Download Festival opens to 80,000 rockers

People enjoying an act at the Download Festival Image copyright Matt Eachus / Download 2017
Image caption Fans started arriving at Donington Park on Wednesday and were treated to the Circus of Horrors on Thursday night

Thousands of rock music fans have arrived for the official start of Download Festival.

The festival, held at Donington Park in Leicestershire since 2003, has hosted some of the biggest names in rock including Iron Maiden and Motörhead.

Organiser Andy Copping said Download was the "biggest" of its type in the world.

Aerosmith, who are said to be playing for the last time in the UK, are one of the highlights of this year's event.

Image copyright Leicestershire Police
Image caption Police said they would still have fun with revellers despite heightened security

Download began amid heightened security following the terror attacks in Manchester and London, with armed officers patrolling the site.

However, Leicestershire Police and festival organisers said this would not affect the welcoming atmosphere.

Image copyright Matt Eachus / Download 2017
Image caption Organisers said some people treated Download as their holiday

The force said officers would still pose for selfies and swap hats with revellers.

Mr Copping said Donington Park was the "spiritual home" of rock following the Monsters of Rock event between 1980 and 1996 and the emergence of Download in 2003.

He told The Beat programme, broadcast on BBC Local Radio, that Download was not only the biggest, but also the "friendliest".

Image copyright Matt Eachus / Download 2017
Image caption Download is known for its friendly atmosphere

"We're almost at that point now where we've done as many Downloads at Donington as there were Monsters of Rock," he said.

"That was a milestone I needed to get to.

"People come from all over the world to Download, there's a lot to be said about Donington Park being the spiritual home of rock.

"People treat it as their holiday."

Image copyright Matt Eachus / Download 2017
Image caption A performer at the Circus of Horrors on Thursday night

About 80,000 people are expected to attend the festival over the weekend, which was dubbed "Drownload" in 2016 after a river of water nearly washed away tents.

In 2015 at Download, Leicestershire Police became the first force in the UK to use facial recognition technology at an outdoor event.

Biffy Clyro, System of a Down, Sum 41 and Slayer are performing this year as part of the festival's line-up.

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