Hats off to the Nozworthy clan.
Herefordshire ought to give the freedom of the county if such a thing exists) to this family of free-thinking hedonists. For, as the creators and curators of Nozstock, they have established the sort of festival many other event organisers can only dream of.
Because anyone who started going to fests back in the 90s and now grumbles when looking at the Glastonburys of the world that ‘it’s not what it used to be’ should seek out the hidden valley.
That’s not to say this is a ramshackle retro theme park – Nozstock features quality PAs on solid stages and has all of the infrastructure a modern festival should have.
But there’s a gently anarchic edge to the whole space – and it’s a family-friendly brand of anarchy. Playful, whimsical, comical, and welcoming.
And the programming – whilst certainly featuring a good smattering of old-school names – also embraces new styles, flavours and genres, meaning it stays relevant to a cross section of generations and ensures that across the nine stages there will almost always be something to take your fancy.
But please don’t all rush at once.
Nozstock only has a few thousand capacity – so tickets are limited, and it would be a shame if the die-hard regulars were to lose out to newcomers.
So perhaps we shouldn’t do too much to sell the joys of the main arena, landscaped around the ramshackle Tudor farmhouse that lies at the centre of the festival site.
Or indeed we ought to keep equally quiet about the Garden Stage, which features cutting edge party bands and DJs until the wee small hours.
After all – if too many people had tried to cram into the front of the stage at half-past midnight there might not have been room for Neck fans to dance the night away to the swirling psycho-ceilidh celtic punk of County Holloway’s finest…
And of course we must remain tight-lipped about both the perfectly formed Orchard (where the bigger names are to be found playing to packed and ecstatic crowds) and the intimate Bandstand (which invariably hosts some of the best and quirkiest acts on the festival circuit).
If word had spread too far it’s hard to imagine how any more people could have squeezed in to enjoy the understated genius of Seasick Steve or the equally overstated hyperbole of The Sugarhill Gang (with guests Scorpio and Mele Mel) – who took the lid off the history of hip-hop and stirred it up to deliver a masterclass in feel-good action.
And when you stumble on brilliant two-piece punk rock bands like Frauds as the sun goes down you want to keep the secret to yourself.
So, in polite fairness to those who have been coming to Nozstock for many years and who return annually in pilgrimage to the spirit of the festival we will also definitely not be sharing our delighted thoughts here about the bass-culture, house-beats, alternative dance, and psy-trance that can be found pulsing away in converted cow sheds and woodland groves scattered around the site.
After all, if we did we’d also have to include something about the Bantam of the Opera Theatre, where live performance, comedy, workshops and after-dark experimental cabaret all allow audiences to explore another world within another world.
What we most definitely will be keeping firmly under our favourite festival straw hat is the excellent value for money and quality provided by the food stalls and bars at Nozstock this year.
Nobody can complain about not being able to bring drinks into the arena when a good quality local ale can be supped for just £3.50. And burgers at the same price plus delicious and substantial Thai curries or Mexican dishes for around £7 or £8 all proved capable of satisfying even the largest of appetites.
All in all a tip-top weekend of authentic festival fun.
For our Nozstock photo galleries look no further than here…