Waiting to be picked up by my friend/ photographer to head for Latitude Music festival in Norfolk, I remember wondering if I had everything that I would need with me, but if not then tough as it would be too late and no turning back.
It was a warm and beautiful sunny day. A perfect start for this venue as long as it stays like this. (So finger’s crossed) and I sincerely hope it stays like this.
After a long and very hot three and a half hour car journey we arrived at our destination. But before we could pitch up our tents we first had to go receive our wristbands which of course meant more queuing. Then off we trekked, to locate an area to pitch up which was quite easy at this point as there were not too many tents around at this point. But that was to change in the blink of an eye, as soon there were to be thousands, and barely room to walk around your tent without tripping over tent pegs and guy ropes. This all just added to the whole festival experience as long as you could remember where yours was… (I wonder how many people couldn’t find their's later on after dark. (Quite a few I should imagine). Or how many people woke to find someone had tripped or fallen onto their tents due to the slight drunkenness that seem to go hand in hand with this crazy fun side of life!
After setting up and realising that there were indeed a couple of things that had been forgotten, I decided that it was time to go familiarise myself with the layout of Latitude and see what it was all about.
Already there were an array of stalls set up, and I was amazed by the variety of food outlets there were, Good old English fish and chips, Mexican, halloumi, hog roast, Thai, vegetarian just to name but a few but certainly something to tantalise the pallet of even the most picky of eaters.
Stalls in the main arena consisted of a vast selection of clothing stalls from the plush earthy hippy side of things to Kastaways stall owned by Karen and Perch selling alternative Punk rock items. My favourite being Forage with stunning leather hip bags, I myself left with three and a slightly lighter purse but it was so worth it. Stalls that sold some of the weirdest and wackiest of hats and tails and yes I meant tails, as kids or Adults could wear dragon or racoon tails parting from their rear ends in a fun display to amuse those that follow, hmmm! Not sure on the comfort of sitting though and slightly awkward I should imagine but still cute none the less. But this is only the start of what there was to come in the way of entertainment; I was buzzing and hadn’t even seen an act yet. But there was plenty of time and as my mother constantly drummed into me as a child 'all good things come to those whom wait', and I am pretty sure where this Festival is concerned she may well be right.
There were so many things to stimulate your senses here that I found myself feeling like a kid in a candy store, even to the point that I could have eaten all in sight! as I was feeling quite hyper at this time and just wanted to run around shouting wow! Not exactly what anyone would expect from the 41yr old mother of four that I am, but this is how a festival changes you and think I would possibly have embarrassed my kids had they been here with me...
So pulling my big girl socks up, I headed to meet with the festival's press contact and see if anything was happening that evening, but no sooner had I arrived then myself and photographers were lead to watch a performance at the Live Art house, where a group of what can only be described as a theatrical ballet/gymnast group performed, showing complete trust as they balance and build up onto each other in a pyramid with precision and skill.
Leaving there I decided to take a wander to what is called the village, this was still a part of the festival grounds but where u could buy any essentials that may be required over the duration of your stay, whether that be food from the marque village store or a blow up mattress that replaces one you just popped attempting to inflate. Other stalls amused festival goers such as an oxygen tent, I was a little confused on that one as didn’t think I had stopped breathing but apparently you can now buy it…. O-KAY!!
Some stall holders gave away freebies to promote their products and I must admit I was rather taken by the no milk milkshake smoothie made with oats, totally scrummy actually and I’ll look forward to seeing that one in my local supermarket! But if in need of something along the slightly more alcoholic side then just head to one of the many bars dotted around the grounds where you could refresh your pallet from a wide selection of beverages whilst you stand and chat, retire to one of the many benches or just laze merrily on the ground.
Over the forthcoming days brought so many talented people from a wide spectrum of artists and performers. I sincerely wish I had the opportunity to have seen so many more than I had. I did however, get to the point of feeling like a headless chicken running around as I tried to get from one area to another to catch an act I would have liked to have seen, but the old saying of 'you can’t be in two places at once' ran to mind.
When I say that there was something there for everyone, this doesn’t just include music, there were some great names such as Al Murrey, Russel Howard and Sara Pascoe coming from the Comedy Arena. There were also cabarets, theatre, poetry and literature arenas where you could sit and listen to authors quote or watch spectacular displays from performers within their arts.
One of my favourite aspects of this Festival was how accommodating and friendly Latitude made this venue for families with children and babies, there were quaint but ingenious little wagons and carts that parents could wheel their young-ones around in as not to damage buggies on the uneven grounds, allowing families to continue their enjoyment of the evenings entertainment without retiring back to their tents. Children slept in the wagons and still under the watchful eye of parents whilst being pulled along in a comforting rocking motion cuddled up with pillows, covers glowing nightlights and the odd teddy.
The kids area had a wonderland feel to it from crafts and colouring to stories being told, with remembrance of my childhood as I gazed upon the helter-skelter whilst restraining my urge to climb up and slide down with a whopping grin on my face, but I held back and marvelled at the many smiles that the children had upon theirs. Tents that get the kids involved in making wounds as if from the movies to making their own documentaries and animation to Greenpeace and encouraging them to keep involved with the world today.
Oh! And there is absolutely no way that I can forget mentioning 'Bubbles' lots and lots of bubble that kept kids amused for hours on end or the Fire-Toy’s stall to which I received a private display from a once fire preforming friend.. nor can I forget to mention apart from to the Welsh the fact that there were sheep there, not only sheep but they were PINK… awesome I know!
When it comes to looking for that quiet place that you can either just relax or gather your thoughts then look no further than Solas or The Enchanted Garden as it's the perfect place to just lay back and listen to the tranquil sounds of nature or mood enhancing music coming from either the stage or one of the many tents offering alternative therapies from tarot, fortune and palm reading, to the soothing massages given by trained professionals. This was certainly a place to chill-lax but if you really wanted the whole experience then it was definitely the evening that you wanted to be there as the lights were a relaxing and hypnotic sight in deed allowing you to escape from the reality of the outside world.
Many amazing acts graced the stages of latitude and had fans dancing and singing along, such that of Bears Den whom sang Emerald from their new Album not yet released, or the exceptional group Beirut where the vocalist Zach Condon seems to have a multitude of talents as not only does he have an amazing voice but he turned his hand to the trumpet and keyboard too.
Friday also brought to the Obelisk Arena the spectacular sounds that literally had the crowds in a frenzy. The Maccabees from south London whom brought thousands of fans to their feet clapping and singing, along with a colleague of mine left to scream and wave like a little girl at Felix and no doubt he will hate me for bringing that up but the truth will out. The lighting was amazing along with the effects from the confetti machines just added to that moment. Other great bands totally rocked the stage, such as The Lumineers, Sturgill Simpson or the heart stopping and bass pumping tunes from M83. I most certainly cannot forget Chvrches a synthpop band from good ol Glasgow and despite wearing black as stated by Lauren Mayberry and being an exceptionally hot day their performance literally bewitched the fans below with her stunning voice; Ashwell as completely packing out the Arena and certainly delivered a performance to leave fans talking about on their journey home.
I was disheartened that I missed one of my favourite singers and at some point may have been seen running around like a bit of a loony as Ed Sheeran had been spotted walking the grounds and then later went on to be a guest for Foy Vance. (Boy was I gutted)! Darting from where one of my colleagues had told me that Ed was at the BBC Radio 6 stage… Not even I knew I could run that fast! But unfortunately by the time that I got there they had left… boo hoo! Arora was to follow so I watched as she, a nineteen year old from Norway with an electro kind of sound and passion that will get her where she wants to be.
Admittedly, there were many bands I have mentioned and so many more that I will not get to tell you about, but so many more deserving as I flitted back and forth from one stage area to another.
Latitude certainly produced an explosive line up of stars and entertainment to keep everyone in good spirits as not once did I hear a cross word or drunken disagreement amongst patrons. Just simply genuine smiles and a peaceful way from everyone whom attended.
All in all Latitude was an experience that I most certainly will never forget, from the polite and helpful security and informative staff spotted around to the way in which the facilities were kept in a very high standard…. Well done Latitude! I more than look forward to next year.
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