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All About Bloodstock Open Air

Photograph of the blog post author, Sebastian Wolf

Sebastian Wolf


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Bloodstock Open Air

When it comes to UK music festivals, fans of alternative music are spoilt for choice. From Download to ArcTanGent to Slam Dunk, there’s a great choice of events that run the entire gambit of non-mainstream music. However, if metal music is the only thing that matters to you, then one clear choice stands out from the rest: Bloodstock Open Air. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the history, location, and lineups of Bloodstock Open Air and explain why it is the ultimate UK metal festival.

We’ll also discuss some of Bloodstock’s standout performances over the years and consider the festival’s position in the broader Euro metal scene.

So, without further ado, let’s embark on our journey and discover the wonders of Bloodstock Open Air.

What Is Bloodstock Open Air?

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Bloodstock Open Air, commonly called Bloodstock or BOA, is an annual heavy metal festival held in the United Kingdom. Since its inception in 2001, Bloodstock has been a sanctuary for fans of extreme music, showcasing established and emerging metal bands from across the globe. The festival has steadily grown over the years, attracting thousands of dedicated metalheads who come together to celebrate their love for the genre.

Bloodstock’s lineup features a diverse range of metal subgenres, including death metal, black metal, power metal, and thrash metal. With an impressive roster of international acts, Bloodstock’s status as one of the world’s premier metal festivals is secure.

Where Is Bloodstock Open Air Located?

Bloodstock Open Air takes place at Catton Park, a picturesque estate in Walton-on-Trent, Derbyshire, England. The festival grounds span a vast area, encompassing multiple stages, campsites, and other amenities. The serene countryside setting provides a unique contrast to the thunderous sounds of metal music, creating a truly unforgettable experience for festival attendees.

Catton Park’s central location makes it easily accessible from major cities in the UK, such as London, Birmingham, and Manchester. Additionally, its proximity to several airports, train stations, and bus stations ensures a hassle-free travel experience for international visitors.

The History of Bloodstock Open Air

The story of Bloodstock Open Air began in 2001, when the festival started life as an indoor event. Founded by Paul Gregory and his family, the first edition of Bloodstock took place at the Assembly Rooms in Derby and featured a lineup of predominantly British metal bands. The festival’s early years were marked by a strong focus on the UK metal scene, with an emphasis on promoting local talent.

In 2005, Bloodstock transitioned to an outdoor format, moving to its current location at Catton Park. As the festival grew in size and stature, it began attracting major international acts, such as In Flames, Arch Enemy, Lacuna Coil, and Blind Guardian. Today, Bloodstock boasts a rich history of memorable performances by some of the biggest names in metal, including Slayer, Megadeth, and Judas Priest.

Top Performances at Bloodstock Throughout the Years

Over the years, Bloodstock has played host to a plethora of legendary performances by some of the most revered acts in the metal world. Here are just a few of the most memorable moments in the festival’s history:

Lacuna Coil (2007)

Off the back of their recently released album “Karmacode”, the Italian gothic metal masters got the crowd bouncing with their powerful riffs and the soaring vocal performance of charismatic frontwoman Cristina Scabbia.

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Opeth (2010)

Following on from their impressive BOA debut in 2008, Swedish progressive metal titans Opeth returned two years later to deliver a masterful performance that showcased their unique blend of melodic and heavy music. Frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt’s captivating stage presence and blistering guitar work left a lasting impression on the crowd. However, their set also included a moving tribute to legendary metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who had been scheduled to headline Bloodstock that day with Heaven & Hell but sadly passed away before the festival. Fans were treated to an Opeth cover of a classic Dio song from his days with Rainbow.

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Lamb of God (2013)

American groove metal giants Lamb of God headlined Bloodstock in 2013, unleashing a relentless barrage of crushing riffs and pounding drums. Vocalist Randy Blythe’s raw energy and commanding stage presence whipped the crowd into a frenzy, making it a night to remember.

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Gojira (2016)

French progressive metal outfit Gojira’s performance at Bloodstock 2016 was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Their mesmerising light show, intricate musicianship, and powerful vocals resulted in a truly unforgettable experience for those in attendance.

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Last Time Around: Bloodstock Open Air 2022

Following a pandemic-enforced break in 2020, Bloodstock returned in 2021, albeit with an almost entirely UK-based lineup due to travel restrictions in place at the time. But 2022 saw the festival return in all its glory. 

The Ronnie James Dio Stage welcomed Behemoth, Merciful Fate, and Lamb of God as headliners, along with a classic support card featuring the likes of Testament, Exodus, Dimmu Borgir, Killing Joke, Dark Funeral, and Lorna Shore. 

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Meanwhile, over on the Sophie Lancaster Stage, highlights included Avatar, Night Flight Orchestra, Dark Tranquility, and Sleep Token.

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Bloodstock Open Air 2023

BOA returns this year from 10 – 13 August with another fantastic lineup that encompasses a huge number of metal subgenres. Metalcore legends Killswitch Engage, polyrhythmic masters Meshuggah, and thrash innovators Megadeth will headline the Ronnie James Dio Stage. Also on the bill are Sweden’s In Flames, Norwegian black metal icon Abbath, German power metallers Helloween, and the Brazilian legends Sepultura. Additionally, Thomas Fischer’s Tryptykon will perform a set of classics from Fischer’s previous band, the highly influential Celtic Frost.

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Those who venture over to the Sophie Lancaster Stage will be rewarded for their efforts with an eclectic mix of alternative sounds. Swedish doom metal godfathers Candlemass will headline the stage on Friday, while Zeal & Ardor bring their unique blend of black metal and spirituals-influenced neo-soul to Bloodstock on Saturday. Sunday sees an exciting headline slot from the recently reformed classic lineup of Biohazard, the iconic New York hardcore band who were amongst the first to blend heavy netal with hip-hop elements. Also appearing on the stage over the weekend are Nottingham’s cult-themed progressive pop rock band Church of the Cosmic Skull, and Swedish viking metal act Brothers of Metal.

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Navigating Bloodstock Open Air: Festival Grounds and Amenities

Bloodstock’s festival grounds are divided into several areas, each serving a different purpose. The main stages, the Ronnie James Dio Stage and the Sophie Lancaster Stage, feature the festival’s biggest acts, while the New Blood Stage showcases up-and-coming talent. Additionally, the Jägermeister Stage hosts intimate acoustic performances, allowing attendees to experience a different side of their favourite bands.

Apart from the stages, Bloodstock also offers a wide range of amenities for festival-goers. The extensive camping area provides a place to rest and recharge between sets, while various food and drink stalls are on hand to keep attendees well-fed and hydrated. Other essential facilities include showers, toilets, and a medical tent, ensuring that all of your needs are catered to during the festival.

Essential Tips for Attending Bloodstock Open Air

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Attending Bloodstock Open Air can be an exhilarating experience, but it’s essential to prepare for the challenges that come with spending several days at a metal festival. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your time at Bloodstock:

Pack Wisely 

Bring all the necessary supplies you’ll need for the weekend, such as a tent, sleeping bag, and a portable charger for your electronic devices. Also, remember essentials like sunscreen, insect repellent, and a rain poncho, as the British weather can be unpredictable at best!

Stay Hydrated 

Drinking plenty of water is crucial, especially when spending hours in the sun, headbanging to your favourite bands, and possibly consuming heroic amounts of alcohol. Bring a reusable water bottle and refill it regularly at the free water points throughout the festival site.

Plan Your Schedule

With so many amazing bands playing across multiple stages, planning your schedule in advance is essential. Make a list of your must-see acts and map your days out accordingly, allowing for breaks and time to explore the festival grounds.

Planning Your Bloodstock Open Air Experience: Tickets, Accommodations, and Travel

As you prepare for your Bloodstock Open Air adventure, it’s essential to plan your trip carefully. Here’s what you need to know about securing tickets, finding accommodations, and arranging travel:


Bloodstock offers a variety of ticket options, ranging from single-day passes to full weekend tickets with camping included. 

An adult weekend ticket costs £172 and includes camping from Thursday to Sunday. Day tickets are available for £79, while parents with children aged between 4 – 11 can take advantage of discounted children’s tickets, priced at £49 and £29 for a full weekend ticket or a day ticket respectively.

If you’re driving to the festival, a parking pass will cost you £12.25 for the day or £20.25 for the entire weekend.


Camping is the most popular accommodation option for Bloodstock attendees, with various options for different preferences and budgets. If camping isn’t your style, several hotels and bed & breakfasts are within a short distance of the festival site.


Bloodstock Open Air is easily accessible by car, train, bus, or plane. The festival provides a comprehensive travel guide on its website, detailing the various transport options available to help you plan your journey.

The Euro Metal Scene: How Bloodstock Fits in the Landscape of Metal Music Festivals

Bloodstock Open Air holds a unique position within the Euro metal scene. While it may be smaller than some of its European counterparts, Bloodstock’s focus on providing a diverse lineup and promoting up-and-coming talent has earned it a dedicated following. The festival’s commitment to showcasing the best of the UK metal scene also sets it apart from other metal festivals, making it an essential destination for fans of the genre.

Furthermore, Bloodstock’s intimate atmosphere and picturesque location create a truly special experience for attendees. Its blend of world-class performances, breathtaking scenery, and a strong sense of community makes Bloodstock Open Air a standout event in the crowded landscape of Euro metal festivals.

Comparing Bloodstock Open Air with Other European Metal Festivals

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While Bloodstock Open Air is undoubtedly one of the premier events in the metal world, several other noteworthy festivals also cater to fans of the genre. Here’s how Bloodstock compares to some of the best metal festivals around the globe:

Wacken Open Air (Germany)

Wacken Open Air is often regarded as the pinnacle of metal festivals, attracting tens of thousands of fans yearly. While Wacken’s massive scale and star-studded lineup are undeniably impressive, Bloodstock offers a more intimate and focused experience, making it an appealing alternative for fans seeking a more personal connection with the music.

Hellfest (France)

Hellfest is another major player in the European metal scene, with a diverse lineup that spans multiple subgenres. Like Bloodstock, Hellfest strongly emphasises promoting emerging talent, making it an excellent destination for fans looking to discover new bands. However, Bloodstock’s unique focus on the UK metal scene sets it apart from its French counterpart.

Graspop Metal Meeting (Belgium)

Belgium’s Graspop hosts a similar selection of metal bands to Bloodstock, attracting fans from across Europe. However, there are some notable differences between the two. Graspop is a larger festival representing a broader range of musical genres, including rock, punk, and hardcore. While Bloodstock is smaller, it focuses almost exclusively on metal subgenres, which may appeal more to dedicated fans. Both festivals offer a unique atmosphere and experience for metal fans, but the choice between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference in terms of location, lineup, and overall vibe.

Download Festival (UK)

Download Festival is the UK’s largest rock and metal event, boasting a lineup that often includes some of the biggest names in the genre. While Download’s sheer size makes it an appealing destination for fans, Bloodstock’s more intimate atmosphere and dedication to showcasing underground talent make it a must-visit event for true metal enthusiasts.

Bloodstock Open Air’s Impact on the Metal Community

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Over the past two decades, Bloodstock Open Air has significantly impacted the metal community. The festival’s unwavering dedication to promoting emerging talent and showcasing the best of the UK metal scene has played a crucial role in nurturing the careers of countless bands. Furthermore, Bloodstock’s inclusive atmosphere and strong sense of camaraderie have helped to foster a supportive and passionate community of metal fans.

Bloodstock Open Air has cemented its status as a vital institution within the global metal scene by providing a platform for both established and up-and-coming acts. The festival’s continued growth and success testify to the enduring appeal of heavy metal music and its dedicated fanbase.

Conclusion: Why Bloodstock Open Air is a Must-Attend Event for Metal Fans

Bloodstock Open Air is an exceptional metal festival that deserves a place on every fan’s bucket list. From its diverse lineup and stunning location to its unwavering dedication to the metal community, Bloodstock offers attendees a unique and unforgettable experience.

If you’re a metal enthusiast seeking an immersive and intimate festival experience, look no further than Bloodstock Open Air. With its stellar lineup, breathtaking setting, and passionate community of fans, Bloodstock is the UK’s ultimate destination for metalheads.


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