We’ve wanted to take the kids to a family festival for such a long time. I love the idea of spending a whole weekend with the kids outside enjoying music and there’s something about attending a festival that makes it feel properly summer, if you know what I mean? Obviously I’m not thinking about the mud and rain…… although I think my kids would have just as good a time at a muddy rainy festival as a sunny one!
Nozstock: The Hidden Valley Family Festival
So….. we’re so excited that we’ve been offered the chance to visit Nozstock this year – it also falls on my husband’s birthday so it’s going to make his birthday extra special! Nozstock is a delightful family focused festival with a homely, welcoming feel but with an amazing 11 stages of entertainment alongside secluded areas of theatre and art. I can’t wait to spend the weekend doing arts & crafts with the kids and maybe even catch a late night short film from the Cinema screens! And one of the best things is that kids go free!
Nozstock, like the very best of festivals was founded by a fun-loving family – a father and daughter team and I was lucky enough to interview Ella about how this family festival arrived on the scene!
How did Nozstock come about? What’s the story behind its creation? Well, we never intended to create Nozstock, or run a festival at all. We were in the middle of it before we realised what was happening. It started as a BBQ for 50 close friends with a guitars-around-the-campfire type of vibe. We decided to do it again the next year with a couple of bands on. Then again with a whole afternoon of bands. Then a bar. Then DJs after hours. Then a merchandise stall. We kept adding a few little things to our party each year just because we thought it would be fun, until we realised we had 1000 people dancing on our lawn. We had started a festival – completely by accident! By that point it was starting to cost quite a bit to put on and we were putting a lot of time into it. We realised we either needed stop what we were doing or get a license, start selling tickets and do things properly. We were having so much fun we didn’t want to stop and I guess the rest is history!
What according to you is the most important element of a festival? Atmosphere. It needs to feel friendly, welcoming and fun. Like you’ve been invited by the family to a party for the weekend. A festival should be so much more than just music in a field. I think it’s our special atmosphere which has allowed Nozstock to keep going for 20 years.
So tell us more about Nozstock for those who may not visited? It’s a small festival set on a working farm in Herefordshire. It’s intimate, it’s quirky, it’s colourful and it has loads going on for its size. We have got 11 stages each offering something different, meaning it really is an event that has something for everyone. Russell Howard described it as “a rural slice of English eccentricity” which I think sums it up perfectly.
How is the festival organised? Does the whole family get involved? Yes, it’s very much a family affair. Dad runs all the Production / Operational aspects including security and toilets. My brother Rob is Site Manager, my sister in law runs the marketing and PR, Mum does the accounts and ticketing, I do the more music management side of things. My cousin manages a stage, another runs our stewarding team. At the beginning we were just taking on jobs we had an interest in, but of course we now have 20 years under our belts and a lot of the crew have ended up working full time in the festival industry thanks to their experience with Nozstock.
How excited are you about this year’s lineup? And in particular, is there anyone we might not have heard of who we should definitely check out? Very excited. We knew we wanted to do something really special for the 20th anniversary but I still can’t quite believe we have the likes of Chase and Status, Goldfrapp and Grandmaster Flash coming to perform in our garden! Nozstock has a reputation for supporting up and coming talent so there’s a few artists to check out who are still under the radar. I would recommend Oh My God! It’s The Church, The Stiff Joints and Capas.
Why is Nozstock a great festival for families? Well its small, friendly and safe so you’ve no worries about letting little ones explore and discover. We have a wonderful kids’ area with an amazing range of entertainments and workshops but children are welcome anywhere on site and there really is loads for them to see and do. The tie dye T shirt workshop is always super popular. All our kids’ area activities are free. I have small children myself, so I wouldn’t expect anything less. We have some helpful little touches for families like games in the family camping area to keen them busy whilst you set up camp, a bottle warming service, a change mat available if you need it. Just a few things to help with the practicalities of being a parent at a festival.
What’s been your personal favourite festival appearance? I’m a massive fan of Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer so having him play a few years ago was a personal highlight. It’s the only time I’ve gone into the dressing rooms specifically to meet an artist! Jurassic 5 were also lovely, and great to work with. Really looking forward to having Chali 2na back on the farm this year.
How do you find raising a young family and organising the festival? Busy! It’s definitely a balancing act keeping on top of the festival and keeping the kids happy but I’m sure that’s the same for any mother. I always feel like I’m behind with the jobs I need to get done, but I’m very lucky in that I can bring the girls to work with me if I need to and be flexible in my working hours. It means a lot of late night emails and bleary eyes the next morning. but it’s worth it. In many ways having my daughters has helped make the festival better as it’s opened my eyes to what it’s like for parents to bring children to a festival and what they need for a successful weekend.
Any crazy ideas that you are planning to implement in the future, to make your festival even more fantastic?! There’s always crazy ideas floating around. That’s the danger when you love what you do and you are always thinking: “wouldn’t it be great if we did this?!” Sometimes we need to reign ourselves in a bit, but it’s important to provide something different for our visitors each year. I don’t like to say too much, so there are surprises when people arrive but we are implementing some improvements to the craft and theatrical areas of the festival this year so looking forward to seeing how that turns out!
Give us one word to describe life as a festival organiser? Hectic!
To say the whole family are excited about visiting Nozstock is an understatement! Elodie can’t wait to try the T Shirt Dying Workshop and Finlay is looking forward to dancing outdoors in his wellies! Their line up for their 20th anniversary looks amazing – we’re particularly looking forward to seeing We are Scientists and The Blockheads and we’re looking forward to sharing our first family festival experience with you!
If you’d like to know more about Nozstock Family Festival, please check out their website for ticket information. You must come! It’s going to be so much fun!