Official video highlights of Download Pilot, the 10,000-capacity, camping-only festival which took place June 18-20 on the hallowed grounds of Donington Park as part of the U.K. government's scientific Events Research Programme, can be seen below.
While festival goers did not have to be socially distanced or wear face coverings once inside the festival, they were required to follow existing government guidance when travelling to and from Donington Park and adhere to rules set out by the festival organizers. Attendees had to take a lateral flow test on the morning of the event and receive a negative result to enter the festival. As part of the wider scientific research on the trial events, the Download Pilot attendees were also being asked to take a PCR test before and after the event to gather further evidence on the safety of the festival camping experience, reduced social distancing and the removal of non-pharmaceutical interventions like face coverings. They also had to provide contact details for NHS Test and Trace to ensure everyone could be traced in the event of an audience member receiving a positive test after the event.
With tickets priced at just £120 (plus booking fee) for the full three-day festival and initially being offered as a thank you to existing Download festival 2022 ticket holders, this loyal community of rock fans were also being rewarded with the closest to a festival experience possible, with camping and the return of moshing.
Organizer Melvin Benn told BBC News: "Despite the weather, it feels joyous," referring to the fact that Download Pilot kicked off with torrential downpours on Friday. "It's been two years since we stood in this field. We had to cancel Download 2021 [in March]. We didn't think anything could happen. But the government wanted to extend the research program and they wanted a camping festival, so they wanted me to put that together. So here we are, three and a half weeks later, in the rain and happy to be in the rain."
The very first major camping event of its kind, the specially created Download Pilot event formed part of the second phase of the government's scientific Events Research Programme. This groundbreaking study looks to build on the evidence base gathered from the successful first phase and apply findings on a greater scale with greater crowd numbers than before. The attendance at the Download Pilot will provide additional evidence for government, event organizers, and consumers on the logistical and practical considerations of reopening events safely, including multi-day events.
Working closely with the government to adhere to safety guidelines, this Download Pilot, as the first 10,000 capacity camping festival event, will play an important role in paving the way for the return of large-scale music events and festivals as the U.K. emerges from the past year's restrictions. As a government scientific Events Research Programme event, festivalgoers needed to consent to take part and had to be over 16.
The promoter of Download festival, Live Nation's Andy Copping, who was asked to promote a scaled-down edition of the beloved U.K. metal and rock festival, told the Derby Telegraph: "Fans have lapped up every single second of our all British bill and they have realized just how important it is to get this right.
"People here are making history. It's not normal that rock and metal gets talked about in the mainstream and seeing how this event taken on some serious legs and everyone has been talking about it because it is so important for the entertainment industry. It's festivals, theatres and cinemas — everyone is looking at us now.
"If we have got this right — and I believe that we have — we can get back to how we were before the pandemic started. It's an honor to be involved."
Professor Paul Monks, chief science adviser, said he was pleased with the way things had been running.
He said: "It will be some time before we know the results of this event and what impact it has had but we are happy with the way fans have responded and the work that has been put in to make it safe."
Festival billing was as follows:
Friday, June 18:
FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES
Saturday, June 19:
WHILE SHE SLEEPS
THOSE DAMN CROWS
BLEED FROM WITHIN
AS EVERYTHING UNFOLDS
Sunday, June 20:
BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE
FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS
LONELY THE BRAVE
CHUBBY AND THE GANG
EMPLOYED TO SERVE