A defiant rocker mother who took her 10-month-old baby to the UK’s biggest heavy metal festival says she will do it again next year — despite fellow head bangers saying it could ‘risk the tot’s life’.
Lauren McAuley has been to the popular Download Festival in Donington Park, Leicestershire, four times, even attending the highly anticipated event last year while pregnant.
The 30-year-old from Coleraine, has since welcomed daughter Lemmy into the world — but didn’t let becoming a parent stop her from attending this year’s festivities, deciding instead to take her baby with her.
While both Lauren and little Lemmy — who is named after Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister — enjoyed the four-day long festival, she was stunned by some other revellers’ reactions.
The mother-of-one received backlash as many people questioned if the head-banging paradise that was hit by a number of noise complaints this year was child friendly.
Lauren McAuley, 30, from Coleraine, Northern Ireland, took her 10-month-old daughter Lemmy to rock event Download Festival sparking a social media debate about the rights and wrongs of taking a small child to a loud and crowded festival
A resolute Lauren shared a snap of Lemmy at the event online, showing the tot relaxing on the grass with the stage and crowds behind her, sporting shades and headphones.
In her post, Lauren hit out at people being ‘judgey a******s’ as some said it was not safe for young children due to the ‘drunk and drugged up idiots’, large crowds and ‘intense’ heat within the tents.
Despite being criticised, the stay-at-home mother says she doesn’t see the issue.
She said: ‘People are just really miserable.You know, you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.
‘I personally really like spending time with my kid so I don’t have a problem with taking her [to Download Festival].
‘Some parents like leaving their kids and getting a break, but not everybody has that option. I could have, but I didn’t want to.
‘There were lots of negative comments from people saying the festival is not ‘child-friendly’ but Download Festival has literally created a child friendly area this year called Mini Moshers where they had baby changing facilities.
‘I mean, there’s still lots that Download Festival can do to make it a more child friendly place, but the picture that I put up was actually of Lemmy at a child event where they had music in a tent for the kids and a Pikkachu.
‘How are they not catering to children? The amount of children I’d seen having a good time was just the best.’
Lauren admitted that people’s online criticism left her ‘annoyed’ because during the festival itself she largely received positive comments from fellow festival-goers about having Lemmy with her.
As for whether Lemmy enjoyed the festival, the tot spent a lot of time sleeping — even through Metallica and Bring Me The Horizon’s sets.
Lauren said: ‘Because it was really hot, she slept through most of it to be honest.She was completely chilled out.
‘She slept through the Metallica set and Bring Me The Horizon set. Bedtime wise she slept from 9:30pm up until 3 o’clock in the morning, had a feed, then went back to bed until the next morning.
‘Lemmy had ear defenders on for the music and copious amounts of sunscreen. I got a really good pram fan so we had no problem at all.I honestly never had one issue.
‘The only time she cried was whenever I wanted to put her down in the tent because she’s a wee cling-on. But that’s very normal!’
To other parents who might be considering taking the tot’s to festivals in the future, Lauren advised you do lots of research and planning in advance.
Lauren said: ‘I had every type of clothing [for Lemmy] that you can imagine, including six or seven bottles of sun cream with me.
‘I had thermal clothing, summer clothing, and I even did research on the type of fan we took.You name it, I looked into it.’
However her decision to take a 10-month-old baby to a heavy metal festival was not warmly welcomed by all, as some pointed out that a place with large crowds of ‘drunk’ people was not a safe environment for a small child.
One wrote: ‘I had no issue with responsible parents keeping their kids shaded and with ear defenders on. I did have an issue with people taking their tiny babies into extremely dense crowds, no ear defenders, kids crying clearly uncomfortable.
‘The “no under 5” rule needs to come back, it is not a safe environment for a small child.
‘I wouldn’t take my dog into that environment and he’d cope a helluva (sic) lot better than a baby, so I most certainly wouldn’t take a baby.
A second said: ‘Absolutely no issue with babas and kiddies being there, but it was not nice to see so many without ear protection.
‘Also, with the heat being so intense, babies in prams with covers over the pram, rather than shade from a parasol.
‘It would have been like an oven in there, little babies can’t regulate their temperature.Was speaking to a lady who’s a midwife & she was really worried about it!’
A third admitted: ‘Will I judge you inside? Yes. Will I wave at your baby because I’m nice? Also yes. It’s not for me, but I’m sure my life isn’t for some either.’
Others voiced concern for the child’s welfare.One said: ‘I feel like some people just didn’t realise how packed and dangerous download can be, especially for young children, 99% will be fine and have an amazing time, but you just need to know your bearings first.’
And another added: ‘I don’t think anyone’s judging in a malicious way, people are just worried about the safety of a child at a festival.Did witness some dodgy moments where the safety of a child was not upheld, but you do you girl.’
However others were more supportive and some even said they too had their children at the event.
One wrote: ‘I don’t understand why there is so much judgement there was literally stuff put on for kids and they had a designated campsite which was closed off and had security!
‘I wouldn’t take my two for the simple fact that download is my five days away from reality and to let my hair down that’s it!I loved seeing the little metal heads running around enjoying themselves.’
Lauren says she and Lemmy had such a good time they’re planning to go to Download Festival again next year.