Access visits Latitude Festival to hear from suppliers including Serious Stages, water show producers LCI Productions and the creators of a wrecked campervan-turned-miniature music venue.
While Latitude Festival is best known for hosting some of the biggest names in British pop music and comedy, there is far more to discover beyond the main stage at Festival Republic’s 45,000-capacity event.
Away from Obelisk Arena, supplied by Serious Stages, the site features a metropolis of interactive cultural outposts and tiny oddball venues, including an apres ski bar and a 360-degree fully rotational caravan.
Among the standout features at the event is a water show by LCI Productions. The 20-minute installation is played on a loop throughout the night and draws large crowds on the Writer’s Bridge at Henham Park Lake.
Using a Christie 20,000 lumen projector and MadMapper software, the installation shifts between abstract animations, kaleidoscope colour displays and powerful quotes using projection mapping techniques.
“We incorporated some new elements into the show this year including the pride flag, angels, and mermaids,” says LCI Productions design director Rob Paul. “For the past nine years, our water show has woven its way into the fabric of the festival, making Henham Park Lake its home and becoming an integral part of the festival’s immersive experience.”
Serious Stages operations manager Abbey Thomas says the festival’s creative wonderland means the company’s design and installation professionals have to turn their hands to some unusual scenarios.
As well as the 22m, six-bay Supanova at Obelisk Arena, Serious also supplied the BBC Sounds Stage, Alcove, Sunrise Arena, Lavish Lounge (BBC Introducing), Faraway Forest, the Trailer Park Stage and the 26.5m x 6m Comedy tent stage.
“The décor across the Latitude site creates an aesthetically beautiful festival. It’s also a very eclectic mix of entertainment on offer,” says Thomas. “We can’t lay claim to the pink sheep on the shores of the lake, but our team found themselves constructing several platforms in the water, to accommodate swimmers, gondola rides, a performance dance stage and a 26m long temporary pedestrian bridge. We also built platforms in the woodlands for artistic installations and interactive features.”
Elsewhere on site, Serious ancillary site structures included the Obelisk Arena three-storey Front-of-House tower, along with numerous assisted viewing platforms and mixing platforms.
On the other side of the bridge, beyond the flock of neon pink sheep, lies Trailer Park – a creative oasis in the woods full of caravans, horseboxes, mobile homes and repurposed vehicles – each with their own story.
Among the weird and wonderful is the Astronauts Caravan, which spins around while attendees sit on a bench inside that remains still. Created by Tim Hunkin and Andy Plant, the installation is based on a Victorian illusion called the Haunted Swing and was once hired by Banksy for his apocalyptic theme park project Dismaland.
Located a few feet away is Silver Linings, featuring a campervan that was wrecked on one side in a crash and later turned into a miniature stage. It was organised by a young team of eight who applied via the festival’s competition. Co-creator Zoe Gillett describes the concept as “finding the good out of the bad” and “a place where people can come and dance, hang out and celebrate the silver linings in life.”
As always, comedy was a prominent part of the festival’s offering, featuring household names such as Romesh Ranganathan, Ed Gamble and Sarah Pascoe. While comedy at festivals can often be seen as the sideshow to live music, at Latitude it may be the main pull for many customers – as shown by packed crowds throughout the day at the 2,000-capacity Comedy Arena.
The event’s organisers manage to cater for all ages with an eclectic musical lineup. This ranges from live orchestras gathering older crowds on the Waterfront stage – to live bands and late-night DJs attracting a Gen Z audience at Sunrise Arena – combined with an extensive family and kids area on the other side of the site.
Latitude 2023 was closed by George Ezra, following acts such as Pulp, Paolo Nutini and The Kooks. The BBC Sounds Stage also hosted notable indie artists including Yard Act, Men I Trust and Young Fathers. While these names ensure sell-out crowds among music and comedy fans, the festival’s alternative angle on artistic absurdity makes it one worth returning to, regardless of who’s on the lineup poster.