This year’s Latitude Festival had a lot riding on it: not only was it named the UK’s ‘Best Major Festival’ in 2017, it was planned for the middle of July; just in time for the 45th POTUS to appear in London and – as it turned out – all chances of England winning the world cup to disappear for another four years. Would it be the all-singing, all-dancing source of cheer we needed? Or was that too much to expect from a single festival…
Even one famous for fun flocks of ethically dyed pink sheep and springing happy surprises on revellers over the course of four days and three nights? Only one way to find out: hire a car, pack it full of kids, stuff a tent in the boot and head for Suffolk. With hope in our hearts, and some comfort from the fact that, even if all the hype about Latitude was just hype, at least we’d be in the countryside, and on a promise for lake swimming.
Turns out we could have raised our expectations even higher, and we would still have had all our little socks blown off by the sheer brilliance of Latitude’s chilled approach to families. The Family Campsite, means just that at Latitude. Not only were the toilets almost as fresh as the sweet Suffolk air; the showers were hot and any (minor) waiting in line felt more community spirit than queuing.
But, crushing egos in the loo queue aside, the camping experience was four star on the pitch and facility front, and an easy five-star for eats: food stalls and trucks in residence in the Family Campsite is inspired thinking from the Latitude team, plus right next door we found The Enchanted Garden, stacked full of activities to keep whole families entertained for hours on end.
Think you’re energetic? So did we. Next year – and there definitely will be a next year at Latitude for us – we’re going into training at least six months in advance. Between learning to weave and turn wood to weirdly incredible science experiments, robot building, busting moves at The Talent Studio and picking up diva-tips from West End Kids, quiet moments were in short supply: by late Saturday afternoon lake swimming started to sound soothing.
That said, for all the non-stop activity potential, this is a fantastically well-designed festival, and even with a mix of ages, it’s surprisingly easy to get everyone into something they love.
There were, of course, sit down and just watch experiences that we took full advantage of: it’s a great festival for introducing kids to theatre; In Conversation With, with Sandi Toksvig, was a surprise hit all round.
We missed the surprise of DJ Idris Elba on Thursday night, but (one of us) caught Solange on Friday and can confirm the younger Knowles sister was a worthy headliner, and we loved the idea of Twilight story time in the Kids Area.
It takes a big festival feast to fill our kids too full for churros, but Latitude rose to the challenge. Top billing out of 70 plus food traders, trucks, shacks and stalls went to Fundi wood-fired pizza, hotdogs fully loaded from Popdogs, and the Mini-Cooper barbecue: just for sheer spectacle.
More discerning types were tucking into everything from Levantine (looked fabulous) salads to Lebanese falafels, po-boy sandwiches and vast veggie breakfasts. All natural ice lollies were selling out as fast as they could freeze, and we’re now fully converted to Black Milq vegan ice cream.
We hired the Tesla Model X SUV to take us to Latitude and we had absolutely no regrets. It was the smoothest, most comfortable car I’ve ever driven, plus it looks incredible and is eco-friendly.
The Tesla Model X was perfect for a heatwave jaunt too: it’s the world’s cleanest SUV, with a medical grade HEPA air filter system, so the cabin feels fresh and cool, even when the outside world seems to be melting.