A trinity of heavy rock festivals

Once upon a time, all popular music festivals were rock festivals. Now we have a specific festival for every musical taste or combination thereof, yet you could see something of a full-circle in Download’s recent triumph at the 2013 UK Festival Awards. So we take a look at a few still catering to those who go to festivals primarily to rock out on the grass.

Pic: 3base Dirk Jacobs

Bloodstock Open Air, Catton Hall, Derbyshire, 7-10 August 2014
This ’boutique’ gathering of hard rock specialists started in 2001 at a holiday-camp, but went bigger, better and out of doors in 2005. It now offers a more comprehensive range of heavy rock and metal subgenres including death, thrash and prog metal, goth and industrial across four stages.
The 2014 incarnation is headlined by sludge-metal supergroup Down, thrash icons Megadeth, and a black metal UK festival exclusive from Emperor, while the punter-focused festival recently confirmed more acts including hardcore pioneers Biohazard. More than 100 bands will play across the long weekend, with UK grassroots metal on a New Blood Stage, a covered late-night venue, real ale and a ‘metal’ marketplace.
A range of weekend camping tickets is available, with the standard ticket at £137.00

Download, Donington Park, Derbyshire, 13-15 June 2014
An all-round three-day rock mega-festival takes place in Donington Park, a rock festival venue since the 1980s. Recently announced punk-popsters Bowling for Soup and cheery dad-rockers Status Quo fit nicely into a more inclusive bill featuring 150 acts across five stages. Heavy metal experimentalists Avenged Sevenfold, metal-rappers Linkin Park and hard-rock veterans Aerosmith headline this year’s event, which may still struggle to surpass the stunning line-up that may have won it Best Major Festival last year.
Download showcases new talent on a Red Bull Studios stage, and offers late entertainment in the campsite including bar, funfair and cinema.
Tickets are available with our without camping and a five-night camping ticket costs £205.

Metallica at Sonisphere (pic: dr_zoidberg)

Sonisphere, Knebworth Park, Hertfordshire, 4-6 July 2014
Another historic venue, Knebworth will celebrate 40 years of big rock gigs with Sonisphere 2104, three days of crowd-pleasing racket headlined by crossover heroes – Iron Maiden, The Prodigy and Metallica. Other acts confirmed to date include Alice in Chains, Slayer and Mastodon, and with much of the bill still to be announced, they’re also promising two special guests.
The two outdoor main stages are thoughtfully programmed so you can watch music constantly by alternating between the two. Other venues include Bohemia, a 24-hour entertainment area with its own stage plus funfair, market, cafes, pub and a festival information tent which has been known to host impromptu karaoke sessions.
Tickets are still available at earlybird prices – £215 for the weekend with standard camping.

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