Welcome to Latitude

Sarah Brealey Latitude festival has doubled in size since it began two years ago, and this year all 25,000 tickets have sold out.

Sarah Brealey

The bars are fully stocked, the first eager campers have already arrived, and the first strains of music were drifting across the fields and woods last night.

Today the Latitude festival gets into full swing at Henham Park, near Southwold.

The festival has doubled in size since it began two years ago, and this year all 25,000 tickets have sold out. It is the biggest festival in Norfolk or Suffolk, and the only place it is possible to see one of the country's leading comics, followed by a Mercury Music prize-winning band, followed by a cabaret performance.

The £3m arts and music festival includes world-famous dance company Sadlers Wells on a new dance stage, the Royal Shakespeare Company performing works from modern playwrights, and authors Hanif Kureishi and Iain Banks.

There is plenty of local involvement, with Norwich bands Bearsuit and the Kabeedies performing on the BBC Introducing stage and Bungay-bred Tom Baxter on the Uncut stage. There is also theatre from Halesworth's HighTide festival.

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The weather forecast for the weekend may not be everything that festival-goers would hope for, but the rain looks likely to be showers rather than anything more prolonged.

Festival Republic managing director Melvin Benn said: “We've got some wonderful things. Bafta are supporters of the event so they have got people like Joseph Fiennes coming to do Q and As. That sort of thing; you just couldn't ask for more.”

Fans of the multi-coloured sheep will be able to hear them again this year - but this year they will all be purple. They are painted with harmless washable dyes, although this year an ill-timed downpour meant they had to be painted twice.

Mr Benn said: “The farmer assures me it doesn't make any difference to them. It washes off. We did them last week and we've got to redo them today. The day we did them, that night we had a massive downpour.”

“They've become iconic with the event. The daisies and the sheep are a symbol of what it's all about.”