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Download festival 2019
Photograph: Press/Download Festival

Attention, all moshers – Download Festival is back on!

The rock festival has been resurrected as a pilot event to help open up live music in the UK

Written by
El Hunt
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Hand-horns at the ready – according to festival organisers, “moshing is allowed” at the newly resurrected Download. 

The 2021 edition of the rock-leaning music festival was originally cancelled earlier this year due to corona-virus restrictions, but will now return as part of the UK government’s Events Research Programme. Dubbed Download Pilot, this will mark the UK’s first camping festival in well over a year. The line-up will be revealed on Friday (May 28).

Usually, over 100,000 rock and metal fans flock to Download each year – but this new pilot festival will be a smaller-scale version taking place June 18 – 20 . This time 10,000 punters will camp for the weekend at the festival’s usual home in Donington Park, and they won’t need to socially distance or wear face coverings. In return, music fans will need to take a series of COVID-19 tests before and after the event, and present a negative test to make it through the gates. 

If you’ve already managed to bag a ticket to the original iteration of Download 2021, tickets for the pilot camping festival will go on sale from June 1. A general sale will then follow on June 3. 

Researchers have been studying pilot events to learn more about the safe return of live music. Earlier this month, thousands of fans gathered in Liverpool for a trial club night for 3,000 party-goers, featuring Fatboy Slim and The Blessed Madonna. The same weekend, the city also hosted a live gig headlined by the Stockport indie band Blossoms at Sefton Park. According to Liverpool council, neither event has been linked to an outbreak of the virus. Researchers also studied the effects of holding an in-person The BRIT Awards ceremony at London’s O2 Arena.

“Following the huge success of our Sefton Park event, we are delighted to contribute to Phase II of the Government’s Events Research Programme with the creation of the first three-day camping festival which will be the Download Pilot at Donington Park,” said Melvin Benn, head honcho at Festival Republic. Benn was also involved in organising the Sefton Park gig in Liverpool earlier this month.

“This massive next step will help us understand and study the safe return of large-scale festivals with no social distancing or face masks over a full weekend… the return of the full festival experience we have all been waiting for and a much needed return to work for musicians, backstage crew, caterers and many more that form part of the UK’s exemplary live music industry.”

Beyond the pilot, Download plans on returning in full force in 2022, with Biffy Clyro, Iron Maiden and Kiss all confirmed to play.

Earlier this month a pilot club night gave 3,000 people in Liverpool a taste of freedom. Here’s what it felt like

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