More than 10,000 rock fans gather at Download at first pilot festival

More than 10,000 rock fans gather at Download to enjoy their favourite bands with mosh pits, no social distancing and no need for masks at first festival selected as official test event

  • Thousands flocked to Donington Park, Derby, for the beginning of the Download pilot festival event on Friday
  • Around 40 bands will perform over three days on two stages and festival-goers advised not to leave venue
  • It is the UK’s first post-Covid music festival which is being carefully monitored by government scientists 
  • The event is running at a reduced capacity but will not enforce social distancing measures and face masks 

More than 10,000 rock fans gathered at Download to enjoy their favourite bands with mosh pits, no social distancing and no need for masks at the first festival selected as an official test event.  

They are taking part in the UK’s first post-Covid music festival which will be carefully monitored by government scientists. 

The three-day camping-only weekend event kicks off today at Donington Park, Derby, and gives music lovers the freedom to enjoy themselves without any Covid restrictions. 

Thousands of people turned up to enjoy a weekend of music as Download opened its gates to a festival free of any Covid restrictions in Donington, Derby

Hundreds of music lovers braved the wet and windy weather to still attend the event this weekend, armed with their essential possessions and beer

More than 10,000 rock fans gathered at Download with mosh pits, no social distancing and no need for masks at the first festival selected as an official test event

The thousands of festival-goers are taking part in the UK’s first post-Covid music festival which will be carefully monitored by Government scientists

Music lovers will have the freedom to enjoy themselves without any Covid restrictions at the three-day camping-only weekend event which kicks off today at Donington Park, Derby

For the music event to go ahead, festival-goers have to produce a negative PCR test before arrival and are required to test again afterwards.  

In addition, leaving the festival site in between is strongly discouraged and there are no day tickets available. 

The Download Pilot festival, arranged rapidly in about a month, will feature 40 bands over three days on two stages. 

While the event appears to be a positive step for the music industry, the numbers of people welcomed through the gates will be considerably reduced from the normal 100,000 fans by 90%.

For the music event to go ahead, festival-goers have to produce a negative PCR test before arrival and are required to test again afterwards


People hoping to leave the festival site in between is strongly discouraged and there are no day tickets available for the restriction-free event 

The Download Pilot festival was arranged rapidly in around a month and  will feature 40 bands across three days on two stages

The numbers of people welcomed through the gates will be considerably reduced from the normal 100,000 fans by 90%

Away from the festival, people will be required to follow the Government’s current guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing.

Signs were placed on the entrance barriers reminding visitors that they must adhere by social distancing measures before they enter. 

A group of wardens wearing face masks welcomed the lucky ticket holders, scanning their tickets and checking their test results before they entered.  

As they arrived many of the festival goers continued to wear their masks, which were required before they walked inside. 


Away from the festival, people will be required to follow the Government’s current guidelines on social distancing and mask-wearing

As they arrived many of the festival goers continued to wear their masks, which were required before they walked inside

Despite the wet and windy weather in Derby today, the festival goers looked ready and raring to go for the rock event

Eager festival-goers, laden with bags filled with essentials for the weekend, tents and more, queued at the entrance in the rain

People were determined to not let the weather dampen their spirits as they battled the rain to find their camping spot

Once they were given the all-clear to enter their festival bands were attached to their wrists. 

Many people carried enormous backpacks while others wheeled their possessions for the weekend along on carts, including large multipacks of beer. 

Leicestershire Police said it is not anticipating problems with the reduced numbers and has handed over duties to local officers. 

Highways England said it is ready to respond to problems on major roads but does not expect the usual traffic hold-ups. 

Many people carried enormous backpacks while others wheeled their possessions for the weekend along on carts, including large multipacks of beer


Festival-goers have been warned to be ready for rain as heavy thundery showers have been forecast at times over the weekend

Leicestershire Police said it is not anticipating problems with the reduced numbers and has handed over duties to local officers.

But festival-goers have been warned to be ready for rain as heavy thundery showers have been forecast at times over the weekend. 

Rain began to fall on Wednesday, which fell short of becoming the hottest day of the year so far when a high of 29.2C (84.56F) was recorded at Heathrow, after the 29.7C (85.46F) peak felt in Teddington, Middlesex, on Monday.

Download Pilot: Rock bands signed up for the test event 

  • Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
  • Enter Shikari
  • Bullet For My Valentine 
  • Neck Deep
  • While She Sleeps 
  • Twin Atlantic

Today, lows of 10C are expected in the north of Scotland, and average temperatures of around 12C for rest of the country.

The Environment Agency has issued 17 flood alerts, with flooding possible in London and surrounding areas, and Kent. 

A yellow weather warning for rain covering much of England, apart from Devon and the North West, has also been issued by the Met Office.

But the weather hasn’t dampened visitors spirits. Donning waterproof clothing and shielding their possessions with plastic wrap, many of the eager visitors looked ecstactic to be back inside a festival venue. 

Jonathan Billing, 39, and Mathew Markowicz,30, were with a group from Thornton Cleveleys, near Blackpool. 

Jonathan said: ‘It’s the best feeling ever. We got here about 9.30am, pitched the tent and now we are just waiting for the music to start.’ 

The pair have been to about six full Download Festivals and were really surprised an event was possible this year. 

Mathew said: ‘It’s awesome to be part of a group again. Taking a test was no problem and we feel really safe because no one should have Covid.’ 

A series of big names in music are playing the event, including Enter Shikari, Bullet For My Valentine and tonight’s headline act Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. 

The event comes after a series of other pilots events run as part of the government’s Events Research Programme which aims to examine the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from attendance at events and explore ways to enable people to attend a range of events safely.

Highways England said it is ready to respond to problems on major roads but does not expect the usual traffic hold-ups

The Environment Agency has issued 17 flood alerts, with flooding possible in London and surrounding areas, and Kent

A yellow weather warning for rain covering much of England, apart from Devon and the North West, has also been issued by the Met Office

Donning waterproof clothing and shielding their possessions with plastic wrap, many of the eager visitors looked ecstactic to be back inside a festival venue

In April thousands of fans returned to Wembley for the first time in more than a year the FA Cup semi-final, which saw Leicester City beat Southampton 1-0 and secure a spot in the final. 

Days before some fans were allowed to attend the World Snooker Championship at the indoor Sheffield Crucible Theatre which operated at a socially distanced capacity of about 325 for the first few days and gradually increased to full capacity.

And in May thousands of revellers returned to the dancefloor at the UK’s first post-lockdown ‘nightclub’ rave, with a tent of scientists outside monitoring their behaviour.

A series of big names in music are playing the event, including Enter Shikari, Bullet For My Valentine and tonight’s headline act Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

Signs were placed on the entrance barriers reminding visitors that they must adhere by social distancing measures before they enter

Once they were given the all-clear to enter their festival bands were attached to their wrists

A group of wardens wearing face masks and blue hi-vis jackets welcomed the lucky ticket holders

The wardens were seen scanning festival-goers tickets and checking their test results before they entered

Nightlife promoter Circus hosted The First Dance in Liverpool, where revellers did not have to wear face coverings or social distance for the first time since before lockdown began.

The line-up included Circus founder and DJ Yousef, Lewis Boardman and The Blessed Madonna. Fatboy Slim is among the acts due to perform on Saturday.

Ravers had to take a lateral flow test 24 hours before the event in order to release their e-ticket, and had to produce a negative result to gain entry.

They were then asked to take another test five days after the rave and submit the results.

The event comes after a series of other pilots events run as part of the government’s Events Research Programme which aims to examine the risk of transmission of Covid-19 from attendance at events

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