Who will headline Download Festival 2021? – Man Wants


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Who will headline Download Festival 2021?

Unfortunately, there will be no Download Festival this year. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise though since it would just be plain irresponsible to allow that to happen amidst a global pandemic.

On a brighter note though, Download have confirmed the dates for DL2021 which will be 4th June to 6th June 2021. Good news for many since this is during half-term, so it might work out a lot easier for some if they have that time off already.

We ask that same question as always though, who will headline? There’s no promise that any headliners will carry over from the 2020 line-up as schedules are always changing.

So assuming that it will be a new lineup, let’s get to it. Here’s who we think could see themselves in the headlining spot at Donnington in 2021. I’ve tried to be a bit different with my choices here while remaining (relatively) realistic.


Papa Emeritus IV

Image: Ghost

I’ll just keep begging for this until it happens. Tobias Forge, mastermind behind the Swedish rock band, has pretty much written off 2020 to get on with new material (with the exception of one show, back in March). Depending on whether or not lockdown has affected his schedule, Tobias has said we can expect the band’s 5th album in early 2021.

With Ghost’s recent success and packing up arenas around the world, this new release has a good chance of charting well enough to attract Download’s booking agents for headlining slot. They’re perfect for the role really, considering they have huge singalong anthems as well as stunning theatrics.

Papa Emeritus IV along with his Ghouls and Ghoulettes would be a most welcome headliner for next year’s festival.

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam

Image: Alternative Nation

It surprises me that Pearl Jam haven’t already headlined Download before. The band have been going strong for over 30 years now, and have just dropped their 11th studio album “Gigaton” this March. They haven’t lost their punch either, I’m still enjoying them with each new release.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 put an end to any of the band’s touring plans before they’d even started this year. However, hopefully things will jump back to normal for next year and they’ll be able to visit us in England for a headline spot on the way!

My Chemical Romance

My Chemical Romance

Image: Metro

This could be considered a fairly controversial choice to some, but I could totally see it happening. MCR initially split up in 2013, but in 2019 they officially reformed to the excitement of anyone who was part of that weird early 2000s emo scene (not slating it one bit, just never understood it).

My Chemical Romance have headlined Download once before back in 2007, but it was met with a lot of anger from narrow minded metal heads who thought it would be great to ruin everyone’s day and bottle them for their entire set. The band don’t need to worry about that anymore though, as there are more than enough fans to make any idiots like this invisible.

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against The Machine

Image: NME

Another band who have recently announced their return to the music scene. Rage planned to tour once again 2020 but I doubt any of that will be going ahead right now if it hasn’t already been postponed.

2021 would be 11 years since Rage last headlined Download, making it a reasonable gap to consider them worthwhile. Even though they have still not made any new material, they put on a great show regardless and they’ll probably disappear again when they’ve made their money anyway. Fans may as well make the most of it if they’re about.

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails

Image: Variety

I don’t really know if this would be of much interest to Trent Reznor, but for Nine Inch Nails to headline Download Festival would be absolutely mind blowing. The variety of their discography, intensity and visuals of their own headline shows – just everything about them. It would be great.

It’s a well known fact that Trent likes to do his own thing though, and while NiN are still an active band releasing music, their last headline show was in December 2018. Trent and fellow band mate Atticus Ross do a lot of work on the side under their own names including various film scores, so whether putting on a huge NiN tour with Download and other festivals in the middle is something they are bothered about? I have no idea. We’ll see.



Image: RevolverMag

A band that I feel deserves more than what they get. Whether it’s via their own request or not, I don’t know, but these guys never headline… yet I feel like it’s time they were given the limelight they truly deserve. They pull in headliner sized crowds but only ever sit as a sub headliner or a second stage headliner.

For a genre defining band with such a huge following, it certainly seems strange that they haven’t at least taken over a Friday or Sunday night for the festival. They’re still going strong and tight as ever – maybe 2021 will finally be the year we see it become a reality?

There are multiple bands that I could list here but those are 6 that I truly believe we have a good chance of seeing at least ONE of them as a headliner for Download in 2021… assuming there will be new headliners of course. I could be wrong, they’ll probably just book the same old bands once again.

Do you have any bands you’d love to see headline? Let us know in the comments below!