Download Festival: Mosh pits, ponchos and mask-free crowds – ‘Euphoria’ as 10,000 revellers brave rain at pilot event

There was a euphoric atmosphere at Download Festival’s first day in Leicestershire – despite the wet weather.

About 10,000 people attended the pilot heavy metal music event in Donington Park, with people not required to wear masks or practice social distancing.

Event promoter Andy Copping said there was a “real sense of euphoria” on Friday despite the bad weather.

“The thing is, it wouldn’t be Download unless there was a bit of rain and we had to have that,” he said.

The festival, which would usually welcome 111,000 people, was among the first large-scale events to return since the start of the pandemic.

Headliners included Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Enter Shikari and Bullet for My Valentine – after the government allowed the festival to go ahead as a test event in May.

Fans were seen arriving at Donington Park and setting up tents while wearing raincoats and waterproof ponchos, with more rain forecast this weekend.

Festivalgoer Alexander Milas, from London, arrived at the event after completing a 120 mile (193km) charity bike ride from Hertfordshire and said the weather would only improve the event.

The event organisers said there was a 'sense of euphoria' on the first day
The event organisers said there was a ‘sense of euphoria’ on the first day

“In a way, it makes it better. It is amazing how that brings people together,” he said.

“The sheer misery and joy of being around a lot of like-minded, really wonderful people. I feel like it is perfect because it’s like ‘weather be damned, we are going to have a great time’.”

Mr Milas cycled to the festival with fundraising group Heavy Metal Truants, which has raised over £1m for charities including Teenage Cancer Trust and Save The Children.

Fesivalgoers didn't need to wear masks or socially distance on the first day of Download Festival
Festivalgoers did not need to wear masks or socially distance at Download Festival

On Friday, the organisers of Latitude Festival said they were confident the event would be able to go ahead on 22 July, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson delaying “Freedom Day” from 21 June to 19 July.

Latitude’s founder, Melvin Benn, said: “It’s been a long week after the prime minister’s announcement on Monday and while I was disappointed in the immediate aftermath of the statement, on reflection, I think it actually gives much more certainty of Latitude being able to happen than if he had loosened things on Monday.

“Because the country will have strangled the variant’s ability to spread to a greater degree through increased vaccination than if we had opened fully this coming Monday.”

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