Your guide to Latitude

HENHAM Park near Southwold will be taken over by thousands of revellers as the Latitude festival gets underway tomorrow .Famed at its debut last year for a laid-back atmosphere, wide variety of entertainment and those multi-coloured sheep, Latitude is a festival like no other.

HENHAM Park near Southwold will be taken over by thousands of revellers as the Latitude festival gets underway tomorrow .

Famed at its debut last year for a laid-back atmosphere, wide variety of entertainment and those multi-coloured sheep, Latitude is a festival like no other. Entertainment reporter HELEN JOHNS looks ahead to this weekend.

SUMMER in Britain no longer means just barbecues in the garden or holidays abroad - the annual round of festivals is now a major part of the season.

Still a relative newcomer in the festival stakes is Latitude, which is this year being held for the second time. And while it may still be the new kid on the festival block, Latitude can boast about being very different to other music festivals.

While music is a big part of the three-day event, Latitude also has stages and arenas devoted to comedy, theatre, poetry, cabaret and film. Spread throughout the Henham Park site, the festival has been designed to have a relaxed atmosphere and visitors can wander between the different areas throughout the weekend.

For music fans, the festival will have four stages of music, with different bands booked to play each of the three days. More than 100 different bands and performers will take to the four stages, with headline acts including Damien Rice, Arcade Fire and The Good The Bad and The Queen.

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Damien Rice has been in demand since the release of his debut album O and he will be headlining on the main stage - known as the Obelisk Arena - on Friday evening.

Former Blur frontman Damon Albarn will be bringing his latest act - The Good The Bad and The Queen to the Obelisk Arena on Saturday night, while Arcade Fire will top the bill on Sunday.

Three other music arenas will host performances from a wide variety of established and up and coming groups and soloists.

Elsewhere, in the comedy arena, there will be performances by some of the biggest names on the comedy circuit. From Bill Bailey to Alan Carr and Dylan Moran to Brendan Burns, Phill Jupitus, Josie Long and Jeremy Hardy, the arena will have non-stop comedy taking place throughout the three days.

In the cabaret arena, anything goes, from magic to dancing and burlesque, acrobatics and vaudeville performances, some of the most unusual acts of the festival will be performing.

You might imagine things to get much more sensible in the literature arena, but performances here are expected to be just as unusual and varied as the cabaret arena.

Highlights of the weekend will include appearances by Marcus Brigstocke, known for his comedy and his regular outings on BBC Radio 4 and award winning comedian Robin Ince. The literature arena will be hosting performances throughout the whole weekend.

Latitude will once again have a stand-up poetry arena, which will include a range of performance poetry and among those performing will be Aisle 16, who appeared at Latitude last year and have their roots in East Anglia. One of the members of the group is Luke Wright, who has performed in Ipswich as part of the New Wolsey Theatre's Pulse Festival for the last two years.

The Theatre Arena will also return this year and will house some of the biggest names and organisations in the world of contemporary, performance, physical, classical and local theatre.

Amongst the performers will be The Royal Court Theatre, which will be presenting Shuffle, a compilation of short plays inspired by a piece of music, from Pulp's Common People to the Eagles' Hotel California, six playwrights have created a drama around their favourite tracks

Other attractions throughout the weekend will include hidden performances and events being held in the woods around Henham Park and an area to keep the children happy.

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ACTS and performers from East Anglia have once again been given the chance to perform at Latitude.

Amongst the names to look out for are musicians Tom Baxter from Bungay and James Severy, who hails from Ipswich.

Also from Ipswich are the theatre companies Mouth To Mouth and Laughing Lizard. Mouth To Mouth have performed throughout Suffolk, in locations including Framlingham Castle, Leiston Abbey and the steps leading up to Ipswich Town Hall.

A group of performing arts students from Suffolk College created Laughing Lizard and this year marks a return to Latitude for them.

In the poetry arena will be John Osborne, who graduated from the University of East Anglia course in Creative Writing and recently wrote a non-fiction book called The Newsagent's Window where he makes a living from selling or passing on things he's seen advertised in newsagents' windows e.g. recently he took a Spanish lesson which had been advertised and then gave exactly the same Spanish lesson to somebody else.

Also in the poetry arena will be Yanny Mac and Pikey Paddy, who claim to be dedicated to saving the world from middle-class mediocrity and the scourge of commercialism, just by the power of words. The pair will be comparing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

From Essex come the Sundown Poets collective - a group of friends dedicated to helping new writers and artists find audiences. Their poems touch on subjects ranging from toilet graffiti to playing drums with a slipper.

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