Festival fever ignites as discretionary spending is back with a bang
When Beck sings "Loser" to the 41,000-strong crowd at Electric Picnic this weekend he won't be singing about music festivals. Sold out for months, Electric Picnic joins the likes of Knockenstocken and Body and Soul in what appears to be a bumper year. And it's not over yet. Valentia Isle Festival in September and Samhein Festival in October both sold out of early bird tickets.
Festivals contribute over €400m to the economy.
"The seven-year itch is over for large scale outdoor music festivals," says Colm Crotty of the Festival Association of Ireland. "There has been a 15pc rise in tickets sales all round. People are spending as much as €200 on tickets, with an additional average of €118 per night for camping, food and drinks," he says.
"Discretionary spend has increased," says publicist for Electric Picnic, Lindsey Holmes.
"People are spending more on luxuries. This year, we have a five-star fine dining banquet with all proceeds going to the Console charity, hosted by Michelin star chefs Derry Clarke and Ross Lewis amongst others."
Mr Clarke, who owns L'Ecrivain restaurant, said: "We couldn't have done this last year. It would have been too difficult to get people to commit financially. The fact that Electric Picnic organisers are covering all costs means everything will go to charity, which helps sales." Tickets for the lunches and dinners - costing €120 each - have nearly sold out.
Sean Collender and Shoaib Yunus, whose Kinara Kitchen stall won the best food prize at Electric Picnic last year, say the benefits of being at festivals are far reaching.
"Guests come to our restaurants because they had our food at EP. We are bringing supplies for around 4,000 people. That includes over 2,000 chickens and 1,500 litres of mango lassi."
"People are booking their rooms at the hotel earlier," says a source at the Heritage Hotel in Portlaoise. "The hotel has almost sold out as more people can afford luxury over camping."
"Between 6,000 and 7,000 people work at EP in some capacity and that doesn't include taxi drivers, extra local staff, drivers for the acts and others," says Ms Holmes.
And the artists gain too. "The Riptide Movement got their first festival gig at Vantastival and recently supported the Rolling Stones," says Louise Tangey, of Vantastival.