Gallery: The painted sheep are back and the bands are rocking - Elliot Furniss reports from Henham Park

Latitude festival 2013
Ellis Govey, Sam and Liam Craig from Worlingham enjoying the festival.

Latitude festival 2013 Ellis Govey, Sam and Liam Craig from Worlingham enjoying the festival. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Latitude Festival burst into life yesterday as thousands of people descended on a sun-soaked Henham Park.

Crossing the two bridges that link the arenas to the camp site, an explosion of noise and colour greeted festival-goers as the first bands took to the various stages at noon.

DJ and actor Craig Charles had got fans into the festival spirit with a late-night set that ran into the small hours for early arrivals on Thursday night but the entertainment cranked up several gears yesterday morning.

Awaking from their tents – ranging from luxury yurts to rather flimsy-looking one-man disasters put up in the dark – around 35,000 music fans faced temperatures of up to 30C (86F) across the woodland site and many sought the shade offered by the vast tent covering the BBC 6 Music stage and the forest canopy above the i Arena.

The searing heat had relented by the time headliners Bloc Party took to the Obelisk Arena stage after Cat Power and the Maccabees had performed late-afternoon sets to an eager crowd.

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The likes of noise-pop duo Japandroids, comedian Sean Lock and cult artist David Shrigley featured among dozens of acts across 20 stages and arenas on the first full day of the three-day arts extravaganza.

The festival boasts stages showcasing leading poets, top comedy acts, well-known writers and journalists, a host of cabaret performers, up-and-coming film-makers and there are many live theatre performances over the weekend.

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As always, there is plenty at Latitude for younger people to enjoy, with the Kids Area and the Inbetweener’s Teen Area – backed by Suffolk Wildlife Trust – offering safe and creative ways for children and nearly-teenagers to keep busy.

Last year wellies and waterproofs were the required attire for what nearly proved to be a washout weekend but this year sun hats and flip-flops are the order of the day for many festival-goers.

Britpop legend Tim Burgess was one of the first acts to take to the Obelisk arena yesterday and he also stayed on site to talk about his years in music as frontman for The Charlatans during a Tellin’ Stories session in the Literary Arena.

Beth Orton, Calexico and I Am Kloot were among the other acts to perform while Texas, fronted by Sharleen Spiteri, closed the BBC 6 Music Stage with a set packed with pop-hits spanning their 25-year career.

And as always, the multi-coloured sheep proved the true stars for Latitude loyalists, many of whom spent time at the knitting tent or creating their own works of art at various spots among the trees.

Latitude’s green credentials are also on show right across the sprawling site, with hundreds of recycling bins and the newly-designed plastic cup available for this year’s event proving a popular piece of festival memorabilia.

The 2013 edition of the festival continues today and German electro-pioneers Kraftwerk are due to perform an eagerly-anticipated 3D set that is the talk of the site.

Hot Chip, The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft and Mercury Prize-winners Alt-J are among the other acts set to take top the various stages today.

And tomorrow Foals are expected to perform a manic closing set, backed by Grizzly Bear, Bobby Womack and Eddie Izzard across the various stages.

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