Electric Picnic crowd shot by Ruth Medjber (2016)

Ireland’s biggest festival is just around the corner… here’s our quick tick list of the weekend’s essentials, from a few musical tips, to the little extras that make it special

Let’s start by saying It’s not all about the lineup. The big announcements are just the backdrop to what really makes up Electric Picnic: an atmospheric weekend that’s always guaranteed to be one of the best parties on offer any given year. 2017 will be no different: here, we explore a few of those things you just have to do in a stroll around Stradbally’s temporary heart in early September…

  • Grab a hot tub The perfect Body and Soul Sunday morning hangover cure. Yeah, we hope they have good water filters, too.
  • Dance at the Salty Dog at 3 am Because (a) they let you bring cans and (b) it’s a pirate ship in a forest, and that can’t be wrong.
  • Get yourself some political hip-hop Bernie bros Run The Jewels are just wonderful. And then there’s A Tribe Called Quest to get your teeth into.
  • Hit the Body and Soul fire late at night Flames flicker, the bars are closing and you’re listening to four stages at once, but it’s still the best banter on site.
  • Join the Duran Duran sing-along Her name is Rio, and she’s probably settled down and had a few kids by now…
  • Have an S Club Party 5ive are playing, too. Cos there ain’t no party like a 90s nostalgia party.
  • Go mad for Madness Because mid-afternoon bouncing ska pop could hardly be more fun.
  • Explore the Other Voices stage Sure to have a couple of top-class special guests over the course of the weekend, Other Voices’ trip out of Dingle is invariably excellent.
  • Ride the bumper cars at 2 am We vocally condemn drink driving. We very much condone drunk bumper-car driving.
  • Check in on Olaf’s interviews Hot Press’ rogue interviewer is sure to drag someone from the main stage and interrogate them on something they’d planned to keep quiet.
  • Get a five-minute massage They’ll only cost you a charity donation, and after a day standing in front of a stage…
  • Check out eco credentials at Global Green Or just learn to carve something out of driftwood, or weave a plant basket. Perfect for the inevitable lineup lull.

  • Rubberbandits at Electric Picnic 2016 – photo by Paulo Goncalves

    Have your Father Ted moment Sure, we know the Divine Comedy are lovely in every way, but we still badly want THAT melody, please, Mr Hannon.

  • Check out some local stars We’d suggest Bitch Falcon, complete with their new line up, Elaine Mai, Saint Sister, and Soule as a starting point.
  • Wear a daft outfit Not a onesie, we all got over that in 2012. We’re thinking more a rhino borrowed from a Dublin marathon runner, or a Disney character. Hell, you pick!
  • Smuggle in a few shots Is it allowed? No. Have half the audience got a hip flask in at some point? Hell yes. (Sorry, EP!).
  • Catch the maddest live act at the festival We’re calling it: it’ll be the incredible glam-pop rising stars HMLTD. Don’t miss it.
  • Find yourself in a 4 am gazebo gathering Because they’re mighty, plus anyone who takes up all that space in the campsite has to share, right?
  • Grab a lineup shirt Especially if it’s your first Picnic: it’ll be essential wear when you’re heading for your tenth in a few years.
  • Explore The Pretenders’ latest Because Chrissie Hynde and co don’t do much wrong.
  • Swim in the lake Yes, you can, and yes, it is allowed. In fact it’s encouraged. Just go for the hangover cure, not the 3 am skinny dip, right? Right.
  • Watch something random for a few hours Sure, we all have our highlighters on the lineup at some point. Set yourself free and see where the festival takes you.
  • Don’t fixate on backstage Trust us, it’s not all that exciting. In fact, the VIP area is positively lame. Though the drink queues are shorter, so if you’ve got the pass, abuse away.
  • Eat Pie Minister The biggest option, where they drench your pie with the minty peas and the heap of random toppings lobbed on the top. Drool.
  • Electric Picnic Crowd – photo by Paulo Goncalves

    Drink before lunch Because where else do you get the chance?

  • Heckle a comedian Just a little. At the right moment. Or at least hit up the comedy tent: the perfect half hour aside from music, music, music.
  • Bounce along to Ireland’s hip-hop wave Jafaris is the best live act to come out of Ireland in years, and Katie Laffan is top notch, too.
  • Check out The Hazel Wood The chill out forested corner is returning for its second year, and it went down an absolute storm in 2016.
  • Go futuristic at Anachronica Future rave If you’ve been to Glastonbury, it’s a lot like Arcadia on a far, far smaller scale. Which, let’s be honest, is still pretty cool.
  • Lose your friends On purpose, at least once Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and so do random encounters with festival goers.
  • Hit up the kids area You don’t need a child to play a few games of connect four or chuckle at a clown. Just let the kids go first!
  • Ogle Foil, Arms and Hog See the breakthrough comedians run through their skits on Irish life on the comedy stage.
  • Soak up The Rubberbandits A bag for me, a bag for you… vaguely political, vaguely hip-hop, entirely funny live. Dig in.
  • Embrace the rain However bad it gets, it’s not as bad as Massive Attack’s headline set a few years back. Trust us, it just isn’t.
  • The Forest at Electric Picnic – photo by Conal McSweeney

    Learn some cooking skills Not what you came for? Who cares, learning how to cook the perfect curry is what Sunday mornings were made for: embrace the Theatre of Food

  • Speak some Irish The Mindfield is going Gaeltacht, why not stretch that linguistic muscle?
  • Check out Loah The astonishing ‘Artsoul’ artist from Maynooth is going to be a superstar. She’s on the Other Voices stage.
  • Talk mental health Pieta House are another showing up at Mindfield, and a weekend away seems the perfect chance to spend an hour taking a step back.
  • Get involved in THAT Elbow song Sure, we all remember last time, and yes, it is the perfect festival tune. But leave after the third chorus, they’ll do about 15 of them.
  • Get soothed by Michael Kiwanuka Like Florence Welch’s proverbial ‘kiss with a fist’, Kiwanuka will soothe your soul while hammering you with his politics. Awesome.
  • Track down the jelly shots Someone’s making a fortune on these little babies. Do we care? Not after a couple of pints, we don’t.
  • Book Monday off work Stop lying to yourself, you’re not going to make it. No, not even if you go home after the headliner.
  • Detox And breath.

This article is one of my weekly music columns for the Dublin Gazette, reproduced here with permission. Note: this column is published in the Dublin Gazette several days ahead of on this website, so at times, some columns may be slightly out of date. The Gazette is a freesheet paper available across Dublin, published on a Thursday. Pick up copies at these locations

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