Nozstock 2023 Review

Nozstock we love you! What an absolute little gem to discover with our teenagers. A proper little party festival! Thank you, thank you thank you for the most epic of 25th birthday parties. Our first but definitely not our last Nozstock adventure! Take a flick through the gallery below.

Arrival, Camping and the Nozstock site

Arriving at Nozstock The Hidden Valley was something of a joy driving through the Herefordshire country. Set on a rural family farm hidden well in a valley, it’s no wonder it’s taken us this long to find it. After a 5-hour journey, we arrived to a warm and easy welcome and were guided in our campervan to the stewarded family campsite.

Family Camping at Nozstock is the furthest camping from the festival, but at just a 5,000 capacity you were never more than a 10-15 minute walk from the festival to your camp. Special family camping wristbands are given to those camping there and this is well stewarded. At the entrance, there was a small wooden playground where lots of the kids gathered and made friends. Well looked after toilets including child-sized toilets in the campsite were also accompanied by a baby change area and lost kids tent. Other campsites offer quiet or noisy camping and further across the site, there was a free shuttle bus every 20 mins. The free bus offers and the chance to explore the area further visiting the local village and its small businesses of Bromyard.

The festival sits on the side of a stunning rolling valley and stages are centred around a ramshackled Tudor farmhouse providing an almost unreal backdrop for the Garden Stage.

Music & Stages at Nozstock

A key part of what we loved was that for a 25-year-old festival, Nozstock remains absolutely current. Whoever programmes music has a pretty genius understanding of what makes a good festival and for a small festival, we were blown away by the number of stages and performances on offer.

The absolute highlight of the weekend was legends The Wailers. Wow! Our all-time favourite gig we’ve ever been lucky to attend in all the years of going to festivals. Also on the main Orchard Stage, our 13-year-olds weekend was made by a phenomenal Shy FX + Stamina Friday night only made better by the downpour and enthusiastic crowd who danced colourfully through the rain. Both shows will never be forgotten.

Sound quality at all stages was excellent, especially The Garden Stage which was literally jumping all weekend, It hosted dance, jungle and drum n bass legends like General Levy, Kenny Ken and DJ Marky, Mr Bruce – an absolutely treat for us old ravers but also enjoyed by hundreds of bouncing people half and a quarter our age. Weekend highlights were families dancing to Beatles Dub Club, and witnessing a heartfelt marriage proposal during Beans on Toast‘s performance. Congrats to the happy couple!

The Cubicle and The Bullpen farm buildings offered great club-like venues for all kinds of thumping DJs & MCs in jungle, drum n bass, hip-hop, bassline, and even more modern beats entertaining late into the night when the open stages ended. For a wet weekend, these were pretty busy but as this was a farm, the mud seemed to be taken in the organiser’s stride. Only one area The Elephants Graveyard (reggae and house DJs) was closed for a little time due to its location at the bottom of a steep hill. Note to anyone with little ones in buggies: There’s a fair amount of up and down here so trollies really would be a challenge. Also at the bottom of a hill, The Coppice was an ultra-violet glade full of neon butterflies and psytrance.

Other stages included The Bandstand (folk/rock), The Department of Cultural Affairs (theatre, talks, comedy & workshops), plus a few other smaller hidden venues – our favourite the Cabinet of Lost Secrets – you’ll have to head along in 2024 to discover this one yourself.

Activities at Nozstock

Having teenagers at a smaller festival meant they were able to decide exactly what they wanted to watch or do, even in the evenings. Although phone signal wasn’t great, it wasn’t hard to plan meet-up points or let each other know where we were. Friday evening they chose to watch an inspiring circus collective while we opted for a dance. During the day they went to wander the many shops and activities on offer when they’d had enough of music. On Saturday night we all huddled down from the rain for some occult frights with Lachlan Werner presents Voices of Evil. Certainly not billed as ‘family friendly’ but plenty of kids watched and found it hilarious (not recommended if swearing offends).

We were delighted to find so many great activities for kids. Mostly free in the kids fields (clay, felting, DJ workshops, drawing, breakdancing) with activities for older kids and grownups in the craft village carrying small fees. Free circus skills, nightly fire shows and a big paint fight on Sunday when the sun finally showed up. We spent a joyful hour sanding wooden mushrooms for £3 and the kids made felt dreads for £3 each. Lots of other creative workshops were on offer. Also so many great independent traders that sold reasonable items so the kids were in their element.

Cost & everything else

As festivals go, we think the value Nozstock presents for families is excellent with kids 12 and under going free. A pint of beer was just £5 (plus £1 cup levy if you don’t bring one) and although the food vendors were averagely priced for a festival, the quality of everything was excellent. The fact the festival offers a free bus so you can pop to the local village if you wish is also a touch if you need to feed your family on a supermarket budget.

Facilities across the site were well maintained and plentiful even on a rather wet weekend. The info tent and welfair tent available 24/7 as was the Smoking Tenticle large cafe in the campsite. There was also a campsite shop offering much-needed camping equipment rental. As an event that attracts a lot of teenagers, we were sad to see the Monday morning mess left after the party but it’s clear the festival is really trying to address this. Please remind your own teens of their responsibility to (in the words of Beans on Toast) “Take your shit home with you!” Our only negative of the weekend, and difficult to put this down to the organisers who really are working hard on sustainability and charity support.

The effort from the decor team across the site can’t go unmentioned. Outstanding in every way both day and night with enchanting projections and colourful displays around the festival theme ‘2000 acres under the sea’. This was Boomtown standards but without the week off work needed to recover from the vast site and walking! We really couldn’t believe the effort that went into every corner. Thank you team decor for bringing all the magic to the farm and for the extra touches like comfy sofas and enchanting structures at this special weekend.

And finally…

We loved that Nozstock has remained a proper festival and it’s clear it’s a strong part of the local community supporting small businesses and doing what’s right in terms of sustainability and looking after people. There’s a big late-night party vibe but it still felt safe for kids with everyone taking care of their fellow festival goers and a broad range of ages which helps keep things level. Every single person we came across was a joy to meet and we would highly recommend it as a fantastic family party festival.

Will we see you there in 2024? Check out our factsheet for info here