Latitude festival gets off to good start

THOUSANDS of people watched an array of artistic talent yesterday as an historic Suffolk park was transformed into a canvass city occupied by lovers of music, theatre, film and poetry.

THOUSANDS of people watched an array of artistic talent yesterday as an historic Suffolk park was transformed into a canvass city occupied by lovers of music, theatre, film and poetry.

While huge marquees dominated the Latitude Festival arena at Henham, near Southwold, many hundreds of tents occupied the surrounding fields, the sleeping quarters for people who had arrived from all over the country and abroad.

Some of the visitors to the beautiful parkland site had decided not to bring tents and instead were renting small wooden huts called PodPads , complete with solar-powered lights.

After a day of non-stop performances by musicians, actors, comedians and poets, last night's star acts included the Irish band, Snow Patrol, and Merseyside rock group, The Zutons.


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Tonight the headline acts are Antony and the Johnsons, with New York-based vocalist Antony Hegarty making his only UK appearance this year.

Throughout the day there was simultaneous action in all of the performance marquees while, outside, stalls sold a truly cosmopolitan range of food, including Japanese, Mexican, Thai dishes, as well as good old British bangers and burgers.

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The festival, which continues until Sunday night, is being organised by Mean Fiddler, the company which organises the big open-air rock music festivals of Glastonbury and Reading.

Hektor Rous, who manages the estate on behalf of his father, Keith, the so-called Aussie Earl of Stradbroke, said the park - which had been in the ownership of his family for 500 years - had been transformed into a “fairytale wonderland”.

“I think it is going to be fantastic for the area and a huge bonus for Suffolk. I am absolutely ecstatic,” he said.

Mr Rous, 28, admitted he had not previously been a festival-goer but his appetite had been whetted by the performances within the first 24 hours.

“I just went past a marquee which was full to capacity, with people sitting outside, and all were listening to poetry. It was funky, funny and hilarious stuff and the audience was made up of people of all ages.

“It is a unique festival in terms of the range of arts represented here and I truly think it is unique,” he added.

Melvyn Benn, managing director of Mean Fiddler, said the festival was going “wonderfully well”.

“Everything I hoped for is happening, everything is coming together nicely,” he said.

Suffolk police are warning day visitors to be patient, with queues likely to form at entrances to the site along the A12 and A145 roads.

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