Traffic delays of up to two hours are expected around Marlay Park this summer for its outdoor concerts, despite a council worker insisting last year were the “best organised concerts that we ever had”.
Some 250,000 people are expected to descend upon the South Dublin grounds this summer across seven concert days, and organisers view delays as “inevitable” due to the high volume.
At a media briefing on Tuesday, MCD’s Justin Green said concert goers should treat Longitude like going to the airport and recommended an extra two hours travel time to and from the park amid expected delays.
He said that no matter the preparation by organisers, with 40,000 people descending on the grounds per day there will always be delays. Shuttle buses will be in operation to and from Dundrum town centre, Custom House Quay and SuperValu on Balinteer Avenue. To help alleviate traffic delays and it was recommended to use the car park of SuperValu on Balinteer Avenue for pick up and drop off from cars.
Concerns were raised at the briefing about locals taking to social media last year to express frustration at the transport issues in the area, but Therese Langan, who is core to the organisation of summer gigs at Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, said “much initial feedback [from residents] from last year was that they were the best organised concerts that we ever had”.
“We didn’t get a huge amount of complaints on our own hotlines in relation to traffic management,” she said, and added that the views of those on social media represent those of the minority.
Meanwhile there is concern over the feasibility to enforce a potential vaping ban at Longitude music festival this summer, as legislation looks to crack down on its use among teenagers.
An Garda Síochána have said they are prepared to enforce any legislation prohibiting under 18s to vape at the festival, but admitted such an operation would prove difficult.
It is expected the Government will prioritise enacting legislation banning the sale of vaping products to under 18s by the Dáil summer recess in mid-July. However, it is viewed as unlikely that the Government will pass legislation before Longitude.
Supt Tomás Gormley of Tallaght Garda station said: “If it does become legislation prior to these events, of course we will have to police it.”
A Garda source said that much like the indoor smoking ban in 2004, it will take a culture change over time to get people to stop vaping and conceded it would be “difficult” to police an event such as Longitude with its congregation of up to 40,000 teenagers.
Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, which also runs Electric Picnic said organisers would “ensure we have a law-abiding event” and “act accordingly” depending on what the legislation was passed.
He added he was concerned about the single-use vapes and their environmental impact, which has become more prominent in the last year or so. “Obviously it’s not great for your body but it’s terrible for the environment.”
Supt Gormley said: “There will be a big policing operation in place which will impact our policing commitments around the rest of the district,” adding his “number one priority” was keeping event goers and the surrounding community safe.
Last summer the HSE trialled drug testing at Electric Picnic festival where healthcare professionals identified dangerous substances and communicated safety notices to crowds. Mr Benn confirmed that the HSE had not asked to roll out HSE drug testing at Marlay Park concerts this summer, but the practice would return at Electric Picnic later in the season.
Since 2001, Marlay Park has been home to some hotly anticipated summer gigs and 2023 is no different. In store for the South Dublin park this year will be Arctic Monkeys (20th June), Dermot Kennedy (23rd and 24th June), The Weeknd (28th June), Longitude (1st and 2nd July) and Def Leppard and Motley Crue (4th July).
Mr Benn suggested revellers should download their tickets to their phones before getting to the park as there is no guarantee of internet connection at the gates. He also announced a new event app would likely be released this weekend called evntz.ie, where fans can download all the information they need in one place.
When asked why Longitude will run across two days this summer instead of the usual three, Mr Benn said “there’s a point that [Ms Langan] wanted to cut off”, referencing the cap on seven days placed by the county council.
“Seven days is the right amount of time,” he later told The Irish Times after the press briefing. “It’s about confirming dates really. Artists are knocking on the door saying, ‘Can we play Marlay Park?’ and the reality is promoters tend to work on a first come first serve basis. If an artist is ready to confirm for Marlay Park, we confirm them. And that has meant this year we confirmed five concert days and only two of the three Logitude days and Longitude was reduced to two days as a result. There’s no agenda, no reasoning behind that other than whoever gets there first gets in.”
Mr Benn said since the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, costs have “gone through the roof” for the festival, but he maintained that the number of sell out performances is an indicator that organisers have not passed on too much cost to consumers.