Ten spells for a magic Latitude

Latitude Festival sheep

Latitude Festival sheep

There are only a few days left to go now until the 8th Latitude Festival. With my liver and feet adequately regenerated from my last field trip, I’m standing by my own, personal mantra – “the only cure for the last festival is the next one”, and gearing up for another of my favourite events.

The reason I keep returning to Latitude is because of its magical charm, laid-back quirky atmosphere, stunning surroundings and  the incredibly diverse amount of entertainment on offer. This year the line-up really grabbed me. The artist bookers have changed tack somewhat, swerving some of the Dad Rock and middle-of-the-road Indie billed in previous years, instead opting for a much more eclectic and edgier line up.

For the first time, some half-tidy Dance acts will be playing during the main proceedings, rather than just being reserved for the after dark slots, with Disclosure and Rudimental both set to show on the new Radio 6 Music stage. There’s even a bonafide Reggae sound system playing –  Mungo’s Hi-Fi.  Unfortunately they won’t be broadcasting their raw Roots riddims until nightfall however.

As ever, there are a ton of bands of the moment on the bill, with Alt-J, Jagwar Ma, King Charles, Cvrches, Daughter and Villagers all putting in an appearance, and for that once in a life-time experience you should always try to gain from a festival, Bobby Womack and Kraftwerk will be bringing their back catalogue of classics to the main stage.

Latitude really is more than a gig with tents, and with so much to see and do on offer, I thought I’d share a few little Latitude gems of how to get the very best out of its whole festival experience.

1. Arrive Early
The bands don’t play until Friday, but it’s always worth getting there on Thursday for some In The Woods disco action and to catch the awe-inspiring opening ceremony on The Lake. Arriving Thursday also ensures you wake-up Friday morning well and truly in the festival zone – generously marinated in music, mud and moonshine. This year Radio 6 Soul-boy and party-starter Craig Charles will be taking to the decks Thursday night, alongside Mary Anne Hobbs for some Funk and Soul fun under the stars. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a surprise set from one of the weekend’s acts.

2. Shedonistic Pursuits
Starting out life as two blokes DJing from their outhouse at a BBQ, before deciding to take their boogie booth on the road, The Disco Shed has been touring the UK festival scene since 2005, and is now a regular feature at Latitude. Complete with dazzling light shows, vibrant visuals, bellowing dry-ice and a booming sound-system, expect Hip Hop, Dub, DnB, Disco, House, Reggae and special guest appearances from some of the biggest names on the allotment DJ circuit.

3. Sunday Lunch with Bobby Womack
…or dinner depending on which way your pinkie’s pointing. This year the traditional Sunday lunchtime slot on the Obelisk stage goes to the legendary Bobby Womack. Grab yourself a hearty portion of pie n’ mash from Pieminister, and settle in for a roasting (weather permitting) performance of Soul and R&B from The Bravest Man In The Universe himself, setting you up nicely for the final day of fun and frolics.

4. Lose Yourself in the woods
By day, you can embark on a magical mystery tour around the Far Away Forest and explore a series of performances, talks and art installations, on the topics as crazy as “Neuroscience vs. Sex: What Defines Me?”. By night, the woods transform as the wild, wild things who want to party till the end of never, partake in a live case-study of mental disorders. Watch out for us, as we’ll be the ones hanging upside-down from the branches.

5. Do the Conga in the Guilty Pleasures Tent
I’ve been to some twisted parties in my time, but I’m hard pushed to find a crowd as up for it as the Guilty Pleasures lot. My first experience of this ultimate in cheese-fests was when I was still under the illusion that I was in some way cool, and would turn my nose up at anything less than cutting edge. My attitude was soon flipped on its head, as I grooved out to the finest in expertly selected 70’s, 80’s and 90’s school Disco classics. Expect to see someone’s overweight, balding, spandex-clad dad/brother/son uninhibitedly roller-skating around the stage, and of course you won’t want to miss the both legendary and obligatory conga.

6. Let Someone Else Entertain the Kids
Last year we stumbled across the story-telling in the Faraway Forest, and I have never seen so many kids engrossed all at once, fixated upon enchanting tales of witches, fairies and other folklore. More importantly, each and every one of this up and coming generation of festifolk was sitting quietly. It’s not a crèche, but if your little bundle of joy woke you up before you had a chance to sleep your hangover off – you bad, bad parent you – this will give you a chance to grab some much needed, hard to find and thoroughly deserved respite here. Your children might enjoy it too.

7. Catch some Comedy and Cabaret
The last few years I’ve missed the comedy acts I wanted to see, due to my tendency to indulge in a slumber. I’ve missed the late night cabaret, because I’ve been too busy raving In The Woods, at the Disco Shed or in the Guilty Pleasures tent. Can you see a pattern emerging here? This year I’ll be on a mission to catch Sean Lock and Lee Nelson in the comedy tent, and will be getting their early to beat the crowds.

8. Discover the next Myleene Klass
Latitude has always supported music at the grass roots level, generously dedicating slots over the schedule to emerging talent from the local area. This year they have dedicated an entirely new stage – The Alcove – to this cause and we’ll be sure to check out the finest East Anglia’s new musicians and bands. Hopefully this will give me a moment that I can fall-back on down the pub for many years to come, when I can say “yeah – I saw them before they were famous”.

9. Wear 3D Specs all Weekend
Saturday night sees Kraftwerk, those well known Kraut-Rockers and pioneers of Electronica, bring their highly revered 3D show to the main stage for the headline slot. As one of the most influential bands in Dance music and Hip Hop history, expect to see musical train-spotters attempting to out trump each other in the who-sampled-who stakes, while the rest of us embark on an immersive, psychedelic and sonic voyage. Keepink your 3D shades on vor ze remainder of ze weekend ist mandatory.

10. Perk Up with some Poetry
Last year a friend of mine sceptically visited the poetry tent with his significant, and rather more sophisticated other, whilst suffering from a particularly epic hangover. Apparently it was a soothing and enlightening experience, so this year I fully intend to head down there before the show starts, grab myself an ale, and lay on a big comfy cushion where I shall I ponder upon such prose.

The Latitude Festival takes place in the grounds of Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk from the 18th – 21st of July. There are a few tickets still available and free day ticket camping is provided if you can’t make the whole weekend, but want to pop down and have a carefree beer or five. See you in the queue for the plastic beer cups!

For more information and tickets click here.