Ten Years Of Bloodstock Open Air – Reflecting On A Decade Of Memories Made

Way back in the heady days of 2014, I made my first ever trip to Catton Hall for Bloodstock Open Air. I had no idea what to expect, not knowing anyone who had ever attended, and only having the experience of festivals like Download, Sonisphere, and Hellfest to go on. Back then, it was just my wife, Lou, and I, and we had made 2014 a year of celebration after spending 2012 and 2013 focusing on our wedding and all the stuff that comes with that.

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I would turn 30 at Bloodstock 2014, and as a person who doesn’t really care about birthday celebrations, it seemed an apt place to see it out. We had no plans to make it a yearly thing. In fact, having done Sonisphere and Hellfest already that year, we figured we’d mix it up more in 2015 and every year, try a new festival out.

Us – 2014 at Bloodstock

So, we went along, and had the best time. Of course we did. One of the over-riding highlights of that year was being surprised on the Friday, the day before my 30th birthday, by my brother Brendan and my future sister-in-law, Gemma coming down for the day. It was a wonderful time, and even though back then, I didn’t appreciate all the festival had to offer (I don’t think I went near the New Blood once that weekend) I was taken in. We got soaked on the Sunday, so we left early, but on that drive home it was clear that we would do this again.

This year marks our 10th Bloodstock experience. Every Bloodstock since 2014, aside from 2020, but we all know what happened there. For 10 years we have packed up the car, driven through the Dartford Tunnel, along the M25 and M1, stopped at Northampton Services for some breakfast, before finishing up the last leg of our 3–4-hour journey. For 10 years we have stepped away from our lives to spend a few days in a field with tons of likeminded strangers, seeing the bands we’ve love, and having the best times.

Our camping group – 2019

I don’t need to tell you why, following 2014, we decided to keep coming back, but this year more than any other year, I’m feeling really reflective about it. It’s not just the 10 years of Bloodstock, as there are certainly going to be plenty of folks who have been doing it even longer, it’s the fact that I’ve become so committed to the festival and the experience it offers. When I say that I look forward to Bloodstock every single year, it’s not hyperbole.

I need the escape. I think we all do. The stepping out of ‘normal’ life and just letting loose in a way that I don’t normally ever get to. I’m not even talking about the partying aspect either. I’m talking about the chance to just slow down and be with people. Not distracted by phones, not worrying about work, not concerned with getting the last train home, or having to wake up the next day hungover and do chores. A genuine chance to slow down and spend time with people. Some of who, I only see once a year.

Bloodstock 2018

Last year, I wrote this article. In it, I wrote about how Bloodstock was good for my mental health and I do urge you to read it, if you’ve not, as it’s still relevant now. An aspect of that article was social anxiety, how I was working on combating it, and how Bloodstock was helping. This year, I think I might be the most excited I’ve ever been to attend, but not for obvious reasons like bands.

It’s all about people. I can’t wait to spend time with people, many of whom I’ve met through the festival. I can’t wait to slow down and spend time with Lou, Brendan, Gemma, their daughter, Rose (her first time coming), my 21-year-old child, Dan, and his partner, L (also her first time coming). Which might seem silly, seeing as I know these people pretty damn well, but life comes at you fast and hard, and before you know it, weeks have gone by without much interaction, let alone actually meeting up and just spending time together.

Bloodstock 2023

I don’t get this feeling anywhere else. Not online, not at shows, and not at other festivals. I don’t think anything will be able to wipe the smile off my face this year, but it’s a smile I’ve had on my face every August since 2014. It’s my happy place, and it became my happy place in 2014, hence why I’m back every single year. It’s also why the next part is so important.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve celebrated a lot of birthdays at Bloodstock, and thanks to our group growing in number each year, I’ve got to do this with people I love. This year I turn 40 and I turn 40 at the festival. I’ve changed a bit since 2014. I’m slower, balder, and deafer. I’ve thought about what being 40 means, and what I’m supposed to have accomplished in life at this point.

Bloodstock 2016

I’m supposed to be a grown-up, and I am, every other time but Bloodstock time. It’s not necessarily forgetting about my responsibilities, but rather, putting them to the side for a few days. They’re there, and they’re not going away, but for a few days, I can at least put them out of my mind. I genuinely can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be to turn 40. I’m not telling you this because I want to make a big deal out of it. I really don’t, although a cheeky birthday beer won’t be turned down. I’m telling you this because for the last ten years of my life, either on or around my birthday, it’s been about Bloodstock, and it will continue to be going forward. I expect to turn 50 there too, and so on (hopefully).

Bloodstock 2023

All because, 10 years ago, we decided that after so much saving and spending, we needed a year to just go wild and attend as many shows and festivals as time would allow. I’m so glad we did. What once felt strange, now feels like home. I can’t wait to see you all.


  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!