Rock & Bike Festival 2023 - The Review

You would be hard pushed to find better value for a festival

By Luke Seagrave | Published: Fri 28th Jul 2023

Ellie Acoustic

Thursday 6th to Saturday 8th July 2023
Notts Derby Showground, Longmoor Lane, Long Eaton, Derbyshire, DE72 3BG, England MAP
From £38.50 (incl. fees)
Daily capacity: 4,999
Last updated: Wed 21st Jun 2023

After a decade of being situated at Carnfield Hall, the Rock and Bike Fest changed location and decided to make the Notts Derby Showground in Breaston (Nottinghamshire) its brand new home. The organisers faced a barrage of objections during the planning stages to hold the festival at this venue. Through gritted teeth they managed to find way of dealing with the objections. Most of them centred around the noise levels and so a very strict curfew was put in place. As well as a smaller capacity limit of only 3,000 people. 

Upon arriving it was clear that the site was smaller than the previous venue. Although to be fair in some ways this worked out well for people who were camping, as the campsite was literally a few steps from the arena. The ground was relatively flat, which was an advantage for anyone that struggled with walking. There was also a dedicated field for motorhomes/caravans literally a two-minute walk away from the arena. The camping area appeared to be well organised and even allowed campers to set up small marquees to give some extra cover to unwind.  

Main Tents - Rock And Bike Festival 2023

Once inside the arena, there were two big marquees (stage one and stage two) that had been placed almost end to end with each other, separated by a beer tent in between both marquees. Unlike previous events where the stages were positioned side by side. This was more of a straight line. Opposite the marquees were the trade stands, selling food/drinks and all sorts of various items (T-shirts, leather jackets, keyrings, and vinyl records made into the shape of the band members.)

Drinks and food were a bit cheaper than the major music festivals like Download, a bacon cob was £6, Chicken Noodles were £9, and £2 for a can of coke.


AC/DC UK were the headliners on Friday evening, and they drew possibly the biggest crowd of the entire event. Of course, all of the mega anthems were included ‘Thunderstruck’, and ‘Highway to Hell’ to name just a couple. The band even went to the trouble of ensuring their guitarist was dressed in a school uniform to replicate the look of Angus Young.

Saturday had the bike show and tattoo and fancy-dress competition. Due to the rain, there was a slight delay to allow for a break in the rain to present the awards. 

The bike show included a 97-year-old lady as a passenger on one of the custom Harleys, which was an incredible sight to see. It goes to show you are never too old to rock! 

97 Years Old Lady On A Harley Davidson Motorbike - Rock And Bike Festival 2023

However, with all of that finishing around 14.30, it gave punters a chance to browse through the stalls and see what other activities were on offer, there were activities and entertainment to keep the children amused (Kidz area), which included a mini cinema, and various games to entertain the mini-rockers.

Throughout the afternoon there were the Blackpig Morris Dancers performing in the arena. They are always great to see perform live, and they have become part of the furniture for Rock and Bike Festival. 

There was even a woodcarver creating incredible sculptures, some of which were amusing to see up close. There were plenty of things to keep punters occupied, however some people were just happy staying under cover whilst there were a few rainy showers. 

Once the music started, there was a plethora of talented bands to see live, there were a good sprinkling of variety of rock music (hard rock, soft rock, prog rock, acoustic rock) provided by the bands that had been booked to play this year. 


Some of the memorable highlights included Twisted System (Twisted Sister tribute) injecting a real dose of energy into the audience, which was the first loud sing a long of the weekend. Certainly, worth catching next time they tour. Just good tongue n cheek fun with great music. 

An artiste billed as Ellie Acoustic captured the audience with her wonderful vocals and sterling guitar playing. It was the perfect antidote to the loud rock music that had been belted out throughout the event. Ellie (Ellie Owen, if looking her up on the internet) impressed the crowd with songs such as “House of the Rising Sun” and a cover version of Queens “Somebody to Love”. It was clear that Ellie had been watching other bands because she included “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac because on the Friday night the tribute band Fleetwood Mac Songbook didn’t have enough time to include it in their set due to technical difficulties that delayed them starting. The organisers ensured that the bands finished at 11pm without exception. (I’m going to guess this was to comply with the imposed licensing conditions set by the council.)

Ellie Owen Acoustic - Rock And Bike Festival 2023

A Foreigners Journey were a thoroughly enjoyable tribute act to Foreigner and Journey, not so much look-a-likes but sound wise they nailed it. There was an emotional moment when they stopped their set to make an announcement to remember Charlotte Ayres who sadly passed away of natural causes in her tent at last years Rock n Bike Fest. It was a heartfelt moment and a fitting tribute to Charlotte. 

Tom Jovi Jones brought the night to an end with his blend of Tom Jones and Bon Jovi hits, as well as a few other rock covers that the crowd may not have expected. Once Tom Jovi Jones finished, some of the crowd only had a few steps to walk to be back in the comfort of their tents and motorhomes.

Benidorm Tom Jones Jovi - Rock And Bike Festival 2023

Overall, the new site was an interesting one, I believe the organisers had done an incredible job in securing this site and dealing with the objections raised. However, there is no denying that there were teething problems. Like when you move into your new home and find things are not quite right but not a major issue to fix. Starting the live music earlier would be a nice touch (however, the timings were put in place by the local authorities). 

The Rock and Bike Fest is always a family friendly event to attend. Thery try to cater for the young and the older generation as well as everyone in between and it is the only festival where I am happy to bring my children or parents to and be safe in the knowledge that they will have lots of fun. 

Thankfully despite being at a new site, they have managed to maintain the friendly and relaxed atmosphere and let’s not to forget the ridiculously low-cost tickets at only £60 including camping for three days of brilliant music delivered by talented musicians. You would be hard pushed to find better value for a festival.

Fingers crossed that this will be the permanent venue for Rock n Bike Festival for a few more years!

We are already looking forward to the 20th Anniversary of Rock and Bike Festival in 2024.


The full photo gallery is available here.

review by: Luke Seagrave

photos by: Luke Seagrave

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