23rd July 2015
I do love a festival.
Every year it’s compulsory for me to sit in a far flung field for at least 3 or 4 nights, usually accompanied by mountains of mud.
I am so fond of Glastonbury. It’s hard work (8 miles across at it’s widest point don’t you know) but there is just so much to soak up and experience. It really should be on any art’s fans bucket list. Even if you just do it just once.
I’m also a huge fan of the Isle Of White Festival. For me, it’s the only smaller festival that feels as varied as Glastonbury. There are just too many alleged festivals that in essence are several large stages playing music. That’s just not a real festival for me.
Up until a few days ago these two would always be my festival recommendations, but now there is a third. In fact there is a third that has now officially topped the list, and that’s Latitude.
Like me up until last weekend you have probably heard of it, but not been. Well, put it on the list if you would like a chilled weekend of music, culture, and discovery. At 45,000 people it’s big enough to feel like there is always something new to discover, and small enough to get around without any one hour walks from stage to stage.
This is a festival where in one single afternoon I saw ballet, comedy, cabaret, music and poetry. And I mean dancing from Sadler’s Wells, poetry from Tim Key, comedy from Jon Richardson and music from Ed Sheeran. What really hit home for me was not just the variety, but also the quality. I didn’t see one bad thing in 4 days. Really, not one. And I also discovered some new acts that I had never seen before. The band All We Are and performer Spencer Jones are people who I will definitely be seeing again if you’re interested.
So when you are looking for a festival for 2016 I would urge you to choose this one. I met one guy at the remarkable Other Voices venue who had been to all 10 years that the festival has been running and he was telling me that it has kept it’s soul since that first one in 2006 when they started with a just a few thousand visitors.
That said it all for me. Festivals have become big business. There are more festivals per capita in the UK than anywhere else in the world. But this wasn’t a business machine. It was people. Tens of thousands of people. In a big field. For 4 days. With nothing else but live performance to embrace. Just letting themselves go. A festival with a soul.