailer park” venue.
The event is billed as a “Music and Arts Festival” and the organisers have renewed their commitment to the latter in 2018. The La Fura des Baus theatre group from Barcelona are among the the newcomers and will deliver their “human seed” routine on a pyramid raised 40-foot in the air on Friday night.
Elsewhere, a “Theatre of Food” hosts talks on “mood food” and a South American-inspired “live fire” feast, while the spoken-word Mindfield area will feature live podcasting by singer Lisa Hannigan, a staging of The Irish Times New to the Parish series and a “Sky News-style” special from satirical website Waterford Whispers.
The sprawling site, in the shadow of 19th century Stradbally Hall, also features an open-air swimming pool, a “Salty Dog” stage inside a converted ship and a family campsite for those with children. With a wide demographic attending, accommodation goes beyond the traditional wind-whipped tent, with yurts and luxury “bell tents” on offer too.
Across the past 14 years Electric Picnic has carved its own slice of rock history. The band Arcade Fire have spoken in awe of their appearance at the festival in 2005, when they were hailed as conquering champions.
But this year has moved in a more pop direction – reflecting the relative decline of rock’n roll and the increased popularity of hip hop and r’n b. Lamar is the heavyweight name on the bill, which also includes chart stars such as Sigrid and Dua Lipa.
“There is a lot of pop around and we want to reflect that fact. It certainly doesn’t dominate the bill but it is reflective of what is going on at the moment,” festival director Melvin Benn said at the unveiling of the line-up.
With tickets selling out in March there is speculation that organiser Festival Republic will increase the capacity going forward, as Melvin Benn acknowledged recently. The UK group, which also oversees the Reading and Leeds Festivals, has already expanded Electric Picnic from its previous capacity of 42,000 in 2015.
“I would like to add more things into the Picnic,” Benn said this week. “And . . . to do that I need to grow the space a little bit more. If I grow the space a little bit more maybe there’s room for a few more people.”