01 July 2021

MPs and ministers will be among crowd at Latitude Festival, says organiser

01 July 2021

The organiser of Latitude Festival has said a number of ministers and MPs will be among the 40,000-strong crowd at this year’s event – the largest camping festival since before the first national lockdown.

Melvin Benn, managing director of the Festival Republic Group, said everyone at the event must have tested negative for Covid-19 before attending or be double vaccinated.

He worked with the Government’s Events Research Programme on May’s pilot music festival in Liverpool, attended by 5,000, and on a reduced-capacity Download Festival attended by 10,000 last month, down from the usual 110,000.

Latitude Festival will be held with a full capacity audience of 40,000 people, with headliners Wolf Alice, The Chemical Brothers, Bastille and Bombay Bicycle Club performing.

Mr Benn, speaking as festival structures started to go up at the leafy Henham Park estate near the Suffolk coast, said it will be a “safe event”.

He said: “I’m looking forward to opening the gates more than anything that you could possibly imagine.

“It will be quite an emotional moment for me and I think it will be emotional for the music industry at large as it really will be the first event that opens properly as a camping event anywhere in the world.”

He said the “core preventative measure happens before you arrive” at Latitude.

“That means that if you’re jumping up and down, waving your arms around, having a hug with somebody, you know that that person that you’re enjoying the music with, that you’re enjoying the theatre with, that you’re enjoying the dancing with, they’re also tested clear of Covid at the same time, so it provides that security and safety that everybody’s looking for,” said Mr Benn.

He added there will be “more hand sanitisation of course”, but otherwise it will feel the same as a festival before the pandemic.

He said scientists and Government officials are “fully aware” of what attending a festival is like.

“I’m spending more time talking to Government ministers and DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) officials than I’m talking to bands and managers and agents at the moment,” he said.

“They’re fully aware, they really are fully aware, and the truth is there are a number of ministers and MPs coming to the event and come to the event as members of the general public, so they know exactly what it is.

“Interestingly the lead scientist from Liverpool that led the testing and the assessment of safety at the Liverpool test event, he’s coming, he’s camping, he feels perfectly safe.

“I think if he can come and feel perfectly safe, everybody can come and feel perfectly safe.”

Latitude will be “largely cashless” this year, as were the previous two trial events, Mr Benn said.

He said results from last month’s Download Festival are not yet available but there had been “no alarm calls” since the event, 11 days ago.

The next major festival on his calendar after Latitude is Reading and Leeds in August, with almost 105,000 people due at Reading and 85,000 at Leeds.

“I think that’s going to be a hell of a party period, a great weekend for us all, but of course we’ll be watching the guidelines and following the procedures that the Government want us to do,” he said.

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