The festival season in Ireland is coming to an end and with it comes the grand-master of Irish music and arts festivals – Electric Picnic. This headline festival unofficially marks the end of summer in Ireland and the reality of a looming winter. Every year Electric Picnic grows in size, strength and popularity and every year the campsite battleground changes. Whether you’re an absolute newbie to the festival scene or a hardened veteran, make sure to check out my handy tips and tricks below to help survive the madness that is the Electric Picnic campsite.
The campsites open on Friday at 9.00am and closes on Monday at 1.00pm.
When to get there
The sooner you get there, the better. I highly recommend you are down at the site no later than 11.00am to get a decent camping spot. Arriving late avoids queues but leaves very little options for choosing a campsite. The past two years I’ve been to EP the campsites fill quicker and quicker so make sure you get in early.
The campsites fill up VERY quick. Get in early
Choosing a campsite
There are several different campsites at EP to choose from depending on what type of experience you’re looking for or if you have any special needs that require facilitating.
For the hardcore festival lovers, there are 5 main campsites to choose from; the Andy Warhol, Jimi Hendrix, Oscar Wilde, Janis Joplin and Charlie Chaplin campsites. This is where the action is and in my opinion the only real way to experience a festival. For me, it’s all about the Jimi Hendrix site. It’s the main campsite hosting pretty much all the commodities as well as being the main access point to the festival arena and so is usually the most popular site.
Those looking for a little luxury will opt for the Pink Moon Campsite. This campsite offers a range of boutique camping options to choose from ranging from your basic 2-man tent right up to 7-man luxury guest “tents” complete with a fitted carpet, sheepskin rugs, windows and king-sized beds!
Other camping options include a caravan/campervan site, a family campsite and a disabled camping site as well. The Oscar Wilde campsite has a designated quiet campsite for people looking to get good nights sleep over the weekend.
People who choose the boutique camping option or a family, campervan or disabled camping sites must purchase a pass for these as well as their standard festival ticket.
Where not to camp
On the edge of busy walkways: Experience has thought me that these tents take the harshest beatings. People walk on them, fall on them, dump their rubbish on them and worse. Move in a few rows if you can.
Directly beside the toilets: The smell. Oh dear God the smell.
Near a tree: This is an unusual one but you’ll thank me later. Large trees make great landmarks to help guide you home at night and although they act as a shelter from the rain, they also attract large amounts of bugs and insects. Most unfortunately, however, they can attract men looking for a quick release when the toilets are too far away. #pisstree
In long grass: Bugs, insects and everything else you don’t want crawling on you lives and hide in long grass. It’s also very difficult to spot any hidden wet patches, lumps or rocks that might be sticking up out of the ground.
Yes, you can bring alcohol. You can bring up to 48 cans per person into the campsites. Spirits are also allowed but must be kept in a plastic container.
Online off-licence: Here you can pre-order your drink for the festival and then collect your cans in the Jimi Hendrix site once you’re there. This is an expensive option but it is highly convenient and saves the hassle of carrying them on the first day. You can pre-book your drink up until 12 pm on the Tuesday 30th August before the festival. To book your drink online click here.
Heineken Cold Rooms: This is an unbelievable and free service from one of the main sponsors of the festival. Located in the Jimi Hendrix campsite, these guys will take your cans of Heineken or Heineken Light and keep them chilled for you for free! Keep an eye out on Friday when you arrive as just inside the entrance you can register with them and have your can transported to the Cold Rooms for free.
Charity Concierge: This year for the first time Picnickers can be treated to the luxury of having their very own drink butlers! Charity Concierge is an operation run by Child.org and for an on-site fee of €6 (it all goes to charity remember) bell-boys will run off to the bar and bring you back up to 4 drinks at a time without you having to move from your spot in the crowd. For those who are lucky enough to be in the Pink Moon campsite, Charity Concierges will be roaming the campsite from 8 am to 11 am every morning ready to take your breakfast order and bring it straight back to your tent! You can buy Charity Concierge tokens at a discounted rate of €5 from Ticketmaster.ie.
You’re not allowed (or at least don’t get caught) bring alcohol into the arena until the bars close. Bars in the arena close at 1.00am and after that, you can bring up to 4 cans or a plastic bottle (max 500ml) in with you.
There are plenty of food stalls in the campsites but prices are high and queues are long, very long. If you can bring lightweight snacks with you to nibble on throughout the day. Given the high demand for food almost all of the stalls focus on fast-food so finding a healthy (or at least non-greasy) option is difficult. The main arena has a much larger and broader selection of options but if you have specific dietary requirements it’s probably best to bring your own.
BBQ’s are permitted at designated locations across the campsites. These are strictly for disposable BBQ sets or solid fuel stoves only. Gas canisters and cylinders are only allowed if contained as part of a camper-van.
If all else fails…
They’re illegal, don’t do them. You may have seen small canisters of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) at previous festivals or events (including EP). This substance is now illegal and is no longer permitted on the campsites.
- Use landmarks to find your tent. These can be trees, watchtowers, lampposts, food stalls, whatever. Pay attention to where your tent is located on day one and remember how to get there. When you’re stumbling home at three in the morning (or later) and it’s dark, cold and most likely raining, it’s very easy to get lost in the massive campsite.
- Storage Lockers are available in the Jimi Hendrix site in a variety of sizes but spaces are limited so make sure to pre-book them if you can. To save money I suggest a few people go together on a single locker.
- Bring your own portable phone charger. Charge stations are located at the Hendrix campsite but again, spaces are limited and queues are massive. Be cute about it and leave your portable phone charger into the charging station to maximise your battery life!
- The showers at EP are actually quite good but the queues are massive, particularly in the morning. Go first thing in the morning or else after midday to avoid the queues. If all else fails, wet wipes will do.
- Make friends with your neighbours. They’ve obviously got something in common with you since you’re both there and they are most likely very nice people. They also can double as watch-dogs when you’re away from your own tent.
- Don’t put vodka in a water bottle. Glass bottles are forbidden so you have to replace them with plastic ones. Just make sure it’s not a water bottle and if it is, make sure you remember which one. There’s nothing worse than waking up at 6 am hungover and mistaking your much-needed water for raw spirits. Put it in a coke bottle or something distinguishable.
- Beer fairies. These little guys are the scourge of any campsite. Keep your beer within eyesight at all times, especially when setting up your tent. These dirty little guys will come along and ruin your day. Unfortunately, it happens.
Remember to have fun!
Thanks for reading,