A council leader has welcomed an investigation by Download Festival into what he called the “worst” traffic in the event’s 20-year history.
In early June, the roads to the event near Donington Park in Leicestershire saw increased congestion of around two hours and National Highways reported the M1 and A453 had “severe delays”.
Nearby East Midlands Airport said at the time it was experiencing “higher than usual traffic” on the roads as people tried to catch flights.
On Wednesday, event organisers announced a review and said they believe an increase in vehicles used by festivalgoers along with issues over travel routes to car parks on the first two days of the rock festival were behind the problems.
In a statement to the PA news agency, Nick Rushton, leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “Download is enjoyed by thousands of people every year but this can’t be at the expense of the severe impact we experienced on our roads and in our communities.
“Although we provide support, it is ultimately the responsibility of Download’s organisers to ensure arrangements for running an event are put in place, including traffic management plans.
“This was by far the worst we’ve seen in the event’s 20-year history. We welcome the changes organisers are planning and alongside other key partners, we’ll be working with them to make sure changes are made for next year.”
Event organiser Live Nation Entertainment said it is aiming to improve “community engagement” and will hold meetings with local businesses and residents for next year’s festival.
The promoter, which is also behind Reading and Leeds Festivals and Suffolk’s Latitude Festival, said the event will continue with its usual format by opening the campsites two days before opening to “spread” the arrival of attendees.
Live Nation Entertainment said: “Following this year’s Download Festival and a number of traffic management debrief meetings, we recognise that the level of traffic congestion was unprecedented and not acceptable due to the effect it had on our customers and the local community.
“An investigation has been launched to understand what went wrong on Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 June 2023 in the surrounding areas of the festival.
“The higher attendance and increased number of vehicles accessing the site on the first two days and the routing to some car parks are believed to be the main contributing factors.
“As organisers of the festival, we have committed to a full review of the traffic management plan and information that was provided to ticket-holders relating to the route to designated car parks.”
National Highways network planner Phil Shaw said: “After any major event such as the Download Festival we routinely carry out a review to see if any lessons can be learnt.
“This will take place with the festival organisers and other partners once the festival season ends.
“We will be looking at how the event impacted our roads and how we can avoid some of the issues encountered by road users next time.”