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Latitude gets into full swing

PUBLISHED: 10:07 18 July 2009 | UPDATED: 10:56 06 July 2010

LATITUDE proved it is a field of its own when it comes to festivals as the music and arts extravaganza got into full swing last night.

The four-day festival - dubbed "the thinking man's Glastonbury" - saw up to 25,000 people converge upon Henham Park, near Southwold.

LATITUDE proved it is a field of its own when it comes to festivals as the music and arts extravaganza got into full swing last night.

The four-day festival - dubbed "the thinking man's Glastonbury" - saw up to 25,000 people converge upon Henham Park, near Southwold.

And, despite the odd downpour, no kind of weather was going to stop the crowd having a good time as the music stages opened for business.

The Pet Shop Boys topped the bill on the main Obelisk Arena, treating the crowd to a wealth of pop anthems stretching back over 20 years.

Melvin Benn, festival organiser, said he was delighted how the festival - which sold out on Thursday afternoon - had begun.

"It is great to be back here for Latitude - it really does feel like home now - and the festival really does grow every year," he said.

"We've been lucky with the weather and there are some very special performances to enjoy."

The historic estate was bathed in sunshine yesterday afternoon as gloomy weather forecasts proved to be overly-pessimistic.

Tents stretched as far as the eye could see on the campsite, while the iconic spray-painted sheep decorated the landscape. Festival-goers lapped up the entertainment on the 13 stages and arenas, and took advantage of the beautiful location for strolls in the woodland or a boat ride on the lake.

From the boutique camping to the cleanliness of the toilets - something of a rarity at festivals - it's clear that Latitude has carved its own niche in the summer season.

Other music highlights last night included the beguiling Bat For Lashes on the Uncut Stage, and crowd pleasing sets from US rockers The Pretenders and British pop legends Squeeze.

Rising musical stars did their stuff on the Sunrise Arena, which was headlined by Little Boots, and the Waterfront Stage.

For those who dragged themselves away from the Ashes, the Duckworth Lewis Method, featuring ex-Divine Comedy frontman Neil Hannon, provided the next best thing with their cricket-themed pop in the Uncut Arena, including an hilarious song written from the perspective of England batsman Mike Gatting as he received the "ball of the century" from Aussie spinner Shane Warne in the 1993 series.

There was also a wealth of talent to enjoy on the outer stages, including a stellar cast of comedians, writers and poets.

Live theatre - both indoors and outdoors - was another diverting spectacle, while the dance events proved extremely popular.

Sadler's Wells performed Swan Lake on the Waterfront Stage, while the The Music of the Spheres provided one of the most memorable sights of the festival - two giant balls floating on the lake, inside which a flautist and a dancer played and performed, with music transmitted to the riverbank and amplified.

The BBC was also on site, hosting a number of live shows and recordings for Radio 2, Radio 4 and the digital 6 Music.

Tonight will see Grace Jones, Doves and Mika appear on the music stages while the Royal Opera House and the Britten Sinfonia will be among the highlights in the arts arenas.

Tomorrow, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds will bring the music to a close, with other highlights including sets from Editors, Gossip and a debut solo concert performance by Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke.

Overall, there will be more than 700 acts appearing on the 13 stages over the weekend.

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