Wholesome photos of goths at Download 2023

Wholesome photos of goths at Download 2023

From dads on dodgems to young lovers in Slipknot jumpsuits, Chris Bethell captures the most heartwarming activity at the UK's heaviest festival.

Download: home to more battle jackets than Camden Market, more Carlsberg than Copenhagen and more camping chairs than Mountain Warehouse. Every year thousands make their way to Donington Park for the mammoth British rock festival, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year with a special four-day weekender featuring a double performance from Metallica and a line-up so enormous that tickets sold out for the first time ever.

It’s also a festival that, arguably, pulls the nicest crowd of any event in the UK – nay, the world. Those unfamiliar with the culture might assume that the kind of person rocking up to see a load of bands with names like ‘Pupil Slicer’ and ‘Smash Into Pieces’ would be, shall we say, a “gloomy” individual. But far from the stereotypes peddled by Woodstock ‘99 or The Purge vibes of Sunday night at Reading and Leeds, Download feels more like a knee-slapping gig down your local pub – except it’s attended by 130,000 people. Motley crews of veteran rockers, young lovers and children in Slipknot masks pile in to share pizza, throw down and pick each other up again.

Photographer Chris Bethell was there to capture all the wholesome fun at Download 2023, including everything from moshers on the dodgems to a man offering hugs to anyone in need of emotional support. Put your hands in the air and prepare to smile!

See more of Chris Bethell's work on Instagram.

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