This year we have been on a few new adventures as we dipped our toes in to the world of family festivals. We started with a one day festival close to home as well the BBC children’s festival in Liverpool and then we tried a few different types of full blown weekend camping festival experiences and boy have we had fun along the way.
Our most recent family festival experience was at Nozstock: The Hidden Valley in Herefordshire. Before we committed to any festivals we did lots of research and that included reading numerous reviews, most of which I found super helpful in deciding which ones we felt were suitable for our family and which ones we were going to leave for the time being. So if you are currently doing the same then I hope you find our Nozstock festival review from 2019 helpful and if you have any questions that I haven’t answered here feel free to ask it in the comments section below.
A Quick Overview
Nozstock: The Hidden Valley is an annual festival ran by Noz and his family on their farm in Bromyard. This year saw it’s 21st birthday and they celebrated by embracing the most incredible Wizard of Noz theme, their attention to detail second to none making it easy to see why it is still going strong after 21 years. Nozstock is the festival of the people in my opinion with a massive array of choice when it comes to musical tastes, a separate family camping area and kids activity center as well as viewing areas for disabled people along side signs that point out “Not all disabilities are visible” making the whole festival feel very inclusive.
The Site and Facilities
The site is easy to find and has ample parking, although the later you arrive the further you will have to walk to pitch your tent, but I doubt they could actually run out of parking spaces altogether so you don’t need to worry about that.
The camping areas are divided and we stayed on the family campsite which seemed a lot nicer and less cramped than the general camping. We loved how there was a park on the family campsite, perfect for when you are setting up and taking down the tent to avoid moans of boardem.
There are lots of toilets scattered throughout the festival and they were cleaned regularly, including some children only loos on the family site. The only down side for me was that there were no family showers in this area so it meant you had to take all your stuff over to the general campsite if you wanted to use them. Other than that Nozstock had everything we needed, including free drinking water which was a bonus on the hot days.
There are 8 stages at Nozstock covering a whole range of musical genres, so you are sure to find something that you love. For us we enjoyed the main stage and the Cabinet of Lost secrets the most. We discovered two new bands that all 4 of us loved, The Happy Daggers and Year of the Dog, and have listened to both again since we returned home. We also enjoyed dancing to Elvana: Elvis Fronted Nirvana, on the main stage and were amazed to see names we recognised such as Rudimental headlining.
For the Kids
Our two main concerns when we started going to festivals with our boys was
1.What would they do all day? and
2.Would the festival be appropriate for them?
Firstly, there is loads for children of all ages to do all day and long in to the evening. There is a specialist children’s area called Little Wonderland that has numerous games, crafts, and activities, most free with the occasional one you have to pay for. In this area my boys had two favourite activities, the golf/hockey type game and the aerial yoga, although the face painting also looked very popular.
There is loads of choice in this area and lots of additional schedueled activiies such as interactive storytelling, beatboxing and a mini disco, the only down side is that it is a relatively small space for the number of activities going on and can feel very busy sometimes and on the first day I was worried we would be stuck in there for the whole weekend. Thankfully though what Nozstock have done brilliantly in my opinion is scatter other family friendly activities throughout the whole festival area which means you aren’t confined to that one spot, instead you can and should go exploring in every nook and cranny to see what is going on.
For example in the Cabinet of Lost Secrets we discovered a piano the children could play, a mirror that opens up as a secret door with secret tunnels leading from the reception area through to a bar area and back again which was so popular with the children and some empty photo frames that the children (or adults) could pop their heads in from the other side of the wall and scare the life out of people.
In another area we found a coconut shy, again this was free and the boys spent hours playing on this with other children, so much so my husband and I managed to sit next to it and watch a whole show whilst they played.
Everywhere you turn there is something magical and fun to explore, including mimes who will interact with your children and ninjas who will encourage you to doodle on their clothing and if all this isn’t enough then there is still the music that is on all day as well as an indoor cinema and various shows.
In answer to my second question, is it appropriate for children? Then I would say yes as long as you watch them and are aware of your surroundings. For example one stage called the elephant grave yard is hidden down in the woods and plays dance music, we found that the later it got the more drunk people were in this area so we avoided it at night and another stage played a lot of rap music that had swear words in it so again with a 6 and 9 year old we chose to avoid this stage too. However, let me make it clear that there we so may other stages that were completely appropriate, safe and enjoyable long in to the night that avoiding those two made no difference to us and you may decide to use them as children are allowed, it’s a personal thing.
One more thing I want to mention in regards to children is that Nozstock have the safety element covered pretty well. Your children will be given a wrist band where you can write your contact number so should they go missing anyone who finds them can ring you. They also have at least two lost children tents that your child can go to or be taken to should they get lost and on the one occasion we were alerted to a missing child (don’t worry said child was in their tent) a search party was put together in seconds and staff were helping the family locate the child. Despite the size of the festival I felt our children were safe at all times.
We decided to eat at our tent for breakfast and lunch and then enjoy evening meal inside the festival grounds. We found that there was loads of choice for everyone. Although we are not vegetarian, vegan, or have any special dietary requirements we did notice that the organisers had clearly taken these into account when choosing the food vendors as there was
An authentic Indian serving vegetarian curries
A vegan restaurant serving Vish and chips
somewhere to grab jacket potato’s with a variety of fillings including vegan and vegetarian options
A posh burger bar with various meats available
A pizza place
Sausage and Mash
and one of our favourites was the loaded chips bar.
Between the 4 of us over the 3 days we tried the Indian curry, pizza, a salad box, loaded chips and the doughnuts and everything comes highly recommended from us. The only thing we tried that we didn’t absolutely love was the hot chocolate form the doughnut stand but hey you can’t win them all.
We found that the majority of main meals were priced between £8 and £10 and most were big portions so if buying for a child maybe get them one to share to start with. You can also buy side orders, such as chips for less then £5 too.
Our overall verdict
It is a massive thumbs up from us and we will definitely be looking at going again. As far as we were concerned Nozstock had everything that a family could ant from a festival from an array of activities to a selection on musical genres to introduce the kids to. It is set in a beautiful part of the world with stunning views for miles around and has a lovely happy and safe feel to it from the moment you arrive until the moment you reluctantly pack up and head back to reality. Having compare Nozstock to other festivals this is a medium sized festival which has as much to offer as some of the bigger ones and is very reasonably priced with the option to buy day tickets or camping tickets and it made for the perfect starting point in our festival journey.
1.If you are taking children then book the family camping area. It does not cost any more but it definitely worth it as everyone on there has kids and therefore the noise is a little lower during the night, most people have larger tents, there is a on site park and children only toilette’s and drunk adults and bad language is at a minimum.
2. You have to pay to use the showers and these are in the general camping area so have some change ready and be prepared to queue.
3. Take a trolley as some of the parking is a fair walk to the campsite, and we all know that tents, camping paraphernalia, and children can be heavy! For more tips on what to pack for a festival check out this article.
4. Nozstock is quit big and set out over several fields so make sure you use the children’s wrists bands where you can add your phone number and let them know where the lost children’s tent is just in case, if you are anything like me this will simply make you feel better.
5. Buy your tickets early as they are cheaper and you don’t want to miss out!
(We were gifted tickets to Nozsock in exchange for a review, all opinions are my own).