Sunshine, smiles and superior VIP packages at the UK’s biggest celebration of rock

Words: Annica Wainwright
Photos: Matt Eachus, Sarah Koury, Caitlin Mogridge, Ross Silcocks

Event review Download Festival 9 to 11 June 2017

After several years of questionable weather, culminating in the epic ‘Drownload’ of 2016, the 80,000 black-clad music fans that descended on Donington Park for the 15th edition of the UK’s largest rock and metal festival clearly hadn’t come prepared for sunshine. Wellies: yes. Factor 50: not so much. By day two, the crowd was a whole lot more colourful than usual. 

Event review Download Festival 9 to 11 June 2017
 
The blue skies also conjured smiles and, while Download 2017 won’t be remembered for the best musical line-up in the festival’s history (for me, that one’s a toss-up between DL2013 and DL2012) it did deliver some of the best atmosphere I’ve experienced here over the years. And, for a festival where both bands and fans always seem to bring their A-game, that’s saying something.

Event review Download Festival 9 to 11 June 2017

Download was the first festival to offer glamping and its RIP (see what they did there?) packages are still among the best in the industry. Whether you’re entertaining clients or treating a metalhead employee to the incentive of the century, you can rummage among a wide choice of tipis, lodges, Airstreams, bell tents and hotel rooms, knowing they all come with access to the well-designed guest area next to the main stage.

Event review Download Festival 9 to 11 June 2017

And that’s where we caught some of the weekend’s highlights. Prophets of Rage set the bar with a belting performance on Friday night and Aerosmith brought the show to a sweet close with a ‘last-ever UK show’ that made rock n’ roll look effortless. The most memorable set though came from Aussie rockers Airbourne –  not only did they bring enough energy to fuel a jet back to Sydney, they also had their own kangaroo and a cool box full of beers for the fans. We might as well have been down under.

Tickets for Download 2018 are on sale now but if you can’t wait a year until your next live entertainment fix, check out our guide to this summer’s best festivals