In your teens and twenties, music festivals are all about misbehaviour. They're the lawless playgrounds you go to so you can talk to strangers, dance until 6am and get as wasted as possible on your intoxicant of choice, free from the disapproving glares of society.
You may want to carry on doing that in your thirities, forties, fifties or beyond – there's nothing wrong with that. But in the mix it can also be good to have a festival experience you remember more than 40% of and which doesn't leave you an empty shell at the end.
For that, friends, we suggest Latitude – the best festival in Britain for enjoying a little art, a little culture and a little relaxation without feeling like you've gone full 'pipe and slippers' with your summer fun. It is, quite simply, the perfect middle ground between hedonism and grown up pleasures, and here are five reasons why.
1 | Quality Camping Options
Not sleeping in a rubbish tip surrounded by laughing gas inhaling teenagers is the fundamental essential of having a relaxing time at a music festival, and Latitude's 'glamping' options are among the best. To enjoy the excellent facilities – quality toilets and showers, an excellent breakfast area and bar, friendly staff, clean grass – without spending a fortune, we recommend hiring a tipi from the good people at Pink Moon Camping. They're sturdy, spacious and waiting for you when you arrive (along with a sleeping bag and matt for a little extra), and the atmosphere in the camping area is perfectly relaxed, meaning you can escape the noise of the main stage and get a perfect night's kip.
2 | The Poetry Tent
The USP of Latitude is that it devotes as much of its bill to the arts as it does to music, making it the best music festival outside Glastonbury to enjoy something a touch more cerebral than the latest pop-folk band bellowing away on the main stage. While the comedy tent is usually too rammed to get a good spot (thanks to the highly impressibe bill) and the theatre / politics tents can get a little serious, the poetry area is a haven for those wanted to relax and be entertained without having to sit down in 10cm of space. A mix of performance poetry (much of it far funnier and light-hearted than you might fear), traditional poets and a musical acts make it the most stimulating – and chilled out spots – at the festival.
3 | Lake Swimming For years, festival go-ers at Latitude would, eventually, give in to temptation and leap into its gorgeous lake at some point, much to the despair of the security guards trying to keep order. This year organizers decided to take a legalisation approach and cordorn off an area where people are allowed to have a dip without breaking any rules. The queue is long, as you'd expect, but if the sun is shining, more than worth it: plunging into a cool lake and swimming in the tranquil waters is bliss, not to mention the perfect hangover cure.
4 | The Main Stage
Latitude's main stage is one of best thought-out main stages at any festival, ever. Not only is longer than most, meaning less crowding, but they erect sitting areas meaning if you're tired or want to enjoy an act from the back, you can do so while taking a rest and getting a good view at the same time. If it all sounds rather sedate, remember: the flip sid is that for the people who want to fight their way to the front, there is more space to do so.
5 | The Woods
Yes, lots of festivals have wooded areas – Glastonbury, obviously, and Bestival has a nice one – but there is something about the Latitude forest that sets it apart. Perhaps it is the feeling you're in geniune wilderness, perhaps it is the fact small pockets of great music, bizarre performance or just friendly faces lurk around every twist and turn, but getting lost in this part of the festival is a highlight every year. Don't miss it.
HOW TO GET THERE
Great Western Railway offer an excellent First Class service to Halesworth (the nearest station to the festival site) from Charing Cross, London in a little under three hours. Spacious seating, power sockets to keep your phone topped up and free refreshments are all included. If you're going to go, you might as well go in style.