Music fans face great downpour at Download Festival pilot event

The heavy metal festival is taking place without social distancing.

Music fans are braving the rain as Download Festival kicks off as part of a Government live events pilot.

The capacity for the heavy metal event has been significantly reduced from 111,000 to around 10,000, but attendees will not have to wear masks or social distance.

Download Festival 2021 – Donington Park
Fans cover up from the rain on the first day of Download Festival (Joe Giddens/PA)

Fans were seen arriving on site at Donington Park in Leicestershire and setting up tents while wearing raincoats and waterproof ponchos.

The Met Office has issued a yellow warning for thunderstorms in the county until Saturday and said to expect spells of heavy rain which may lead to some travel disruption and flooding.

The poor weather is expected to continue throughout the weekend.

Headliners include Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Enter Shikari and Bullet For My Valentine, with more than 40 UK-based bands in the line-up across two stages.

People arrive on site at Donington Park
People arrive on site at Donington Park (Joe Giddens/PA)

Festival organisers announced in March that they were cancelling the event for a second consecutive year due to the pandemic.

However, Download was given the green light in May to proceed as a Government test event, following a number of smaller pilots and the Brit Awards in May – the UK’s first major indoor live music event in more than a year.

Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: “Over the event, we are expecting to see heavy rain for the rest of today, easing by tonight. This is covered by a yellow rainfall warning.

“Saturday will be mainly dry but overcast with the chance of a few brighter interlude before further rainfall crosses the East Midlands on Sunday.

Download Festival 2021 – Donington Park
A festivalgoer takes cover from the rain (Joe Giddens/PA)

“Temperatures should reach around 15C (59F) on Saturday, the warmest day for the event. Wind gusts will reach around 20mph.”

Alexander Milas, from London, was arriving at the festival after completing a 120-mile charity bike ride from Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire and said the weather would only improve the event.

He told the PA news agency: “In a way it makes it better. It is amazing how that brings people together. The sheer misery and joy of being around a lot of like-minded, really wonderful people. I feel like it is perfect because it’s like ‘Weather be damned, we are going to have a great time’.”

Mr Milas cycled to the festival with fundraising group Heavy Metal Truants, who have raised more than £1 million for charities including Teenage Cancer Trust and Save The Children.

He added: “The rock metal community is really a community. Bruce Dickinson, the singer of Iron Maiden, joined us this year. We have had so many musicians and industry bands join us over the years.

“It’s literally all of us standing shoulder to shoulder to trying to do some good. I can’t think of many other musical communities that can produce the same focused effort. We feel really proud of that.”

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