It’s taken me 10 years to get here, the same age as Latitude Festival today. With a capacity of approx. 35,000 it reminds me of a larger scale End of the Road Festival with its family friendly vibe and secrets for you to find.
There were no queues to get in and after pitching up I explored the unfamiliar layout. I walked through an enchanted forest and came out at a picturesque lake that you had to cross via bridges to access the arenas. For the first year you can swim in it and even get lessons. The queues were an hour long most days so I had to give it a miss unfortunately. There were free punts that took you around the lake overlooked by a large silver Latitude sign, I'm guessing represents the 10th Year Anniversary material 'Tin'.
The stages and areas at Latitude gives something for everyone; theatre, comedy, poetry, video, craft area and then you have all the music stages to stumble across.
Pints of cider/ale/beer were £4.50 to £5, normal for a festival or Brighton but for us non city folk we are used to the £3.40 - £3.80 mark. Queues were pretty good though and I managed to get served in under 5 minutes when they were at thier busiest.
Meals cost between £7 and £10 which is the first time I've seen it hit double figures, not happy and resulted in me eating less than normal.
Drinks are not permitted into the arena from the camp site however after buying the festival plastic cup I was able to take a full one in for 2 days yet was stopped on the 3rd day. As with most festivals there were inconsistencies with staff and what rules they were enforcing.
Toilet queues were fairly good and loos clean and topped up with loo roll throughout the festival. There were free wifi areas but I couldn't get my phone to work with it very well.
My first band was on the Obelisk (main) Stage Femi Kuti and the Positive Force a Nigerian Afrobeat styled act fronted by the son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti that had both men and women in the audience shaking their bones to the beat. The sound levels of the stage were good, the arena large enough for this sized capacity and various free entry spectator bleachers dotted around that I hope catches on.
The Comedy Tent was full of punters sitting on the floor of the large marquee, chilled out and enjoying the big name acts. The over spill, which was continuous throughout the week filled the surrounding area with people sitting on sofas and armchairs. Various big tv comics were on the line up including Elliot Steel, son of Mark Steel followed the hilarious Romesh Ranganathan who had me laughing in the portaloos adjacent whilst I was waiting to get in. Between acts I found it was easy to access and find a space as others were leaving. Jon Richardson from 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown came on in his usual ‘uncomfortable’ style. I was so glad to catch his set and it was only 6pm!
One of my favourite venues was the Other Voices stage. An eerie and secluded church looking building with décor of a skater hang out. I didn’t know if I was going to see music or be chased by a man with a chainsaw. Luckily it was all music with the likes of All Tvvins who had their bass amps way too loud to enjoy them as I did at The Great Escape, and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats that were the other end of the spectrum with harmonies and brass to set the scene.
Alt-J for me are not a main stage headliner but would probably have suited the BBC Radio 6 Music Stage more so. Your generic, big top looking, indoor stage. Showcasing louder acts like Drenge, who slapped your face with their music and leaving me wanting more.
On the way back to my tent Friday I wandered into the forest and come across Ed Sheeran playing a secret gig in the iArena, a stage under a canopy of trees. I would later see Thom Yorke here Saturday evening. It felt like I wasn't even at a festival here but in someones private party in a wood.
A stage I caught in passing was the Waterfront Stage, it is reminiscent of a pontoon on the lake which was watched by an audience on both sides of the river. Very unique and I caught some amazing dance performers that I would never normally have seen.
The Theatre Tent was a large marquee with raised stalls. I manage to catch Ruby Wax here who had a tongue like leather, ordering the paparazzi to leave when one of them left his shutter sound on.
Adjacent to the Theatre was the The Little House Stage. An outdoor set up with the audience sitting around the centre stage area. A place I relaxed in the shade of to give me the energy to walk back.
The Film and Music indoor tent had some round tables and chairs much like a cabaret venue. I caught a bit of Kurt Cobain: Montage Of Heck which was the main draw of the stage on Sunday.
The Lakeside Stage played the bands handpicked by Huw Stephens (BBC Radio1 DJ). Adjacent to the Radio 6 stage it looks like an overturned Pringle but offered close up entertainment and so easy to access providing great sound levels.
The Poetry and Literary stages were adjacent to each other, were very similar in shape and size a smaller version of the comedy tent. Book signings, guest speakers and featured the many styles of poetry which I didn't quite get and at times felt uncomfortable. Entrances surrounded them on all sides and provided a wash of people dropping in and out like a mild breeze, giving me the perfect exit route unseen as the shouting act looked left stage.
Portishead were one of my highlights, I’ve wanted to see them for so long and they delivered. Although they didn’t play enough material from Dummy their lighting and atmosphere made it for me. Beth Gibbons was enchanting and moody as she belted out 'Cos nobody loves me, it's true not like you do' from Sour Times. I'm in heaven.
My last day wasn't as full on and I used it to relax around the lake and comedy tent bumping into Richard Curtis (Four Weddings/Black Adder), Alan Carr and Katherine Ryan - all lovely and humble what a weekend, and the stars love it too!
Festival Republic (who run Latitude) staff were on hand to assist through the weekend with any problems, questions and charging points the press required. So professional and approachable at all times.
The entire staff around the festival were helpful and engaging, bar staff easy going and 99.5% of security were fantastic making me feel welcome. No trouble, no hassles, no worries!
A festival with so much diversity and something for everyone. I need more than 3 days to be able to spend ample time in every area on offer though.
Would I come back? Definitely! Would I recommend it to friends...I might keep this little gem all to myself ;)
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Latitude 2018 review
including MNEK, Black Midi, Flohio, Jimothy Lacoste, Trojan Sound System & more