Some time ago I wrote a post called 10 Reasons why Latitude Festival is Top of My Festival Bucket List for 2012… Well, I managed to convince my friend Leila to come with me to pop her ‘Festival Virgin Cherry’. The only fly in the ointment for Leila; as a festival virgin was the prospect of camping given that our UK Summer weather hasn’t been fab!
There was torrential rain on the first and second nights of the festival, and unfortunately all of the pathways ended up as a sloppy quagmire of squiggly mud, our camper van neighbours fondly referred to it as ‘a walk through the brown marshmallows’. This was of course a baptism of fire to any festival experience to a festival virgin like Leila, whereas it was my first (and only) experience of this iconic perception of British festival weather and mud to date.
I was so glad not to be camping in a tent… I can only think that people who had set up camp next to a walk way at the beginning of the festival must have dumped/abandoned their tents at the end of the festival-as they wouldn’t have been worth taking home!
How to avoid all of that Mud when we have a bad summer – CAMPERVAN Vs GLAMPING
I looked into the cost of Glamping, but we both struggled to justify the cost of Their boutique camping (glamping) option or any which ranged from about £200 for a pre-pitched 2 man tent up to just under £1350 Yurtel and £845 for a Belle or £1000 for a 6 person octopad not including the cost of the festival ticket! Perhaps if I ever do get to try the service out, I might feel differently, but at the moment, for a one-off-cost, it seemed like money down the toilet, especially since the pre-pitched tent wasn’t even glamping, as much as laziness (I have since done this at another Festival called Boom Town Fair in a Pod Pad (post to follow soon).
My brother recently bought a classic VW type II camper, and I decided a camper van would be an awesome choice but fancied something more reliable for the long journey (since missing the festival would have been gutting). The kind people at Sussex Campervans were able to help us out and we ended up taking a VW Caledonia.
This is a converted VW Transporter, and Leila and I were actually really surprised at the level of comfort and attention to detail. If you fancy taking a peek at their campervans-this is their site…
- Our camper actually got stuck wheel-spinning in the mud in one field when we were misdirected into the wrong gate; but some kind staff pushed it out and set us free.
- We also got hit by a bus when we were parked up to let it by after we were re-routed through the bus entrance (because the camper van entrance was impassable due to the mud). This was fairly traumatic what with the camper van not belonging to me, though I have to say-the camper faired better than the Bus! The bus had it’s entire rear wing hanging off, whereas the camper van had a slightly scratched hinge… Bus Company – 0, Sussex Campervans – 1!
Thankfully that is where the downsides ended! The rest of the festival was absolutely AMAZING.
- Sussex Campervans actually customise all of their camper vans from commercial vehicles, so you can specify whatever you like and despite not having electric hook up at the festival, we were able to have
- A secure Locked camping space (not so prone to looting, though in fairness, I don’t think this is an issue at Latitude)
- Proper Beds
- Cheaper or at least on a par with the Luxury/Boutique/Glamping options we would have explored in terms of cost… The cheaper options were in my opinion just lazy rather than luxury
- Warm, rainproof accommodation
- A heater if you wanted it
- 2 working car chargers,
- an additional USB| charger,
- a working fridge,
- a gas hob
- working taps all weekend! The only thing we couldn’t use was the 240V plug sockets… I am pretty sure this was better than anything that glamping could have offered us!
- The ability to sand up in your camping space,
- Lots of storage space, no need to travel light
- No having to carry all of your camping equipment, booze and supplies for miles and miles to the camp site from a car park
Both Leila and I would thoroughly recommend you buy or rent a campervan for your festival. Clearly if you plan to attend several festivals, buying would make more sense!
Latitude Festival Persona
I have regularly heard Latitude described as ‘The Waitrose of Festivals’… For those of you who live outside of the UK, Waitrose is one of the high end more expensive supermarkets that caters largely to the middle class. It is far removed from the concept of budget shopping. This is probably a fair assessment in many ways. The crowd who attend are in my observation a more educated and better behaved crowd than I have encountered at other large festivals. They expect a lot from the festival and Latitude certainly meet their demands. It was a teensie bit more commercial than I would like, but this didn’t spoil the atmosphere at all, it just could have been improved upon I think.
As festivals go, this was the prettiest, most inspiring place I have ever been to a festival to date. The woods, lake and general set up, paired with the vendors and eateries and the general diversity of the cultural and musical offerings made this a really magical festival for those who want something more than the overly commercial Chav fests like V. My favourite place was the Sunrise Stage because the woodland setting was just magical!
This festival is not for you if you want a hard core, bonkers, drug-fuelled, super-late-night festivals filled with rock or pop music. It is for you if you like the idea of going to a more chilled out event where the people behave themselves (for the most part) and know how to be discreet and respectful of others if they aren’t exactly ‘lilly white’. One of my more frequent festival attending childless friends remarked afterwards that he probably won’t go back to Latitude after hearing one Yummy Mummy tell her child:
“No Tarquin! That’s Daddy’s Yakult!”
In short, Latitude is definitely middle class, slightly commercial, very family friendly, generally well behaved lovely festival… My advice, if you are looking for a family friendly festival, or one where you will be allowed to actually get some sleep by your fellow camping neighbours, then this is the one for you to cut your teeth on; though in fairness I had much more fun being able to let my hair down and enjoy a few too many drinks and would suggest that any festival is way more fun without children in tow if that luxury is available to you. Setting wise, I am not sure this can be beaten
The Music and Acts
Music wise, Latitude is reasonably chilled out and grown up and not overly commercial. The acts that stood out most for me were White Lies, Bon Iver and Lana del Ray on our first night there. Elbow, Michael Kiwanuka (who I had never heard of before, but was so soulful and smooth that he mesmerised me (Leila and I have even booked to go and see him again in December)), Soko, who actually invited us up onto the stage with her to dance as her ‘aliens’ in her ‘I danced with an alien’ song (since we were in fancy dress and I had a blue wig on)… This was a massive bonus for us since Soko was in fact the one act that Leila was most excited about seeing. This is the photo I took of Leila giving Soko a hug on stage!
Other favourites were Guilty Pleasures, Nathon Caton (a very funny comedian who I recognised but wasn’t over familiar with)… It was lovely to have a few belly laughs on the Sunday. Gutted we missed Jack Dee Tim Minchin and Russell Kane in the comedy arena though…
For me personally, as much as I wanted to love the Poetry Arena, The Literary Arena and The Theatre Arena. I just didn’t… For me, the allure of the music was just too strong and I found myself unable to absorb myself in these areas or take it in. It may also have had a lot to do with the fact that we were drinking and wanted to dance and sway rather than absorb the words of the actors and poets.
One thing I particularly liked was the Wishing Tree in the Faraway Forest. We chanced upon this area by chance on the last day, and really enjoyed reading all of the lovely messages that people had posted.
One thing that I think surprised Leila was that Latitude (and all festivals in my experience so far actually) is not all about the music and acts. We went with high expectations of listening to particular bands, and we did manage to see most of the acts we wanted to with a few exceptions (notably for me: Janelle Monae, Brian Cox and the Infinite Monkey Cage and the comedians I mentioned above)…
The atmosphere of a festival is in and of itself really magical when the organisers pull it off well. Festival goers tend to come together and really build a community that you want to be a part of. You meet people who recommend music you don’t necessarily know and you discover new friends and music that really makes the memories you leave with. Festivals are far better at leaving you walking away with a richer memory than attending a regular concert alone would achieve.
How did Latitude Compare to the other Festivals I have attended?
- The parking was a nightmare, with us having to wait and waste literally HOURS of the festival which we had paid so much for without compensation
- The Stewards at the gates were little better than useless, misdirecting traffic into the wrong entrances and into mud swamps
- The wood chip pings that their Facebook page had assured were being shipped in to counter the issues caused by any mud didn’t appear to have materialised, and we watched several vehicle collisions as a result (and were involved in one too as a result of all the resulting wheel-spinning and chaos)
- The Programme was printed as a massive thick book… Whilst it is nice to have the option of so much information. The size and weight of this were prohibitive to carry it around. I would have liked to have had the option of buying a small necklace programme that I could wear around my neck. Many other people I spoke to felt the same way.
- So far, this really is my favourite festival…
- I think that for me personally, the people we met there were able to have meaningful, intelligent conversations with us,
- The special effects of the laser show on the lake were mesmerising
- The pretty pastel coloured sheep were lovely
- The woods were enchanting
- The Music (clearly)
- The diversity of music and art genres really did mean there was something on offer for everyone
- The Food selection was diverse and offered great choice over the usual crappy junk food that a lot of festivals offer
- The children’s area was lovely, and offered a lot more than other festivals I have been to
- The attention to detail of the site and the music left me feeling that I really wanted more of Latitude at the end of the weekend (rather than that horrid skanky feeling of ‘I just want to get home and wash‘ even despite all of the mud!)
Latitude didn’t have as much of the wacky fancy dress stuff going on as I have seen at other festivals. In fact, I think we were probably more unusually dressed than most other people there.
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