What we learned from Latitude 2018

The festival has confirmed it will return from 18 - 21 July 2019, with tickets on sale soon.

Find tickets here

Latitude has steadily established itself as something as an anomaly on the major festival circuit. Noted for its relaxed atmosphere and fully immersive experience, in part due to its comparably yet suitably remote location, it offers an escape unlike many others.

The majority of the arena sits on grass, but just a short walk in any directions lays an enchanting landscape; the Faraway Forest is perfectly titled, while the lake plays host to not only a broad range of live entertainment but also the opportunity to literally jump feet first into the refreshing waters.

This year marks a sweltering outing for Latitude, now in its thirteenth year. As the famous pink sheep seek shelter in the shade of the looming Latitude sign, tens of thousands of revellers descend on Henham Park to witness the unique blend of music, theatre, comedy and fringe entertainment, topped by international superstars Solange, The Killers and alt-J. Yet as seasoned Latitude revellers will attest to, there’s plenty more magic beyond the trees.

Photo by Matt Eachus

Solange leads the new Latitude wave

Over time, Latitude has garnered a certain reputation, one that it has began to definitively shake off. This year marks a clear turning point, catering to a broader audience than ever before without losing its characteristic charm. Led by the headline appearance of Solange, a slot that the Knowles sister masters with ease, there’s noticeably a younger contingent navigating the Suffolk wonderland.

Much like the A Seat At The Table star, they make their mark on Latitude without bending to prior preconceptions or rules. It’s a breath of change that only serves to elevate the already diverse and dynamic atmosphere Latitude has fostered over time. The festival has never been stuffy, but now it feels more free than ever.

Photo by Sarah Koury

It’s a place begging for exploration

In a physical sense, Latitude Festival is filled with surprises. A turn can lead into an escapist wilderness; not least the aptly named Sanctuary adjacent to the visually stunning Solas area. Toadstool seats and wooden benches provide a rest-bite facing the wooden hut that hosts some truly exciting emerging talent. Elsewhere the Waterfront Stage, living up to its name, welcomes a wide range of dance and music, balanced on the shimmering lake.

Yet the exploration Latitude encourages isn’t just physical. Virtual reality exhibits challenge perceptions and norms, while the sheer abundance of spoken word, poetry and theatre provides an alternative to the usual musical wonders.

In a single weekend it’s possible to watch scuzzy rock veterans The Breeders dominate the BBC Music Stage line-up, watch Mark Kermode discuss the relationship between film and music, and witness comedy hero Adam Buxton throw cherry tomatoes at the crowd taking in the live recording of Jessie Ware’s Table Manners podcast.

Photo by Matt Eachus

There’s always time for a laugh

Comedy has increasingly found a home at Latitude Festival, and this year is certainly no different. The vast arena dedicated to the art hosts the likes of Irish star Dylan Moran, who offers his tilted view on humanity, and stateside export Desiree Burch tells some particularly NSFW tales of her raunchy past.

The stage plays host to some of the biggest names in comedy, consistently filled to the brim. Tom Allen delivers one of the highlights of the weekend with his sharp wit and empowering honesty, pulling the audiences into his often sarcastic but always hilarious world.

Photo by Caitlin Mogridge

Nothing ends when the sun sets

It’s not news that festivals are quite often equally about the evening entertainment, but at Latitude Festival the late night choices are seemingly endless. The Sunrise Arena, in the day host to the likes of IAMDDB, Porches and Japandroids, becomes a euphoric paradise. The Comedy Arena turns laughter into dancing hordes, hosting the likes of Masseoke and Friday night’s brilliant Guilty Pleasures. Many voices are lost here.

Yet at the festival’s fringes lies the more peculiar entertainment. The Cabaret Tent on Saturday sees truly surreal performances as part of Duckie’s Dirty Distopia, both poignant and brilliantly bizarre. The same evening The Town Hall fights for inclusivity as part of The Queer Migrant Takeover; an hedonistic yet powerful call for action through a blend of dance-floor fillers and raw performance art. Between all and much more, Latitude allows for a tailored late night experience, from a nightcap or tea at the tent to an all out barrage on the senses.

Photo by Matt Eachus

Food is king

Inviting Street Feast and Dinearama into the fold, Latitude Festival places as much emphasis on the stomach as it does on the ears and eyes. It’s entirely possible to spend three or four days sat in the al-fresco dining areas (we haven’t even touched on the table service restaurant tucked on the edge of the site).

The options are seemingly endless, from pasta served from a wheel of cheese to vegan delights, Thai street food to the most delicious bao buns (thanks Yum Bun) and so much more. There’s savouries, sweets and exotic delicacies unlikely to have made their way into festival fields in the past. Festival food might have a bad rep, but Latitude leads the charge in revolutionising these attitudes.

Photo by Matt Eachus

Big names meet small stars

The Killers effortlessly deliver one of the biggest sets of the weekend, leading their huge crowd (seemingly all of the festival have descended on the Obelisk Stage) with the likes of Human and the iconic Mr Brightside. The main stage also hosts the ever-amazing Jessie Ware, who mixes her powerful tones with her characteristic on-stage banter. Stateside sun-kissed indie cult legends Alvvays bring the sunshine into the BBC Music Stage tent, while Preoccupations deliver a mesmerising heavy dirge on the Sunrise Arena.

Elsewhere, Latitude 2018 welcomes some serious emerging talent, from Rothwell’s pop-perfection on The Alcove – a tent somewhat like a village fete with some seriously weighty talent – to the compelling social commentary of Newcastle’s Nadine Shah in the Music and Film Arena.On The Lake Stage, rising stars whenyoung deliver an easy highlight as they launch into this year’s brilliant Pretty Pure. Much of the festival’s delights lie in the surprise discovery, of which there are countless.

With so much to see and do, Latitude offers a unique experience year on year. Organisers have just confirmed that the event will return to Henham Park from 18 – 21 July 2019, with tickets available soon.

Keep your eyes on to be one of the first to know when Latitude 2019 go on sale.

Cover image by Caitlin Mogridge | All photos courtesy of Latitude Festival