New plans for Latitude festival announced

Organisers of the popular Suffolk festival Latitude have signed a contract which will see the festival continuing for at least 21 years, it was announced today.

Now in its sixth year, Melvin Benn, the creator of the festival, said: 'I look forward to standing here on that day.'

The announcements were made at a press day held on the festival grounds at Henham Park, near Southwold.

Mr Benn, who is also the managing director of organisers Festival Republic, also announced new performers to the line up, which currently includes acts such as Paulo Nutini, Suede, Paloma Faith and The National on the music stages and Alan Carr and Mark Watson on the comedy stage.

Suffolk born, 'Harry Potter' actor Ralph Fiennes will return to the county to take part in a Bafta hosted session in the Film and Music Arena and a new late night slot has been introduced on the Sunday especially for musician James Blake.

The singer will play the Lake Stage at 10.45pm as it was thought it would be the right time to 'set the mood' for the performance.

Mr Benn said: 'James is an act that needs the right conditions around him, that's why we chose Sunday night after the headliners had finished down by the lake.'

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It was also announced that work is well under way on a new, permanent, bridge across the lake, and the floating bridge from last year's event will also return to the grounds.

Another addition to this year festival will be the Electric Hotel, which is a full size house that lights up after the live music ends, with the audience watching the events whilst listening to audio through headphones.

Norfolk musician Samantha Coe, director of Norwich music academy, The Wharf, was thrilled with the new announcements and explained why the festival is so important.

'Latitude Festival has a personality all of its very own,' she said.

'It combines music, dance, comedy, theatre, literature, art and numerous other wonders. As a musician, I'm drawn by the array of music on offer, from the headliners such as The National and Paulo Nutini to other acts such as Lyle Lovett and BellowHead. The moment SeaSick Steve and CW Stoneking were announced I was sold on another weekend camping in Henham park with the pink sheep.

'This years Latitude has been made even sweeter by the addition of local 'boy done good' Ed Sheeran who has gone straight in at the top of my to see list.

'The reason I love Latitude is the constant stream of varied entertainment throughout the whole weekend and the laid back vibe created by families and people of all ages. It makes for an inspiring and creative weekend.

'I just hope that as Latitude grows bigger and bigger with each year that the festival manages to keeps its atmosphere and personality which has made it so popular.'

As well as a family-friendly and green ethos, organisers are also keen to make the festival a safe place following last year's event, which was rocked by two allegations of rape.

Both allegations were fully investigated by officers from Suffolk Police.

A Suffolk police spokesman said: 'One of the allegations led to an arrested man facing no further police action, while the second remains undetected but has since been closed following a thorough investigation.'

Mr Benn said security would be tighter this year and more people would be educated on looking after themselves and staying safe.

'We will be increasing security in the campsite and tightening it up by bringing in a pro-active awareness campaign,' he explained.

'We always take these allegations seriously.'

Recently the festival was praised for having the lowest amount of thefts last year, of any of the country's large-scale music events.

Mr Benn said they would not be getting complacent though and that they would continue to employed high quality, fully accredited security staff and will liaise closely with Suffolk Constabulary to ensure festival-goers are kept safe.

'One theft is one too many and complacency is just not a factor,' he said.

'There is no room for it in the slightest. Some of my relatives camp at Latitude, some of my friends camp at Latitude – they could just as easily be the victims of a theft as anyone else.

'I don't take it lightly at all.'

About the festival he added: 'We've been listening to our loyal fans and this year, for our sixth edition, we are making some changes to the site which will further enhance everyone's enjoyment of their favourite festival weekend.

'The non music and arts side has always spoken for itself and continues to.'

The festival takes place on Thursday, July 14 to Sunday, July 17.

• For more information visit www.latitudefestival.co.uk

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