Picnic festival's future secured
Securing the future of the Electric Picnic music and arts festival for another decade is the perfect way to celebrate its 10th birthday, its promoter has claimed.
A new contract has been signed by organisers with the owner of the sprawling Stradbally Estate in Co Laois, to host the boutique style event for another 10 years.
Despite dismal ticket sales last year, promoter Melvin Benn denied the event was ever in danger of not going ahead this summer.
He said its 10 year anniversary, a line-up people want to see and a drop in ticket prices have all contributed to a record 35,000 sell-out crowd.
"One of the ways to celebrate its birthday is to make sure we have another 10," said the promoter, of EP Republic.
"We are absolutely committed to it. For me it's the most important event in Ireland, it's got to keep going.
"Ultimately it's a huge party."
The festival has grown from 10,000 music fans at a one day event to a three day festival of music, arts, theatre and food.
More than 80% of tickets this year were snapped up by loyal revellers who were offered special deals for previously attending the event.
Headline acts over the coming weekend will be Fatboy Slim, Bjork, Arctic Monkeys, Robert Plant presents Sensational Space Shifters and Disclosure.
However the highlights hidden away from the main stage include pop up performances in the body and soul area, an array of musicians on the Salty Dog stage, a 40 tonne shipwreck in the woods, and The Jerry Fish Electric Sideshow.
The talented singer songwriter said his circus themed tent is his inner child gone crazy with carnival acts, street theatre and intimate performances by special guests and DJs.
"I love this festival so much," said Fish.
"It's great for the Irish psyche and spirit, it's where people let themselves go.
"It's Ireland's Glastonbury."
Hundreds of artists and construction workers and 1,500 security staff will be on stand by over the weekend, which is expected to generate millions of euro for the local economy.
Throughout the grounds of the stately home the finishing touches are being put to bespoke stages and handpicked installations, including a maze created from 400 used washing machines by Galway based artist Donnacha Cahill.
Elsewhere, graffiti artists will join forces with Amnesty International to create a mural to highlight the brutal sexual assaults on women protesters in Egypt since the revolution.
Top chefs including Derry Clarke will entertain food lovers in the Theatre of Food, while revellers can also visit the comedy tent and Mindfield, for the spoken word.
Derry born Bronagh Gallagher performed last year and takes to the Salty Dog stage with her band on Saturday night.
The soul singer and actress said its beautiful location, musical acts chosen and the care and attention organisers give to detail make the event special to artists and festival goers.
"It's about good music and people having a good safe time," she said.
The owner of the Stradbally Hall estate, Thomas Cosby, said he has recently signed a contract to ensure a further 10 years of Electric Picnic.
"It's amazing how it's flown by, and it's an incredible thing we've got to 10 years so quickly," he added.
"It's amazing it's sold out in its 10th year - it bodes well for the future."