Festival Fortnight: Latitude

Latitude prides itself on being “more than just a music festival”, which might be a tagline, but in this case is actually accurate. Based in Henham Park, Suffolk, the event covers music, comedy, theatre, literature, and poetry in a combination that could be described as a Guardian reader’s wet dream.


Latitude festival prides itself on being "more than just a music festival". Photo: Chris Wood

Whilst at many events the arts elements might be considered as additional ‘fringe’ aspects, at Latitude each genre is given enough prominence throughout the 17 arenas, which range from the main stage spectacle, to the more intimate arenas for literature and poetry, and the stages based in the woods.

The event has such a friendly and peaceful atmosphere making it easy to get lost in this relaxing world for three days as you wander round, and discover what hidden joys span the field and the forest of the park.

Exploring the site you might find a dance performance floating on a stage in the lake from Sadler’s Wells, or interactive art projects such as the Tree of Lost Things where people write an item that they have lost on an old-style luggage label and attach it to the tree, creating an exhibit both emotional and comedic to explore.

It’s an undeniably middle-class affair at times even down to the shouts of hecklers, as was demonstrated last year. In the comedy tent, Stephen K. Amos was recounting how when he was younger there were few regards for safety especially with the use of mercury in tooth fillings and how mercury is poisonous.

This prompted somebody in the audience to shout “only in ionic form!”. It was an odd yet hilarious moment, only to be tempered with a bit of shame by turning to the left to see the heckler was a good friend.

Scientific inaccuracies aside, it’s wrong to think that the festival just keeps quiet and plays it safe, as both the comedy and the music lineups are worth the money.

The comedy arena is a great place to spend the day watching a mix of big and unknown acts. The tent opens early morning with the improvised Early Edition show, where Marcus Brigstocke and guests make fun of the day’s papers, followed by non-stop stand-up which this year includes Rich Hall, Rufus Hound, Richard Herring, and Mark Watson.

The strong selection of bands set to play include headliners Florence and the Machine, Belle and Sebastian, and Vampire Weekend, who are joined on the bill by Empire of the Sun, The Temper Trap, and Mumford & Sons, with The XX, Noah and the Whale, and Jónsi from Sigur Ros fame playing the alternative, left-field arena.

So with an exciting mix of comedy, theatre, poetry, and literature, Latitude really is more than just a music festival.

The 2010 Latitude Festival takes place from July 15th – 18th, with tickets and more information available from the official website.

Click here to see the rest of our Festival Fortnight suggestions.

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