Major improvements to the site of the Download Festival – which takes place in June for the first time in three years – will mean “less mud” and “no need for wellies” on parts of the site, according to Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic which organises the usually annual event at Donington Park.
Unofficially dubbed “Drownload” on occasions, the festival has been renowned for muddy conditions in some of its 19 years but Mr Benn said he was delighted that by working with the owners of the park, site improvements had been able to take place.
He said: “The Village area, where festival goers can buy food, listen to music and mingle over the three days, has moved closer to the main arena and is now located on hard-standing ground.
“This is not just water-proofing the site but the move also means it will be located just minutes away, 350m, from the Access campsite with people able to move freely, many of whom are in wheelchairs, from their camp to the Village without leaving solid ground.”
Campers were looking at almost an hour walk to the campsite from the arena previously but the new campsite locations mean that this is reduced to 25 minutes
There are also shorter walking distances across the site to various stage and event locations and the car parks have been re-located, including access for the first-time from off the new Castle Donington bypass to the new east car park.
The increase in car parks also means Downloaders no longer have to walk for miles with their weekend belongings, as if parked in the east car park, they can reach the nearest campsite in just two minutes. Additionally, the new car parks mean that festival-goers can look forward to bridge-free access to the festival and campsites as there are no car parks across the main Donington to Melbourne road any longer.
The festival, which runs from June 10-12, is also introducing a new circular camping option, which means offering clean, upcycles tents and camping equipment all ready on site for those who want a greener option.
Mr Benn added: “It is 57 days from today until the opening of the campsite gates. This will be a massive 1,092 days between Tool closing on June 16, 2019 and Heriot playing the first guitar chords on June 10.
The festival is also looking to improve its green credentials. Recycling and composting rates rose from 46% in 2018 to 59% in 2019 with zero waste going to landfill. All water bottles will be 100% recyclable and a litre bottle of water can be refilled in three seconds thanks to high flow technology in the arena.
Last year, a pilot festival was allowed to take place with just 10,000 fans but many people still have tickets they purchased for the full 2020 festival which was cancelled because of the covid pandemic.
Tickets are still on sale here for this year’s festival, which is expected to attract up to 85,000 people, when the main headliners will be Kiss, Iron Maiden and Biffy Clyro with more than 90 other bands over the three days.
Andy Copping, who leads the team responsible for booking the acts, said: “This is going to be so exciting and so good. We have had to shuffle the schedules to allow for some acts not being available but I think we have a great line-up for this first full festival back and next year we already have our acts booked to headline the 20th anniversary festival.