18th - 20th August 2017
Location: Rode Hall Estate, Scholar Green, Cheshire, ST7 3QT
” Just So Festival is such a magical place that I feel like I’m in a dream and lost in a book all at the same time!” – Teya (aged 10)
Just So is a small, weekend-long festival of creativity aimed at children, young people and their families. It’s an opportunity for families to share in the most fundamental of life’s pleasures: good old-fashioned fun!
What makes Just So Festival unique?
Just So Festival is all about families, where everyone gets dressed up and messes around in the woods singing and playing instruments, it is utterly magical.
An annual, intimate (5,000), weekend-long camping festival that showcases the best art, music, literature, comedy and theatre for families in woodland clearings, rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside settings in the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire.
The family festival experience includes family camping, nice loos, baby changing tents with changing mats, a breast-feeding boudoir, an area with electricity points for bottle warmers and sterilisers, baby bathtime, a bedtime tent and more.
Literature and Storytelling in the Great Outdoors
This year’s festival storytelling programme is presented in association with Guardian Children’s Books so there’s the chance to meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors sharing some of the best new stories in creative ways.
From interactive workshops with Tamsyn Murray (Completely Cassidy’s, Drama Queen), Paul Stickland (pop up dinosaur and bugs) in the Spellbound Forest to gathering around the campfire for tall tales with Ian Douglas and musical storytelling at the Footlights stage – it really is a literary delight for little ones.
New for 2016 is the Animalia area with a focus on all things wild. And there are wooden boats to hire on the lake and activities like build your bivouacs so you can sleep under the stars.
Headliners include 6-piece folk act Skinny Lister fresh from their US tour and the inspirational Hope & Social, who will be spreading the feel-good factor by getting the whole Just So crowd dancing as part of their set. They will be joined by over 20 other brilliant artists and bands specially chosen for their dance appeal to families. You can also dance the night away at the DISCO at Jitterbug.
Head to the Village Green for the Just So tradition of the literary-inspired and fun filled Midnight Feast. Held at Midnight, with beautiful stories from Ian Douglas, songs from David Gibb and other night time shenanigans, children should start persuading the grown-ups that they should be allowed to stay up round about now.
The Village Green is the location for the Tribal Tournament led by immersive theatre specialists LAS Theatre. The Fox, Frog, Owl, Fish, Stag and Lion tribes compete in games and unexpected shenanigans. Find your tribe on festival Sunday and take part in the Tribal Parade, a Just So highlight.
Bring an extra pillow or two as the Village Green is also home to toddler jousting and pillow fighting! This is a sports day with a difference.
The Peekaboo area, (for 0-2s) in Just So is dedicated to babies. It has the most amazing offerings of baby-friendly workshops we have ever seen at a festival from a wonderful sensory ‘shiny’ tent, baby yoga, baby massage, choral lullabies and the lovely messy ‘clay babies’. The organisers of this boutique family festival have been overwhelmed by how many babies are attending the event and have responded with inspired programming and great facilities for their very youngest festival goers (and their parents!).
And there’s more…
Wonderful circus acts, street theatre, immersive theatre, inspirational arts and crafts and plenty of opportunity for free play and exploration and EVERYTHING is family-friendly.
Accessibility and Facilities
The site is buggy friendly but a sling will come in handy for anyone wanting to explore the woods in depth.
Tickets are available from the Just So Festival website, which has information about about camping. Don’t forget to check out the Information area too. Tickets are £125 for an adult’s weekend ticket, £50 for a child’s weekend ticket, £50 for an adult’s day ticket and £20 for a child’s day ticket. Under 3’s go free. Local residents are eligible for a £5 discount. To book visit www.justsofestival.org.uk
Rode Park is a beautiful, natural environment, with lots of mysterious woodland to explore, beautiful parkland for camping, and a great lake. There are tons of secret and enchanting nooks, crannies and corners just waiting to be turned into a fantastical playground for the whole family to explore and enjoy together – not to mention a giant sandpit!
There is plenty of beautiful parkland for camping, where you will be able to spread out and camp with your friends.
This really is the most family-oriented, magical, beautiful and creative family festival of them all.
Romany went along to Just So Festival in 2013. Here are her comments:
Getting In/Out: No queues and exceptionally friendly stewards.
Camp site: probably the quietest festival at night I’ve ever experienced! You can’t hear the stage from your tent, and the music finishes before midnight anyway. Plenty of space to camp with friends if you arrive early.
Toilets / Showers: We never saw a queue for the showers outside of peak times 7-8am… they were pretty much empty all day. The toilets rarely had queues but they could have done with being emptied more frequently as they did get pretty whiffy!
Activities: Amazing! Such a variety of offerings to capture the imagination of any child and adult. There are all sorts of free play and drop-in activities for those that don’t want to get stuck in to an organised workshop at a fixed time. The music and shows on the stages were fantastic and perfect for a family audience. We did find it a little frustrating that some of the more popular workshops ran out of materials very early on (such as lantern-making), but there was so much else to do that we it wasn’t really a problem. We were having difficulty choosing what we wanted to do as the programme was so full and varied, so in the end we ditched the programme (after noting just a handful of ‘must-see’ shows) and just drifted – this way we stumbled on some fantastic performances and were much more relaxed about where we needed to be at any one time.
Food: Good choice of very tempting food stalls. We mainly took our own picnics to keep costs down, but had a treat each day – cake by the lake was a particular highlight!
Highlights: The Secrets of the Fey – a magical and captivating performance where a storyteller took us through the woods on a journey in which we became part of the story… the musicians, singers and actors were amongst the audience… the musical story culminated in a beautiful aerial show on a rope suspended from the trees above… I was so moved I cried!
Tips: DO choose a tribe (costumes optional) – the Tribal Tournament was the most fantastically exciting afternoon ever! The kids LOVED all the cheering and drumming – the atmosphere was just electric and soooo much fun! I wouldn’t miss it for anything!
Would we go again? Definitely!
Just So Festival is produced by Wild Rumpus Community Interest Company – a not-for-profit social enterprise.