Barclaycard Presents Latitude 2023: Thursday highlights

Welcome back to Henham Park! We couldn’t be more excited to begin the 17th edition of the Latitude Festival.

The first day was already a whirlwind of excitement and enchantment, featuring stellar musical performances, incredible art installations, theatrical acts that amazed the crowd and the most delicious food to tantalise the taste buds. As the sun set, the festival came alive with lights and anticipation for the days ahead. Read on to hear all about the unforgettable start to a weekend filled with music, comedy, arts and more.

Fatt Project


The Waterfront Stage was inaugurated by none other than the fantastic Fatt Projects and their Big Fatt Dance Party. Made up of a group of the UK’s leading drag, cabaret, and nightlife entertainers, the team were dressed in the sparkliest of outfits. They immediately had the crowd on their feet, dancing and voguing to popular club classics and more, as people danced and sang their hearts out to officially welcome the audience to the unique stage and the festival.

Garth Marenghi


Horror fans took to the Listening Post for an audience with the master of the macabre himself, Garth Marenghi (a creation of comedian Matthew Holness). The visionary doom scribe treated the audience to an excerpt from his magnum opus, the TerrorTome: a triptych of spine-chilling tales following the adventures of the insanely rich, best-selling author Nick Steen and his incompetent female secretary Roz (who has a tendency to bang on). Festival-goers were left trembling in their seats as Marenghi recounted Steen’s sadomasochistic relationship with the cursed typewriter Typeface, before launching into an impromptu Q&A session led by an incredibly brave audience member. Marenghi shared thought-provoking insights on the most pressing questions of this day and age, such as the importance of writing “tough-talkin’, sultry-walkin’” female characters in fiction, the future of horror in the face of the rise of AI (remember, AI can’t fight back) and divulged his publisher Dean Lerner’s closely-guarded recipe for egg in soup.

Trailer Park


Yesterday also saw the opening of the Trailer Park, a mishmash of caravans, horseboxes, mobile homes, and repurposed vehicles that have been turned into outstanding art installations, immersive experiences and more, all assembled into a temporary village. Nestled in the magical oasis of the woods, it’s a playground for artists and makers to showcase everything weird and wonderful. The Trailer Park festivities kicked off with performances from San Francisco-born guitarist Pete Pamf and alternative hip hop group The Scribes. Thursday night also saw Pirates of the Caravean – “the mother of all parties” – take to the Trailer Park, providing hours of riotous entertainment for all. Where else can you find a caravan transformed into a pirate ship, complete with dancing pirates blasting out Girls Aloud? With a penchant for the ridiculous, this makeshift village offers an extraordinary experience that captivates all who venture into this artistic wonderland. Don’t miss out – the Trailer Park party lasts all weekend long!

Chelsea Manning


The first day of the festival closed with a special DJ set in the Sunrise Arena from none other than whistleblower, activist and trans Chelsea Manning. Manning first hit headlines in 2010 after releasing thousands of classified US government documents to WikiLeaks, but her political activism may have been sparked by her love of DJing and rave culture that can be traced back to trips to Bristol during her time at military school in Wales. After a hiatus of over 15 years, Manning recently made a return to the decks, and her Latitude debut last night was nothing short of joyous. The Sunrise Arena was transformed into a late-night wonderland of dance music, kicking off the Latitude festivities with the perfect degree of irreverent queer euphoria.

Make sure to watch this space and keep an eye out for our daily highlights roundups throughout the weekend!

by Laura Weingrill and Alison Hall