If your plans for the weekend don’t involve going to Download festival, then you’re doing it wrong. With hundreds of bands taking over Donnington Park for three days of rock, metal and wrestling goodness, it’s hard to know how to squeeze in everything you want to see, but we’re here to help. Get your schedules out, because these are the brilliant bands that you MUST to see while you’re there.

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Swedish prog-metal band, Opeth, have been a thundering force in the heavy music world for 30 years, crafting 12 defining albums in that time and shaping metal for future generations. Releasing the 13th instalment of their catalogue this year, fans at Download might just get a glimpse of the crushing sounds found within In Cauda Venenum, but if not, you can experience the intensity of it all on their headline tour.

O2 Academy Bristol: Sunday 3 November Buy Tickets

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Die Antwoord

Known for their non-conformist, punk attitude, bizarre videos and wild live shows, you know you’re in for a good time when Die Antwoord are in town. The South African rap-rave collective have developed a cult-like following over the years, with songs like ‘I Fink U Freeky’ and ‘Ugly Boy’ breaking the band internationally. Tickets to their one-off headline show at O2 Academy Brixton were snapped up almost instantly, so if you missed out, Download Festival is your only other opportunity to see them in the UK this year.

O2 Academy Brixton: Monday 17 June - SOLD OUT

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Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

Not heard of Me First And The Gimme Gimmes before? Well, we can guarantee you know its members. Somewhat of a supergroup, the band consists of Lagwagon’s Joey Cape and Dave Raun, Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett and NOFX’s main dude, Fat Mike. Although occasionally you’ll get Chris’ brother Scott and Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley filling in because let’s face it, these guys are busy! Covering only the best songs on the planet, from ballads to Motown and everything in between, the Gimmes are an extraordinary live band that’ll have you grooving your way through the Download weekend.

O2 Ritz Manchester: Saturday 29 June Buy Tickets

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Sunday 30 June Buy Tickets

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Trash Boat

Nearly a year on from the release of their second full-length album, Crown Shyness, and Trash Boat are still raging forward with their introspective and captivating blend of melodic hardcore. Returning to Download festival once more, their performance on The Avalanche Stage will showcase just how far they’ve come in recent years and will set them up for their headline tour just a few months after. Embracing the emotional energy within their newer songs, they pour everything they’ve got into each live performance and are well worth your viewing both during festival season and closer to home.

Check out the acoustic version of 'Crown Shyness' that the band performed exclusively for us, here.

O2 Institute Birmingham: Thursday 12 September Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Islington: Friday 13 September Buy Tickets

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I Prevail

Despite vocalist, Brian Burkheiser, going through intense recovery for a vocal chord injury, I Prevail have come back stronger than ever with their new album, Trauma. Blending an intricate mix of melody and hardcore, a sound they’ve become recognised and admired for, the album gives an honest insight into the hurdles they've faced and conquered over the years, making their rise to success even more commendable. Download festival is undoubtedly going to be a highlight for the band and their following headline show will see them riding high from the energy of the weekend.

O2 Ritz Manchester: Tuesday 18 June Buy Tickets

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Deadland Ritual

If one supergroup wasn’t enough for you, we’ve got another to keep you happy and they’re called Deadland Ritual. Made up of bassist, Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), vocalist, Franky Perez (Apocalyptica, Scars On Broadway), drummer, Matt Sorum (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver) and guitarist, Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), this band have got more rock ‘n’ roll experience than most of Download put together. Playing both their gloriously dark own material and deeper cuts from their collective past, this is a meeting of minds that becomes a giant metal machine on stage, so don’t miss this rare opportunity to see legendary musicians perform together.

O2 Academy Islington: Thursday 13 June Buy Tickets

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Returning in March with their seventh studio album, The Valley, Whitechapel have proven once again that they’re one of the most progressive bands in metal. Aggressive, rich and deeply emotional, the record features some of their most dynamic songs to date and marks a shift in sound, as they continue to explore new textures and melodies whilst still remaining true to their roots. The slot at Download and their following headline show will give the UK its first airing of the new music, so prepare to have your mind completely blown away by its sheer magnitude.

O2 Academy Islington: Tuesday 18 June Buy Tickets

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Tesla are still, after 35 years of touring, one of the world’s most celebrated rock bands on the planet. Less glam rock and more hard rock, their bluesy, soulful sound attracts fans of all ages and has led them to grow a diehard, loyal fanbase that keep the band in demand. Their eighth studio album, Shock, landed earlier this year and is evidence enough that the spirit of rock and roll is still well and truly alive in Tesla and they’ll be bringing it in full force to Download festival this weekend.

O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire: Sunday 16 June Buy Tickets

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Stone Temple Pilots

Now approaching three decades of rock and roll dominance, Stone Temple Pilots still find themselves evolving and growing as a band. Building upon their new-found chemistry with vocalist Jeff Gutt, last year’s self-titled record was a true return to form for the rock icons and began an exciting new chapter for the band. Their fanbase has stuck beside them through every stage of their career and witnessing them take over the Zippo Encore Stage at Download will be an extremely special moment, that’ll bond both fan and band together for a lifetime.

O2 Academy Glasgow: Wednesday 12 June Buy Tickets

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Thursday 13 June Buy Tickets

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Black Peaks

Brighton’s Black Peaks have already earned themselves an impressive touring resume since the release of their debut record in 2016. Their modern progressive-rock sound has scored them slots alongside Mastodon, Deftones, System of a Down and an upcoming run with French metallers, Gojira, to name a few and that’s not even including their headline shows. Last year’s second full-length, All That Divides, saw the band take giant leaps in their career and their Download performance will be yet another step towards domination for the quartet.

O2 Academy Birmingham: Sat 29 Jun w/ Gojira Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Brixton: Sun 30 Jun w/ Gojira Buy Tickets

O2 Apollo Manchester: Mon 1 Jul w/ Gojira Buy Tickets

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Last In Line

Last In Line formed when the co-conspirators and co-writers of Ronnie James Dio’s Holy Diver and Last In Line albums decided to join forces to create their own music, taking their name from the record they helped to make. Joined later by Ozzy Osbourne’s bassist, Phil Soussan, the group have pulled from their years of experience to create two incredible albums, including this year’s effort, II. Taking the old-school rock sound and giving it a contemporary edge, Last In Line are forever finding ways to keep their music fresh and exciting and knowing they’ve helped write some of the biggest rock songs on the planet, means you know whatever they release is going to be downright brilliant.

O2 Academy Islington: Wednesday 12 June Buy Tickets

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Brothers Osborne

If you want a bit of a breather from all the head banging you’ll be doing over the Download weekend, then pop along and catch Nashville duo, Brothers Osborne on the Zippo Encore Stage. Making history as the first country crossover act to play both Download and Country To Country festival, these siblings are changing the world of rock as we know it. Their southern croons and bluesy influences are accompanied by delicious rock melodies, culminating in a sound that has won them awards and seen them become the freshest group to come out of Tennessee in recent years.

O2 Academy Islington: Friday 14 June - SOLD OUT

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Queen Zee

Queen Zee are the strangest, dirtiest scousers you’ve ever met, and they’re brilliant. The DIY punk collective have caused chaos on stage and on record and they’ll be doing the same this weekend. In a short space of time they’ve received praise from BBC Radio 1, Iggy Pop and Liam Gallagher, with their debut self-titled album claiming them as punk’s new frontrunners. With their popularity growing at an alarming pace and a support slot with Skunk Anansie on the horizon, now is the time to catch the gritty, glam and glorious band doing what they do best, causing a scene and not giving a s**t about it.

O2 Academy Glasgow: Sat 31 Aug w/ Skunk Anansie Buy Tickets

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Do you like Elvis? How about Nirvana? Well drop all of your plans because Elvana are coming to Download! Coming at you from the bowels of Disgraceland, Elvana will tear through Nirvana’s classic grunge anthems whilst splicing up sections of The King’s finest moments. Sounds odd, but it totally works, with overdrive and rockabilly combining to create the ultimate tribute to two of rock’s greatest icons.

O2 Academy Oxford: Thursday 25 July Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Glasgow: Friday 18 October Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Leeds: Saturday 19 October Buy Tickets

O2 Academy Bristol: Saturday 9 November Buy Tickets

O2 Institute Birmingham: Friday 6 December Buy Tickets

O2 Forum Kentish Town: Friday 13 December Buy Tickets