Latitude: Art of surprise keeps festival on its toes but what was your highlight?
12:32 21 July 2014
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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.
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.
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.
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