Living my Irish dream: Rain soaked revelry at Electric Picnic - SEE PHOTOS
On the dark country road that leads the way to the Electric Picnic festival, the lights of a giant Ferris wheel peek out over trees and draw us towards them, like moths to flame.
I and the three other people driving in the car take turns squealing with delight as we round corners and play peek–a–boo with the bright bulbs, until we finally arrive. We have sweaters, sleeping bags and tents– everything we need to begin our 3-day camping-and-music adventure in the woods of Stradbally, Co. Laois.
First things first, we set up our campsite, amidst the estimated 30,000 other campers. Within minutes, seconds even, we meet a good Samaritan. A man wearing a light on his head comes out of nowhere, helps us with our luggage, and secures our tent to the ground. He is so helpful that I assume he is a friend of one of my cousin’s.
“Oh that guy? I don’t know him. He’s just being nice,” he explains, nonchalantly. “It’s a festival after all.”
As it turns out, over the course of the weekend, we continue to experience the pleasant surprise of meeting many, many people just like him, who share their food, supplies, and even tents with us, perfect strangers.
One of my friends, Aaron Dwane, 23, is generous enough to offer space in his tent to anyone who can fit in it.
Aaron doesn’t end up using his tent on the first night though, because he attends a techno dance party that literally lasts all night long. The so-called “Rave in the Woods” features visuals and music so spectacular that he describes it as “like having your mind shot through the barrel of a rifle lined with baroque paintings, into a field of electricity.”
Since he never makes it back to the tent that first night, a different friend of ours winds up taking his place. So at the end of day 1, there are two people sleeping in my tent. It rains through the night, and although the tent is dry inside, when the shivers take hold of my limbs, I find myself beginning to question my decision-making skills.
But we make it through the night, and we are never more grateful for a warm morning sun than for that which greets us on day two.
Deirdre Crookes, one of the press officers for Electric Picnic describes the event as “the thinking man’s festival.” She explains that there are 30 to 40 stages featuring roughly 200acts from every entertainment genre imaginable – music, dance, drama, political speeches, discussion forums, literary readings, etc., on down to kiddie yoga. The names on the lineup display the diversity of music available: Paul Brady, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Imelda May, Hot Chip, Mumford & Sons, Leftfield, The Waterboys, LCD Soundsystem, Seasick Steve, Dublin Gospel Choir, etc. And those only performers from the 7 main stages.
“Music is only half the festival,” Crookes says, later adding, “there’s something for everybody.”
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