Just So Festival 2011 Review

just so festival2011 Just So Festival weather: Cloudy but warm and dry.  Some rain at night.

2011 saw the second ever Just So Festival, a unique and special event intended to celebrate all that is creative and fun in childhood.  You won’t find commercialism or big children’s TV characters here, just boundless opportunities to play and explore in a magical journey through the woods. This is not just a festival… this is a place where kids and families can come together in the beauty of imagination. 

There were problems with an inadequate water supply and the organisers have issued public apologies, admitting that they got it wrong and have learnt for next year.  Reviews should be read with these issues in mind, which will have undoubtedly deeply soured the experience for some. 

The organisers are not professional festival managers, rather it is led by two mums inspired to create a special and creative weekend for families to share. They care passionately about the event.  On many counts they have done an incredible job and are well on their journey through this huge learning curve.  It’s also worth remembering that this is a not-for-profit community event.  The Just So Festival has a great ethos and has already built up a very loyal fan base.

Review by:  Louise Watkins (with 2 kids: aged 3 and 1)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Not much of a queue for our wrist bands and the staff seemed friendly, but couldn’t get hold of a wheelbarrow or the sherpa service which meant a lot of to and fro-ing to the car. I think it would be a good idea to let people on to the camping fields with their car to offload (and reload) and then park up for the weekend.

We had some very inconsiderate people near to us who stayed up chatting and laughing until 3.15am on the Sat night despite requests for them to shush – not great when your kid is then up at 5.50am! This is a family friendly festival where the entertainment etc finishes at 10pm for a reason and whilst the organisers can’t police people’s behaviour, it maybe needs to be spelt out more strongly that this is not acceptable.

Other than that all the families we got chatting to were lovely.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The activities and entertainment were very good on the whole and I’ll never forget my son’s laughter at the Punch and Judy show! We loved the story telling, the retro disco, dressing up, the bands we saw, the buckets and spades area, the wildwood area and the festival site on the whole was charming.

However we did start to get a bit frustrated as we couldn’t get into the baby bathtime (too busy), we couldn’t get into the ‘play with your food’ at any time, we eventually got into the pirate training but only by arriving 40 mins before the start time on a Sunday and when we went to do the lanterns (something that was advertised as from 11am to 5pm) at 3pm there were no materials left (some parents had really gone to town with this activity and used lots!). We did actually scavenge around and managed to make a very small one.

Maybe we should be able to book the activities that need booking in advance when purchasing the tickets? It felt at times that the numbers of people wanting to do an activity had been unexpectedly high and that the Just So team weren’t quite prepared for the demand.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

As above really:
Water
Pre-bookable activities
More child friendly food (just a basic sandwich stall would have been helped as sometimes you don’t want to head back to the tent for a snack).
Less noisy neighbours would have been good, I’m a much nicer Mummy when I’ve had some sleep :)!

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Go with the flow and enjoy it, don’t rush too quickly to meet times for activities. We did a bit of this on Saturday but chilled more on Sunday.

Site and Facilities:

Toilets hit and miss, loo paper at sometimes not others. Lack of handwashing wasn’t great. Wasn’t particularly bothered about the showers as it is a festival after all, but shortage in water supplies needs addressing. As everyone else has said, baby wipes were used in abundance. The bath water on returning home was pretty grim ;)!

Did you feel safe?

Yes very, and I felt that had the children got lost, there were lots of friendly people who would have helped out.

Would you go again?

Yes

8/10

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Review by:  Lisa Pearson aka ‘The Mummy Whisperer‘ (with 2 kids: 18m and 5y)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

We arrived at 12 on the dot on Friday to a little queue.  It was very well organised –  but we cheated by getting a yurt from Fred!

One camper arrived late and put their tent up very close to ours, which was not very nice as they then made lots of noise as we were trying to get our son to sleep.  But they were fine when I asked them to be quiet.  There was another tent that did controlled crying on the first night – OMG!  They didn’t last long thank goodness!  Everyone else was lovely, thoughtful and careful of the location.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Fabulous.  Magical.  My first festival, and I really chose right!

Hope you don’t mind me cheating, but I’ve already written a really full review here…
http://mummywhispererblog.com/2011/08/video-wed-my-first-festival-what-a-corker-just-so

[Editor’s note: We don’t mind you cheating at all 😉 we loved your review and wanted to link to it anyway!  Love your blog too BTW… thanks for sharing x]

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

Not much, they know what they need to do, and I’m sure they will do it for next year.

Most importantly they just need to keep the magic.

radio flyer big red ATW
Sleeping in style! (c) Lisa Pearson

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Wellies and fit flops were the perfect combination.
Don’t go with a plan, go with the flow.
Radio flyer was worth it.
Yurt was lovely.
If you haven’t ever been to a festival, this is the place to start.

Site and Facilities:

Toilets were fine.
They had problems with the showers, but I doubt that will happen again.
Phones fine, but I tried not to use mine.
We used a Radio Flyer wagon for the 2 kids when they were tired and the baby when she was asleep – it was great.
No problems getting around at all.

Did you feel safe?

YES, YES, YES – really lovely atmosphere (and I get a bit jittery in new locations until I’m settled).

Would you go again?

YES

10/10

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Review by:  Geoff Naylor (with 2 boys, aged 6 and 3)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Arrived at 2pm on the Friday, no queuing. Short uphill walk to owl glade – secured the Sherpa service with the golf buggy which was very helpful as had brought a lot of gear (too much in hindsight). £4 donation suggested but gave a bit more as it was worth every penny. Wheel barrows were available but people appeared to take them and keep them/hide them which is not in the spirit of this festival at all. Camped with 3 other friends and had another 4 tents in the glade – all friendly and the kids from all the campers (about 10 in total) all played together at various times over the weekend (hide and seek in the woods being a favourite).

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Something for everyone. Sports/crafts/literature/childrens book characters/music (some great bands you may have never heard of)/discos/clowns/bushcraft/a beach etc etc.. If you could not find something to entertain the kids and yourself then you were definitely at the wrong festival.

Mine loved the lantern making and the subsequent parade and were totally made up to have made their own dragonflies (simple things in life). The Ceilidh band (Cut A Shine) went down an absolute storm as did the Lovely Eggs.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

If possible I would like to arrive and camp from the Thursday night so as not to spend time pitching on the Friday.

Glade camping pizza delivery (and any other food for that matter) service.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

This festival is all about getting back to a childhood you probably remember from your own (for people of a certain age). It is camping in the woods with great entertainment on tap. Forget glamping and be prepared to get down and get dirty. Bring some wipes and go with the flow.

Site and Facilities:

I think the water problems have been well documented but as we were at a festival showering was not on the agenda anyway. Some of the toilets were closed at various times but you were never that far away from ones that worked and had no problems with getting running water to take back to the tent if needed.

Mobile coverage was very good (Vodaphone) and the site plan is as simple as it can be – all roads eventually come back to the starting point.

The heavy rain in the night did not create a quagmire like other festivals I have been to so the infrastructure held up perfectly.

The food on offer is really good (tending to be top end price-wise but this is not the organiser’s fault – just usual festival prices wherever you go).

Did you feel safe?

100%. Kids were being kids – after doing the activities provided they made their own entertainment exploring the site and playing in the woods and staying up really late and absolutely loved it.

Did not use the lost child service but did hear the announcements about them (not that many) so came across as prompt and efficient. The whole place felt very safe the whole time we were there.

Would you go again?

Yes

10/10

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Review by:  Sarah (with a 4 and a 5 year old)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Very short queue to get wristbands but left kids at the car with my friend while I queued. One of us set up the tent with the kids while the other carried stuff. We did get a wheelbarrow after a while so it wasn’t too bad.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Thought the line up was great – really enjoyed all the bands we saw who were all of a very high quality. Some bands/music on earlier in the day would have been nice.

We loved making the Bath Bombs, den-building, making dragonflies, hats, going on the hunt for bear cards, making clay faces, dressing up/face painting, seeing Punch & Judy, Flyaway Katie, the storyteller – I could go on and on!

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

A stall selling more ‘kid’ friendly food would have been good as someone else said. And camping supplies on site also – we ran out of gas for our camping stove which is a standard type and couldn’t buy a replacement (but the storyteller gave us one in exchange for pancakes!)

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

I will take a fold up trolley next year to cut down on journeys.

Site and Facilities:

Toilets and shower problems have been covered although I’m surprised by the reports of queues in the camping field – I never had to queue there or any of the other loos except for the ones by footlights and that was only once or twice. Certainly the queues were much shorter than those at most festivals I’ve been to! We loved discovering the site and all the different glades and it was easy for the kids to get around.

Did you feel safe?

Very safe indeed. The only time the children weren’t safe was when some selfish people decided to drive into the field rather than carry their stuff back to the cars on Monday morning, despite all the signs and the organisers pleading with them not to.

Would you go again?

Absolutely but will go for Glade camping – definitely no cars!

10/10

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Review by:  Gill, Lucy & Adam (2 kids: 9 and 6 yrs)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

No queues to get parked. Couldn’t find a sherpa to help carry stuff but only 5 minutes to field camping so just took a few trips with enthusiastic kids. Not particularly crowded but some people camped very close to us, though there was loads of room for everyone in field. Everyone very friendly and noise levels acceptable for a family festival.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Fantastic. We didn’t manage to do anywhere near everything but we enjoyed all that we did. The kids particularly enjoyed the beach area and the adventure playground. The Really Big questions about space and time talk was fab as was the astrosaurs man and James Campbell, comedian. My son was particularly impressed by getting some of his books autographed.

All the crafty stuff was great especially clay faces and woodland badges. We didn’t catch as much music as I would have liked but enjoyed what we did. The lantern parade was very magical. There were problems with the booking system but we could always find alternative activities.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

Water – more of it!

Booking system needs tweaking and sticking to.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

My kids are already asking if we can go again next year. I think if people accept it’s a festival and facilities are not going to be luxurious then they will be very impressed. We found that making the most of activities where we were rather than rushing about getting stressed about what was on next was a better way of doing things.

The woods were truly magical and beautifully decorated.

It was a wonderful bonding experience with the kids.

Site and Facilities:

As everyone has said there were problems with the water. I found the toilets more than acceptable considering it was a festival and never had to queue more than 5 minutes. Didn’t mind the lack of showers but the drinking water was starting to be a problem by Sunday as we were having to walk further and further to find taps that worked. A few standpipes in the camping field next year would be great.

Did you feel safe?

Felt very safe. Happy to let kids play out of sight. Older child and her friend did some activities on their own. Plenty of easily identifiable volunteers around and good “lost child” policies. Definitely easier as my children are bit older.

Would you go again?

Yes

9/10

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Review by:  Naomi (with 2 kids, aged 7 and 5)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Drove straight onto site and was guided to a parking space close to wristband collection. Quickly got wristbands and programme (less than 10 mins) and then found our glade. Managed to find a sherpa to help us move our things, but we were only a 5 minute walk from carpark anyway. Most of the other campers were considerate with regards to space and noise levels. Just enough room in the Glade for everyone.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Fantastic entertainment. My kids loved it all. I think there needs to be more availability for bookable activities as there were lots of disappointed families. The music was good, the crafts and circus skills were a favourite for my children.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

More toilets that work and no water shortage.
More wheelbarrows for transporting stuff.
Rental of children’s wagons.
Fresh fruit stall.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Make the most of the food stalls, the food was great and there was a good choice. Not overpriced for the circumstances. We decided to only provide our own breakfast, which allowed us to spend the entire day in the midst of the fun.

Site and Facilities:

The site was easy to get around, everything was well signposted and there was always someone to ask if you were unsure. Mobile phones worked at all times and there was a free recharge service for phones. The toilets were really unpleasant by Sunday and the lack of water on Saturday was an issue.

Did you feel safe?

Very safe. My kids are sensible enough not to wander off but we felt very safe in the g;ade. There was a lost children’s tent and all weekend wristbands could have your phone number on them in case the kids wandered off.

Would you go again?

Yes, we are booking for next year!

9/10

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Review by:  Sarah (2 kids, aged 6 and 10)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Had to carry ALL our camping stuff across 2 fields – which was very difficult!  The promise of sherpas and wheel barrows didn’t materialise – or so few, that we decided just to lug our stuff ourselves.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Mediocre in my opinion unfortunately.  Didn’t live up to the promises on the website. My 10 year old was pretty bored, and we couldn’t find much for him to do at all.

Really liked the General Toy Store stall in the Tall Trees area. The owners were very friendly and helpful and had lots of unusual stock. My sons loved the wooden swords and shields and also the harmonicas they sold.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

Not to have gone 🙁 We arrived midday on Friday and left at teatime on Saturday 🙁

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Don’t park cars on a slope as they get stuck in the mud if it rains!

Site and Facilities:

I hired a yurt, and as such was expecting a premium camping experience. The yurt itself was fine, but the field was so far out of the festival main site, was on a slope, and the grass was uncut and uneven.  It would have been better to buy a tent and as I had booked tickets for the festival early, have requested glade camping.   The toilets were hideous!  Not enough and no water!

Maybe my expectations were too high – I didn’t expect scout type camping facilities to be honest.

Would you go again?

No

1/10

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Review by:  The Johnsons (with a 2 year old)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

We arrived around 1pm and didn’t have to queue to get in. We camped in the field. There were two of us so it was easy enough to bring our things from the car between us, however if I had been a single parent I would have struggled. Some people had brought small trailers which they used for transporting luggage and children round the festival – as our son wanted to be carried everywhere I ended up wishing we had one of those (we don’t own a pushchair and he refused to go in a sling).

We did bring our car into the field on Monday morning, as by the time we woke up it seemed most people had already left and those remaining were all bringing cars in – we asked around and were told permission had been granted to do this – there were no children near our tent, but if we had known it wasn’t allowed we would not have brought our car into the field.

We also were confused by the foot wash which we were asked to use on all shoes before going home. We initially thought we must wash shoes before leaving the main festival area, because this is where the wash was and it seemed to make sense not to walk the plant disease into our tents etc, but we were stopped from doing this by staff who said the wash was only to be used if we were going home, leaving the site entirely, not to be used every time we came out of the main area. We double checked this and were given confirmation, so were confused and a little upset to learn later that our friends had been given different advice and had washed shoes every time they came out.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

We enjoyed the second day more because we relaxed and stopped trying to catch planned activities. Flyaway Katie was absolutely brilliant, as was the scout singing by the campfire. Night times were beautiful.

We were bothered by what seemed to us very loud music going on until very late. We hadn’t seen any warning of this and it wasn’t in the programme, it meant we were so tired (as son wakes very very early) it was one of the few things that would put us off coming again. There were also a large number of adults who stayed up very late talking loudly and shining torches around which seemed inconsiderate. We have been to other, adult, festivals and they were all quieter at night as we chose to sleep in the quiet area – so that is a suggestion for next year – would it be possible to have a quiet camping area for families with very young children?

We really enjoyed the characters (although couldn’t find the bear) – more of these would have been great. The donkey rides were good. I was disturbed by the traditionally abusive Punch and Judy show but son loved it.

It would have been helpful to have some more indoorsy activities that we could drop into if it had rained, maybe a music tent, sensory tent etc.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

Quiet camping area.
More walkabout entertainers.
A couple of drop-in indoor tent or yurt activities for younger children.
Consistent information about shoe washing and taking cars onto the field on Monday morning.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Not a Top Tip but an observation – interesting demographic at this festival – not as diverse as others. I’m not sure of the reasons for this but it did make us feel a little odd and self-conscious.

Another observation, people started to trickle home from around tea time on Sunday and some activities/exhibits were removed at this time. We saw them being carried away. It gave us a feeling that the festival was already ending, which we and son weren’t overly bothered about and we still had a nice time, but may have spoiled the end a little for older children and I would have been bothered if I had only come for Sunday.

Site and Facilities:

Toilets smelled awful due to the very strong cleaning fluid I think. Lack of showers wasn’t a problem for us but if I had had a skin or scalp condition it might have been.

The location was gorgeous, really magical. I just wish we had brought a mini trailer or wheelbarrow for the little one.

There was coffee available on Monday morning which was excellent. The pop up bakery was disappointing as we did not realise you needed to preorder well before the festival to get any bread. I agree with other reviews that some light sandwiches would have been good. The Rudyard Friends were great – affordable juice and cakes! The prices generally were a little high (£2.40 for an orange juice).

I would have liked more stalls! I see others don’t feel the same though. It may be because I like shopping too much.

There was a children’s play park on site with swing etc which was nice for younger ones.

Did you feel safe?

Very safe. The lost children worked well. No presence of bouncers or security that I could see which was nice but I suppose this is a balance and without security it might have been difficult to enforce certain things – i.e. the keeping cars off the field at the end.

Would you go again?

Undecided!

6/10

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Review by:  The Roberts Family (with 3 kids: 14, 9 and 5)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

We arrived for 10 am and were one of the first families to arrive, we were given a wheelbarrow and were camped in the field next to car park, kids enjoyed helping push the wheel barrow. We were next to the bell tents and campers were lovely.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

We loved everything we did but were unable to book some of the activities as they were full, possibly more times for the activities would be good so there is no sad little faces x

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

More toilets and showers, more slots for some of the activities, more market stalls – but based more for kids little bargains for them to spend their pennies on like little rubbers and note books for example.  They just like to buy a little token from their hols.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Don’t over pack like I did!

Site and Facilities:

Toilets were a bit outnumbered compared to how many were there, and showers did go off, but we all got on with the festival spirit.  But I hope they improve this for next year.

Did you feel safe?

Very pleased and very safe with the full festival – great vibe (some stuck up beggers but that’s everywhere!)

Would you go again?

Yes

9/10

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Review by:  Manfie and Lottie (2 kids: 8 and 1)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

We didn’t encounter any queues, only smiling stewards.  We didn’t camp this year as it was our first visit so we stayed at a nearby hotel.  Will definitely camp next year though – looked like you got more of a festival feel doing it that way.  We would have like to have joined in with the singing round the campfire and maybe toasting a few marshmallows.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

We thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the festival there was plenty to do for all ages.

Meeting the Gruffalo was a magical moment as was the Ninja display and the story times were enchanting.

Site and Facilities:

The portable toilets were very clean and a better option than the permanent toilet cubicles.  Toilet paper was a little scarce on occasion luckily we had plenty of tissues to hand!  It was on occasion a little tricky pushing the buggy across parts of the site but we managed and my phone coverage was ok but tended not to use it.

Did you feel safe?

Everyone you came into contact with was very friendly and there was a lovely sense of freedom.

Would you go again?

Without doubt 🙂

10/10

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Review by:  Caroline (with a 3 year old)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

No queue to get into the car park and quite close to our Glade.  There were sherpas helping but none around when we arrived as they were helping others.  No bother though as we only had to do 3 trips and we were done.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The entertainment was wonderful.  Only issue was on the Saturday morning when signing up for Pirate Training – there were so many children wanting to take part it booked up for the whole day in about 10 mins.  We were able to book on for Outlaw Training in the afternoon which was wonderful.  My 3yr old loved it as we still dressed her as a pirate.  The rest of the entertainment was amazing and really fulfilled every dream of her imagination.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

Perhaps a better booking-in system for the activities – I felt very sorry for the girl booking the pirate training on the Saturday as she took the brunt of unhappy mums and dads.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

I would take lots of baby wipes in case of shower break down and comfy shoes.

Site and Facilities:

Toilets very clean and always topped up with loo roll when ever we went.  Showers were unfortunately out of order due to a water situation.  It didn’t ruin our festival experience though – lots of baby wipes were used!!

Did you feel safe?

Very safe – I love the fact my 3yr old could go and play in the woods behind our tent. She loved that she could run wild and not have me asking her to stay in sight all the time.

Would you go again?

YES!

9/10

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Review by:  ‘B’ (with an infant and a toddler)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

When we arrived we were directed to Campervan parking. We drove around until we decided on a spot. It was quite annoying though when the next day they let campers into a much larger area which we would have preferred. It took us a while to get to getting wristbands as the check-in tent for that was not before the camping field.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The activities were never ending. The kids enjoyed it though and we never were at a loss for what to do. I didn’t even bother trying to book into any activities because parents were showing up a half hour ahead of the booking-in time and waiting in line to do so. I didn’t want to wait in any more lines. Would have liked more music and bands on. The ones they had at night were really fun though. We had a great time dancing.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

1) Water water everywhere!
2) MORE TOILETS!!!!!!!
3) Have some activities, even if just one tent, in the camping field so that going to do something doesn’t require climbing a giant hill. It would have been nice at the end of the day or while cooking for there to be part of the festival fun nearer to us to pop over to and enjoy.
4) Less day tickets. It seemed like there was an influx of day people each day which sort of detracted from the festival, away from it all spirit.
5) More music.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Book bread ahead of time. Book into everything ahead of time. Make sure you buy tickets early to be in the Glade part so everything isn’t so far away. Bring a small potty for your kids to use.

Site and Facilities:

I was appalled at the facilities at this festival. I have taken my children to quite a few festivals this summer and this one was by far the worst. The facilities were completely unacceptable. It was a 5 minute walk at adult speed (10-15 min at 2 year old speed) to the nearest toilet block which contained 6 female and 6 male toilets. This was the ONLY toilet for everyone camping in the field which was a few hundred people. Needless to say there was always a queue and a few backed up at all times. The water was even further away and not until past the main entrance. We found ourselves out of water frequently but couldn’t muster the energy to pack up two kids and walk half a mile to get water and then walk back.  Inside the “Glade” area there were a few toilets but again, not enough, and there was always a 10-20 minute wait to use the facilities. I found this unacceptable when it was a festival for kids! There should have been toilets everywhere, in every activity, and child friendly ones at that. I can live without sinks but not without drinking water. If there is going to be camping on the field there needs to be adequate facilities to accommodate everyone.

As per the site, it was very large and hilly so trekking around was tiring. Be prepared for a proper workout getting around this festival.

Did you feel safe?

Yes

Would you go again?

No. I have never felt that way about a festival before. I would not return.

4/10

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Review by:  Donna (with 2 kids: 3 and 5)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Easy to drive to, easy to park and we only had to carry our items to the next field. There were wheelbarrow and golf style buggies to help carry all the gear, but we found we didn’t need it as we passed most of our stuff over the wall from car park to campsite to make it easier.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The activities where wonderful!

My 5 year old enjoyed making lanterns and joining the lantern parade.  The puppet shows and dance workshops where good fun too.  The Bear Hunt and Circus Skills workshop were also great, but best of all my daughter loved the story tree Bedtime Stories and has been re-telling the stories all the way home.

My 3 year old enjoyed painting, the sand pit, the silver screen cinema, the circus show and the taking part in a fancy dress fashion parade.  The piano in the woods was also really popular.    There was so much to choose from.    Wonderland was also really nice and the girls really enjoyed trying to paint the roses red in wonderland.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

Not having to walk so far to the drinking water taps,  more washing up facilities, a few more wheelbarrows for carrying all the gear from car to tent.

More food retailers – we had to wait a long time for Pizza etc due to high demand.

Site and Facilities:

Mobile phone coverage was great but I would suggest taking an older phone that holds it charge for a few days .  My smart phone battery ran out and facilities to re-charge  phones where in high demand.

Getting around the site was easy even with a buggy.

The toilets where still flushing and had toilet paper in them come the end of the festival, but the showers and hand basin taps had stopped working pretty much from day one.  The organisers did apologise for this and promise that it won’t happen next year.  There was always drinking water and running water in the toilet buildings.  The team did supply hand gel in all the mobile toilets.

Did you feel safe?

Felt safe all the time and the lost child service seemed to be effective from what I saw of it.     The entry and exit is manned and the team had good radio communication with each other.

Would you go again?

Yes!

9/10

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Review by:  Adam (with a 4mth old baby and a 2 year old) – Attended SUNDAY only

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Slow queue to get in on the Sunday.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Line up was very disappointing considering how much they charge for the event.  We read up about what to expect but were surprised at the lack of activities.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

More staff characters and activity slots.  Many activities had  two slots per day which booked up very fast.  Activities were too short with the Lush activity lasting less than ten minutes which resulted in our 2 year old having done completely nothing due to the lack of materials.  The Sports Day was over after 50 minutes despite it saying on the program that it was from 1pm – 3pm.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Not worth the money.

Site and Facilities:

Toilets fine.  Mobile phone coverage fine.

Did you feel safe?

Yes

Would you go again?

No

2/10

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Review by:  Zoe (with 4 kids: 2-7 yrs)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Site was well set out.  Tracking down a Sherpa or a wheel barrow was tricky.  Glades were lovely and I felt comfortable to let my 2 year old have some freedom to play out of eye sight if not earshot.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

This was great, we loved the fact it was based on story book characters rather than TV ones.

The kids loved getting back to just playing in trees and a sandpit.

We did not see much of the bands but what I heard was good.

The lantern parade was lovely and the wild rumpus parade was the best seeing the kids so joyous made me laugh and cry.

I think there were not enough places on booked activities for all kids present.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

The toilets and washing facilities obviously.

I think more supervision in camping areas some people have stupidly large tents and formed villages within the glade which I did not feel was in the spirit of us all sharing a space.

Also more bins please.  And a sandwich stall or a pasta stall to echo a previous review.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Spend the money on the food stalls – they are good and you miss so much going back to cook and wash up (when you could wash up)

Leave your inhibitions at the gate and get into the face paint!

Site and Facilities:

We stayed Friday to Monday so had the full experience of no running water or flushing toilets. The lack of shower did not bother me but being unable to fill a bowl to wash my child did. Also by Sunday the smell of toilets was beyond offensive.

Did you feel safe?

100% – I was a helicopter mother and now feel I have finally loosened the grip a little bit.

Would you go again?

Yes – can’t wait!

9/10

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Review by:  Julie Stott (with 3 kids: 2, 3 and 9 yrs)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Very poor organisation upon arriving.  Had paid a premium to stay in a luxury tent and advised (by festival organisers and tent owner) that I would be told where the tent was sited upon arrival.  No-one seemed to know what was going on but much worse seemed not to care – for over an hour I was stood waiting with 3 children that had been cooped up in a car for 4 hours.  The wristband exchange was on the entrance to the park (fine) but there were vehicles whizzing past – not great with a large crowd of people and children that were not happy about waiting over an hour to be told where we had to go.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The children absolutely adored the festival – very safe for them to run and play as they wished.

The bookable activities were nigh on impossible to get on (probably not so difficult if you aren’t the only adult with a 2, 3 and 9 year old in tow and can split up or send an adult/older child on).  There seemed to be little orgnisation for the busier activities with no queuing and I just walked away a few times rather than try to fight through with two toddlers.

They loved playing in the woods, meeting the Gruffalo and playing in the sand.  They also made a woodland badge with a fantastic man who was brilliant with the kids and there was a most definite queue!

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

Better customer service.  Better communication between festival staff (I appreciate a lot of them were volunteers but it is simply not acceptable to be so dismissive of people who have paid so much money to attend.)

Whilst struggling back to the car with all our stuff and the kids fully laden (because there was a distinct lack of wheelbarrows to help) the buggy tipped over and all our stuff ended up all over the path.  Some staff on a golf buggy with trailer same up and told us to ‘get out the way’ as I was trying to pick all our bedding up.  The fellow festival goers were much more empathetic.

The water situation needs resolving – however had this been the only issue, it would have been fine.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Take at least 2 adults per group – I’m used to being a single parent and have gone abroad several times on my own and never felt as inadequate as I was made to feel at this festival.  I don’t expect extra help, just don’t want to be especially disadvantaged!

Take plenty of wet wipes and a potty if you have a toddler/younger child (5 or under I’d say for night time wees).

Site and Facilities:

Easy to get around the site – not too big and reasonably easy to get around with a pushchair.  The mobile phone coverage was sufficient although did drop at times (not really the festival’s fault).  There were significant problems with water – no showers – for the weekend but we were well prepared with baby wipes.  The toilets were okay – not overly keen at the beginning of the weekend, much less at the end of the weekend and often lacking toilet paper, soap and paper towels but we rarely had to queue and were never too far.  Also took the potty for the little ones to use which was a life saver.

Did you feel safe?

I felt very safe and felt the kids were safe to play and run around and was confident if they had wandered they would be looked after until we were reunited (especially by the other parents).  The crowds (lack of queuing) around the busy acitivites did concern me with the 2 and 3 year old and we tended to just avoid doing those things (sadly).

Would you go again?

Probably not (the kids loved it but as the adult, the ‘problems’ were dealbreakers)

6/10

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Review by:  Caroline Williams (with 3 kids: 2, 5 and 11)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Long queues to get onto site on Friday. Had to carry stuff quite a long way but there were lots of wheelbarrows available and a charity providing a Sherpa service. Camping glades were crowded but better than last year. The other campers were friendly and there was a general feeling of freedom and safety for the children.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The line up was wonderful.

The workshops and activities were engaging imaginative and fun packed. The children didn’t stop and neither did we. Story telling, baby dancing, playing with food, Alice in Wonderland, bush survival skills, den building, photography – it is impossible to choose a favourite!

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

More toilets and showers. A consistent approach to booking activities. A concession selling pasta dishes and one selling picnic food so my children didn’t always gravitate to fish and chips or pizza!

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Lovely although did lose some of the magic from last year due, I think, to how busy it was on Saturday. Sunday was much better. The booking system worked better but there was some discrepancy between different events as to what the rules were which led to some disgruntled parents. The water/toilets/showers were a complete disaster but it was a festival so it didn’t bother my family too much, though I know it upset some parents. Overall, we still had a great time and there was always plenty do do that didn’t need booking. The presentation was awesome and I feel like I have given my children a very special experience by taking them.

Site and Facilities:

Mobile coverage was good. The toilets were appalling. They didn’t have enough water so the toilets kept blocking and there were no facilities to wash hands. I know the organizers were trying hard to sort it out but this was difficult with young children as you never knew which toilet would be out of order next and so which way to take them. Showers were nonexistent which upset some mums.

Did you feel safe?

Very safe! It was a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere, I felt like I was amongst friends  I was able to let the children run free a little, through the woods and play in the bushes behind the tent. When we arrived we were provided with a marker pen and invited to write our mobile number on the children’s admission wristbands in case they were lost. We didn’t loose any children but there were a few announcements over the tannoy about lost children. and it all seemed to be resolved quickly. They had a dedicated tent to care for lost children run by findababysitter.com

Would you go again?

Yes!

8/10

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Review by: Brownie (with a 4 and a 6 yr old)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

We had no issues setting up camp but there were water issues which affected showers & toilets.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The line up was ace, there was plenty to see and do, truly a family paradise. The atmosphere was brilliant. Our favourite attraction was the myDrawings.me Paint Lab, the kids spent hours there with their whizzy stuff and they made us feel so welcome, first class !

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

I guess there could be more activities that the kids can do themselves, and maybe less ‘tat’ stalls?

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Plan your day well, because there’s a lot to take in.

Site and Facilities:

The toilets were kept very clean and of great standard. Mobile phone coverage was varied.

Did you feel safe?

The whole thing felt 100% secure, the kids ran round exploring and had a whale of a time!

Would you go again?

Yes!

10/10

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Review by: Karin Lawrence (with a 6 yr old) – Attended SUNDAY only

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

I thought this festival was amazing.  There was something to do for all ages.  Our day was so fun packed.  There were activities and entertainment for everyone.  My daughter particularly enjoyed the Fairy Queen Trail, the Punch and Judy show, Flyaway Katie puppet show, the Lush stand, playing with new friends in the woods, and making dens while the Polly and the Billets Doux were playing.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

Wishing I’d have camped and had more time there!

Obviously the toilet/water situation could be improved, but the organisers are aware of this and will work on it for next year.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

Fantastic, small, friendly, family festival.  We loved it!

Site and Facilities:

Phone coverage was fine.  There was a problem with water though and some of the toilets were closed because of it.  However, as I was only there for one day, it didn’t cause us too much inconvenience.

Did you feel safe?

100% safe

Would you go again?

Absolutely!

10/10

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Review by: Julie Langan (with a 2 yr old)

Getting to the festival and setting up camp:

Parking was close to the main entrance, and wristbands issued. The festival programme was not so easy to follow though.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The balance was tipped slightly towards retail stores. I would have liked a bouncy castle or a trampoline, a clown, a balloon stand… some of the basics that children like were missing.  I would have liked to see more spectacles: stilt walkers, people in costumes, etc. – there were some but not enough.

I would have liked to see a park, swings, slides but I do understand this might be difficult to set up in a woods.

There was plenty of arts, crafts and music but possibly too much of this and not enough other stuff.

What would you change / improve (if anything)?

More team activities.

More nursery rhyme themed activities… a witch in the gingerbread house for example, a bread trail….. etc…..

Where was the bear?…….

Mr Tumble… Peppa Pig… and popular things that kids like.

Balloons, party bags, festival TV or arts mural, and have themed glades with age specific areas clearly signposted.

More entertainment, workshops, shows, spectacle…. think about a children’s party and what they would enjoy seeing at them… and then include these elements in the festival, water, bouncing, trampolining and balloons.

Any other comments and your Top Tip:

We very much enjoyed our first experience of this festival but it could be sooooo much better with a few simple additions such as a clown, a trampoline, a bouncy castle , balloons and a party bag each….

Site and Facilities:

We had issues with changing our 2 year old: my husband went to the male toilet but it had no changing facilities for a baby, so he had to change her nappy on a bench, not great for a child friendly festival. There was a baby changing tent in 1 of the glades, but why not have a changing tent in all the glades?

Did you feel safe?

Yes.

Would you go again?

We will be going next year!

7/10

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4 thoughts on “Just So Festival 2011 Review

  1. I am surprised by some of the comments here. I didn’t have to queue at all at the toilets in the field or any of the others and only queued twice at the loos nearest footlights over the whole weekend.

    We absolutely loved it – the activities were superb, there was so much to do and the kids all seemed to be having a great time. I suspect the people getting stressed about the bookable activities were the parents. If the queue for something was too long, we just did something else instead.

    Our children absolutely loved the freedom of being able to run around in the field, a pleasure which was spoiled by some selfish people driving in their cars on Monday morning (despite signs telling them not to). The situation got really nasty and I was really saddened by some people’s attitude.

    We will definitely go back next year and will book early to have a glade spot so that there is no danger of cars!

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