Download is inarguably the U.K.’s premier rock and metal festival. It’s been taking place annually since 2003 on the hallowed grounds of Donington Park in middle England, a site known as “the spiritual home of rock.”
Download Festival isn’t just a live music event: It’s a movement. It’s a community of rock and metal fans from all over the world who live, breathe, eat, drink and sleep it. But the hype doesn’t die down when the festival finishes on Sunday night; it’s an ongoing conversation that lasts all year long, with ticket-buyers enthusiastically predicting and debating who the next year’s headliners might be. Some really dedicated punters even have the iconic Download Dog tattooed on their flesh as a symbol of their commitment and devotion to this lifestyle.
Here are eight reasons why this year’s Download Festival is giving us serious FOMO:
1. The Village
Ain’t no pre-party like a Download Festival pre-party! While the arena doesn’t open until Friday morning, the festival actually begins on Wednesday, and that’s when the Village is at its most populous. There’s a fairground with both wild and mild rides, a wall of death with vintage motorbikes, a series of apparel shops, a cinema screening an abundance of movies, multiple bars to keep you refreshed and the Side Splitter Stage featuring some of the most hilarious stand-ups around. There’s also the famous Doghouse.
2. The Doghouse
The Doghouse is jewel in the crown of the Village. A gigantic tent hosting jaw-dropping performances from the Circus of Horrors touring show The Never-ending Nightmare, the cold-shower-inducing Suicide Girls Ballroom Blitz and rock ’n’ metal DJs spinning your favorite tunes until 3 a.m. The Doghouse is the place to party before the arena opens on Wednesday and Thursday and again after it closes following the headliners’ sets.
3. Fancy Dress Friday
Who doesn’t like fancy dress?! This year’s fancy dress theme is wrestling, so whether you see yourself as Hulk Hogan, Chyna, the Undertaker, Paige, Triple H, Sasha Banks, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin or even a Bella Twin, pick your favorite and rock your best look on Friday!
4. WWE NXT Live!
There is undoubtedly a long-running, tangible love affair between alternative music and the sport of wrestling. So after a successful first year, it makes total sense to bring WWE NXT Live! back to Download Festival. Its return is bound to cultivate even more of an electrifying atmosphere with intense maneuvers aplenty and awe-inspiring appearances from the likes of Bobby Roode, Eric Young, Tye Dillinger and Nikki Cross.
Current NXT champion Bobby Roode says:
“Download was my very first show in NXT. The combination of NXT Superstars and massive musical acts, entertaining tens of thousands of passionate fans makes Download a unique experience. Returning to Download as NXT Champion will make this an extra special moment for me as a performer.”
5. BBC Radio 1 Rock Show Signing Tent
Want to meet your favorite bands? Have a personal exchange, give them a gift and/or get something signed for yourself? Now’s your chance! The BBC Radio 1 Rock Show have partnered up with Download Festival to give fans the opportunity to meet some of the incredible artists on the bill, face-to-face.
Keep an eye on the signing tent schedule here.
Fresh off of the front cover of Alternative Press, Machine Gun Kelly makes his Download Festival debut. You could call this a controversial booking, but an injection of rock-infused hip-hop at an alternative music festival will for sure light a fire underneath everyone’s butts. His critically-acclaimed third record, Bloom, dropped less than a month ago, so expect some of his recent popular chart-toppers as well as his older edgy raw street material. Young Gunner is firing on all cylinders right now and will gratuitously stick his electric guitar to any potential haters out there.
7. Prophets Of Rage
Prophets Of Rage are the hottest ticket in town. Their outspoken activism and political ruckus are held by no geographical boundaries. They curated and performed at the “Anti-Inaugural Ball” on the day President Trump was inducted into office and are now scheduled to play in the U.K. for the first time, coincidentally, the day after a national General Election; where the citizens will decide which of the extremely different parties will lead the country. Whatever the result, Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, Chuck D, B-Real and DJ Lord will inevitably have something to say about it. Also, poignantly, as the band continue to mourn the devastating loss of close friend and former bandmate Chris Cornell, a tribute to the late great legend is most certainly on the cards.
Aerosmith. Aero-frickin-smith. The very band that created the debaucherously hedonistic brand of rock ’n’ roll that makes our hearts beat a lot faster. This will be Aerosmith’s final U.K. performance ever. Ever. EVER. Seeing “The Toxic Twins” Steven Tyler and Joe Perry—take the stage and knock out hit after hit from their tremendous back catalog will be nothing short of completely unadulterated joy. With no U.S. dates officially planned for the rest of this year, you’d better catch these multi-Grammy Award-winning monsters of rock for what might indeed be your absolutely last chance to dance.