Latitude: Security stepped up at Suffolk festival after Manchester Arena bomb attack
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Latitude Festival’s Melvin Benn revealed he’s met with high-ranking officers of the Metropolitan Police in the wake of last month’s Manchester Arena attack and is in almost daily contact with counter-terrorism teams across the country.
Some 40,000 people will descend on Suffolk’s Henham Park next month for the three-day music and culture event, now in its 12th year.
“We’ve developed a very pro-active position about changes and additional training for security - profiling and vigilance - not just for Latitude but our other festivals too,” said Mr Benn, director of organisers Festival Republic.
Changes at Latitude include dogs trained to sniff out explosives checking everything coming into the site via the production entrances. You will be asked to bring smaller bags into the arenas, with a team currently coming up with a sample size to guide festival-goers. There will be more bag searches.
“The reward for that is you feel safer. We’ll try to keep things moving, obviously. We as Brits wouldn’t want to be defeated and we’re not going to be but we have to be more vigilant.
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“The reality is Latitude would be a low target but everything’s a low target and everything’s a high target now.”
More than 750 acts will play across 15 different stages from July 14-16.
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New literature and poetry highlights announced yesterday included Brooker-nominated Irish author Colm Toibin, who will discuss his latest novel, House of Names; a reimagining of the Greek classic tale of Clytemnestra’s family tragedy.
Recent Ted Hughes Award winner and spoken word-poet Hollie McNish will discuss her latest anthology Plum.
Music highlights include Pumarosa, who bring their live show straight from London to the Obelisk Arena hot off the back of their acclaimed debut album The Witch.
Turner’s been described by BBC Music Introducing as a superstar in the making. Her debut single, Big Sleep, was only released in April but has already gained the love of BBC Radio One and BBC 6 Music.
Full line-up here.
“It’s extraordinary we made it to 12 when, actually, it looked really difficult to do so in that first year when less people bought tickets than are stood in this room at the moment,” Mr Benn joked at the press launch.
He said it was also extraordinary they had more than 750 acts, including at least five or six recognised headliners; playing on 15 different stages and it was still only £197.50 for a weekend ticket.
“Somebody worked out that’s 26p an act - but anybody who thinks they’re just going to ring up and say ‘I’ve only got 26p can I come and see Mumford and Sons the answer is no’.
“Musically I think we have it nailed across the weekend... The kids’ area is massively important; we’re in our third year of the schools programme with 800 seven-11 year olds coming as an arts project. The comedy programme is off the scale.”
He was honoured Mumford and Sons had chosen Latitude as the first festival they’ve incorporated their Gentlemen of The Road stopover into.
“It’s a wonderful fit. I couldn’t ask for a band more suited to do that... it’s a dream come true for Mumford and Sons to curate that day with us. We’ve worked so well together, it’s been terrific.”
Mr Benn said the festival continues to break the rules and boundaries of what a festival should be via its programme, was determined to give new talent a platform and to always put festival-goers first.
“We feel very honoured and very privileged to be here 12 years on. The location is a dream... there’s a lot of years left in me and even more left in Latitude.”