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All this...and purple sheep too

PUBLISHED: 13:33 18 July 2008 | UPDATED: 20:55 05 July 2010

A SELLOUT third Latitude Festival is under way.

Stars such as Franz Ferdinand, comic Bill Bailey and Hollywood actor Joseph Fiennes will be making their way to the Henham estate, near Southwold, today ready for the weekend ahead.

A SELLOUT third Latitude Festival is under way.

Stars such as Franz Ferdinand, comic Bill Bailey and Hollywood actor Joseph Fiennes will be making their way to the Henham estate, near Southwold, today ready for the weekend ahead.

Melvin Benn, who is behind Latitude and is also responsible for the Leeds and Reading festivals, has already hailed the line-up as the best yet. And arenas have been made larger to cope with the 25,000 people expected to descend on the estate.

Yesterday, Mr Benn, the managing director of Festival Republic, said visitors could expect even more from the music and arts festival, which ends on Sunday evening.

“It's a lot bigger, that's the first thing. We have opened up the obelisk arena a bit more, and the comedy and poetry arenas are bigger because they were really overwhelmed last year. Winds damaged the tent last year, so we took it down and replaced it with an open-air stage and it worked fantastically well,” he said.

“The marquee could hold about 12,000 to 14,000 people, which meant for the main performances only so many people could see them. This year, if every single person wanted to see the headliners, they could.”

New attractions are Pandora's Play-ground, a discovery area of wacky artistic creations, and an island Pimm's bar in the middle of the lake that can only hold two people and a barman at a time. A television crew is on standby to broad-cast parts of the event on ITV2 and ITV3.

Despite having a bigger main stage, all the usual quirky additions will be apparent, from the iconic painted sheep - which will this year be purple - and toilets painted with daisy designs.

The bars, made of reclaimed materials, will sell Suffolk's Aspall cider, and there is a large pink poodle in the poetry tent.

The arts extravaganza will include three music stages, film, comedy, literature, theatre, poetry, cabaret and DJs. There will also be entertainment from inside the woods, from the lake stage and the BBCRadio Four arena, hosting Just a Minute.

This year Latitude is headlined by Franz Ferdinand tonight, Sigur Ros tomorrow and Interpol on Sunday. Also on the music stages will be The Guillemots, Martha Wainwright, Blondie, Beth Orton and Bungay man Tom Baxter.

Funnyman Bill Bailey will bring smiles to the faces of visitors to the comedy tent, as will Phill Jupitus and Ross Noble. Writers Iain Banks, Irvine Welsh and Southwold favourite Esther Freud are in the literary arena, and poets Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage are on the bill too.

Bafta Talks and Films will welcome Shakespeare in Love actor Joseph Fiennes for a question-and-answer session, while the theatre arena welcomes the Royal Court Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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