Download Festival

10,000 people with no masks or social distancing attend Download pilot festival in the UK

10,000 people dancing freely without masks or social distancing and embracing each other. This is the description of every raver’s dream nowadays, and recently it became a reality in the UK. But hold on, the rules haven’t changed yet, this was a pilot event. During the last weekend, Download Festival took place as a trial event, welcoming thousands of rock and metal fans. This was the first UK major camping festival since the world was hit by this pandemic and, reportedly, it happened without incident.

The organisers appealed to the participants to respect the testing requirements, which are essential to validate this test event:

‘Everybody on site will have taken a lateral flow test before entry and received a negative result and will have taken a PCR test too. That means you’ll be able to mosh, dance, hug your fellow Downloaders, and rock out without a mask or social distancing. Frankly, we can’t think of anything that sounds more awesome after 15 months away from our hallowed ground.

This event aimed to prove that it is possible to organise large festivals amid the pandemic in a safe way, without detriment to the real festival experience. The idea is to collect enough data so that scientists and the government can make decisions about holding these events on a scientific basis that supports them. After the setback that the restart in the UK has had and the postponement of the return of festivals, it becomes even more essential to assess these issues and bring the music back.

Melvin Benn, the managing director of Festival Republic, who brought Download Festival to fruition, states that:

‘In fairness, the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) are on board with the message which is that these things can happen and they can happen safely.

(…) What we want from Download is data that scientists can analyse that will effectively reinforce that position, and that data is being gathered and I am certain it will do just that.

All actions aimed at re-energising live music are welcome and help to keep spirits up in these uncertain times. We will keep believing that a comeback is near.


Image Credit: Download Festival (via Facebook)