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Download Festival 2024 was wet, muddy and marvellous





A dad and his adult son in a muddy field for three days with £200 each, surrounded by food, drink and an abundance of alternative music. That was me and my boy Alfie last weekend and what a wonderful time we had during our third trip to the Download Festival in the hallowed grounds of Castle Donington.

You have to make the most of a music festival because sometimes circumstances - especially the weather - are going to be against you.

Yep, this year’s sold-out Download was wet, windy and ultimately extremely muddy. And on the sun-drenched Sunday, the rays took everyone by surprise and left many of us burnt.

A packed-out Download for Queens of the Stone Age. Picture: Danny North
A packed-out Download for Queens of the Stone Age. Picture: Danny North
Soft Play put on a wonderful Friday afternoon show. Picture: Andrew Whitton
Soft Play put on a wonderful Friday afternoon show. Picture: Andrew Whitton

It was dogged by a few unforeseen problems too, such as a handful of bands pulling out over links of one of the sponsors (Barclays) with Israel and another, Electric Callboy, cancelling through illness.

But you cannot keep a good festival down and me and my 21-year-old son loved nearly every minute once again, along with 75,000 others.

Arriving at the Derbyshire race circuit on Thursday afternoon, there had been no repeat of last year’s traffic problems and we drove straight into the venue.

Revellers in the mud. Picture: Abbie Shipperley
Revellers in the mud. Picture: Abbie Shipperley
Bambie Thug on Saturday morning. Picture: Sarah Louise Bennett
Bambie Thug on Saturday morning. Picture: Sarah Louise Bennett

We’d bought a decent camping trolley after struggling to get all our gear to the campsite last year, and within an hour had made our two trips to the campsite, set up our tent and filled it with our festival essentials.

We favour the good old pop-up tent, finding one advertised for five people and costing about £50 does the job for two adults and all their stuff. It rained heavily at times but these pop-ups have got better over the years and the whole inside stayed dry.

So, what do you do on the Thursday afternoon of a festival which doesn’t start until the following afternoon? Well, although the main arena doesn’t open until the Friday, the campsites and surrounding areas open on Wednesday morning and there’s plenty happening.

Bars are open, as are food stalls, and there’s entertainment too. We really enjoyed an hour or three in a packed out tent watching souls braver than we play a karaoke-type game called Famous First Words before witnessing a great, fun, singalong band called Old Dirty Brasstards.

Hanabe impressed. Picture: Gobinder Jhitta
Hanabe impressed. Picture: Gobinder Jhitta
Enter Shikari on the main stage. Picture: Andrew Whitton
Enter Shikari on the main stage. Picture: Andrew Whitton

And that night, like every night that followed, we proved you can successfully mix the sleeping habits of a 21-year-old with a 54-year-old as I went back to my sleeping bag at 10pm and Alfie stayed out until the early hours.

There were acoustic sets, DJs, comedy and discos in various big tents every night after the headliners, and Download again lived up to its reputation as a super-friendly festival each night as Alf mingled with others while I snoozed.

The headliners were Queens of the Stone Age on the Friday, Fall Out Boy on the Saturday and Avenged Sevenfold on the final night.

Frank Carter takes a leap. Picture: Matt Higgs
Frank Carter takes a leap. Picture: Matt Higgs
Limp Bizkit entertain. Picture: Danny North
Limp Bizkit entertain. Picture: Danny North

But it’s discovering artists among the mammoth line-up that are new to me that I enjoy and this year Japanese nu metalcore outfit Hanabe, British electronic rock duo Wargasm, singer-songwriter Noahfinnce and Swedish rockers Royal Republic were my favourites.

Bands I already loved such as Enter Shakiri, Soft Play (formerly Slaves) and Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes were also great, while Alfie said an after-hours acoustic set from New York’s Wheatus (remember Teenage Dirtbag?) was brilliant.

So the music was superb, the people (of all ages and genders) were lovely, but what about the grub? I’m a vegan and Alf is veggie and the choice was huge and the offerings were so good, from (no) fish and chips to Thai curry and from vegan sushi to tasty burgers.

Sum 41 entertain. Picture: James Bridle
Sum 41 entertain. Picture: James Bridle
A packed out Download main stage. Picture: James Bridle
A packed out Download main stage. Picture: James Bridle

It’s not cheap at around £12 for many dishes but the portions are nearly always decent. And the beers and ciders are around £6… but the water’s free! And don’t believe all you read about festival toilets. Even after all that rain, they really weren’t that bad.

Our top ten bands over the weekend (apart from the headliners) in order:

1- Enter Shakiri

2- Soft Play

3- Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes

4- Wargasm

5- Noahfinnce

6- Sum 41

7- Limp Bizkit

8- Bowling For Soup

9- Royal Republic

10- The Offspring



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