Yet again here we stand. It’s one of those annual moments that feels as fresh as it did the very first time, with Latitude Festival opening the gates for their 11th edition. We sit, poised as ever, waiting to see what cultural delights and sonic smatterings they’re going to rack up this time.
I’ve been attending the festival since its inception in 2006 and while I know roughly what to expect each time I go, I always manage to have a brilliantly different experience.
Whether it’s getting down with Ukrainian Cossack dancers in the magical Faraway Forest or taking in the breath-taking majesty of Sadler’s Wells ballet performing on the lake, I’m still discovering new pockets of the festival and having my mind broadened and prised open to the novel and the spectacular, which I would never be exposed to in the humdrum of the daily grind of ceaseless normality.
The live music bill always seems to have a different texture each year. Of course lashings of Indie Folk, Pop and Rock with a side of Leftfield Dance is generally the order of the day, but the curation somehow manages to tease then slowly seduce the mood of the moment, effortlessly transporting you along the lazy hazy afternoons before seamlessly segue-waying into the dizzy heights at night.
I’m not going to agonise over the line-up too much this year, as historically I have been known to research and tabulate information on Spotify during previous incarnations of the event. Experience has taught me better. The near perfect sets and selection never let you down. All that happens when you adopt a militaristic plan is that you end up rushing around trying to catch everything while missing the main point of festivals – stumbling across new brave and alluring sounds.
Sure I’ve got a handful of acts I don’t want to miss such as Gold Panda, Chet Faker, Slaves, John Grant and Polica plus M83 and New Order back to back on the main stage Sunday night has ‘major festival memory’ written all over it.
A must visit are also the smaller Lake, Sunrise and DIY stages where you might not always recognise the names, but you can guarantee you’ll be downloading their music in a few months times or catching them on a main stage somewhere next festival season. But on the whole the strategy is to simply hang loose, go with the flow and follow my ears to the sweetest tunes.
The overarching arts theme this year is ‘Love Thy Neighbour’ which explores the Europe-wide migrant crisis and protests against gentrification in parts of London through theatrical acts such as Circa, Improbable & Blind Summit and Gob Squad.
To be honest I usually struggle to tear myself away from the music stages to see this side of the festival, however, the Dance On the Waterfront stage, Theatre and Literature tents are all open for business on Thursday night before the live music proceedings begin so I might try and cram a little cultural education into this diminutive window. Or I might just head down to the woods to catch Mucho Soul & Size Doesn’t Matter’s showcase of upfront Funk, Soul, Disco, Reggae, House and Techno anthems – I think you already know which way this old tree is swaying in the breeze.
Whatever happens, I know the weekend will provide a culturally and musically rich experience with plenty of laughs along the way which is why Latitude has become my festival of choice.
Photo credit: Carys Lavin