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Latitude: Art of surprise keeps festival on its toes but what was your highlight?

PUBLISHED: 12:32 21 July 2014

Aerial pic of Latitude Festival 2014 - Mike Page

Aerial pic of Latitude Festival 2014 - Mike Page

Copypright Mike Page, All Rights Reserved Before any use is made of this picture, including dispaly, publication, broadcast, syndication, web or any other form or reproduction, permission must be obtained in writing.

What makes Latitude so continually successful? After three days at the Southwold festival, Andrew Fitchett says this year it had much to do with the festival’s surprises, twists and turns.

Haim at Latitude 2014 - Paul Bayfield Haim at Latitude 2014 - Paul Bayfield

After six years as a Mecca for fans of culture of all kinds, Latitude Festival could be forgiven for taking the safe option.

Great music, theatre and comedy, a blissed-out atmosphere, beautiful surroundings and stands selling hummus and halloumi have all become stock in trade for the festival dubbed the UK’s “most middle class”.

But familiarity breeds contempt. With 35,000 people attending every year, how do you stop them from getting bored?

This year, the organisers decided that the answer is simple. Utilising the art of surprise.

The Latitude Festival 2014 at Henham Park.
The BBC Radio 6 music stage in the distance as people make their way around the festival.

Picture: James Bass The Latitude Festival 2014 at Henham Park. The BBC Radio 6 music stage in the distance as people make their way around the festival. Picture: James Bass

Festival-goers were kept on their toes with shock announcements from the off, with the news that Lily Allen was stepping in for Two Door Cinema Club - who pulled out due to sickness - coming before the festival had even begun.

Allen suffered some social media abuse beforehand, but pulled out a stellar set in the Obelisk Arena on Friday night to prove the doubters wrong.

That was after she stunned fans with a 15-minute impromptu performance on the waterfront stage, joined by her dad, Keith Allen, and two youngest children.

Next, thousands of fans had to rip up their schedule when UK dance act, Rudimental, were announced as the secret act for the main stage on Friday.

Damon Albarn at Latitude 2014 - Paul Bayfield Damon Albarn at Latitude 2014 - Paul Bayfield

It didn’t stop there. First, festival organiser Melvin Benn jetted in with news that Damon Albarn would be joined by a special guest. It turned out to be Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, with the pair putting on a stirring rendition of the Britpop giant’s track, Tender, during Albarn’s headlining Saturday set.

James cancelling their Saturday show on the Obelisk Stage was the next twist, with their set postponed to Sunday lunchtime.

Surprise celebrity sightings – including Emma Watson – had tongues wagging, and the ensemble cast of Sunday afternoon special guests, Atomic Bomb! Who is William Onyeabor, was revealed to contain Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip.

The surprises stopped when it came to British summertime weather. On Friday night, the crowds stopped and marvelled at an incredible sunset which framed Henham Park in shades of pink.

Just 24 hours later, they were staring into the face of a torrential downpour which turned the festival into a mudbath.

That only served to bring out the familiar Latitude spirit, with the crowds surfing giant mudslides and helping each other navigate lagoons of mud which were swallowing up flip-flops by the dozen.

It’s a reaction that Melvin Benn knows only too well. On Friday, he described the festival as feeling like home. For the thousands who return every year, it’s a feeling they can relate to.

After such a thrilling weekend, that’s no surprise at all.

What was your Latitude highlight? Leave a comment below or email us

Katherine Jenkins is one of the few artists who could look perfectly picturesque gliding towards the Waterfront Stage at Latitude Festival.

Festival goers to Latitude put their best fashion foot forward at the Suffolk festival.

The melodic guitar riffs blared out with a bouncing success as Two Door Cinema Club took to the Obelisk stage on Saturday afternoon.

Skies were looking grim over the main stage but the chilled, dance anthems of Milky Chance managed to just keep the weather at bay, and get everyone in the crowd dancing and jumping in time with the guitar beat.

American comic Reginald D Hunter was at his offensive best despite having to perform his set from a wheelchair after breaking a leg.

With his charming good looks and energy filled set, it’s hardly surprising the comedy tent was filled with enough young girls to rival a One Direction concert.

It’s hard to believe this wry and witty comedian started out as a corporate lawyer, although then again it’s not.

Lucy Rose, Skott and Joel Dommett were among the acts to strut their stuff on Saturday afternoon at Henham Park as Latitude Festival continued.

Friday night headliners the 1975 lived up to their reputation of being beautifully weird in the set on Latitude’s main stage.

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