We've been to the Just So Family Arts Festival for the past two years now, and both times we have booked for the following year as soon as tickets have gone on sale. It's expensive (£50 for an adult day ticket or £140 for an adult camping for 3 nights, plus extra for children over three), but Iíd say itís worth it if you can muster the cash.
Just So Festival
My husband commented that we could have gone to Glastonbury for less but for one thing, thatís not true, and for another I'd rather go to 'Just So' than Glastonbury any day (a point he now completely agrees with)!
Rather than the children's TV celebrities and fair ground rides that you find at some other family festivals, at 'Just So' you get a more magical, quirky, funny and imaginative experience. The setting, Rhode Hall estate in Cheshire, is beautifully decorated throughout the fields and forest, so even just exploring the place feels like an adventure!
The festival's whole atmosphere is really friendly, with many families (grown-ups included) in fancy dress to identify themselves as part of their chosen 'tribe'. Taking part in the Tribal Tournament is completely optional, but it definitely adds an extra layer of fun and excitement!
Family friendly atmosphere at Just So
It feels like youíre really part of something as you wave at fellow tribes-people and try to earn points (given in the form of magic pebbles) for your tribe, which could be for anything at all. My husband claims to have been awarded points last year for using excellent parenting skills but not having witnessed it myself I'm not convinced...
The activities are almost endless and they really do have things for all ages (which many events promise but few seem to actually deliver). My favourite area is the Spellbound Forest (and it is a real forest) - I love the twinkly lights in the trees in the evenings, the campfire songs, meeting the mysterious (dressed up) creatures, spotting the fairy houses nestling in the bracken and enjoying the woodland theatre.
Magical decor in the Spellbound Forest
This year I am determined to get to the Lantern Parade too, where, at dusk, everyone carries the pretty lanterns they've made during the day, through the trees and across the field.
Other festival highlights are the story-teller (seriously the best and funniest I've ever seen, he tells all his stories from memory from the back of an old Gypsy caravan), circus acts and workshops, Peekaboo area (a baby zone including messy play and baby bathing area), rowing boats on the lake in view of Rhode Hall (or Toad Hall as we prefer to call it!) Footlights main stage with a fantastic range of music acts, dance workshops (various from jive to Bollywood), mass pillow fights, star gazing sessions, evening disco tents... I could go on for pages! To top it off, the food and drink offerings are not only lovely, but there are also vegetarian and vegan options. Winning!
There are so many amazing things to see and do!
The final thing that I love about 'Just So' is how Wild Rumpus, the organisers, manage it really well. Toilets are always a priority, (especially with children) and here they are cleaned regularly and are the nice sort that seem like 'proper toilets'. There are showers too, though be prepared to queue for a little while if you go first thing in the morning.
The programme tells you exactly what all the activities are, where they are, and when, which may seem like obvious practice, but I've been frustrated in the past at other festivals where this information isn't clearly provided. The programme is on the website and is actually sent out to you in advance too, so you can plan exactly what you want to go to (and then, if you're like me, totally change your mind and go with the flow when you get there!).
We foxes will see you there!
So if you're able to go this year, look out for this pack of foxes and make sure you say hello (yip yip)!
Useful Info: What? Fun and funky Family Arts Festival with optional camping. Where? Rhode Hall Parkland, Scholar Green, Cheshire ST7 3QT When? 18th/19th/20th August 2017 How much? From £50-140 for adults depending on day ticket or camping, children over three £20 - £50, under threes go free.
Check out loads of festival information, from 'What's On?' to a 'First Timers Guide to the Just So Festival' on the official Just So website.