The festival with culture, comedy and cookery

Latitude Festival 2013 - Henham Estate near Southwold, SuffolkThe sun goes down on the final day of

Latitude Festival 2013 - Henham Estate near Southwold, SuffolkThe sun goes down on the final day of the festival - Credit: Ashley Pickering

For many of the 35,000 at Henham Park, the music was a mere side issue. As JOSH WARWICK discovered, Latitude has quickly established itself as a festival of culture, packed to bursting with comedy, cabaret, poetry and theatre.

It's 1pm on Sunday. Bleary-eyed twenty-somethings gorge themselves on food and beer, taking on calorie-soaked sustenance in anticipation of another long, long night. The music has begun, the heavy thud of Bobby Womack's set echoes out around Henham Park.

But away from the Obelisk there is a tented village of cultural entertainment featuring the very best from the worlds of literature, comedy, cabaret, theatre and dance.

And for many of those enjoying the likes of Eddie Izzard, Germaine Greer and Des O'Connor (yes, that Des O'Connor), the plethora of top musical acts on the Latitude bill are nothing more than an added bonus.

Let's start with Des himself. The notion of booking an elder statesman of television seems to be in vogue right now after Brucey performed at Glastonbury. And the veteran seemed perfectly at home at Latitude, charming a jam-packed Cabaret Arena with songs and comedy.


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The bill at the Comedy Arena boasted comic legends, rising stars and sketch shows.

One of many highlights was Dylan Moran's performance. Listed in the top 15 of Channel 4's 2010 list of 100 Greatest Stand Ups, the Black Books co-writer was in imperious form and looked absolutely at home in north Suffolk.

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The same could be said of Eddie Izzard, who performed at Latitude as part of his 27-country world tour. Izzard is part of the British comedy establishment these days but he has lost none of his edge.

The dancing wasn't only confined to Latitude's mosh pits. The Waterfront Stage hosted Sadler's Wells present the BalletBoyz: The Talent 2013. The UK's leading dance house showcased Serpent and Fallen, spanning a range of dance from ballet, Bollywood, flamenco to street, tango, salsa and tap.

Meanwhile, DanceEast's tent provided festival-goers with lessons on how to move to the beat.

The Film and Music Arena entertained with Bowie 1973, celebrating one of the rock icon's most important years with talks and live performances.

Latitude is unashamedly middle class (which other festival includes cookery classes?) and the Literary Arena was the beneficiary. With a bill longer than War and Peace, crowds enjoyed an array of talent, including the always thought-provoking Germaine Greer and the outstanding Wordtheatre, who returned to Latitude for the sixth time with a brilliant cast of actors who bring to life the world's best contemporary short stories.

Anna Shelmerdine, 25, biked to Latitude from Brixton, with the literary acts top of her priority list.

'It has been mind-blowing – and well-worth the cycle ride to get here.'

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