Glen Pearce reflects on the weekend’s experience at an unusually sunny Latitude 2015.
There’s a sense of coming home for me at the Latitude Festival. Having grown up threemiles up the road (long before Latitude existed sadly) there’s always a comforting sense of belonging when heading through those daisy adorned entrance gates. It’s probably best to gloss over the five and a half hours to cover 30 miles to actually get into site on Thursday and the joys of pitching a tent in the dark at midnight, but even the impressive lighting storm seemed determined to provide an epic backdrop for an epic festival.
2015 sees Latitude celebrate its 10thAnniversary and, while the festival has expanded and grown, that sense of homecoming still prevails, with the familiar layout remaining from the early years. The Festival is never one to sit on its laurels, however, and the 10thedition saw several new features to entertain the sell-out crowd.
Perhaps the most talked about change was one that festival goers had been calling for for years – the opportunity to take a dip in the iconic Latitude Lake. Given the soaring temperatures this year at (or possibly the length of the shower queues!) the swimming queue was a popular attraction and, while the thought of taking a dip in the murky waters never tempted me in, there’s always next year.
One new area that did tempt me in was the Solas arena, a new area this year tucked into the woods focusing on mind, body and relaxation. After a long, hot day walking countless miles across Henham Park, Solas turns out to be one of those trademarks of Latitude, a hidden haven just waiting to be discovered. It’s the perfect hilltop location to kick back, relax and watch the Suffolk sunset through the dappled branches. There’s the chance to partake in hot tubs or have a massage but for the less adventurous there’s also the chance to recharge the batteries, laying back on one of the two giant cargo net beds or grabbing a bean bag and immersing yourself into Gamelatron, the world’s only robotic gamelan.
Hidden charms are what make Latitude special. For every headline act there are smaller, intimate showings tucked away in unexpected corners just waiting to be discovered. A walk into the woods sees you stumble across the mythical Welsh Village of Llareggub, setting of Dylan Thomas’s legendary Under Milk Wood. The setting provides an evocative open air auditorium for a preview screening of a lavish new film adaptation, introduced by adaptor Murray Lachlan Young. It’s a beguiling film that promises much on the larger screen.
Further into the woods and you stumble across Emma Frankland’s Proposition Generator, three 1950s ladies primed to give you advice on Love, friendship or business. Through the means of a lottery tombola and a vintage typewriter I’m told that I should spend the evening seeking a business to invest in (with a hefty disclaimer of no liability!).
Some of Latitude is just to surreal to try and fully capture – standing in a tent at 11:30 at night performing mass karaoke of Bon Jovi with a thousand people, dancing to a disco coming from a garden shed, watching a naked man solve a Rubik’sCube and performing tricks with a yo-yo, early morning yoga… all part of the rich tapestry that makes up Latitude.
Ok, so I may not have caught the numerous sightings of Ed Sheeran but there’s plenty of other highlights that will stick in the memory. An exhilarating set by local band Cove Hithe receiving a well-deserved standing ovation in the Alcove tent, Norweigan songstress Susanne Sundfør in the iArena, Eve Ensler’s moving Avocado in the poetry tent, Clean Break’s Joanne in the Little House, The Manic Street Preachers on the Obelisk Stage and Failed States in the Theatre Tent all treats in a treat filled weekend.
The tent may be packed, the aftersun lotion soothing the sunburn and the feet resting but the 10th Anniversary edition of Latitude showed that as their strapline used to say – this is more than just a music festival. The location, the atmosphere, the variety and, for this year at least, the glorious sunshine makes this one magical, if exhausting four days in Suffolk. Roll on Latitude 11th Edition!
Photos: Dan Medhurst and Glen Pearce