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‘People were desperate to enjoy themselves again’: Latitude Festival returns and 40,000 fans are ready

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Thousands of people have arrived at the Latitude Festival in Suffolk, excited to be at one of the first major events since the easing of England’s coronavirus restrictions.

The four-day music event, which is taking place at the Henham Park estate, is part of the government’s Events Research Programme.

This meant fans had to show they had been vaccinated twice or had tested negative for the virus.

Social distancing rules were axed in England on Monday, but while Latitude is going ahead, some other festivals – such as Glastonbury and Womad – have been cancelled this year.

Latitude founder Melvin Benn said: “All the plans were in place, all the bands were in place, people were just, you know desperate to come, desperate to play, desperate to work, and really be out in a field enjoying themselves again, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Festivalgoers in the campsite at the Latitude festival in Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk. Picture date: Thursday July 22, 2021.
Image: Some 40,000 people are expected at the festival in Suffolk

“There was some doubt after 21 June and you know the cancellation of what was freedom day, putting it back to 19 July really put me under pressure really, because you know, we open just two days later, three days later.

“But what I managed to do is persuade the government to allow us into the events research program, and that gave me a surety that it would happen.

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“And that’s why we’re here effectively, the government are testing the NHS app, you know, with a view to how the NHS app will work, long-term, for you know full capacity shows affectively.”

Alice Kelly, 21, is among those looking forward to something that would not have been allowed this time last year due to coronavirus restrictions.

She said: “I kind of think this is the safest I’ve felt, since I know everyone’s got a negative test and stuff and even submitting my own negative test – it’s like a comfort almost, definitely.”

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Max White, 56, said: “After such a difficult year, it’s so nice to see so many people smiling and happy and, I don’t know, it just feels like the next stage even though it’s not over yet.

“It feels fantastic to be here.”

Some 40,000 people are expected at the festival, which features performances from Wolf Alice, The Chemical Brothers, Bastille, Damon Albarn, Rudimental and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Most fans arrived on Thursday, as temperatures approached 30C but the Met Office said that rain is expected on Saturday and Sunday.