Download’s Muddy Triumph

Although high winds and heavy rain turned the UK site into a quagmire and delayed the start by a couple of hours, Download Festival’s 10th anniversary turned out to be a triumph for Live Nation.

The famous outdoor at Donington Park appeared set for a bumper year, after collecting a Kerrang! Award for “services to metal” and seeing fellow major UK festival Sonisphere cancel.

But first, Download had to overcome the conditions, which required tractors pulling cars out of mud and a tailback that caused queues to stretch several miles along the motorway approaching the site.

Eighties rock band Europe missed its slot after being held up in a traffic jam and Rise To Remain and Cancer Bats had their slots canceled because of the late start.

“The weather’s shit. We have had heavy rain, thunder and lightning and now high winds, but the punters don’t care and the crew are working hard to keep the festival going,” Live Nation UK COO John Probyn told Pollstar a few hours before the gates were to open.

The event sold out in advance and 100,000 were expected to turn up, likely in waterproofs and wellingtons, while the crew was still busy trying to make safe the arena and the main stage area.

On the second day everyone was given some respite as bright sunshine saw off the heavy rain and began drying a site that looked more like a First World War battlefield.

“God threw the kitchen sink at us this year and we dealt with it,” Probyn said after the June 8-10 metal fest closed. “Not everything was perfect for the 10th anniversary, but we all got to enjoy it, and the show did go on.”

Probyn, LN UK chief exec Paul Latham, Irish promoter Denis Desmond and London agent Carl Leighton-Pope started a 145-mile charity walk the day after Download ended.

The record-breaking crowd buckled down to the conditions and enjoyed a lineup that included Metallica, The Prodigy, Soundgarden, Tenacious D and Black Sabbath, which is doing only two UK shows this year.