I can’t stop coughing. My chest feels like I’ve been smoking those Player cigarettes old men in country pubs live on and my throat feels like I’ve been screaming for the past 24 hours. No, I’m not hung over, sick or dying; I have the post Electric Picnic blues (and a chest infection but this isn’t WebMD)
Every year I watch in envy as people I follow on social media, classmates and friends head off to Electric Picnic. I scorn and complain when they announce bands I’d love to see live and as I watch the badly edited highlights on Rté, I always wish I was there. This year I took the leap of faith and got my ticket, piled the girls into a cosy squash in my Mini Cooper and zoomed up the motorway to Stradbally. If you’ve never been to Picnic or are looking to learn from my mistakes, check out this little guide from the mind of a Festival Newbie.
Never having been to a festival before, I searched the internet for advice on what to bring. Most of it were useful but getting a comprehensive list was a bit difficult. Here’s some of the stuff I as a first time attendee would definitely encourage you to bring.
- Wellies, wellie socks and a plastic bag for your wellies
- A warm blanket + a warm sleeping bag
- Cosy clothes for the night-time. (it gets cold)
- Suncream (I got burnt and drenched in the same day)
- A rain coat and waterproof bag
- A torch (and a small personal one. I got a bright keyring in Woodies for €1.50)
- Sweets/Chocolate/juice/gum (keep your blood sugar up)
- Painkillers (When pain strikes)
- An extra hoodie
- Spare clothes/socks/tights/underwear/usb cord
- A bumbag (for all the essentials)
- Anti-bacteria gel (65c in Aldi for germ free, clean feeling hands)
- Shiney, light-up stuff (for those late night dance parties)
- Even more warm socks
Getting There and Parking
Arriving on site is like stepping out of reality, our first encounter; a stern Garda who may have been the rudest man I’ve even encountered. Driving cross-country we eventually landed in a carparking space, unpacked and began the trek into the unknown (the EP site). I’d definitely recommend knowing what route you’re going to take before you reach Stradbally; we ended up in a car park a bit of the way out because of aforementioned Garda and me being overwhelmed by directions from all four corners of the internet. Following a half hour or so acting like mules as we struggled to carry all our stuff across a field, we reached the entrance with little hardship. I’d definitely recommend setting off as early as possible on Friday morning to avoid traffic both on the road and at the entrances to the festival. We sailed through pretty easy (considering we left Waterford at 6am!!) with kind words and smiles from the lovely people working the entrance.
Pink Moon and the Camping Conundrum
By wondrous luck (and the hard work of a dear friend) we managed to snag a tent in the Pink Moon campsite, a “boutique/glamping” experience more so then the mud filled bomb site I had expected to be staying in. I have to admit it was incredible and if you are considering a trip to Electric Picnic, I’d recommend spending a little extra to stay here. From the get go our tents were pre-set, the area was never too muddy and we were never too far from any of the action. For festival toilets, those in the Pink Moon area were always clean though I didn’t venture into the showers and the convince of having phone chargers on site made it a perfect camping experience for the not camping savvy. I would also like to give huge love to the staff, in particular the security and gate staff who were all so lovely (and in particular two Scottish ladies manning the entry gates who were so kind and friendly to us Festival newbies)
My only experience of the other camp sites come from my two walks through the Oscar Wilde field and looking through the barrier of the Eco site. Early Friday morning Wilde was already getting busy and by Monday morning it had descended into a mud pit. The stench walking through on our way to the exit was enough to make me queasy and it generally looked like the aftermath of a party at a landfill. The Eco camp looked as serene and calm as expected from a camp of it’s make up and if it is your thing and you don’t mind a little walk through stoned teenagers and muddy paths, book a spot here. While I didn’t see the Hendrix camp, past experiences and tales from veterans are enough to tell me it lives up to it’s reputation.( I’ve even heard it call “stab-city” a lá Limerick in it’s hayday)
Food, Drink and Everything in Between
The food stalls at Electric Picnic definitely exceeded my expectations. On Friday, I had the best Mexican I have ever eaten and I’ve been dreaming of Veggie Chilli ever since. On Saturday, I was so hungry I wolfed down lots of chips and a giant plate of pasta and by Sunday I was eating burgers the size of my head (Thank you Gourmet Burger van). There’s food available for all tastes and if you want a steady meal or two each day you will spend €50-60 over the weekend. Bring snacks to cut the costs a little and definitely bring lots of water. I found bringing juice cartons into the main arena was a way easier idea as they won’t be taken off you like unopened water bottles and the sugar hit after 4 hours of dancing in the rain is amazing. I don’t drink but alcohol prices are at heart attack rates (at €6.20 for a pint that doesn’t even look to be a full pint size, I’d rather my Capri Suns)
Toilets and Facilities
I used a portaloo. Rejoice. Having previous issues with being stuck by my own stupidity in a portaloo at a concert, panicking and vowing never to use one again, I was pleasantly surprised by the calibre of bathroom areas available. They’re never going to be the cleanest places on earth but the germaphobe in my has perfected the squatting over toilet seat move. I’d learn to hold your breath before attending any festival toilet area and always carrying extra loo roll and anti-bac gel/wipes/spray. I also wouldn’t use the toilets in built up areas, after big acts or when there are crowds surrounding them because dying from unnatural smells is not what anyone needs at a festival.
Phones, Social Media and That Damned Internet.
I panic when I don’t have my phone on me. I don’t even need to be using my phone, my over-cautious brain just needs to know that I always have a way of contacting 999/my parents/the world should panic strike. Worried about my phone’s batter reaching it’s demise at EP, I bought my good 4 charge Powerpack and an extra phone (I forgot to include a SIM card rendering this unusable) Lesson learned; Pennys’s powerpacks will last longer, charge better and quickrer and be more portable that your €40 specialist charger (Thanks Aoife for lending me yours!) Although there were charging stations in Pink Moon, they were always crowded and with large numbers charging, slow as hell. 3 were also offering free phone charing at their docks and the option to buy a reuseable charger that they would recharge for you but the queues were too much for me to handle. Airplane mode it was for me.
As far as internet usage goes, I took the weekend as a little social media detox and other than a few posts on instagram and checking the weather, I stayed well clear of the internet. I had no wifi on site (which is only to be expected) and I felt the phone signal was really, really weak (despite being on 3, who had masts on site! We can’t have it all I suppose!)
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog which will deal with Music, Entertainment and how to avoid being killed in a forest at 3am.