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Latitude Festival Review

Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk    14-17 July 2011


I want you to think about reasons why you don't do something. There may be many reasons why you don't do something. It is important, though, that you do have good reasons not to do something.

Now I want you to think about a beautiful lake, rolling countryside, breathtaking pine forests and wild, enchanting woods. Perhaps you still have good reasons not to visit this place. Now add beautiful, inventive coloured and ever changing lights on the lake and in the trees. Put in art installations and sculpture everywhere. Make one section of the pine forest frosty and snowy for a winter effect.

Now deep within the woods are many stages hidden away. Some of these have Shakespeare plays being performed. Some of these have dynamic surf bands psychedelically blasting out sounds. One stage has the most original voice I've heard since Kate Bush with two cellists either side of her playing ethereal music. In the forest is a magnificent open air theatre with opera being performed. At one point I found myself sitting on a sofa at the edge of the forest listening to two writers discussing metaphysics while I watched the trees changing colour every few seconds.

The lake has a bridge. On the Friday night I spent five minutes standing on this bridge. To my left was a stage on the lake itself where Sadlers Wells ballet were performing. To my right was an incredible display. Thousand of jets of water were fired into the sky and somehow created ever changing holograms of mandalas, patterns and even cartoon characters. It was reflected on the lake. Beyond that dozens of brightly coloured sheep were watching this magic too.

festivalstageNow all this was happening outside of the main areas of the festival. If you still have reasons not to visit that's fine. I'll just finish this article with a short summary of the festival proper.  My highlights include watching a euphoric set by Echo and the Bunnymen. I got captivated by the sublime and ridiculously talented Rumer and got unashamedly emotional during a glorious greatest hits set by the a resurgent Waterboys. My secret Latitude tip is the Film and Music tent where I had the privilege of seeing the triumphant Camille O'Sullivan make grown men cry on Friday and on Saturday. Thanks to Mark Lamarr, I witnessed overwhelming sets by a Mexican ska band and soul sensation Barrett Whitfield. I could go on about the comedy, poetry, glorious food etc etc....

Perhaps you still have reasons not to go to Latitude. Perhaps you don't feel festivals are for you. Perhaps you have never been to a festival. I want you to do one thing for me. Make sure your reasons are good ones.