Nozstock: The Hidden Valley 2019!
‘It started when my Dad decided to have a BBQ just so that he could ask a band he’d seen in the local pub to come and play at it. His own band played back then too. It was about 50 people at first and then each year it just grew and grew. One year I got u the day after, because it was only on a Saturday then, and there were about 50 people I didn’t know making egg sandwiches in the kitchen. The next year there were a thousand people out the back and I didn’t know any of them. It was then we thought right… We either do this properly and get a licence and some health and safety or we have to stop it now, so… We did this! – Ella Nozworthy on the very organic growth of Nozstock The Hidden Valley Festival.
This year was the 21st Nozstock festival and our very first visit – what took us so long eh?!
It was utterly and beautifully and magically wonderful! We literally had the BEST time! I’m going to give you a brief overview of our weekend here because it was literally the best family friendly festival we’ve ever been to and I’d like you to get an idea as a rounded whole on the experience but… I also think this festival is so worthy of more than one generic review on my blog so I shall be dedicating some space to ‘Food and drink at Nozstock‘, ‘Family Camping at Nozstock‘ and also how to get those all important ‘SUPER EARLY BIRD TICKETS FOR 2020‘ – click on any of those links to take you to my pages for them but if you’d like to know more about the festival as a whole then look no further than this post as I can’t wait to tell you what an amazing time we had!
My family joined the clans of Cookie Crumbles, Modern Mummy and Mummy Endeavours for an annual family festival extravaganza! For the past few years we have festivalled as a group and though we’ve had fun (it’s the company you keep), I have to say that this year’s actual festival was simply a cut above anything else we’ve been to!
For me a lack of commercialism held the crowning glory because there was no hard sell on anything anywhere! We had the opportunity to buy merchandise of course but none of it was shoved down my throat, in fact, had it not been for Cookie buying a T.Shirt I may not have noticed they had anything branded with the logo on sale at all. I LOVED that the vibe of the festival very definitely didn’t scream money maker with the punters being ripped off and that feeling went across the board from food (lots of yummy stalls) and drinks (£4 a pint or a fiver for a cocktail) to buying anything from the stalls on site or paying for crafting activities for the kids – most of which were FREE anyway. It felt very relaxed and actually I think charging too much is a bit of a false economy anyway, I’m far more likely to part with my cash if something is reasonable.
What I also noticed about Nozstock was that nothing LOOKED like it had been manufactured. The signs, the stage, the decorations… All hand made and with a heavy eco feel throughout whereby as a customer you are encouraged to join in with the ethos and at no point did you feel they were just paying lip service to this way of thinking – it was apparent from the solar panelled areas giving friendly energy to the fuel to the way they went about serving drinks and ensuring water stations were all over that they really wanted to be environmentally friendly.
And for families it was near on as perfect as a festival could be!
Basically Nozstock has been designed by a family from a family point of view so everything a family would want has been thought about. Changing stations for kids with free nappies, smaller toilets for littler bums, lots of non bank breaking entertainment for the kiddos, a separate Family Camping area with a playground, places to pick up (for FREE) things you might need like wet wipes, sun tan lotion or ear plugs… It was pretty darn great on that front I have to say and the separate camping area for families was welcome. There were a lot of younger people having a good time and though there was no trouble that I saw I’m not sure I’d have wanted their raucous party right by my camp. It was lovely that the family area was manned and the showers were a mere stones throw.
I don’t know about you but the line up for a festival isn’t really my most immediate draw, with or without the family in tow. It’s the social event of it and what’s on as a whole which pulls me in. If I’m going to see a favourite band then I’d tend to do that separately as I find (especially with the kids) that we drift in and out of the entertainment. We tend to pick two or three things to go and see as a must and the see where the wind takes us the rest of the time. This year we saw the Skatalites and Elvana (an Elvis fronted Nirvana tribute) as a priority but we LOVED the entertainment in The cabinet of Lost Secrets which was so ambient (you enter via a tiny doorway with a woodland creature enticing you in) but beyond fun, the little juke box which had small bands playing inside it and a whole host of other things too including the dancing in the Elephant Graveyard! There were lots of hidden gems even though the site is small and we bumped into some things we thought were brilliant but wouldn’t have seen had we been too involved with making a plan.
Food and Drink
I’m not a fan of buying too much food when out and about at a festival but the choices on offer here were plentiful and because we were gifted some tokens to try it we absolutely made use and I’m glad we did. It was’t terribly priced with most main meals costing around the £8-£10 mark and we didn’t have a bad meal. The pizzas, which actually could have fed all three of mine with just one, were AMAZING and just as with everywhere on site the staff were friendly and accommodating. We had a lovely little tea place in the camp called Cozy Rosie’s who had reasonably prices cups of tea and toast, we all enjoyed the loaded chips and burgers and on the last day we had a terrific jerk chicken with sweet potato fries. I think the variety was pretty great to be honest and as I mentioned earlier, the drinks were average prices of a not particularly expensive pub. Very inviting!
What would I change?
Hmmm, it’s a tricky one because I really liked Nozstock so much that I don’t want to do it down in any way but as we all know, nothing is perfect and Nozstock did have the odd area I thought it might be able to improve on. So… The showers would have to be top of my list. Unlike other family festivals that I’ve been to, you had to pay £3 for a shower which isn’t totally terrible especially as I took both boys in with me when I went and it does keep the queues down BUT… There really aren’t enough of them. One block for the whole festival with maybe 12 showers tops… They needed more. I would also perhaps have mown the grass before tents went to pitch up and it certainly would have been handy for others (we were in pre pitched repurposed tents so didn’t have this issue) if maybe there’d been someone official on hand that could say ‘that’s too close’ as people were really on top of each other when there was no need because there was ample space! The only other thing I would change would be to have a separate car park and gate down at the bottom of family camping so that families can just get from their car to field without walking the long way round. Though it’s not particularly long really, in the rain and mud it was hard work for my friends who arrived earlier and seeing an empty field next door just made me think perhaps that could be possible!
And the Rest
To begin with I thought perhaps we were being treated Royally because obviously we were there to do a job. After a while I realised that the Nozstock family treat EVERYONE who visits with the same courteous hand. This isn’t some massive festival without a soul, this is a mazimum of 5000 people having a party in a field all weekend and the Nozworthy’s really do make you feel part of the family. Well, at least like we were in a queue making egg sandwiches in their kitchen. Nothing was too much whenever I asked a staff member any question and chatting to other party goers, who couldn’t believe this was our first Noz (because they say once you go once that’s it) I think the general consensus is the same. The toilets were well thought out, the layout of everything easy to navigate, children’s areas clearly marked and lots of help on hand if needed. Nozstock is just a relaxed, fun, friendly and earthy place to be. There are no pretences. There are no airs and graces. Nostock is just pretty great thanks very much and long may it continue in exactly the same way it is now – Ella said she can’t see it changing and that’s JUST what I like to hear!
Don’t forget SUPER EARLY BIRD TICKETS are on sale now – read my blog post linked at the beginning of this one for more information or click here to buy tickets to Nozstock – The Hidden Valley 2020, Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th July 2020.
I was gifted tickets and provided with a tent and some food vouchers so that I could experience Nozstock 2019 and write honestly about my experiences.