The Electric Picnic manages to eschew the worst extremes of the summer music festival season. The lineup Is pleasingly eclectic, but never starchy mainstream. Plenty of big names headlined the previous years, including Björk, Arctic Monkeys and Fatboy Slim, but look underneath the big type at the top of the bill and there’s a pretty stirring array of talent in the smaller font – the sort of bands that, upon getting airtime on your playlist provoking an ever-so-slightly-smug smile on your behalf.
The festival’s idiosyncrasies are constantly manifesting over the three-day event. Wander by the Body & Soul stage, built within a natural amphitheatre from fallen trees and named for an Irish creative collective that regularly creates funky art installations and sometime surreal, sometimes mildly distributing, sometimes compelling and always inspiring public creations.
Art Trails created by local and international artists wind under circus top tents, through fairytale forests and past psychedelic installations. The Global Green is also peppered with public art.
Perhaps most impressive is the Trailer Park, which mixes up all of the above—the paintings, the graffiti, the installations, electronica, performance art, public theater and general madcapped behaviour into an American trailer park/British caravan holiday camp. Restaurants, mini music venues, carnivals, micro performance spaces and a retro aesthetic colliding with hipster sensibility permeates the area.
The Irish love storytelling and storytellers, and the latter get a lot of love at Electric Picnic. The Comedy Tent showcases the best in Irish comedy and unlike at other festivals, isn’t a footnote or sidebar. The comedic talent is considered an integral part of the Picnic experience.
In a similar narrative vein, with less of a laughter focus, is the Spoken Word Area. Here, live storytelling takes center stage, with themes ranging from love to loss to TED-style lectures on everything from pop culture to academia. If you’ve got a thing for linguistics, there’s an entire area dedicated to storytelling and oral performance in Gaelic.
The Picnic is, in short, a picnic, a feast for the intellect, aesthetic and all the senses via its music, art and narrative.