Final preparations as Latitude kicks off

THE sheep are ready to be painted, the daisies are out and the pink poodle is in position - as final preparations are made for Latitude this weekend, organisers say it should be the best one yet.

THE sheep are ready to be painted, the daisies are out and the pink poodle is in position - as final preparations are made for Latitude this weekend, organisers say it should be the best one yet.

The festival at Henham Park, near Southwold, kicks off this afternoon and campers are expected to pitch up throughout the day.

But as visitors decided how many pairs of wellies to pack yesterday, Melvin Benn, the festival's founder, was ensuring preparations on site ran smoothly.

He said yesterday: “Today is a big day. We had all the traders arriving; the sound and lighting equipment was going in. Today and tomorrow are very hectic days in terms of making it happen.”


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This is Latitude's third year and the 25,000 tickets sold out last month.

Mr Benn, managing director of Festival Republic, which organises it all, said visitors could expect even more from the music and arts festival, which ends Sunday evening.

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“It's a lot bigger - that's the first thing. We have opened up the Obelisk Arena a bit more and the comedy and poetry arenas are bigger because they were really overwhelmed last year,” he said.

New attractions include Pandora's Playground - a “discovery area” of wacky artistic creations - and an island Pimm's bar in the middle of the lake which can only hold two festival-goers and one barman at a time, and a TV crew will broadcast parts of the weekend on ITV2 and ITV3.

The organisers are keeping the main Obelisk Arena as an open-air setting after high winds wreaked havoc with the enormous marquee last year. Mr Benn said: “We always intended the Obelisk Arena to be a marquee stage. Winds damaged the tent last year, so we took it down and replaced it with an open-air stage and it worked fantastically well.

“The marquee could hold about 12,000 to 14,000 people which meant for the main performances only so many people could see them. This year, if every single person wanted to see the headliners, they could.”

Despite lots of changes, revellers are assured Latitude will still have its usual quirks. Mr Benn said: “We're still having painted sheep, but I'm going to have them a uniform colour - purple. I felt it would be a nice colour. They've developed an iconic status.”

The rudimentary toilets are also back, painted with the festival's trademark daisies, and there will be a lot more of them. The bars, all made of reclaimed materials, are selling Suffolk's Aspall cider and there is a large pink poodle in the poetry tent.

Mr Benn said the event was continuing to improve each year and he was looking forward to many of the acts, in particular Saturday's headliners, Sigur Ros.

“I just think the show's getting better and better all the time,” he said. “We have honed in on the things that work and the things that work a little less. It's growing in stature internationally and locally.”

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