Apr 8, 2024

Ain’t No Picnic

Marnie Clark's guide to surviving Electric Picnic

Marnie ClarkContributing Writer
Photo by Conal McSweeney/Festival Republic

As summer approaches, many youths of today look forward to their annual pilgrimage to Stradbally to partake in the shenanigans of Electric Picnic. Whether they’re veterans or first timers, the excitement and anticipation for this festival buzzes through Dublin in the weeks prior to the start of the festival. Last year I was a first time attendee of this ritual, a hopeful young ‘un looking forward to a weekend of music, friends and general tomfoolery. The weekend proved itself to be full of screams, but no joy comes for free. As I move further away from the fateful time that I once claimed as “the best weekend of my life”, I realise that going to Electric Picnic was a test of personal strength; a weekend full of pushing my body to its limits in harsh conditions. 

You begin the festival as new recruits. You’re still fresh – the shower you had twelve hours ago still can be smelt on your skin. The excitement drowns out the knowledge that your pre EP shower will be the last one you take for the next 72-96 hours. I left my home with a giant backpack and two Lidl bags filled to the brim with essentials for the week. We hopped in the car and drove to Stradbally, listening to Fred Again, Billie Eilish and others from the line up. When we arrived there was not a cloud in the sky and the sun was beating down upon the queue of excited attendees. Already sweating and burning, my fellow soldiers and I stood in line for about 45 minutes, moving just a few inches every so often. As we made it to check in, we had goods stripped off us: aerosols and vapes were all sacrificed to the graveyard of those metal tables. After you get through check in, there is a feeling of sweet relief. You’ve made it. You have carried this heavy tent and all your baggage. You’re done. The reality is you are never done – you now must walk and fight for adequate space in one of the camp sites. All humanity is gone as you and your friends shoot stares and make biting remarks to the group next to you that is clearly trying to encroach upon the space you have claimed. Although going on Thursday might seem like overkill, I have no regrets as the fight for space we faced was amped up on Friday morning when hoards of people poured through the gates desperate for any spot they could grab. So, if you can go Thursday then do, trust me. 

There is nothing quite like waking up in a tent that is covered in morning dew and so humid it feels like soup. What’s better is being awakened by the blaring sounds of multiple alarms, the music of people who are already starting their day and the snores of your friends. It’s 8 am, and by 11 you have brushed your teeth, wiped yourself down with baby wipes and done your morning poop in a portapotty that has somehow already started to smell like sick. Now, you must get ready for your day. There are various uniform protocols to follow and it all depends on the unpredictable Irish weather. Some people may risk their lives by wearing wellies, leaving their feet in bits by the end of the day. Some may show no regard for life by wearing fresh runners that will no doubt be destroyed by Sunday. Personally, I opted for my sturdy pair of Doc Martens. No matter what uniform is deemed “festival aesthetic” that year (usually a slutty top with cargos, shorts, or a little skirt), the weather can nevertheless switch up in minutes. Last year I was melting in my cargos so I mostly wore my stylish jorts – they are super cool and I did not look like a dad who was bringing his kids to Florida. Yet, by the time night falls you will regret that little strappy Shein top as a chill engulfs the valley. No high can keep you warm from that cold. So, it’s important to make sure that at some point you go back to your tent and grab a jumper. Also remember that you are not Kate Moss; you won’t be in an air conditioned VIP tent with expensive drinks and comfy couches. You are in a poorly put up tent, drinking whatever concoction you so chose (mine was rum and diet coke, which at one point turned into just straight rum) sitting on a wobbly fold-up chair. So, dress accordingly. It’s not a fashion show, it is a matter of survival. 


Throughout the day, you will see your friends begin to fall all around you. Whether it be pure exhaustion, a K-hole, or just general drunkenness, many will succumb to the elements and it is important to not fall with them. No man left behind and all that – yes, make sure they are okay – but also just because someone went too hard Friday night and wants to go to sleep after the closing act on Saturday doesn’t mean you have to. Find someone else and go to the rave in the woods: it’s a dog eat dog world. That being said, don’t be a dick. If your friend needs help then get them to the welfare tent and don’t leave them stranded. Just don’t take on the responsibility of attempting to revive someone too far gone. You’re most likely pretty inebriated, so trying to help is fruitless. Instead, get to the people who know what they are doing and make sure your friend is ok. When I say dog-eat-dog I mean in a situation where your friend is sleepy and you’re not – this is not an excuse if your friend needs serious help and you’re too drunk to care. 

By Sunday, be prepared to look as if you have seen the other side, feel like literal death and smell like someone who has never showered. All the naivete of Friday is gone. You have seen it all by Sunday and not one person has a shit left to give (the porta-loos, in contrast, are endlessly full of it). Some may opt out of the festival uniform at this stage and make the journey in tracksuit bottoms. There are no rules. So wake up, get an overpriced coffee and start drinking: you’ve only got one day left. By this point your body has given up trying to fight and you have surrendered to the forces beyond your control. Your blood alcohol content is through the roof, you are more substance than blood. And you begin to push yourself to the finish line. This day will have the most casualties. I myself fell victim to my humanity as my body gave into dehydration and exhaustion. By the end of Sunday, you are drained from the weekend and dreading the journey home tomorrow. It will be long and taking down the tent is annoying but remember it will be worth it for the long hot shower you get to take right before you snuggle up in your own warm bed. 

Electric Picnic is hard. That’s how music festivals are. But they are also fun and core memories. My advice to you is to enjoy it, do the activities they have (we did a belly dancing class), drink lots of water, don’t feel guilty about how much you’re spending and go with at least one scout. without Ronan, Connor, Niamh and Lara I would’ve been screwed. Have a blast and drink responsibly if you don’t want to spend your Sunday morning in the med tent –  this is all hypothetical of course…

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