THE tent is back in its bag, the yoga mat has been de-grassed and the wellies are returned to the garden shed. It can only mean one thing – Electric Picnic is over for another year.
The 2018 pilgrimage to Co Laois will go down in history as one of the better ones – Laois miraculously bathing in sunshine when a lot of the rest of Ireland was dripping with rain.
Although there were a few showers book-ending the festival on Friday and Sunday nights, everything in between was a dream – hot sun, dry grass underfoot and plenty of places to chill out and listen to some amazing sounds.
But whatever about the great line-up – which this year catered well for all age groups – the festival is certainly a happy assault on all of the senses.
Cork revellers would have entered the grounds via the woods, passing tantalizingly cute mini-fests of music and art and food on the way, before ever hitting the main entrance.
But once you entered the main festival area, it was a full-on extravaganza of colour, sound and smells.
One of the first stages – apart from the Salty Dog just at the main security gate – is in the Trailer Park. As the name suggests, the more ‘earthy’ types were on stage, playing acoustic and electric sets of folk, country and whatever yere having yerself.
Once we got over our addiction to the Park’s Apres Ski dancefloor, accessed through the rickety caravan, and exited through a fridge, we found our way to the main stage, located, handily beside another caravan converted into a ‘gin palace’.
We particularly loved the raw raucousness of Mutefish and probably one of the youngest bands to perform at the Picnic – AA Jnr – who did some wonderful renditions of Reel to Real’s I like to Move It and Kaiser Chiefs’ I Predict a Riot.
The best thing about the Picnic is the delightful surprises ‘round every corner, and the options to take things as easily or as frantically as you choose.
From the hilarious but much-needed hour in the House of Yoga on Sunday morning, followed by a quick uplift in the Prosecco tent, or from a chill-out hour spent in the Zen Garden, or a Hot Tub seaweed bath or Bosca Beatha sauna in Body & Soul, to some cerebral political discussion in Mindfield, it’s all there.
Our particular favourite was time spent in the Theatre of Food, which was largely dominated by West Cork foodies.
We were particulary impressed with Clonakilty Lizzie Swift’s contribution in the Sunday Feedback segment talking about how nutrition and exercise has helped her combat a number of medical challenges.
For those of us of a certain age, the attraction of These Charming Men – the Smiths tribute band – on Saturday night was too much to resist, turning into a real singalong session for the oldies, and a few younger converts.
But the huge number of live performances on the schedule meant too many clashes and so we missed the brilliant appearance of the Young Offenders’ Shane Casey, aka ‘Billy Murphy’ on stage with the Frank & Walters.
Main stage ‘bankers’ were Kendrick Lamar, Dua Lipa, George Ezra and Prodigy but it was hard not to be mesmerised by the music factory that is Nile Rodgers and Chic, spilling out the hits on Sunday night, just before the rains came.
The 2018 wristband might be off, but EP2019 is already in next year’s ‘must-do’ calendar.