The lowdown on Latitude: Our pick of the highlights at this weekend's Suffolk festival

There's more to Latitude than just great music, says Elisa Bray

Glastonbury may be taking a sabbatical this year, but there's no chance of festival-going music fans feeling hard done by. With its trio of headliners Bon Iver, Elbow and Paul Weller, hotly tipped new bands, and acts including Laura Marling and Rufus Wainwright on the bill, Latitude is – if not the biggest – the best line-up of the festival season.

But Latitude is not just about rock and pop music and big-name headline acts. Since its inception in 2006, when it welcomed around 5,000 visitors (that figure is now 35,000), Latitude has been billed as "not just a music festival", but rather as the kind of festival aimed at people who wouldn't typically go to a straight-up rock and pop festival. Across the festival's stages and tents over four days, you'll find comedy, talks, opera, theatre, literature and poetry. And on the Waterfront stage, overlooking the lake, you'll find ballet. It also has a comedy and theatre line-up to rival Edinburgh.

In its seventh year, Latitude remains the queen of arts festivals, which is why it's gained a reputation as the festival for middle-class families. It's been a winning formula that has helped spur the prominence of arts across the festival circuit. With the boom in boutique festivals, it is now perfectly normal to see Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake a metre or two away from, say, Paul Weller.

But a few years ago, before the emergence of Latitude and other boutique festivals, the idea of having ballet or opera at a music festival would have been considered absurd. All of which explains why Latitude director Melvin Benn was laughed at when he decided to set up a festival where the music was secondary. Benn wanted the festival to appeal to Hay-on-Wye or Edinburgh festival-going types.

"I wanted to start with the principle of literature and poetry being at the heart of the festival", he explains. "When you come over the campsite and over the bridge, the first thing you come across is the literature and poetry tents. Normally you have music at the heart. My team said 'Melvin, you've lost the plot!' It was the same with opera. I very much wanted it to break ground and redefine what a festival could be."

The ballet element has become so popular that the Waterfront stage has been unofficially renamed the "Sadler's Wells stage". "When the Matthew Bourne version of Swan Lake was performed on the Waterfront stage it was extraordinary", Benn recalls. "There must have been 20,000 people crowding round. It was a magical moment in the history of the festival."

With Glastonbury being off this year, Latitude is the obvious alternative. But with its impressive line-up across the arts, it's the alternative any year.

Latitude, today to Sunday at Henham Park, Suffolk (


Tim Minchin

Considering that the comedy-rock superstar sold out the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena, this show will no doubt have crowds rivalling the music headliners. Arrive early to see Minchin and his band play his witty, unsettling songs.

Doc Brown

Zadie Smith's brother was a rapper until 2008 when he turned to stand-up, and now combines the two in his comedy show.

Greg Davies

Best-known as Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners, Davies gave up teaching for comedy. See him before he takes his new show The Back of My Mum's Head on the road this autumn.

Josie Long

Expect plenty of political satire from the left-wing-activist comedian's critically acclaimed Romance and Adventure from Edinburgh last year.



In 1988, Matthew Bourne had his first hit with his version of Perrot's 19th-century ballet.Here, it's performed in a glorious open setting.

The Most Incredible Thing

The Pet Shop Boys' first ballet score, a collaboration with the choreographer Javier de Frutos, incorporates a live orchestra with house, trance and synths, while the dance features film installation and cabaret.


Jeremy Deller

The Turner prize-winning artist discusses his and co-director Nick Abraham's new film, The Bruce Lacey Experience, which examines Lacey's legacy as a painter, sculptor and avant-garde film-maker.


National Theatre

The writers behind the hit musical adaptation of Spring Awakening bring their new show – Alice By Heart – to Latitude.

Lyric Hammersmith

The Lyric returns with a new series of site-specific theatre pieces from five of the country's most innovative theatre companies.


Iain Banks

The bestselling author of The Wasp Factory reads from his new book, Stonemouth.

Siri Hustvedt

The author of What I Loved brings philosophy to the festival as she reads from her new collection of essays Living, Thinking, Looking.

Tim Key

No stranger to awards and invitations to work with other comedians – Ricky Gervais, Steve Coogan (and Charlie Brooker – the comic performance poet returns to Latitude.

Simon Armitage

The Yorkshire poet reads from his new book Walking Home, which charts his 256-mile journey across the Pennine Way.


Lang Lang

The 29-year-old world-renowned classical pianist is accustomed to performing for royalty and Barack Obama, but here makes his first-ever outdoor festival appearance.



Heavily tipped by The Horrors, the London five-piece share in their psychedelic art-rock and atmospheric swells of guitar. One of this year's most hyped bands.

Cold Specks

Canadian Al Spx has a voice that recalls Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Mahalia Jackson, and creates evocative blues songs steeped in the musical traditions of the American Deep South.


Hailed as "the lifeblood of new music" by Radio 1's Zane Lowe, the experimental band from Leeds meld reverb-drenched blues-soul vocals with a variety of playful percussion and dissonant melodies.

Django Django

The quartet met at art school and have a brother in the Beta Band which helps explain their psychedelic tendencies. The sonic adventurers' jerky, melodic, indie-pop and clever use of rhythm has already attracted throngs at this year's Great Escape and Field Day.

Alabama Shakes

The Alabama four-piece have already built a reputation as a top live act while Adele and Arctic Monkeys' Alex Turner are fans of their raw take on Southern soul. Their top trump is their guitar-playing frontwoman, 23-year-old Brittany Howard, whose powerful voice compares to Robert Plant's.

Lucy Rose

The gentle, Dido-esque voiced singer-songwriter's songs are simple, but have the instrumental build-up to keep it interesting. She's also become an almost-member of Bombay Bicycle Club, singing on their 2011 album.

Other Lives

You can see why Radiohead are fans of this Oklahoma indie-rock five-piece, and invited them on tour. Live, they impressively re-create the layers of their cinematic album Tamer Animals.



Before their Mercury prize-winning The Seldom Seen Kid, the Manchester band seemed doomed never to make it as headliners. Expect heart-warming songs, oodles of charisma from frontman Guy Garvey and a mass singalong for "One Day Like This".


The indie-pop band with a dance lilt bring songs from their much-loved Mercury prize-nominated The English Riviera to the festival.

Bon Iver

Much credit is due to Justin Vernon for bringing falsetto into the pop charts. His band's beautifully emotive, delicate indie-pop has the power to reduce a vast audience to silence.

Richard Hawley

The former Pulp member has one of the best albums of this year with Standing at the Sky's Edge. His life-affirming majestic psychedelic rock will be a treat.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

Californian singer Alex Ebert created the messianic figure of Edward Sharpe as his stage persona, and his band's psychedelic songs are other-worldly, joyous and deeply stirring.

Laura Marling

A live show from the shy-but-assured 22-year-old singer-songwriter is always a joy to watch, from her delicate finger-picked folk songs to the country stomp of newer numbers such as "Sophia".

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne with his Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor

Arts and Entertainment
Rowan Atkinson is bringing out Mr Bean for Comic Relief

Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups


An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment


Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original


Arts and Entertainment


Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'


Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

    Army general planning to come out
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project