Are you ready for the headbanging and moshing mayhem that is Download Festival 2023?
Navigating and planning the UK’s biggest metal festival can be challenging, which is why we’ve put together this festival survival download guide.
It will be your treasure map to a memorable metal adventure, offering insider tips for navigating the festival, beating the lines, and having the time of your life.
1. Browsing the Download Festival lineup
With a star-studded lineup like Metallica, Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, and Architects, strategy is key. Bookmark your must-see acts, but leave room for serendipity: discovering a new favorite is a rite of passage in Download, and your favorite band might just be one you haven’t heard of yet.
2. Ensuring a Perfect Camp in Download 2023
Here’s the deal: you can’t camp on the sand. But you can be smart about it. Pick a spot near the entrance to the arena, pack waterproof gear (this is the UK, after all), and bring a torch for those late-night tent-seeking missions.
Bring a tent, usually a little bigger than you think you need (three for two, four for three, etc.), a 2-season sleeping bag, and a roll-up mat. The roll mat is not optional, without it you will freeze.
Make sure nothing touches the side of your tent when it rains; if the inner and outer skin touch, the water will leak out
3. How to dance in the rain (or shine)
Embrace the unpredictable British weather with a waterproof jacket and boots, and don’t underestimate the power of sunscreen. Because let’s face it, the festival fun ends when you’re drenched, frozen, or sunburned.
One solution to the humid but hot weather that often hits Download is to get naked instead of dressed. Wearing a t-shirt and shorts can be a great option in the rain, as long as you keep moving.
4. Party like a rock star
While the festival food stalls can be a tempting (and expensive) treat, packing your own snacks and even camp meals is a smart move. Bacon can be fantastic on Friday morning, but don’t expect it to last all weekend. In general, dry food is the best. However, think carefully about the cans, they are very heavy.
You can also bring your own drink, but you’ll be looking for alcohol when you enter the arena – the festival makes a lot of money from its bars. Some people manage to sneak in alcohol using various creative methods, but this is a risky activity.
5. Navigating the notorious toilets
There’s no sugarcoating it: festival toilets are a battleground. Flushing is usually better than most, but it still makes sense to arm yourself with toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a positive attitude.
One thing worth noting is that during breaks between bands, the restrooms can get very busy. It might be a good idea to go during a band you don’t like, so you don’t miss the beginning of one you do like.
6. Should you join the Night Owls??
Nighttime at Download is far from sleepy. With silent discos, lively bars and exciting carnivals, the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. Just remember, patience is a virtue when it comes to long lines for many of the activities.
One option is to wander around the camp looking for loud, active groups to befriend. Be nice and you could make friends for life.
7. Mosh like a pro
When popular bands like Architects and Slipknot take the stage, the mosh pits will be wild. Know your mosh etiquette before you go in: help anyone who falls as soon as possible, keep an eye out for injuries, secure your belongings, and get out if things get too intense.
Moshing can be incredibly fun, and it’s surprisingly safe (when you consider that you’re only safe from minor injuries). Download is a great place to try it out for the first time, with really friendly crowds and the perfect lineup.
8. Get into the community spirit
There is more to download than just music. It’s about the friendships formed at camp, the beers shared, and the collective love of music.
On my first shock, Scottish strangers were feeding me before I got off the bus. In my second, I learned the rules of baggle (an awesome game that involves throwing a bag of wine and yelling “baggle”). On my third, I met five different people wearing the same hat as me (an orange bucket hat with googly eyes).
Accept it, be a part of it, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
9. Charge up and stay connected
Want to share your epic festival moments on social media?
Remember to pack a portable charger! A phone will only last one day. 20,000 mAh (milliampere hours) should be enough to get you through the festival. Another option is to opt to hire a locker with a charging facility, although this can cost as much as a basic battery bank and means leaving your phone behind.
Keep in mind that at large festivals like Download, the phone and Wi-Fi signal tends to be very weak due to the large number of people present overloading the local cellular network. Access is usually easiest around 6am, before everyone else is up, but at other times of the day you’ll have a hard time sending a text, let alone uploading a photo.
10. Stay healthy, keep moving
Pack a basic first aid kit, stay hydrated, and remember that medical equipment is on site in case you need it. Trust me when I say they are lovely. I’ve needed your help before.
Remember to bring all the medicines you may need, as well as a reserve of simple medicines such as immodium, paracetamol and ibuprofen. You may need them to fight a hangover, endure a moshing injury, or help you prevent a dodgy burger from ruining your festival.
11. Respect your Rockin’ Home
Remember, the festival grounds are our home during the download. It usually becomes absolute tip at the end, with tents and piles of junk, so try to keep it clean, respect the site, and make Download Festival 2023 the best yet.
So there you have it, your ultimate survival guide for Download Festival 2023. This year promises to be an unforgettable celebration of rock and metal. With a little planning, a little respect for your fellow festival-goers, and a whole lot of love for music, you’re in for an epic journey. Get ready to unleash the beast