Electric Picnic, called simply "The Picnic" by many, is one of Europe's boutique arts and music festivals that has been touted as Ireland's answer to the Glastonbury Festival. For many, the "electric" part translates to "eclectic," as the style of music and entertainment is quite varied, and there is more attention paid to quality of amenities. This isn't just another rock music festival. There is comedy, theater, and even the Irish National Circus. There is a venue for homeless art called "Life's No Picnic on the Streets,"
Electric Picnic History and Facts
The first Electric Picnic Festival Ireland was held in 2004, and was a one-day event. The next year, it lasted for a full weekend. Today it is held over the first weekend in September. There are approximately 30,000 to 35,000 attendees, and the festival boasts a 24-hour cinema tent and a Body and Soul tent with massages. Amnesty International attended the 2008 festival in celebration of 60 years since its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That was the same year that David Best, the sculptor of Burning Man fame, constructed his Temple of Truth.
Electric Picnic Tickets
Tickets to the Electric Picnic have sold out months in advance for the last several years, so it pays to make your arrangements as far in advance as possible. Tickets go on sale in March. All tickets allow access to one or another of the camping areas, whether or not you use them. You can buy tickets for the entire weekend or for only one day.
Electric Picnic Location and Directions
The Electric Picnic Festival Ireland is held on the lush lawns and grounds of Stradbally Hall, a stately home and 600-acre estate in County Laois. Stradbally is located about ten miles from the town of Portlaoise, which is about 70 miles southwest of Dublin. If you're driving, take the major M70 highway to Portlaoise, and then turn west on the N80. There is scheduled train service to the Portlaoise station. During the festival, shuttle buses wait outside the station for every train arriving from Dublin. There are about fifteen daily buses from Dublin.
Lodging Near Electric Picnic
In the Irish Gaelic language, Stradbally is Stradbhaile, meaning the one-street town. This is, in other words, a very small village and you won't find any Ireland hotels here. At best, you will find a couple small family-run bed and breakfast inns. In keeping with the Electric Picnic 2020 emphasis on quality accommodation, you will find several excellent options quite close to the festival.
There are a number of companies that specialize (most based in England) in pre-pitched tents (tipis, yurts, and geo-domes) for a number of major festivals throughout Europe, including T in the Park and Glastonbury. Booking this option places you right on the grounds, and includes special toilets, showers, a pamper parlor, and a chill out tent. There are even podpads, small prefab huts with real beds and basic furniture made from lightweight softwood, lockable doors, and even electricity. There is also a family camping area where single adults and groups of adults are not allowed.
Dublin hotels are really only practical if you intend to attend only one day of the festival. If you want true five-star accommodations, travel about twenty miles northeast of Portlaoise to the Heritage at Killenard Golf and Spa Hotel, located in the little village of Killenard. You will also find a few small self-catering apartments in the area.
Nearby Attractions and Other Festivals
Stradbally Hall hosts a number of events other than the Electric Picnic Festival Ireland—most notably, the Steam Rally, an annual event for devotees of all kinds of steam driven machines. If festivals are your thing, you can head to Dublin in July for Oxegen.