Latitude 2017: Suffolk’s “largest town” opens its gates at Henham Park with record breaking numbers expected

Crowd at Latitude 2017 - Paul John Bayfield

Crowd at Latitude 2017 - Paul John Bayfield - Credit: PAUL JOHN BAYFIELD

The famous pink sheep are grazing and Latitude 2017 is underway with numbers at Henham Park, near Southwold, expected to break records.

The little sister of the sprawling Glastonbury, Reading or Leeds festivals, Latitude is up-and-coming after celebrating its 10th birthday last year, but its popularity is growing year on year.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 people are expected to descend on the park this year, with thousands pitching their tents on Thursday evening to beat the crowds.

Det Supt Dave Cutler of Suffolk Police said the operation to secure 'Suffolk's largest town over the weekend' has been smooth sailing, and has encouraged festival-goers to approach the visible armed officers - a new addition for 2017.

'For visitors, the figures at around 6pm on Thursday night was around 7,500 people already on site and that flooded through until at least midnight at a reasonable flow rate,' he said.

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'It looks really similar to previous years at the moment.

'The traffic flow was really good so changes the festival organisers made last year in terms of traffic have really worked well.

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'There were minimal hold ups on site.

'We have visible overtly armed officers which we did not have last year, which is in-keeping with what we have seen nationally for large music events and crowded places. That is a reassurance position for us to add another dimension to our security operation, not in relation to any specific threat.

'It is making sure we are doing everything we can to keep people safe throughout the whole festival.'

The Obelisk stage has opened with early headliners The Coral and Mystery Jets whipping up excited crowds.

But far from simply being a music event, Latitude has developed an outstanding reputation for its extensive variety of poetry, literary, theatre and dance performers. When the festival began in 2006, capacity was just 15,000. Since then, organisers have had to cope with spiralling demand for tickets, leading to an increased capacity of 25,000 in 2009, before a further 10,000 tickets were made available the following year.

The 1975 rounded off a stellar line-up on the main stage on Friday, with Dara O'Briain, Susan Calman and Seann Walsh in the comedy tent.

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