‘Euphoria’ at Download Festival pilot event despite heavy rain, promoter says

There is an atmosphere of “euphoria” at Download Festival despite the bad weather, the event’s promoter has said.

The festival is taking place this weekend as part of a Government live events pilot, meaning fans do not have to wear masks or socially distance.

The capacity for the heavy metal event has been significantly reduced from 111,000 to around 10,000.

Download Festival 2021 – Donington Park
(Joe Giddens/PA)

Promoter Andy Copping told the PA news agency there is a “real sense of euphoria” despite the rain.

“The thing is, it wouldn’t be Download unless there was a bit of rain and we had to have that,” he added.

He said the festival organisers are “honoured” to be among the first large-scale events to return since the start of the pandemic.

Headliners include Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Enter Shikari and Bullet For My Valentine, with more than 40 UK-based bands in the line-up across two stages.

Festival organisers announced in March that they were cancelling the event for a second consecutive year due to the pandemic.

Download Festival 2021 – Donington Park
(Joe Giddens/PA)

However, Download was given the green light in May to proceed as a Government test event, following a number of smaller pilots and the Brit Awards in May – the UK’s first major indoor live music event in more than a year.

Mr Coppling added: “It’s great that we are involved as a festival organiser, but just for that genre of music to be recognised as being important enough to be part of a very, very significant event… is really good.”

Fans were seen arriving on site at Donington Park in Leicestershire and setting up tents while wearing raincoats and waterproof ponchos.

More rain is forecast for later in the weekend.

Download Festival 2021 – Donington Park
(Joe Giddens/PA)

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: “Over the event, we are expecting to see heavy rain for the rest of today, easing by tonight. This is covered by a yellow rainfall warning.

“Saturday will be mainly dry but overcast with the chance of a few brighter interludes before further rainfall crosses the East Midlands on Sunday.

“Temperatures should reach around 15C (59F) on Saturday, the warmest day for the event. Wind gusts will reach around 20mph.”

Alexander Milas, from London, was arriving at the festival after completing a 120-mile charity bike ride from Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire and said the weather would only improve the event.

He told the PA news agency: “In a way it makes it better. It is amazing how that brings people together. The sheer misery and joy of being around a lot of like-minded, really wonderful people. I feel like it is perfect because it’s like ‘Weather be damned, we are going to have a great time’.”

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Mr Milas cycled to the festival with fundraising group Heavy Metal Truants, who have raised more than £1 million for charities including Teenage Cancer Trust and Save The Children.

He added: “The rock metal community is really a community. Bruce Dickinson, the singer of Iron Maiden, joined us this year. We have had so many musicians and industry bands join us over the years.

“It’s literally all of us standing shoulder to shoulder to trying to do some good. I can’t think of many other musical communities that can produce the same focused effort. We feel really proud of that.”

On Friday Latitude Festival founder Melvin Benn said he is “very confident” the music event will be able to go ahead from July 22.

He said in a statement: “It’s been a long week after the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday and while I was disappointed in the immediate aftermath of the statement, on reflection, I think it actually gives much more certainty of Latitude being able to happen than if he had loosened things on Monday because the country will have strangled the variant’s ability to spread to a greater degree through increased vaccination than if we had opened fully this coming Monday.”