The Download Festival is one of the best British annual festivals around, and is undoubtedly the best for Metal. It won the Best 'themed' Festival of 2004 award from

Wow, what a prestigious award! Tell me Xorin, what is it like?

Gather ye round children, and I'll tell ye a tale. Let me set the scene; the rolling greens of Donington Park, the gentle sound of aeroplanes taking off and landing, the almost hypnotic effect of Donington racetrack glistening in the heat, the heaving mass of thousands of people, all of whom are trying to be at the front at once, you look out from the hill to the valley below and see row upon row of shops selling overpriced food/clothing/'legal' drugs/whatever. And of course, Iron Maiden blasting out 'Run to the Hills' at 97dB on the PA. “More Festivals should be like this.” That’s what you think to yourself as you shake your hair loose and prepare to rock out for all you're worth.

Festivals eh? Brilliant. Festivals have been at Donington for quite a while now, bands such as AC/DC (17/7/1991) and Iron Maiden (22/3/1993)* spring to mind. Anyhow, in 2003 the annual Donington festival got the Download name, and since then 50,000 people a year flock to see their favourite bands pollute some air.

And so it was that Iron Maiden headlined the first ever ‘Download Festival’ gig in 2003 – and it was good. Since then, the clever people at Download HQ decided to hold another Download festival at Glasgow Green. Both festivals usually happen Late May/Early June and tickets for this 2-day spectacular go on sale around March.

See also: Download Festival, 2003, Download Festival, 2004, Download Festival Scotland, 2004

N.B.: I went to the 2003 gig so I can review it, but feel free to review 2004 and 2004 Scotland.

*Both of these gigs were recorded and released, AC/DC's on DVD and Iron Maiden's on CD and Re-released on Enhanced CD format (with band info pictures and videos and stuff). Both were imaginatively titled Live at Donington.


Ihave been a religious attendee of Download Festival for a number of years now, and it seems that with each passing year the headline acts bear more and more resemblance to a castrated dog whilst having the emo-crowd-pulling capacity of a suicide seminar with free razor blades. Despite this slap in the face for genuine metal fans everywhere I have decided once again to try my luck at Donnington and brave the sea of fake depressive teens to see the generic 'We wrote a TV theme tune once' headliners. Why I hear you shout. How will they ever learn if we annually cough up our £160 for these crowd pullers? Why go to download when Reading festival this year offers the bean-flickingly exciting line up of Metallica, Rage, Tenacious D & Slipknot? Well my little corpse paint enthusiast, I'll tell you why.

This year’s headliners are, let’s face it, 2 thirds a load of sweaty crack-whore's knickers, but have you forgotten that there's more to a festival than the one hour before everyone traipses back to the campsite for a night of getting high & amusingly shouting 'Team America' to the tent next door so you can feel your genuine camaraderie by hearing them reply 'Fuck Yeah!!!' Yes my fellow defender of the faith, there are dun dun DUUUUN... other bands!! 2006 being a prime steak example where instead of following the school trip & moulding away to fat Axl & session musicians, my friend & I took a trip round the corner to watch Sick Of It All. So while GnR were wowing the crowd with being late, falling over on stage & crying for their mummies when the crowd made it clear they'd rather be ass-raped, I was moshing out to one of the greatest live bands I've ever seen. The circle pit extended beyond the reaches of the MySpace tent & a wonderful sweaty, black eyed time was had by all.

The risk you take with going to a non metal festival is that you'll be entertained by some admittedly seminal bands for 10% of the time & the rest of it you're wading through a swamp of irritating fingernail girls who spontaneously combust at the sight of mud & think that Daphne & Celeste were a scene pushing outfit. Which leads me nicely on to my second point which is that half the experience of going to a festival is exactly that, the experience. To me there is nothing more uplifting than spending a weekend in the company of complete strangers who spontaneously tip cider over their heads in memory of Dime. There is nowhere I'd rather be than in the bosom of my metal family, trite as that may sound, because you can get an intelligent conversation out of them, and they are zanier than your average festival goer who seems to think that painting their face to look like a platypus and dancing like a spaz round a load of massive rocks marks them out as 'the one who had a keraaaaazy night'. I want to go somewhere where the bands actively encourage me to flash my tits & not only that but the whole crowd cheers - way to boost a girl's confidence!

Being one of nature’s loners I would say the measure of a good gig is one you can go to without your mates, but for festivals that rule can effectively be fucked up the ass, what sun reading spaztard would go to a festival on their own? But I say hold your fire my beard-wielding friends, I would go to Download all on my lonesome, confident in the fact that even if I didn't get laid, I would meet some people who by home-time would gladly elbow me in the face, pick me up off the ground & throw me over the top with a grin on their face & the horns of triumph high in the air.

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