Latitude is 'coming of age' - organisers

DELIGHTED organisers celebrated the “coming of age” of Suffolk's biggest music festival as the eclectic mix of music, comedy, film and theatre came to a thrilling climax last night.

David Green

DELIGHTED organisers celebrated the “coming of age” of Suffolk's biggest music festival as the eclectic mix of music, comedy, film and theatre came to a thrilling climax last night.

Thousands of revellers - young and not so young - who camped out under the clouds for the third annual Latitude Festival at Henham Park will be packing up today and heading for home after last night's finale.

Within a few days the tented city of performance arenas, bars and food outlets will be gone, leaving the parkland and its sheep - sprayed purple green and pink for the occasion - to return to their former peace.

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The three-day event, which cost an estimated £3million and included theatre, visual art and literature as well as music, attracted a sell-out 25,000 crowd - just over double the first attendance, in 2006.

This year's event was hailed as a tremendous success by the organising company, Festival Republic, which is already organising next year's festival and promising to make some tickets available from today.

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Melvin Benn, the company's managing director, said he believed the festival was “coming of age”.

Speaking after watching what he called an “extraordinary” performance from harpist and singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom, he said the size of the event in its setting now felt “very comfortable”.

“It is now only three years old but I feel this year's festival has been significantly better than last year and that it has now become bedded in properly.

“I don't feel like making any significant changes for next year. It feels right as it is,” he said.

Mr Benn said he was unlikely to increase the number of tickets available next year - despite increases over the past two years.

The family nature of the festival was in evidence once again yesterday as clowns and jugglers entertained in some areas of the site while pop music, stand-up comedians and contemporary dance could be found elsewhere.

A wicked witch from The Wizard of Oz walked through the crowds with a huge pink dress hiding her stilts and a team of followers shepherding her flowing train.

Well known writers talked about their work, actors of the Royal Shakespeare Company and Royal Court Theatre performed and BBC Radio 4 broadcast a series of programmes from a tent on the edge of the site.

One the highlights of the festival for music fans was an enthralling performance by the Icelandic quartet Sigur Ros which attracted a huge crowd on Saturday night.

Suffolk band Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds turned in a triumphant homecoming performance on the Lake stage on Saturday.

Yesterday it was the turn of Interpol, Blondie and Tindersticks to take the applause.

One of the local groups contributing to the entertainment yesterday was the Halesworth-based Mouth to Mouth Theatre Company with its version of Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The weather for this year's event was largely cloudy but fairly warm and the few showers of rain failed to mar what was, surely in many people's eyes, the perfect festival. Move over Glastonbury.

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