Punters arrive to rainy Download Pilot for first UK camping festival since pandemic

The 10,000 capacity event is being held as part of ongoing research into the safe return of live music

Campers are arriving at Donington Park today (June 18) for the Download Pilot, the UK’s first camping festival since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 10,000-capacity event, set to be headlined by Bullet For My Valentine, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes and Enter Shikari, sees the legendary rock festival make a small-scale return for a three-day camping pilot as part of ongoing research into the safe return of live music.

Organisers say that “moshing is allowed” for the event, which runs until Sunday (June 20). “This massive next step will help us understand and study the safe return of large-scale festivals with no social distancing or face masks over a full weekend…” said event organiser Melvin Benn, who also organised a series of pilot events in Liverpool over the May Bank Holiday weekend, where the likes of Fatboy Slim and Blossoms played to a crowd without any COVID restrictions.

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Ahead of the music beginning today, fans are arriving in their droves to a rainy Donington. See photos and reactions from the return of camping festivals below.

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Fans arrive at Donington Park for the 2021 Download Pilot. Credit: Getty Images.

Download Pilot
Fans arrive at Donington Park for the 2021 Download Pilot. Credit: Getty Images.

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Download Pilot
Moshing will be allowed at the Download Pilot 2021. Credit: Getty Images.

Download Pilot
Music fans arrive at Download Pilot at Donington Park on June 18, 2021 in Donington, England. Download Pilot is a 10,000 capacity festival part of a UK government test event to examine how Covid-19 transmission takes place in crowds. Credit: Katja Ogrin/Getty Images.

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View of the campsite with main and second stage in the background at Download Pilot at Donington Park on June 18, 2021 in Donington, England. Download Pilot is a 10,000 capacity festival part of a UK government test event to examine how Covid-19 transmission takes place in crowds. Credit: Katja Ogrin/Getty Images.

The Met Office is predicting clouds on the festival’s first day today, with temperatures between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius and a 20 per cent chance of precipitation.

Tomorrow (June 19) is set to be similar, with temperatures peaking at 18 degrees Celsius and a 10 per cent chance of rain. Sunday June 20, however, is 50 per cent likely to bring rain from 10am until 7pm.

Check out the festival’s full weather forecast and set times here.

Download Pilot
Festival staff and security ready for music fans to arrive on day 1 of Download Pilot at Donington Park on June 18, 2021 in Donington, England. Download Pilot is a 10,000 capacity festival part of a UK government test event to examine how Covid-19 transmission takes place in crowds. Credit: Katja Ogrin/Getty Images.

Just 15 people tested positive for COVID-19 following the Liverpool Sefton Park event, with initial data suggesting that holding mass events without face masks and social distancing poses as little risk as going to a shopping centre or restaurant.

Download Festival will make a full return in 2022 with headline sets from KISS, Iron Maiden and Biffy Clyro.

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