Electric Picnic organiser confident festival will go ahead in September

Managing directer of Festival Republic Melvin Benn said 'let’s be 100% clear here, nobody’s told me I can’t go ahead'
Electric Picnic organiser confident festival will go ahead in September

Elbow perform on the main stage during day three of the Electric Picnic festival in Stradbally, County Laois (Niall Carson/PA)

The organiser of Ireland’s largest music festival, Electric Picnic, has expressed confidence that it will get the go-ahead this year.

Managing director of Festival Republic Melvin Benn said he based his optimism on the fact no one in Government had told him the event in Stradbally, Co Laois would not be allowed.

Covid-19 rules currently limit numbers at the majority of organised outdoor events to 500 at venues with capacity in excess of 5,000.

While a number of test events have been staged, Ireland’s live music and entertainment sector remains effectively closed down due to coronavirus regulations.

Electric Picnic is Ireland’s largest music festival (Niall Carson/PA)

However, the organisers of Electric Picnic hope the festival can go ahead at the end of September with 70,000 attendees, with entry conditions including proof of vaccination or of having already recovered from the virus.

Last year’s festival was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Tickets bought back then remain valid for the rescheduled event and 90% have already been sold.

Mr Benn told RTE Radio One: “100% fully expecting the Electric Picnic to be going ahead on the basis that 100% nobody has told me I won’t be able to and the speed of vaccination rollout in Ireland if it was submitted to the Tokyo Olympics would win gold.

“And we are very confident that it would happen.”

He added: “I’m investing and all of the teams are investing in the effort to try and make sure that the Picnic can happen by presuming that we are going ahead and I’m saying ‘presuming’ that we are going ahead, because let’s be 100% clear here, nobody’s told me I can’t go ahead.”

Last week, the promoters and organisers wrote to members of the Government outlining proposals for staging the event with various Covid safety measures in place.

A test event saw a live gig staged at Iveagh Gardens in Dublin in June (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Benn added: “I guess the status is very straightforward from my point of view, which is that I am very actively undertaking the planning of Electric Picnic.

“Because I very actively believe that the Electric Picnic will take place and I say that because I can’t see any reason at this point in time why it wouldn’t take place at the end of September.

“We are two months away from it.”

Last month Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said proof of vaccination or Covi-19 recovery could be used, in conjunction with testing, to help live music resume.

The Government currently intends to outline a plan at the end of the month that will set out a pathway for reopening the sector.

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