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Nozstock: The Hidden Valley review 2019

by Jade Tyson

Nozstock 2019 was a world of diverse music, good vibes and weird and wonderful sights.

It was all about the little things: the decorations around the site, the effort put into making every stage special, the hired performers (for example the women dressed in snorkels and swimsuits who walked around ‘washing’ people with a loofa on a stick) and the costumes that people have made themselves.

The site was decorated to the theme The Wizard of Noz, with something new to look at with every turn. There were striped witches legs coming out of the sides of trees, the Garden stage was decorated as Dorothy’s house, and the main stage had an eerie image of the Wizard which, through the use of clever lighting, came alive at night.

We saw people dressed up as lions, tin men, Dorothys and even someone dressed as the tornado complete with livestock that had been swept up.

Nozstock performers washing people
Some of Nozstock’s performers washing our friend Gordon

One evening, on the Cabinet of Secrets stage, we danced to dirty house funk and soul music being played out of a caravan window while people sat merrily in an empty bath.

We were then lead down a secret, mirror-lined tunnel which came out at a stage occupied by two men at makeshift drums dressed head to toe in metal scraps.

The Junkoactive Wasteman, as they’re known (even the organisers don’t know his real name), played the most bizarre, yet genius, rendition of ‘Don’t you want me’ while the crowd leaned into the eccentricity of the night.

The Junkoactive Wasteman at Nozstock 2019
The Junkoactive Wasteman

Nozstock began life as a garden party, barbeque and as an excuse for Pete Nosworthy (the legendary Noz) to headline with his band. More and more friends, and friends of friends, started to attend each year. So, they put on a bar and, for a laugh, sold fake merchandise – Y-fronts with Noz’s face on!

The festival grew completely organically and just for fun. On their 10th anniversary, they hit 1000 guests and upon realising they didn’t know most of them, the family decided to get a license and transform it into a ‘proper’ festival.

You can still feel Nozstock’s authentic, family-run, garden-party origins in the friendly, safe feel and relaxed and approachable staff.

Nozstock sign and fires at night

We had the pleasure of meeting Ella Nosworthy, Creative Director of Nozstock and daughter of Noz himself. She has now firmly cemented herself as one of the amazing women we want to recruit to our ‘Cool Girl Gang’.

Ella explained that they have no plans to expand the 5000 guest capacity festival which is still run by a crew made up of family, friends and friends of friends.

She sings the praises of each and every one of the crew, explaining that they all work together and with everyone putting love into every aspect of the festival. She told us “we just add things because we think they are going to be fun – there’s no business sense”.

The Coppice at night at Nozstock
The Coppice at night

The whole family are involved in booking acts which leads to “passionate late-night discussions”. Ella tends to book the Ska and Rock bands, her dad is into Drum and Base and her brother covers Hip Hop.

The diverse line-up represents the family’s diverse tastes and as results caters to everyone. Just about anyone can find something they like and, as Ella explained, “I wouldn’t want to run it any other way!”.

Nozstock has now expanded to have 11 stages, and even with only 5000 guests, each stage maintained a crowd and an atmosphere. One within the woodland, the Coppice, featured psytrance and was decorated with vibrant UV colours, making for an amazing scene at night.

The Elephants Graveyard stage featured House and Jungle DJs and is so-called because an elephant was once found buried there after a circus occupied the neighbouring field.

The Sunken Graveyard played disco, funk and soul tunes, organised a paint fight in the day and had dancers in leopard print bodysuits who brought out a limbo pole occasionally.

The Orchard Stage at night
The Orchard Stage

The festival gave us the likes of the upbeat Rudimental, DJ Zinc, Ed Solo, Eva Lazarus X Gardna, Sleaford Mods, David Rodigan to the wonderful beats of Soul II Soul and Hollie Cook just to mention a few.

Our personal favourite set was Eva Lazarus x Gardna a regular and firm fan-favourite of the festival. They put on one of the most energetic, jam-packed sets of the weekend – the crowd went wild!

We loved her that much we awarded Eva with the MVP (Most Valuable Person) trophy with instructions to pass-it-on to the next most deserving person. She later gave us a shout out on Instagram saying it will go with her to Boomtown to be passed on. Needless to say, she’s also won herself a place in our fictional ‘Cool Girl Gang’.

Nozstock's sustainability board
Nozstock’s sustainability boards

Nozstock is committed to sustainability and has signed the Drastic on Plastic pledge to be single-use plastic-free by 2022.

This year they encouraged everyone to bring reusable water bottles, ran a reusable cup scheme, banned plastic straws and only sold canned water.

While they’ve been using the EcoBond Scheme for a few years now, Ella noted a marked improvement in the cleanliness of the site this year. However, the state of the camping area after the festival continues to be the biggest problem. Festivalgoers still seem to believe that charities collect abandoned tents, but we know that this just isn’t true.

Nozstock main stage at night
The main stage

Prior to the festival, eight videos were uploaded to the Nozstock YouTube channel showing walkthroughs of access to all of the stages and an explanation of improvements to accessibility they’ve made on the site.

The main stage had a raised viewing platform and gentle slopes had been carved into the hills to improve access to certain areas.

While efforts have been made, it is worth being aware that the site is hilly and wet weather will affect accessibility in certain areas. However, we have no doubt the organisers would be very happy to discuss accessibility prior to you purchasing a ticket.

The Cabinet of Lost Secrets

Overall we had an absolutely amazing time at Nozstock 2019 and can’t wait to see what 2020 has to offer.

The range of music was amazing and the whole atmosphere was beautiful. All the food we tried on site was great and they had a good selection of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Special shout out to Pimp My Fries for their Marmite glazed cheesy fries!

The toilets on-site were generally really clean and we never found them without toilet paper. Whenever there was a big mess, it was very quickly dealt with.

The Sunken Yard Paint Fight Nozstock
Paint fight at The Sunken Yard

Tickets for 2020 are already on sale and discussions on the theme are well underway, leaving the set designer to reel everyone in when they get carried away. Our friend Finn is an ambassador for Nozstock so if you’re interested in buying discounted tickets through him to help him win backstage access next year – please email Finlay at [email protected]

Our Nozstock family for 2019
Our Nozstock family for 2019

By Lizzie Verity & Jade Tyson

Image credits:
Paint fight – Andrew Barrell
Main stage – Charlie Rimmer
Nozstock sign – Alex Avery
Orchard stage – Liam Newman
The Cabinet of Lost Secrets


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