What to Expect from Download Music Festival, the Home of Rock
Download Festival is a British-created rock festival created by Terrance Gough, held annually at the Donington Park motorsport circuit in Leicestershire, England (since 2003); in Paris, France (since 2016); at Parramatta Park, Sydney (since 2019); Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne (since 2018) and at the Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg, Germany (since 2022).
Download at Donington is the most popular British summer rock and heavy metal festival and has hosted some of the genre's biggest names, including Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Metallica, Linkin Park, Korn, Soundgarden, Motörhead, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Def Leppard, Kiss, Judas Priest, Rammstein, Status Quo, Mötley Crüe, Journey, ZZ Top, Whitesnake, Faith No More and Guns N' Roses.
download music festival
The Download Festival was conceived as a follow up to the Monsters of Rock festivals which had been held at the Donington Park circuit between 1980 and 1996. The first Download Festival was created by Stuart Galbraith and co-booked by Andy Copping in 2003 in the same location. Download was initially a two-day event, expanding to three days in 2005.
The name Download was chosen for the festival for two reasons. Downloading was a dirty word in the music industry at the time, due to file sharing, and rock is seen as a rebellious genre of music. Also Download was to be a Monsters of Rock for the 21st century and the internet would provide connectivity with its audience.
The 2003 festival tickets had a code on them, which would allow festival goers to download tracks from bands which had played. Although this idea has been dropped in subsequent years, the festival organisers have nurtured an online community through the Download Festival Forums. Initially a sounding board for the fans (and critics) of the festival, the boards have become an integral part of the festival organisation with regular contributions from festival director John Probyn and promoter Andy Copping. The forums also provide face to face feedback through the Fan Forum meetings (started in 2006) and organise the Boardie BBQ (2006 on) and the Boardie Takeover night (2009), football tournaments and a pub quiz for the R.I.P. campers who arrive on a Wednesday night.
When Download began, it took place on the Donington Park circuit infield as had Monsters of Rock. However, in 2008 developments for Formula One meant that the infield was no longer suitable as a festival site. The festival moved to the "Sunday Markets" site to the west of the circuit. Although adequate, numbers were limited and the location of the campsite meant that getting from tents to the arena was quite a hike. 2009 saw the arena move to a much more suitable location to the south of the circuit and has remained there every year since. In 2019 the capacity was 111,000.Security for the festival has constantly been undertaken by professional crowd management specialists Specialized Security, although the campsite area has had various contractors throughout.
From 2009 to 2019 and returning in 2021, there has been on-site radio broadcasting from Rock Radio on 87.7FM. This RSL broadcast has aired music from festival bands, interviews and news to the festival site and the surrounding area, with the signal reaching as far as Nottingham.
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The Download Dog is the official mascot of the Download Festival and appears on a wide range of material related to the festival, such as tickets, stage banners, merchandise, marketing, and the official Download website.
Feeder's frontman Grant Nicholas was so relieved the band had won the crowd over (there were concerns that they would be received badly by the traditional attendees to the festival), he decided to smash his green Fender Jazzmaster guitar after "Descend" was performed. He later said that he regretted it, but also said he kept the neck and the tremeloes, and might use what was left to make a new guitar. In a July 2010 interview with Kerrang!, it was suggested to Nicholas that he destroyed the guitar as he was frustrated at trying to win the crowd over, as their music was different from the Download demographic, but claimed himself in reply to this that he "Wanted to do the most rock and roll thing after eventually winning over the crowd". In the same interview, Nicholas said that they were "guinea pigs" at the festival as part of the organisers experiment to make it an alternative festival, but said it was a moment of the band's career he is still proud of.
During the festival Korn vocalist Jonathan Davis was rushed to hospital. Similar to 2004's Metallica set, Munky, Fieldy and David Silveria arrived and explained to the fans why Davis could not make it and played with guest vocalists Corey Taylor from Slipknot, Dez Fafara from DevilDriver, Jesse Hasek from 10 Years, Benji Webbe from Skindred, M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold, and Matt Heafy from Trivium. Lyrics from the song "Blind" were displayed on the screen for Matt Heafy. Metallica played the album Master of Puppets in its entirety in honour of its twentieth anniversary. Guns N' Roses also performed material from the long forthcoming Chinese Democracy album.
Snickers StageThe Snickers Stage was situated in a tent, behind the main stage and was the second largest stage at the festival. Access to the stage was via a one-way system which attempted to spread people around the site, rather than all attempting to push through a rather small space.
On the final night, fires were started by some festival goers and police were called, arresting twelve people. At around 4 am, the fire brigade arrived to put out a large fire at the gold campsite. A number of people had taken the railings that had been used to separate the campsite area from the path and used them to barricade the road to prevent the fire engines from reaching the main fire. At this point a number of police assembled in riot gear stormed the campsite. The festival director, John Probyn, posted a message on the official website stating that "About 150 people spoiled the end of what had been a great weekend for over 75,000 of us."
The three bands that headlined the 2007 festival were My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park and Iron Maiden. Korn's Jonathan Davis stated that the reason for the band returning in 2007 was because of his absence due to illness the previous year. He stated on the official Download Festival website, "I am so looking forward to coming to the Download Festival this year. I was heartbroken to pull out last time. So this time I am very happy to be coming back and we promise to rock the place! I will definitely make-up for missing the last one. You can expect an amazing Korn show!"
Download 2007 was Dimmu Borgir's first ever festival appearance in England. Hardcore Superstar pulled out of their slot on the Tuborg stage on the Sunday because their tour bus broke down in Germany. Download 2007 featured an Indian band Parikrama. They became the first band from India to make it to Donington.
Chris Cornell was scheduled, but cancelled his European tour to focus on a new album. Twin Method, and Finger Eleven were announced but removed from the official website's lineup. On the Friday of the festival, Kid Rock was meant to appear between Seether and Disturbed on the Main Stage but pulled out at the last minute. At first it was announced that this was due to illness. Rock later claimed he left the festival grounds after becoming dissatisfied with the amenities. But, the following year, Download's booker theorised that it had been due to a broken heart. Rock's no-show allowed two bands following him, Disturbed and Judas Priest, to play longer sets.
The headliners were Faith No More (Friday), Slipknot (Saturday) and Def Leppard (Sunday). Sunday had a strong classic rock themed line-up on the main stage with bands such as Whitesnake, ZZ Top and Journey, somewhat reminiscent of Monsters of Rock. This would become a recurring feature in future years. Other notable performers included Limp Bizkit, who were playing in the UK with their original line-up for the first time since 2001, Trivium returning for their third appearance and first head lining spot, Anvil, the band featured in the 2008 film Anvil! The Story of Anvil, and Steel Panther, who were making their first appearance in the UK on the Tuborg Stage. A fourth stage, the "Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage", also made an appearance at this year's festival. This stage was also present at other UK festivals, such as T in the Park in Balado, Scotland, and the Underage Festival in Victoria Park, London.
The Ghost of a Thousand were scheduled to headline the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Stage on Saturday but the band cancelled. the Blackout stepped in to play their slot, thus giving them two slots on the festival's bill.
28 May saw 15 more bands added, and an official announcement of the Jägermeister-sponsored fifth stage, which would host acoustic acts, including bands also performing regular sets at the festival. The initially announced Sum 41 cancelled, owing to drummer Steve Jocz being involved in an accident. On 30 May 2010 it was announced that Wolfmother had to cancel due to illness. They were replaced by Killswitch Engage.
Aside from Dio, the year was sadly memorable for other deaths. Y&T performed the Pepsi Max Stage to a jam-packed audience, marking the band's long-anticipated return to Donington after performing at Monsters of Rock in 1984. Download would be bassist Phil Kennemore's last UK show in the UK: he died from lung cancer six months later. Killing For Company drummer Stuart Cable, previously of Stereophonics, died the week of the festival, at which the band were to play.
Wayne Static was scheduled to open up the main stage on the Sunday, but he pulled out a month prior. Masters of Reality were scheduled to perform but pulled out on 30 March and Karma to Burn were to play the second stage on Sunday but were replaced by Hyro Da Hero, thus giving him three sets over the course of the festival; the most in Download history.