Electric Picnic 2019 sneak peek: Brazilian barbershops, secret bars, dad dancing and 8,000 capacity dance tent among new additions
With just three days to go, construction is nearing completion ahead of the biggest event on the festival calendar, Electric Picnic.
And among the structures and attractions emerging across the fields and woods at Stradbally Hall is a brand new city, Freetown.
Situated beyond Salty Dog and Trenchtown (both of which have become part of the main arena), it houses a towering swamp hut called Spike Island boasting bluesy folk tunes and more as well as Junkyard where you can collapse on dusty blue sofas and take a breather from the madness.
The main attraction, however, is a vibrant Latino community called Providencia, complete with tequila bar (and secret bars among its alleys), a Brazilian barbershop and Argentine barbeque and bodega.
Opposite Providencia is a new dance tent, Terminus, which holds a capacity of 8,000, and there's also a Cabaret area with magic and burlesque.
Skerries band Risky Business are hosting the tongue-in-cheek Who Let the Dads Out with air guitar and stroller pushing competitions (pushing a 'baby' in a buggy while also holding a cup of coffee, as you do) as well as gigs across the weekend.
The new attractions promise to be one of the highlights of the weekend for festival-goers, who can also enjoy their old favourites from the pumping heart that is Casa Bacardi, to Mindfield, to Salty Dog.
“I was really keen in creating a new area that I didn’t dilute anything within the main existing arena and the Electric Picnic and we’ve been really good about doing that,” said Festival Director Melvin Benn at the site on Tuesday.
“The new area will really take off and will grow and mature in exactly the same way as the rest of the picnic has.”
The arena’s new configuration means that Freetown is now located where the Oscar Wilde campsite used to sit, forcing it to move to a new location.
While some Wilde campers may be concerned by a potential longer trek, Benn explains that the arena has also increased in size so it has technically moved closer to the campsite.
Other notable changes are the fact that this year 60 per cent of the vendors (and all of the bars) offer contactless payment and there's a big push on sustainability with a complete ban on single use plastics.
Punters are encouarged to bring their own reusable cups/containers and there will be many more drinking water stations across the site. Reusable cups are also avilable to purchase on site.
This year’s headliners across the weekend are Hozier, The 1975, and Florence + The Machine and Benn predicts the Irish singer/songwriter will be the one to “steal the show”.
The festival, which takes place at Stradbally Hall, Co Laois, this weekend has been completely sold out for months despite an increased capacity of 57,500 for 2019.
Some people have already approached the organisers about fake tickets which they purchased online for large sums of money.
Benn urged punters to be “incredibly careful”, adding, “We’re already aware of people that are contacting us and showing us what they bought and it’s not an appropriate ticket.
“It’s a fake ticket, it’s an illegal ticket and they’ve wasted their money and they’ve spent an awful lot of money on it.”
While he said there is little he can do in respect of a sold out show, he would welcome the mooted change in law which would prohibit the resale of tickets at inflated prices.
“I would be for that, if that law changes, provided it keeps a level playing field for everybody. I think it’s absolutely necessary,” he said.
In light of the recent tragic deaths of several young people at music festivals across the UK and Ireland, which are suspected to be related to illegal substances, many parents are concerned about their young adult children attending festivals.
However, Benn warned festival-goers that there is a "zero tolerance" policy towards illegal drugs at EP.
“We work really closely with the gardai,” he said, adding, “The searching will be bigger - we will do targeted searches where we think it is appropriate.”
He added that “ultimately it’s about people making their own choices” but urged people not to take illegal drugs which are “illegal for a reason, and that’s principally because they are dangerous”.
For those attending on Friday night, Met Eireann is predicting rain, and while Benn believes “it doesn’t make any difference to the punters” he reveals that there are plans in place to tackle the fallout of heavy rain.
“We always have contingency, but sometimes in Laois you need a little more than contingency, you need planning. So we’re planning for that rain,” he says.
“We’re hoping it blows past and just flips over and lands on the UK and doesn’t bother stopping here in Ireland but we suspect that might not be the case. We’re very much planning for that weather to come.”
Earlier this month some of the attendees of the All Together Now festival in Waterford experienced long traffic delays on approach to the festival, but Benn insists Picnickers have no reason to worry ahead of the weekend.
The same garda traffic plan which was in place last year is in place again and there were no issues travelling to or from the festival over the weekend.