COVID-19: Latitude Festival becomes first major festival to welcome back fans - with 40,000 expected

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Latitude Festival is under way in Suffolk, as 40,000 people descend on what organisers have said is "close to being the safest place in England".

The four-day music event, which is taking place at the Henham Park estate, is part of the government's Events Research Programme, meaning fans will have to show they have been vaccinated twice or tested negative for the virus.

Wolf Alice, Bombay Bicycle Club, Bastille and The Chemical Brothers will be among the big name artists performing for the crowd over the weekend.

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 told Sky News that he feels "very relaxed" and "not anxious at all" going into the event.

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."

The festival has not escaped the consequences pandemic though, with two artists, Fontaines D.C. and Alfie Templeman both pulling out of the event after positive COVID-19 tests.

Mr Benn added it was a "shame" those acts 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."

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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."

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

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