A bit about the festival
Held usually during the 2nd week of June at the Donington Park motor circuit, close to Nottingam and Derby, UK's Download Festival is a continuation of the Monsters of Rock festivals organised in the same place until 1996. It started as a two day event and expanded to 3 in 2005. The name comes from the idea of rock music being a rebellious genre, thus being against the music industry pressure who claimed the festival would destroy the industry. Along the years, the festival managed to always offer quite an impressive line-up, with big names split all over the stages, sometimes leaving one no chance of breathing between two concerts. The festival's history can be read here.
The 2010 edition celebrated 30 years of rock festivals at Donington park; apart from this, the organisers have also renamed the second stage to “The Ronnie James Dio” stage, as tribute to the great artist who passed away this year, and the main stage was called “The Maurice Jones” stage, after the co-founder of Monsters of Rock who also died the previous year.
The festival took place between the 11th and 13th of June, and I heard various attendance figures, from 80,000 people to 100,000. I'd say that everything went pretty smoothly on the organisational side, as with a bit of walking away from the tents and toilets located right at the entrance I didn't get to spend much time queuing to buy food, water or to use a toilet. The drinks could only be bought based on tokens sold at special areas. Since Friday and Saturday, plus half of Sunday were rather hot, the fact that they placed few areas with free drinking water and the security in front of the stage would offer glasses of water to the ones in need was a nice touch.
As for the crowd, they were really chilled and relaxed, with just about everyone saying “Sorry hun” or “Excuse me, love” when they were passing by and accidentally hitting you. I haven't seen much extreme headbanging, or huge moshpits like at other festivals, so I could maybe draw the conclusion that British people are a calmer type of crowd. Or perhaps they were just happy with the good weather and decided to bask in the sun while hearing the good music and without going berserk. But certainly I've seen some of the craziest outfits, including a group of people dressed in knights who were clapping with coconuts halves, just like the knights in Monty Python. And since the facilities for people with handicap seemed to have been offered at good quality, I was impressed to see so many people in wheel chairs or with walking aid that attended the event.
For accommodation one could of course camp, but due the proximity of quite a number of bigger or smaller towns, there was also the possibility of staying at a hotel or inn around and sharing a cab with friends to the festival, or just taking a bit of a longer walk “home”. I think it's a cool way to get to experience the rural England, and it was also fun to see one of our first cab drivers was pointing at a shop and saying “this one ran out of booze at 5 PM”, then at the next one “7 PM”, and so on.