Download 2012: My first festival

13 Jun

Tom and Will

If you’ve read my recent posts you’ll know that I recently spent five days camping at Download Festival, Donington Park. This was my first festival camping experience and it was an interesting and exciting one at that. Exciting for the music, interesting for the mud.

Download is now in its tenth year and it is as popular as ever, selling out completely this year. I was accompanied by my boyfriend Tom and my former housemate Will who’ve both been to Download before so I believed I was in safe hands but I didn’t count on the weather being so bad. It rained a lot and with rain comes mud. I’ve dealt with dirty festival conditions before when I went to Glades festival for the day during the July floods in 2007. The difference was I lived around the corner and could get away when it got too much. This time I had to stick it out.



What was left of our gazebo after the storm

We arrived just before the first of many rain clouds rolled in but as we struggled to get all our kit from the car park to the camp site the rain began to come down and things quickly went from tiring to exhausting. Still we hoped that this was a one-off and that by tomorrow it would clear up. We got our tent up, had a few beers, made a BBQ and went to bed.


Baby wipes and dry shampoo quickly became my most valuable possessions. The wind had brought in even more rain and it was then that we opted for a gazebo which we tied to all our tents to save it from the wind. The blue sky came out for roughly 10 minutes before hiding again and then a wind storm began. I don’t think I slept at all that night but if I thought it wasn’t going to get any worse…I needed the loo. I bravely went out into the cold and mud which had now turned into a mud river. Some unlucky folks had already lost tents to the poor conditions and even if I did make it to the toilets, it wasn’t a pretty sight. Some people miss really badly!

Tenacious D

Instant BBQ were only so good in the wind and rain. It would have been better to just save up loads and buy food from the many food stalls in the festival village, no matter how expensive. The festival village had everything you could want from a whole fun fair to food and clothes to camping gear. This came in handy when the wardrobe I’d brought began to fail me.

The music

Random Strongbow man

Or as I like to call it, the good part. Download has five stages and a line up of over 50 bands. Despite the music being more Tom’s thing than mine, I actually knew a few of the bands and looked forward to seeing them.

Circle pit!

Day one got off to a rocky start with a long delay getting into the arena due to weather meaning the first two bands on every stage were cancelled. Then to add to this Europe didn’t make it to the festival so I never got to see ‘The Final Countdown’ performed live. The first band I saw on the main stage was Machine Head. I’d been well versed in the heavy stuff thanks to Tom so I was ready for it, apart from when I somehow ended up in a circle pit by mistake.

Me and Tom

Then I got to see one of the bands I wanted to see. Nightwish. They were good but I wish I’d gotten to see them with the original female singer Tarja Turunen as well. Then I made a quick dart across to the main stage to see The Prodigy, my favourite group who I’ve been dying to see for a very long time. They were fantastic, even if they did make us wait ages and Keith Flint was brilliant.


We got there nice and early on day two to see Halestorm, the only band at the festival I’ve seen before. They were even better this time and the lead singer Lzzy Hale is probably one of the best female singers out there right now.

I then went to see a band called Steel Panther who I’d never heard of before but they are very funny and topless women (not me) seem to be drawn to them. The laughing was a good warm up for the next band, Tenacious D!

Trying to look more festival-ish

Tenacious D were hilarious and played most of their well-known songs including ‘Tribute’, which we’d already been singing around the campsite a few days before in preparation.

We then went on to watch Killswitch Engage, who Tom loved, and then we went to see Metallica, however, I was distracted during this set by the massive circle pit in front of me which resulted in one guy being carried off to the medics.

Black Sabbath

On the third day the sun finally came out. When Tom and Will went to go see Lamb of God I went off to the Red Bull stage on my own to see Kopek, a new Irish band I’m fast becoming a big fan of.

The highlight of the day was of course Black Sabbath, led by Ozzy Osbourne. It turns out you can enjoy Black Sabbath at any age and that was proven even more when a 12-year-old boy and his dad stood next to us. Half way during the performance I heard the boy tell his dad “Dad, I’ve waited my whole life for this!”

When the music had finished and the stages cleared, we headed back to the tents. This was when I learned that on the last day the main reason most people leave early is because the last night gets a little crazy. Tents were set on fire, small tents were being thrown across the site and one guy, who thought it would be fun to roll around in a tent in the road, came moments from being squashed by a fire truck. The only thing to do in these situations is find an abandoned air bed, take a seat and watch the night unfold. We did just that.

The main question here is would I do it again? Yes to the music, maybe to the camping. I need a few years to recover first. About as long as it’ll take to get my boots clean again.


Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Personal


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12 responses to “Download 2012: My first festival

  1. modgam

    June 13, 2012 at 5:34 am

    hey Megan, looks like so much fun there!!!!

    • meganchapple

      June 13, 2012 at 7:01 am

      It really was! I’d prefer it without the rain though

  2. Rob Steer

    June 13, 2012 at 8:57 am

    It was such a brilliant festival wasn’t it? ( Ignoring the swamp of course)
    I’m doing a dissertation research project on rock festivals in the UK, I am using blogs and reviews to form a lot of my research, could i possibly use this blog post for my research? No personal information will be used or shared, if you are okay with this could you drop me an email ( and give a short statement giving permission for me to use it and i’ll give you some more information about what i’m doing.

    Rob Steer (Northumbria University)

    • meganchapple

      June 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      Apart from the mud it was great!

      I look forward to hearing about this dissertation. Dropping you an email now.

  3. Creature with the Atom Brain

    June 13, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Download seems to have suffered with the weather for the last 3 years, but if you go when its sunny for the weekend, like in 2006-8, it sooo amazing, couldn’t think of a better place to be.

    I had to leave Saturday night, Got to the carpark and it was actually a swamp of mud. Just flickering hazard lights everywhere, took 3 hours to get out ha!

    I love your last picture in this post, stunning 🙂 Great Post!

    • meganchapple

      June 13, 2012 at 4:54 pm

      It was just my luck it was this bad this year, the first year I went.

      I left before Metallica finished and went back to the campsite early because I knew it was going to get bad. It as like a river of mud.

      Thank you for the comment!

  4. G

    June 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    liked all the picks. keep sharing.

  5. Arindam

    June 15, 2012 at 11:18 am

    Great post Megan. You people had a great time. Each picture in this post shows that.
    But as you have mentioned in the last part, “Tents were set on fire, small tents were being thrown across the site”- it’s something unique.

    • meganchapple

      June 15, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you for reading. It was a very unique experience. I was wondering why so many people left on the last night. According to those who had been there before it was no way near as bad as it had been in previous years. Even those that were on fire were put out in 2 seconds. The fire crew and police were extremely quick to act. They’re very used it probably.


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