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New traffic advice for Download 2024 after ‘unprecedented’ traffic jams at last year’s festival

Download Festival visitors have been given new guidance ahead of this year's event to avoid a repeat of last year's “unprecedented” congestion.

As festival-goers flocked to Donington Park in Leicestershire last year, there were significant delays on surrounding roads, including the M1, A50 and A453. Some fans reported taking up to seven hours to get to the site and around 600 people missed flights at nearby East Midlands Airport due to congestion, according to the leader of Leicestershire County Council.

One reason for this could be that last year, to mark the 20th anniversary, the event was held over four days rather than the usual three. This meant that many fans travelled on the same day and their arrival was less staggered than usual.

A total of 75,000 visitors are expected at the Download event next week, which runs from June 14-16. National Highways says a significant increase in traffic is expected on the M1, A42, A453, A50 and A38 from June 12, when campsites open and when people leave on Sunday evening and Monday morning.

They advised drivers to allow extra time for their journey and to follow signs around the festival rather than relying on sat navs. Drivers were also advised not to assume that the route or entry point they have used in previous years will be the same.

National Highways added that there will be more parking spaces than in previous years and that there will be more access gates. Festival-goers will be able to scan a QR code on their parking permits to receive live updates on parking availability and capacity.

To avoid congestion, the pick-up and drop-off points are not located in the same areas as the campsite entrances.

Drivers travelling to East Midlands Airport are asked to allow extra time for their journey and to avoid non-festival traffic.

Download Festival. Image credit: Joseph Okpako/Getty

“We are very aware of the problems of the last year,” said festival director Jess Shields [via BBC].

“The format of this year's event is very different. We now have two arrival days instead of one last year, so we can spread the arrivals over two days. We have worked very closely with National Highways and the council to ensure everyone is happy with the plans we have put in place.”

Last year, the leader of Leicestershire County Council warned that the festival could be in danger if the problems of the 2023 edition were to be repeated.

Nick Rushton, the council's leader, described the situation as an “absolute disaster” with the worst queues he had seen in Download's history, but remained optimistic that the situation would improve next year “with some control”.

“Donington is a pretty good driver, but this time they really messed it up,” Rushton told BBC“Something has to change for next year or I'll be pushing for the damn thing to be cancelled.”

In other news, Download boss Andy Copping announced last week that a “big band” will perform a surprise set at this year’s edition of the festival.

Copping recently hosted a one-hour show on Planet Rock was called Andy Copping's Secrets of Download during the holiday (May 27th) and revealed that fans should look out for a secret set this year.

“One thing is for sure, you'll have to keep your eyes and ears peeled at Download this year because, yes, we have another band playing a secret set. Something very, very special. Big band. So keep an eye out for that.”

All remaining tickets are now on sale and can be purchased here.