The finest acts in hard rock and metal descended to the hallowed grounds of Donington Park, Leicester, across the weekend for the 20th annual Download Festival. As well as the 100,000 fans in attendance, the Guitar Interactive team were once again on site to capture all the action and backstage interviews from across the weekend's amazing live event.
For a record 20 years, the Download festival has been enticing fans the world over to Donington Park—and this year was no exception with once again an absolutely stellar line-up that included headliners Slipknot, Bring Me The Horizon, and making their triumphant return to the festival (at performing two completely unique sets), Metallica.
This year's Download Festival 20th anniversary welcomed a record-breaking 100,000 attendees to Donington, becoming its most successful year ever. The fastest-selling Download in its two decade history, 2023's edition showcased world-class rock and metal across four days and six stages from all over the world.
The atmosphere was electric as fans once again lived up to their reputation of what is widely regarded as the UK's friendliest audience, celebrating inclusivity, self-expression, and a lot of headbanging. With artists from Metallica to Alter Bridge to Halestorm, plus live podcasts, exclusive DJ sets, comeback sets, and a whole village dedicated to the fan experience (District X), this was not a weekend to miss.
The first-ever Thursday headline slot saw Metallica dominate the Apex Stage with their legendary showmanship and guitar prowess. Sheffield genre-bending rockers Bring Me The Horizon owned the stage on Friday night, delivering a masterclass in thrilling a crowd with their unique and Download-exclusive production, bringing out a host of special guests, including Amy Lee from Evanescence and alt-rock duo Nova Twins. Metallica followed up their Thursday night set with a spellbinding performance on Saturday evening, cementing their place in history as one of the greatest metal bands on the planet. On Sunday, Slipknot closed the Apex stage with a spectacular display of energy and power. Across the Apex, Opus, Dogtooth and Avalanche stages, festivalgoers were spoilt for choice as the sun shone over the greatest long weekend.
With an unbelievable line-up, featuring the likes of Halestorm, Skindred, Evanescence, Pendulum, Simon Neil (Biffy Clyro) 's new project Empire State Bastard, The Blackout's reunion, Creeper, Coheed and Cambria, Ice Nine Kills (who stabbed the Download Dog to death), Ghost, Parkway Drive, Electric Callboy, and supporting young British talent like Nova Twins, Kid Bookie, Kid Kapichi and many more, there really were too many musical highlights to mention.
Brand new for 2023, the Download Megastore sold a huge range of Download merch onsite, commemorating the 20th anniversary, and the event broke the U.K. record for most festival merchandise sales of all time. Elsewhere, the Mini Moshers campsite saw its maiden voyage, giving the younger generation of metal fans the opportunity to embrace the legendary festival in comfort.
To pay tribute to the diversity of the Download crowd, the Humans of Download live photography docuseries launched, sharing the diversity of Download attendees, with their eclectic outfits and costumes being celebrated on all social channels and sites across the festival. Danny North, the creative director collaborating with Download on the project, shared: "This location and the beautiful people that inhabit this space fills my soul. I wanted to create a photo series that holds a mirror up to the people that make this festival what it is."
And so we have it—the Download Festival is over for another year. However, tickets are already on sale for next year's epic event, and here at Gi, we're already counting down the days!
In 2024, the Download Festival will return to Donington from Friday 14 June – Sunday 16 June.
For more ticket information on Download 2024, please visit: www.downloadfestival.co.uk.