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Virgin's Guide: Download Festival

Heading to Download Festival for the first time next year? Make sure you check out our Virgin's Guide to the rock and metal extravaganza.

Mike Warburton

Last updated: 10th Jun 2019

Image: Download Festival (source)

As one of the most revered music celebrations on the festival calendar, Download acts as the annual pilgrimage for dedicated rock and metal fans, old and new. The Download line up regularly hooks in the biggest names in rock music and all its various forms - 2019 alone boasts Def Leppard, Slipknot and Tool as headliners.

If you'll be joining the Download family for the first time in 2019, you may be at a loss as to what really to expect from the festival, which is where this, our handy Virgin's Guide might come in useful.

Prepare to get walking

On entry you'll head off to pitch your makeshift homes for the weekend, but what might initially surprise you is just how far away the camp site is away from the festival ground. Those planning on bringing crazy footwear will probably need to opt for something a little more practical, wellies are pretty much the best option you can go for.

You'll also need to put a bit of planning ahead of your trips into the main arena, because heading back to your tent for a forgotten item will take out a significant chunk out of your band watching time, particularly if walking whilst under the influence.

Toilet trips

What about that always tricky festival toilet situation? Well, you'll be glad to know that Download's lavatories are amongst the best in festival land, even the toilets in the arena are kept in good nick throughout the weekend. In fact the only major odour you'll encounter is the sugary sweet smell of taurine-enriched energy drinks - the unofficial sponsor of the hardcore metal head.

Credit: Andrew Whitton

Make the most of the music

Download is quite unique in another way - it's possible to watch both main stages at the same time. The site boasts a unique vantage point which, depending on where you sit, will let you to listen to one act whilst watching another, or indeed both, which nullifies that long-standing scourge of the big festival experience - line up clashes.

Make friends in the moshpit

Another thing Download has to brag about, other than the enormous line ups and brilliantly curated stages is the crowd it attracts. You'll be hard pressed to find a friendlier bunch of festival goers elsewhere this summer. It's a great event for families too, whilst there's not a whole lot on in the way of kids entertainment, the atmosphere is so relaxed and friendly that you'll never once be worried about your kids' welfare.

And if you get a bit hemmed in or a bit close to the moshpit for comfort whilst watching some of the headliners, you can easily make your way out of the crowd as your fellow festival-goers will kindly let you out, where else can boast that?

Credit: Danny North

Be yourself

The mixture of ages, and the broad spectrum of metal and rock fans, repping their various band-inspired styles leads to an accepting atmosphere where instead of being taken the piss out of for wearing outlandish attire, you're more than likely going to be asked where you bought it from. 

The line up also isn't entirely metal, if you were concerned that you'd be experiencing a black metal assault at full volume for three days, you needn't be. 

Bring your earplugs

One final bit of advice we'd give you is to bring a set of earplugs.  As well as exposing your ears to amplifiers turned up to 11 all day and night, the festival site is very close to The East Midland Airport, so the sound of a 747 flying overhead is a current occurrence and could easily wake you from even the deepest of drink induced comas.

So yeah, you can probably guess we're big fans of Download here, and we're sure after your first visit you'll be hooked too. Prepare to make loads of friends, enjoy some wild experiences, and bask in a full weekend of uncompromising rock, metal and everything in between.