Sunny 15th Download Festival “a huge success”
Festival Republic (FR) has hailed the “huge success” of the 2017 edition of Download, which returned to Donington Park in Leicester, UK, for the 15th time last weekend.
After flash flooding at the 2016 festival, the company installed 3,000+ metres of new drainage for 2017, more than quadrupling the site’s run-off capacity in preparation for a similar downpour this year. (According to Download, more than 70 million gallons of water fell on Donington in 2016 – equivalent to 106 Olympic-sized swimming pools.)
As it happened, the weather gods saw fit to smile on Download 2017, leaving the festival largely rain-free and the improved site “greener than ever”, says FR. More than 80,000 people turned out to see headliners Aerosmith (in their final UK show), System of a Down and Biffy Clyro, with other performers including Prophets of Rage, Good Charlotte, Sum 41, Machine Gun Kelly, AFI, Simple Plan.
Other highlights included a full-size wrestling arena courtesy of WWE NXT, the return of the Wall of Death with vintage motorcycles, a silent disco, a cinema and a mobile tattoo studio.
In addition to the new drainage, FR introduced additional security measures, including armed police on site, and a new traffic plan to ease congestion following the closure of the M1 motorway.
“It’s been another really good year, with a great atmosphere and low levels”
The extra police presence was well received, with officers encouraging fans to pose for selfies using the hashtag #copaselfie. Supt Martin Ball of Leicestershire police says the festival was also a success from a policing perspective: “It’s been another really good year with a great atmosphere and low levels of crime reported to us. The success of our operation lies in our great working relationship with the organisers, Festival Republic. Although it is too soon to give definite crime figures, early indications are that reported crime is very low. Officers worked hard day and night patrolling car parks and campsites and they talked to hundreds of rock fans, swapping hats, giving high fives and having their picture taken.
“We had visibly armed officers patrolling for the first time this year following the tragic events of Manchester and London and they were all overwhelmed by the positive response from festivalgoers, who thanked them for keeping them safe. They were happy to have their picture taken many times, which was a new experience for the usually camera-shy firearms officers.”
Festival promoter Andy Copping, Live Nation’s president of UK touring, says the vibe at the festival remains unchanged, despite the security challenges posed by the Manchester Arena bombing. “This is the home of rock, and has been since 1980, and I love reading people’s social media when they get here when they say, ‘We’re home’,” he tells the Derby Telegraph. “There is something about the spirit of the place – you can feel the vibe.”
Since 2016 a sister festival has taken place in France, as Live Nation seeks to replicate the success of the UK event on the continent. Linkin Park, System of a Down and Green Day headlined Download Paris, which also took place last weekend, with the first Download Madrid set for 22–24 June.
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