Download Festival: ‘Camp Loner’ celebrates 10th birthday

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Alone, together: People gather at Camp Loner at the 2018 Download Festival

In 2008 a man called Jay was stood up by his mates and faced the prospect of heading to Download Festival alone.

So he posted online asking if the same thing had happened to anyone else – and Camp Loner was born.

A decade on and the community of solo festival-goers has grown so much that Download even sets aside a campsite for them.

But the current organisers – Louise, Ben and Chris – say even they don’t know where Jay is today.

“I lost track of him years ago”, Louise tells Newsbeat.

She was one of a handful of people at the first ever Camp Loner.

“He was from the Isle of Jersey. He’d booked his tickets and his flights, only to find out none of his mates had booked theirs.”

“There were only about 36 of us that year – and from there we’ve just grown and grown and grown.”

The Facebook group now has well over a thousand members – and the official Camp Loner campsite fills up before the festival is even fully open.

“You don’t find anything like this anywhere else”, Louise says.

“It’s because we’re all in the same boat, which makes us a lot more friendly and approachable than you get in a lot of groups.

“Download is quite friendly anyway but it’s a whole new world here.”

The group has spawned countless friendships – and the organisers say “two or three” couples who met through Camp Loner have now tied the knot.

“I didn’t meet my wife here, but I did meet the bloke who was best man at my wedding,” Chris says.

“It’s a really good place and I’ve met my best mates through it.

“It’s a different community and a completely different vibe.”

‘Other, smaller loner groups’

Louise says she hopes what they’ve done can act as an inspiration for other festivals.

“We know of other, smaller loner groups elsewhere – but they haven’t got the set-up we have with official backing and their own site.

“We bring people together, create a really good community and a really good vibe – and then carnage ensues!”

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