Friday 14 December 2018

Electric Picnic: Five things to look forward to at this year's festival

Electric Picnic
Electric Picnic

Gillian Tsoi

It's that time of year again: after whetting our appetite at the various smaller festivals over the summer months, the big one is finally here. It's time to dust off your wellies and ponchos, because next week, Electric Picnic kicks off at Stradbally Hall, Co Laois, offering a delightful smorgasbord of great music, delicious food and plenty more fun for punters to enjoy.

This year's festival completely sold out just two hours after going on sale (before even a single act was announced), which has never before happened in the event's 13-year history. The three-day affair (expected to attract 55,000 people) has gone from strength to strength and promises to be better than ever this year - but don't be overwhelmed, we've rounded up some of the highlights you can look forward to over the weekend.

Duran Duran

Dig out your scrunchies, bumbags and neon ski-pants and prepare to Come Undone as legendary 80s synth-pop band Duran Duran bring their new-wave magic to Picnickers on the final night of the festival.

How many bands can you think of that, decades into their career, are still capable of creating new music that's up there with the enduring songs that first propelled them to fame and fortune?

In 2015, Duran Duran released a new studio album, Paper Gods which burnished their role in the story of pop, and puts the many young pretenders, whose music they have influenced, firmly in their place. For their newest record, which was their 14th, the Rio singers collaborated with a host of A-listers - including Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson and Janelle Monáe. We can't wait to hear their iconic tunes, old and new, blast out across the fields of Stradbally.

The xx

Taking on headline duties on Friday night, indie-pop three-piece The xx will be returning to Stradbally for the second time after delivering a sublime performance on the Main Stage back in 2012.

The Londoners were deserving recipients of the Mercury Prize in 2010, and earlier this year, released their I See You album, to critical acclaim. They'll be performing to a fresh-faced crowd on the opening night of the festival.

A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest

One of hip-hop's most beloved and revered groups of all time, the Can I Kick It crew - consisting of New York natives Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed Muhammad and the late PhifeDawg - came together in 1985 and are now easily recognised for their unique approach to rap music.

Their production of jazz-infused soundscapes to Afro centric rhymes has earned them legendary status - the group is largely responsible for the popularity of a new genre that dominated the East Coast sound of the early 1990s. They will be gracing the Main Stage of EP on Saturday night.

Rag'n'Bone Man

Winning British Breakthrough act at the Brit Awards, the prodigiously talented Rory Graham (aka Rag'n'Bone Man) shot to fame last year with his debut single Human.

The singer-songwriter has injected an exciting new twist into the blues music he grew up listening to in East Sussex, bringing it up to date using the beats and production methods of modern hip hop.

The big man with the big voice resurrects age-old themes of loss and romantic pain with a voice so raw, it transfixes anyone in earshot with its sheer size and power. Catch him live on the Main Stage on Saturday night.

Al Porter

Don't miss

Music is obviously the main attraction, but there's so much more to do at Electric Picnic: in the Mindfield area, dubbed the "thinking space" of the festival, anyone looking to broaden their mind can indulge in heated debates, heartbreaking poetry, mind-blowing science and transcendent theatre.

This year's attractions include a special Irish Research Council discussion on the Science of Online Dating, while broadcaster Miriam O'Callaghan and comedian, Al Porter will team up for 'Miriam and Al's Sunday Brunch' - a heavy-headed, light-hearted review of the Sunday papers with special guests and music.

However, if you need to relax your mind and get away from the hectic buzz of the festival, follow the path to the chilled out Hazel Wood area - a wonderland deep in the trees, that offers mesmerising visual art instalments, break-dance and graffiti workshops, and storytelling performances by the Gaiety School of Acting.

Meanwhile, punters in the mood for some serious pampering can book in for one of the holistic health treatments on offer (including biodynamic craniosacral therapy and deep-tissue massages), or soak in the hot tubs, of the Zen Gardens in the Body&Soul village.

Body&Soul is also home to the Peace Pagoda, which will host an array of workshops, healing journeys and hand-crafted corners where you can sit back and watch the surrounding electric energy as it passes you by.

What better way to soothe those dancing feet?


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