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Latitude ‘close to being the safest place in England’, organiser claims

Around 40,000 music fans are expected at Latitude this weekend (Jacob King/PA)
Around 40,000 music fans are expected at Latitude this weekend (Jacob King/PA)

Latitude festival is “close to being the safest place in England today”, its organiser said as the event begins in Suffolk.

The festival is expected to be attended by around 40,000 people as part of the Government’s Events Research Programme, with headliners including Wolf Alice, The Chemical Brothers, Bastille and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Melvin Benn, managing director of the Festival Republic group, told Sky News he feels “very relaxed, not anxious at all” as the four-day music event gets under way at the Henham Park estate.

Electric Picnic festival 2016
Melvin Benn said the festival is safe (Niall Carson/PA)

He said: “I am really very happy and very relaxed. I hope I look relaxed, I feel very relaxed.

“We had a great night last night. It was a huge party. None of the main stage acts were playing but there is a lot going on in the woods, on the lake and in the theatre area.

“I’m very relaxed, not anxious at all. It is probably as close to being the safest place in England today really.”

Two acts – Irish band Fontaines DC and singer-songwriter Alfie Templeman – have been forced to pull out of appearing at the festival after positive Covid-19 tests.

Latitude Festival 2021 – Southwold
Festivalgoers in the campsite at Latitude (Jacob King/PA)

Mr Benn said it is a “shame” they cannot perform but he suggested the programme has not been badly affected.

He said: “I think most of them (the acts) are existing in a little bubble until they have managed to come and play.

“We did lose a couple but there were people standing by waiting to come and play, so we have managed to replace them.

“It was a real shame for Alfie and for Fontaines and some people would have been coming just for them – not just for them but were really looking forward to them.

“But I think we have got good replacements and the festival overall is just worth coming to full stop.”

Festival Republic, which also runs heavy rock event Download, mainly booked British and Irish acts for Latitude due to travel complications amid the pandemic.

Camilla Staveley-Taylor from indie folk trio The Staves, who are due to perform at the festival, told Sky News: “There is nothing like feeling the energy from a group of people and sharing in an experience together.

“Festivals are that times 10 because there are so many people gathered together and there is such a sense of unity and that has been so missing in the last year.”

Festivalgoers arrived at the event on Thursday amid the heatwave but the Met Office has warned the high temperatures are not set to last through the weekend.

Earlier this month, the organisers said a number of ministers and MPs will be among the crowds at the event.

Social distancing measures were lifted in England on Monday meaning music festivals can go ahead, however some events including Glastonbury and Womad have been cancelled for 2021.

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