Electric Picnic is an annual arts-and-music festival which has been staged since 2004 at Stradbally Hall in Stradbally, County Laois, Ireland. It is organised by Pod Concerts and Festival Republic, who purchased the majority shareholding in 2009. It was voted Best Medium-Sized European Festival at the 2010 European Festival Awards, and has been voted Best Big Festival at each of the last four Irish Festival Awards since they began in 2007.
The Picnic has been described as “Ireland’s version of Glastonbury” and “a great inspiration to Latitude” by one of its business partners, Laois. US magazine Billboard calling it as “a magnificent rock n roll circus, a textbook example of everything a festival should be” and Rolling Stone describing it as “one of the best festivals we’ve ever been to”. The 2008 event was described by The Irish Times as “the best Electric Picnic yet”.
Electric Picnic differs from other festivals in Ireland in that the music choice is more eclectic than the other mainstream events (its history includes international acts such as Kraftwerk, Röyksopp, Nick Cave, Sonic Youth, New Order, Björk, Arcade Fire, Beastie Boys, The Stooges, The Chemical Brothers, Gary Numan, The Flaming Lips, Sigur Rós and Sex Pistols), and there is more emphasis on quality festival services (such as food and sleeping arrangements) and a generally more positive and relaxed atmosphere. There is also an emphasis on eco-friendly initiatives.
Electric Picnic began as a one-day event in 2004, before growing to a weekend-long festival within a year. The festival incorporates attractions such as the 24-hour cinema tent, the Body and Soul arena (offering an ambient lounge with beanbags, massages and tarot card readings) and the Comedy Tent (curated by Gerry Mallon) and a silent disco. In 2008, Amnesty International attended the festival to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whilst renowned American Burning Man artist, David Best constructed a Temple of Truth on site. Electric Picnic has been described as an “enormously successful, award-winning, established brand” which “attempts to bring to life a microcosmic cultural experience where music is just the tip of the iceberg”.