Event licences for most outdoor festivals in the State were rolled over from last year
Preparation for the Electric Picnic festival is underway with the event scheduled to take place as usual in the first weekend in September, the organisers have said.
Planning permission for the 70,000 capacity festival in Stradbally, Co Laois has been rolled over from last year and 95 per cent of those who bought tickets for last year’s cancelled event have retained their tickets for this year.
Brian McDermott, one of the organisers of Electric Picnic, said the festival will go ahead “unless the Government tells us otherwise” and it should be followed by the National Ploughing Championships later in the month of September.
Mr McDermott added that there are “strong reasons for optimism” that the population will be sufficiently vaccinated to allow Electric Picnic to take place.
“Given the conditions we are looking at in terms of vaccines, you would not be fully insane to say that it should go ahead,” he said.
“The only thing that will stop it going ahead as far as I can is what could be perceived as an overtly cautious approach by the Government.”
Mr McDermott operates the event management company Fuel which runs the Kaleidoscope festival in Russborough House. That festival is scheduled to run between June 25th and 27th, but he admits that it is unlikely to go ahead given the pace of the vaccination rollout.
On Wednesday Mr McDermott will host an online event. The speakers will include Electric Picnic promoter Melvin Benn who is expected to state that he intends to go ahead with the festival.
Mr Benn has already announced that the Reading and Leeds festivals will go ahead in the UK on the weekend of Friday, August 27th to Sunday, August 29th, the weekend before Electric Picnic is due to take place (September 3rd to 5th).
Stormzy, Post Malone and Liam Gallagher are the headline acts announced for Reading and Leeds.
Mr McDermott said the requisite planning permissions are already in place and that it is not late for a festival the size of Electric Picnic to be organised now.
“Come the end of April into May, that’s when we will be at a point where patience will be wearing thin for clarity,” he said.
“It’s a fluid situation for the Government. I’m not trying to bash them here. I am trying to get them to look forward a bit . The important thing is hope.”
He said the Electric Picnic organisers are basing their planning for the event on a pledge that every adult in the country will be vaccinated by the start of September.
Last week the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday evening that he hoped the Government could exceed that target.
Mr McDermott said the events industry in Ireland needs the same sort of clarity as the UK government has done. It has set out targets which, if met, will see England lift all lockdown restrictions by June 21st.
The event entitled Fuel the Future: The Reboot looks at what the world will like post-pandemic.
Hosted by Fuel Directors Brian McDermott and Jamie Deasy, the event will aim to address the lack of clarity around the roadmap back to festivals, live and sporting events.
Mr Benn will be joined on the panel by the economist and broadcaster David McWilliams and GP and clinical lecturer Dr Sumi Dunne.
World Rugby Council member and wellbeing advocate Su Carthy, who will also participate, said the Women’s Rugby World Cup, which is due to take place in 2021, is likely to be postponed until 2022.
She said the absence of organised sport has had a determental impact on people’s mental health.
“Sport is an essential part of our lives and will be massively important at all levels in recovery from and post pandemic,” she said.
“Huge efforts have been made to keep people engaged while not being able to play, IRFU have been running series of webinars, other sports have been running similar initiatives.
“For lots of people going to games is their social outlet, be it local club or internationals. That’s also a void that is difficult to fill during lockdown times and will be so important for recovery post pandemic on so many levels, personal, community and national.”