Best major festival 2017
Latitude Festival was one that I had heard such good things about but never actually been to. Deep in the Suffolk countryside, Latitude prides itself on being voted the UK’s best major festival of 2017 and combines music, film, theatre, dance and much much more to create an atmosphere like no other.
Arriving at the festival around lunchtime we joined the ever-snaking queue of caravans to be let into the campsite. After what could only be described as a safari through the woods, we popped out into a huge field full of other campers and caravans. From vintage VW’s to modern, 2 berth babies, to enormous RV’s, the variety of caravans and campervans at Latitude was amazing.
We unhitched our caravan, erected the awning (which we bought for £10 at a car boot sale) and just sat back and enjoyed the sunshine. It was a real treat not to have to put up a tent or a gazebo, we could just arrive and relax which was very different from the regular camping experience we were used to.
The main campsite was located right next to our caravan area so we walked through to have a nosey around the festival. The one thing Joss and I both noticed was that there was so much space. Peoples tents were not all cramped together which gave everyone plenty of space to put up gazebos and sit in larger groups which was lovely.
The paths throughout the campsite were lined with coloured bunting and coloured lights which corresponded to the colours on the festival map which made knowing which area you were camping in much easier. Plus, it also meant that in the dark, when every tent looks the same, you knew which way to walk to get back to your camp.
The caravan camping site had its own toilets, drinking water, and wastewater areas which were located en route to the arena just before the exit into the general campsite. There was also a huge recycling point with large bins which meant that there was very little/no litter in the campsite which made for a much nicer, cleaner feel to the festival camping area.
Ok, so I have one tiny negative…
The one thing I will say which I felt wasn’t really good enough were the shower and toilet facilities in the caravan camping area. There were no showers at all in the caravan site as the only showers at the whole festival were located in the ‘village’ near the arena entrance. Not only that, there was only one very small row of toilets in the caravan site which had to cater to the whole area of campervans. I know that a lot of people have toilets and showers on board, however, it seemed most people opted to use the facilities provided by the festival which were sparse, to say the least. One morning I had to wait around 25 minutes to use the toilets in the caravan camping area. 41 (ish) people in the queue for only 15 cubicles… do the maths, it took a while!
The Main Arena
The main area at Latitude was absolutely amazing. Stages seemed to appear in every nook and cranny, with some tucked away in the woods or floating in the middle of the lake. The main arena had a lovely feel to it. It was busy without feeling cramped or overcrowded and provided a huge variety of different areas to keep everyone happy. There were plenty of bars and everywhere you looked there were delicious food stands selling unique and different culinary delights, not one was the same.
As well as food, fashion and craft were the big hitters at Latitude. Vendors selling all things glitter, clothes covered in feathers and sequins, stalls selling art and homemade crafts, upcycled vintage items and so much more just seemed to appear around every corner.
The whole arena was full of handmade, or recycled goodies. One thing I spotted, next to a recycling point, was a tree full of little seagulls made from old plastic milk bottles which not only looked fantastic but were a great way to create something so quirky out of something so simple.
On the first day, I came across an amazing stand which sold silver spoons which had been made into jewellery. Everything from earrings to bangles and rings had been given a new lease of life from their former state of sterling silver spoons. I also came across a fabulous artist called Sarah Turner who made beautiful pieces of eco-art of out recycled, salvaged materials. I actually bought one of her Latitude fridge magnets which she made by using a laser cutter and a piece of an old Red Bull can (It now sits in pride of place on my fridge!)
Within the main arena, there was also a fabulous area called The Danish Quarter which was sponsored by Carlsberg. It was very Scandinavian in style as you can imagine, with thick wooden benches, exposed copper light bulbs, and rattan floors which all made for a very relaxed vibe. Not only that but they sold the most delicious strawberry and rhubarb cider which I can safely say Joss and I sampled many times.
On the Friday Joss and I took part in a bracelet weaving workshop which took place at The Danish Quarter. It was something I had actually seen was happening on Latitude’s Instagram account so I quickly booked us a place as it sold out within hours. Mary Maddocks lead the course, provided everyone with a loom, and showed us how to weave these amazing and unique accessories. The course lasted just over an hour and was really good fun. Joss and I learnt a fab new skill and left with a nice little memento of the festival. I will definitely be on the lookout for Mary again as I know her full courses would be fab!
One of the things I had heard that would be at Latitude was the painted sheep, and they didn’t disappoint. To my delight, in the main arena were these adorable, bright pink, painted sheep. They were so random but so in keeping with the truly unique and quirky nature of Latitude Festival, so to be honest, I wouldn’t have expected anything less.
The music like any festival is important, and Latitude did not disappoint. With performances from big names like The Killers, Rag N Bone Man, The Vaccines, Jessie Ware, MNEK, Wolf Alice and Alt-J it was bound to be a fantastic array of live music.
However, it wasn’t just the headliners that made an impact. Someone I discovered at Bestival a few years ago was Jeremy Loops. He is a fantastic singer and songwriter from South Africa whose modern, folk style I can only describe as the lovechild between Ed Sheeran and Mumford and Sons. He knows exactly how to get a crowd going, and has so much energy on stage, you can’t not like him.
The one thing I really liked about the music was the variety. You could go from seeing blues and soul music to pop, acoustic and folk, to indie and rock – it really did cater to everyone’s tastes.
What else was on offer
At Latitude it wasn’t all about the music, there was so so much more on offer. There was lake swimming, gondola rides, comedy, spoken word poetry, dance, theatre, art, film and a variety of different spiritual healing and therapy sessions. It was fantastic, it meant that if music wasn’t your thing, or if you came with children, there was plenty to keep everyone occupied whether you were 6 or 60.
One thing I was particularly impressed by and something I haven’t seen at a festival before was that members of staff were providing sign language at the main stage whilst performers were on stage. I thought this was incredible and ensured that those that were deaf or hard of hearing could be part of the festival experience and enjoy the acts on stage. Not only that, there was a raised platform for those in a wheelchair and even bleacher-style seats at the back of the main stage area. This meant that those unable to, or not wanting to stand all day could sit above the crowds and enjoy the music without being in the hustle and bustle of it all. I was really impressed with the effort Latitude had put into ensuring that the festival was accessible and enjoyable for everyone.
Latitude was a foodies dream! I have never seen so much choice at such high quality at any other UK festival. Take a deep breath, the variety and amount of food on offer was vast: Pizza, burritos, paella, vegan sushi, lobster, hog roast, bbq, southern fried chicken, lamb, falafel, burgers, hot dogs, jerk chicken, doughnuts, scotch eggs, churros, brownies, ice lollies, pad thai, raclette, crab and so much more!
I did have some stand out favourites though amongst the sea choice. One of my favourite food vendors was a steamed bun stand called Yum Bun which sold absolutely delicious pillow-like, bao buns filled with either sticky pork belly, Japanese style chicken or crispy tofu and drizzled with a selection of homemade mayo’s, hoisin or hot sauce. My other favourite, and one that makes an appearance at many of the festivals I go to is Anna Mae’s Mac and Cheese. Hands down the best mac and cheese I have ever had, it’s rich, creamy, mustardy and of course cheesy!
Everyone that knows me knows that my hangover cure isn’t a fry-up or a big mac, it’s a smoothie so when I discovered The Fruit Cup, I was in heaven. They sell delicious smoothies and cups of fresh fruit which is perfect to refuel the body with goodness after too many ciders and churros.
The whole festival had such a different vibe to anything I had ever experienced before. It was incredibly civilised, very friendly and has its own unique charm about it. When you overhear conversations along the lines of “This looks like the Waitrose carpark”, “What a nightmare we’ve run out of limes” or “Blast I forgot the gin”, you can’t really expect there to be mad mosh pits and super cheap drinks but that is what I loved about Latitude, it sang to its own tune.
For anyone thinking about going to Latitude next year, GO!! It’s a fabulous festival which I would recommend to anyone. And if you did go this year, then tag me in your photos on Instagram using the #ThatFestivalBlogger so that I can see your fabulous photos and get to know you!