Ferdinand's dazzling performance tops day one

IT is the festival with a difference - it does feature purple sheep after all - but this year's Latitude already looks set to be another massive success.

Mark Lord

IT is the festival with a difference - it does feature purple sheep after all - but this year's Latitude already looks set to be another massive success.

Around 25,000 people enjoyed the first day's festival entertainment yesterday in the beautiful surroundings of Henham Park, near Southwold.

It culminated with a dazzling performance last night by indie rockers Franz Ferdinand at the Obelisk arena, setting up the rest of the weekend's entertainment perfectly.

Tickets for the family-friendly event had sold out last month and people started arriving throughout Thursday, with even more descending on the Suffolk countryside yesterday.

And there is much more than just music for the crowds - there is a whole weekend of art, theatre, comedy and culture too, from some of the best in the business. And, of course, there are purple sheep - which have become one of the festival's icons.

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Event founder Melvin Benn, managing director of event organiser Festival Republic, said yesterday: “To be honest it has got better and better, there are another 5,000 more people here than last year and it feels very, very nice. The festival is still very much in its infancy - it is after all only three years old - but it really has moved on a lot, even from last year.

“I am just really, really pleased with it. The amount of happy, smiling people is fantastic to see and it is a testimony to the festival's appeal and success.”

Despite a few black clouds yesterday Mr Benn added: “The weather has been good to us, and fingers crossed it continues, from the moment we opened the arena on Thursday night we have not had any rain - it has been perfect festival weather.”

And for the man in charge, tomorrow night promises to be his musical highlight.

“There are so many great things happening over the weekend, but Sigur Ros, when they perform on Saturday, will be my festival highlight,” said Mr Benn.

Other attractions yesterday, aside from the vast array of comedy, poetry, film, music and dance on offer throughout the day, was a performance by Brit-award winning songstress Beth Orton in the afternoon, which was followed by British Sea Power.

Tonight Icelandic quartet Sigur Ros, known for their ethereal sound and experimental post-rock melodies, will be headlining the Obelisk arena.

There will also be performances from Elbow, Guillemots and The Coral.

On Sunday, festival-goers, perhaps feeling the strain after a few days of non-stop entertainment can relax with a performance by the harpist and singer songwriter Joanna Newsom, who will be the opening act.

“She has serenity and will be the perfect start to Sunday - just her and her harp,” said Mr Benn.

Blondie will also be playing the Uncut arena on Sunday night.

The Lake stage, which is described as a stage of “discovery and enchantment which showcases new talent”, will be playing host today to Suffolk five piece Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds, and it will also see a performance from local outfit the Kabeedies, who describe themselves as hopping between the genres of indie and punk, whose members hail from Woodbridge and Norwich.