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Rain + metal (music) = RUST
Download Festival (Donington Park)
Member Name: Shellie1210
Download Festival (Donington Park)
Advantages: Great music, friendly crowd, great organisation
Disadvantages: Over zealous marshals
I went to Download 2013 and it was my first big festival so I don't really have anything to compare it to. All I can do is write it from my point of view.
Download Festival is a rock/ metal festival which takes place at Donington Park in Leicestershire in the second or third weekend in June.
The campsites are split into different colours so you can easily find where you are as it's so huge. The grass is firm with plenty of pathways in between. They open from the Wednesday if you have a five day camping ticket and I would recommend getting there early unless you have a tiny tent as they get full up quite quickly. I arrived on the Friday and my sister had been there since Wednesday and managed to keep me a spot, but it was very tight.
The campsites have portaloos, showers and running water. The portaloos are the quality that are to be expected at festivals. They start off clean enough with toilet roll and hand sanitiser but they soon disappear. I would definitely recommend taking your own of both of these. The toilets are cleaned daily but they do still end up pretty grim by the end. First thing in the morning, the queue is humongous for several hours.
If you are queueing for toilets in the shape of three sides of a square, I recommend joining a diagonal queue heading for the corner as you are queueing for twice as many toilets as the ones along the straight.
If you are a lady, I would recommend taking a she-wee type device to enable you to go for a wee without having to touch anything in the toilet, or for weeing into a bottle in the night if you don't want to leave your tent, and emptying it in the morning.
I didn't use the showers so I can't comment on these, but the queue was always very long. If you can manage three days without going for a shower, baby wipes, deoderant and dry shampoo are life savers!
There was running water in each campsite which was apparently suitable for drinking, but I only used it for washing up. Towards the end of the festival, the 'troughs' ended up blocked and full of suspicious gunge and only 10% of the taps were working.
There are marshals to the entrance of every campsite, The Village and The Arena and you need to show your wristband to them each time you enter any of these. In The Arena, they can be a bit over zealous. To give an example, at one point, I lost the party I was with so I placed half of one foot on the disabled runway, which was a couple of inches higher, so I could see over the crowd. The runway was about eight feet wide, but a marshal was instantly on my back telling me to get off.
There are uniformed and also plain clothes police patrolling the site at all times, which was reassuring and made me feel safe. However, at no point did I see any fights, hear about anyone being robbed or causing any trouble so I felt safe and at ease at all times.
What everyone is interested in. They have an excellent bar system; first you go to a kiosk to buy tokens. You can buy as many as you like in one go and, if you don't spend them all, you get a refund at the end of the last day.
Once you have your tokens, you choose your drink at the bar where everything is the same price, which is a rather steep £4.50. All the drinks are already lined up and ready so the visit to the bar literally takes about 10 seconds. However, the over zealous marshals are once again in force; if you dawdle or consider your purchase for more than two seconds, they're out with the loudhailers, herding everyone to the exit.
I only had lager and cider while I was there and I'm sure they were watered down, which made the steep price even more hard to swallow.
There is a large choice of food to choose from such as burgers, fish and chips, Chinese, Mexican, pizzas, hot dogs and Yorkshire puddings. On the first day I had Chinese; sweet and sour chicken with rice. While the quality was fine, I paid £7 for a carton full of rice with three pieces of chicken and sauce on top, so the value for money wasn't there, which I suppose is to be expected at a festiva. On the second day I had a hot dog, which was hideous. The bread was stale so I couldn't even eat it and there was no ketchup; definitely not worth the £6. I was considering trying a giant Yorkshire pudding filled with meat and gravy but, judging by the discarded pile of Yorkshires I saw on the ground, I decided not to risk it! For most of my meals, I took my own food and ate at the campsite.
Well, it's what we're all here for. As Download Festival is a rock/ metal festival, most of the music is on the heavy side, natch. Some of the bands playing this year were Slipknot, Iron Maiden, Rammstein, Korn, 30 Seconds to Mars, Queens of the Stone Age and Gogol Bordello. Over the three days, I think we saw 15 bands. As tickets are £195, this works out at £13 a band which is good value for money considering you'd pay £50 to see each of the headliners.
There is plenty of room for the 90,000 attendees in the main arena and, if you are a long way back from the stage, there are three big screens to make sure you don't miss out on what's going on. There are several stages with a good mix of bands but, if you want to move between the stages to see different bands, give yourself at least 20 minutes to fight through the crowd!
There are loads of cool things in The Village including merchandise stalls (VERY expensive, get the merch on eBay instead!), fairground rides, phone charging stations, camping stalls in case you forgot to bring anything and entertainment tents with music going on until 3am.
***The Site in general***
As this is my first big festival, the site seemed enormous to me, but looking at the map for Glastonbury, Download seems like its baby brother. From my car to my tent it was about two miles and from my tent to the arena, it was about one mile. You will be doing a LOT of walking during the three days so it's not for the faint hearted. Make sure you take boots that can withstand a lot of mud and water and are also really comfortable for long periods; walking boots would be perfect, I wore my Doc Martins which were fine.
Wheelchair access seems to be adequate as there are plenty of hard walkways and ramps everywhere.
When you first arrive and when you leave with all of your stuff, use the shuttle bus! I wasn't aware of the shuttle bus when I arrived and walked the two miles with my 38lb bag on my back as well as blanket roll, tent and camping chair. It took me two hours as I kept having to stop! When I was leaving, I used the shuttle bus and it was like a drem come true as it cut about 1.5 miles off my journey. Plus, the bus drives around Donington Park racetrack, which is very exciting, albeit at about 5mph.
All in all, I had a fantastic time at Download and was very impressed with the organisation and the relative cleanliness. I felt safe and happy at all times and, although the toilets were unpleasant and the walks were very long, I cannot fault the organisers one bit and can't really think of a way to improve it. Definitely recommended.
Summary: Definitely recommended
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