Why are Download Festival organisers scared of taking risks when booking headliners?

A lack of imagination runs the risk of harming the reputation of Download Festival in the long run

We need to have a serious talk about the Download Festival headliners for 2020, because there’s a lot of vocal disappointment in the rock and metal community right now.

Download Festival headliners were announced on the 23rd September and we briefly gave our thoughts on the headline bands, and it’s fair to say we weren’t overly impressed.

Kiss, Iron Maiden and System of a Down are all certainly worthy headline acts in their own right… But not in the year 2020!

A quick run down the Download lineups over the years and you’ll these bands crop up again and again, this behemoth of a festival is running a very real risk of becoming stale.

Is it not time that Andy Copping and co took a calculated risk and booked some younger, mainstream headline acts? We really think so.

A lack of young blood casts a grim shadow over Donington

There’s no denying that Download caters to rock and metal fans of all ages, and there’s usually a hell of a lot of bands on the bill that keep everyone happy.

However, the Download Festival headliners that have been announced for 2020 seem to lack imagination… And if we might be honest, feel a little bit too dated.

We’re not being ageist, and we do understand the pull of all three bands, but let’s break it down and look at it from this angle for a second…

  • The combined age of the active bands members of Iron Maiden is 377-years old. This will be their seventh time as a headline artist at Donington Park.
  • The combined age of the active band members of Kiss sits at 256-years-old. This will be the third time they are Download Festival headliners in twelve years.
  • The combined age of the active band members of System of a Down is a not as horrifying 187-years-old. This will be their 2nd time headlining in just three years.

The stats make for somewhat uncomfortable reading, Download Festival is beginning to look like an old mans game, we understand the reasoning behind picking these bands, especially KISS, with this being their last UK appearance… However, it still doesn’t sit well with us.

It might sound contradictory, but age doesn’t matter to us, as there as some great bands out there that have been around the block for some time, but the point we’re making is that if organisers insist on pedalling out the same older bands year on year… At least give us some variety!

With SO many good bands out there in the limelight at the moment, why on earth are we seeing the same tired headline acts time and again? Are regular attendees beginning to feel that they’re not getting their money’s worth?

Iron Maiden download festival headliners
Whilst they’re very loved, we wonder, have Iron Maiden overstayed their welcome in the Download Festival headline spot at this point?

There’s a healthy appetite for someone new to step up

Earlier this year a post on the official Download forum asked posters who they would like to see as their Download Festival headliners in 2020.

Whilst the named headliners received several votes to headline this year it’s still quite evident that people do not wish to pay hundreds of pounds to see the same bands play every single year.

Here’s what the forum poll found:

  • The three most requested headline acts for 2020 were Metallica, AC/DC and Bring Me the Horizon.
  • Bands we’ve not seen at Download Festival before… Or for some time such as Foo Fighters, Greenday, Blink 182 and Pearl Jam were all sought after as headline acts.
  • People want to see sub-headliners or headliners on smaller stages promoted to the top spots such as Alter Bridge, A Day to Remember and Korn.
Bring me the Horizon Download Festival Headliners
Having been active since 2004, we also wonder, how on earth haven’t Bring Me The Horizon headlined yet?!

Who deserves to headline Download Festival?

Of course this is subjective, everyone has their own idea of who should be Download Festival headliners but for us, there’s a couple of bands that are absolutely screaming to put on the main stage at Download Festival.

Bring me the Horizon

People were asking back in 2015 whether Bring Me the Horizon should be headlining Download Festival… And we genuinely believe you could go further back than that and there’d be evidence that there’s a demand to see these boys headline the main stage.

It’s only a matter of time, however Download really should have pulled the trigger on these by now.


It’s an absolute travesty that Hayley William’s and co haven’t been back to Download Festival since 2007 when they were the third from last band on the second stage.

They might not be as big as they one were, but they’ve got enough star power and stage presence to take a headline slot at Download Festival without a shadow of a doubt.


It has been heavily rumoured that the legendary rockers AC/DC are set to embark on a world tour in the not so distant future.

Nearly ten years have passed since they headlined Download Festival from the comfort of their very own stage in 2010 and we think it’s time they made a quick stop at Donington Park as part of their potential upcoming tour.


This one suggestion goes without saying, with their UK tour on the horizon Greenday are without a doubt back on everyone’s minds and playlists.

Fabled for their epic catalogue of 90s and 00s rock favourites the Californian band have NEVER played Download Festival, and time’s ticking.

… To end this rant

We want to end this by saying we certainly don’t hate the bands that are lucky enough to be Download Festival headliners in 2020, in fact we love all three bands, however, the issue remains that Download deserve variety.

The world of rock and metal is vast, bookers shouldn’t treat fans as if they’re being served something ground-breaking in 2020… Because they’re not.

Most people that visit Download aren’t attending for the very first time, it’s a festival that has longevity and an army die-hard fans, so give them bands to get excited about, bands they haven’t seen before.

We know Download Festival 2020 will rock hard, Download always does… But in 2021 give us someone truly special Andy!