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Saturday 24 February 2018

Organisers want 'bigger festival'

Electric Picnic promoter Melvin Ben
Electric Picnic promoter Melvin Ben

The organisers of Electric Picnic want to make it bigger and better after a record 35,000 revellers partied through the weekend.

Promoter Melvin Benn revealed he hopes to bring more revellers in to Stradbally Hall estate in Co Laois for next year's three-day extravaganza.

"I'm very happy with the weekend, it's gone as well as we could have expected," he said.

"I think there's room to get a little bit bigger.

"I'll certainly be talking to the local council and to the guards about the possibly of maybe getting another 5,000 people here."

A 10-minute firework display celebrated the Electric Picnic's 10th birthday on Friday night before Fatboy Slim headlined on the main stage.

But the festival atmosphere was tinged with sadness on Saturday morning when news broke that a 20-year-old man had died in the early hours.

A post mortem is due to be held on the body of the man, named locally as Phil McConnell from Malahide, north Dublin, who had a heart transplant as an infant.

Thomas Cosby, owner of the sprawling Stradbally Hall estate, said the loss of life affected all the organisers involved.

"Our thoughts are with his family," he added.

ElectricPicnic has grown from 10,000 music fans at a one-day event to a three-day child friendly festival of music, arts, theatre and food.

Punters also hit lucky with the weather, enjoying the sounds, sights and tastes in the sunshine.

Gavin Cassidy, 32, and girlfriend Shilpa Purushotam, 28, set up camp at the festival during their holiday from Dubai.

"I've been to Oxegen before but this is a much nicer vibe, it's really chilled out," said Mr Cassidy, who is originally from Belfast.

"The Body and Soul area is so nice, just sitting there with friends by a fire chatting away was great."

Watching Reginald D Hunter on a large screen outside the packed comedy tent and catching criminal turned author John Healy in the literary tent were among his surprise highlights over the weekend, he said.

Ross Barrett, 37, from Dublin, said the place is full of hidden treasures.

"Everybody is having such an amazing time," he said.

"Duckworth Lewis Method and Bjork were the best performers I've seen here."

Elsewhere Mark Grainger, 34, from Ballymena, said the highlight of his weekend was Sinead O'Connor joining John Grant on stage as his surprise guest in Rankin's Wood Stage.

"Two door Cinema Club were also superb," he said about his first Electric Picnic.

"But I was most surprised by the Body and Soul area, I didn't realise there was another festival in there."

TheArtic Monkeys, who wowed audiences in Glastonbury earlier this summer, will headline the main stage tonight as scores of artists, musicians and DJs on several stages entertain revellers in to the early hours.

Meanwhile promoters EP Republic - who recently signed a deal to run the event for another 10 years - were bracing themselves for a massive clean-up operation as the circus of music and arts drew to a close.

Mr Cosby said 200 "lonely souls" picking up rubbish in lines across the fields will have the 18th century estate more or less back to normal within a week.

"There'll be a bit of crossover between the last of this crew and the sheep coming in, but they quite happily get on together," he said.

Most of the profits from the festival go towards the upkeep of the ancestral Cosby family home, built in 1772, which had been water proofed and wind proofed in recent years.

"Now we're moving in to the interior, but it will take another ten years to work my way through it," he added.

Press Association

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