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AU57: Electric Picnic piece

June 1, 2009

For this issue, I put together a summer festivals guide, in which I picked out 10 of the best and most interesting festivals from around Europe and flagged them up. Electric Picnic being close to my (and AU’s readers’) heart, it got the #1 spot.

Electric Picnic 7

PICNIC TIME!

IRELAND’S FIRST BOUTIQUE FESTIVAL STILL LEADS THE FIELD

Surely only one festival can come out top of a list like this. Now approaching its sixth year since starting as a one-day event back in 2004, the Electric Picnic has managed to maintain its singular atmosphere and eclectic approach, pretty much defining that pesky tag ‘boutique festival’. It’s the kind of festival where the faithful spend the nine months prior to it in fevered anticipation, and the three months afterwards slowly digesting it. Put simply, it’s the highlight of the year.

For those not in the know, the festival takes place in the leafy surroundings of Stradbally, Co. Laois, about an hour’s drive from Dublin. In its first year, it managed to attract acts of the calibre of Super Furry Animals, Jurassic 5 and Soulwax, but it was 2005, when it became a two-day event, when things really took off. Kraftwerk and Nick Cave were among the headliners, and The Arcade Fire’s set – shortly before they went stratospheric – became the stuff of legend. In 2006, the festival expanded to cover three days (well, two and a half), and since then it has been well established as Oxegen’s slightly more refined, discerningyounger brother.

The main selling point is the atmosphere, which is often compared to Glastonbury, though on a much more manageable scale. In the last couple of years, concerns that the organisers were unable to draw the same quantity of major acts as Oxegen have led to a slight shift in emphasis, and while the music still dominates, it’s all the other stuff that goes on that gives the festival its unique character. Cabaret, theatre, cookery demos, comedy, a funfair and the kind of ambience that puts you in mind of a particularly exciting summer fete. The Body & Soul Arena (expanded for 2009) is the hippy heartbeat of the place, while the Village Green takes care of your genteel side. The food is also superb, by the way – salmonella burgers are in short supply at EP.

This year, the musical line-up is as varied as ever. At the time of going to press, only 47 acts had been announced – expect plenty more goodies over the next few months – but the early highlights include disco legends Chic with their first ever Irish performance, Orbital, Flaming Lips, Fleet Foxes, MGMT, The Sugarhill Gang, Four Tet, Explosions In The Sky, dubstep kingpins Skream and Benga, 2ManyDJs and many more. Book early, eh?

ELECTRIC PICNIC TAKES PLACE AT STRADBALLY, CO. LAOIS, ON SEPTEMBER 4-6

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