Tuesday 27 August 2019

Just So Festival Review 2019 (Guests to review).

We love Just So Festival and my 9 and 10 year old boys were delighted when we were asked back again this year to review. We are big supporters of the team behind Just So, Wild Rumpus, who bring together nature and the arts to give families unique experiences they'll remember forever.

Collage of photos from JUst So Festival Review 2019

Just So Festival's 10th Anniversary took place in the usual Cheshire woodland location of Rode Hall and created a real festival to remember forever, and one for your CV if you work in events management!!

Just So Festival Friday night scene showing parked cars, tents and rain puddles

I've been to many, many festivals over the years and for the last 25 I've had children with me. It's really easy for it all to go wrong when the rain hits, and it hit Just So really hard. One month's rain in one day, as 5000 people arrive and attempt to start their festival weekend. It's the stuff of nightmares for any event organiser. They did fantastically.

The staff and volunteers gave everyone just enough leeway, and the festival attendees had enough common sense, to make it work safely for as many people as possible. I'm truly sorry to anyone who didn't make it in the end. For most of us at least, the festival went ahead virtually as planned.

It was a festival of the arts and the outdoors, and nature was determined to reassert the fact she is bigger than all of us.

6am Saturday morning Just So Festival 2019 rain puddles, wristband exchange and cloud filled sky with pink tinge
6am Saturday morning
We didn't get up to much on Friday because it took a lot longer than expected for us to get to the festival, it was belting down and once we had the tent up we were shattered. By Saturday morning the weather was a lot kinder.

Collage of Just So Festival 2019 Saturday morning views at high seas with sunshine and mud

We caught a few bands on the Footlights Stage over the weekend. Thingumabob & The Thingumajigs made us all laugh. Everybody Loves Runcorn is a catchy tune indeed - we're all still singing it!

Just So Festival on Footlights Stage Thingumabob & The Thingumajigs with crowd dancing in front on muddy ground

Just So Festival does have a map, and a timetable, but somehow it isn't as important as just wandering around in the woods exploring...

Collage of JustSo Festival photos showing harpist, clown, family walking Saturday Morning in the woods

Nice to see the Woodland Library was being well used between showers - and during them. There weren't many takers for the hammocks though - even my youngest didn't fancy getting into one!

Woodland Library several raised wooden rooved bookcases among trees

There is always so much to do and see at Just So Festival that you can't go far without coming across someone performing. The Workshy Fops here did a great set of 70's classics. With the Amazon on fire and microplastic raining down over the Arctic, Big Yellow Taxi has never sounded so apt.

The Workshy Fops band performing 3 musicians singing playing cajon and 2 guitars woodland stage Just So Festival 2019

The Woodland Theatre Stage is in a gorgeous natural amphitheatre - and when it was covered in mud it was an opportunity to be a mountain climber on an adventure. I declined. There are actually rows of wooden benches hiding there.

The Woodland Theatre Stage at Just So Festival is a bowl shaped dent in the land. Shows boy at top with all steps up covered in mud.

The Spellbound Forest is always one of our favourite places. This year there was Giant Marble Run which is really GIGANTIC, When I Grow Up..., Clay Faces, Hammer & Chisel kids woodwork, den-building and more, including the campfire.

Enormous marble run made from carved split branches and rope suspended from trees - 3 ft high, 10 x 10ft in size possibly

Collage of photos from Just So Festival Spellbound Forest - clay faces on trees, chalk board when I grow up, flags

The Village Green is the main gathering area of the site and suffered worst from the rain and mud because of the sheer number of people who used it. Festival organisers and staff did a great job of spreading straw to stop the ground being slippy, and by some miracle none of us fell over. Thank heavens for the hot showers though!

Village Green at Just So Festival 2019 Saturday afternoon 6 inch deep in thick mud but with lots of people watching trapeze artist

Those who were brave enough could bring or borrow a swimming costume and take a bath at Just So - a mobile bath tour of the site. It was incredibly popular!

Just So Festival Mobile bathtub shown refilling and reheating the water between bathers

At the far end of the site is The New Curiosity Shop, which was at times a disco, a schoolhouse and an Aardman Animations workshop, among other things. Opposite is the huge Flamingo Lounge barn and we found Our Kids Social hosting a disco there more than once over the weekend! It was packed! They know how to throw a party...

Our Kids Social Big Barn Flamingo Lounge Disco full of people in bold clothing dancing

Collage of photos from New Curiosity Shop at Just So with plasticine models, antique science equipment, bowler hats and listings for workshops

There really is theatre, music and perfomance everywhere. Here with a gorgeous stately backdrop was The Hare And The Moon for younger children in the Peekaboo area. There's all sorts organised for young families - including baby-wearing dance sessions!

The Hare And The Moon Theatre stage and crowd in front of Rode Hall

Dance Like A Mother signage Just So Festival caters for all age groups and family types

I'm pleased to say we managed to catch The Baghdaddies full set, the mud was at it's worst at this point. It only got better and drier after this!

Just SO Festival Footlights Stage Baghdaddies playing instruments and singing

Just So Festival with Glastonbury style mud 6 inches deep everywhere

By Saturday teatime, with no rain and lots of sunshine, we were exhausted but very happy - and a bit pink round the edges.

Just So Festival Review 2019 Saturday evening collage of scenes Lanternfish Ukele Clay Faces Tribal Tournament Goat people

My family in russian doll cutouts with our faces showing through

The Lantern Parade was on Saturday evening. It's always incredibly spectacular, with hundreds of paper home-made lanterns. We were a bit close for good photos, but I did catch The Baghdaddies leading the parade, and these amazing stags....

Just So Festival 2019 Lantern Parade giant stags made from sticks and paper and lit from inside by tealights and fairy lights

Just So Festival Lantern Parade Baghdaddies playing accompaniment leading the revellers

We were among the first to arrive at the Fire Garden - one of our highlights. The orchard beside the Flamingo Lounge was lit up by torches and we were allowed to walk through in small groups. It was beautiful.

Just So Festival Fire Garden pathway with fire torches in the day and at night lit up

Sunday was gorgeous weather! Everyone was in good spirits and wandering the site was easier going, especially for anyone on wheels. Ice cream and sorbet weather...

Just So Festival Review 2019 Sunday glorious weather collage ice cream insects frogs

We all had Sunday lunch picnic with food from vendors on site. The food is superb quality and there's lots of variation, but cheaper options are limited. My 5 bean chilli and chips was £5, the mini Chorizo tortilla was £6, pizza £8 and Tibetan Kitchen Momo meal £8.

Just So Festival Review Food vendors meals collage chorizo taco tibetan momo bean chilli pizza

We wanted to catch storytellers and performers Ian Douglas, Gary Bridgens and Professor Pumpernickel over in the Enchanted Forest, and during a leisurely walk over there we also caught part of a musical performance at the Wonderland Stage. The setting really is amazing...

Wonderland Stage amid forest at Just So Festival with 2 women performing

Ian and Gary enlisted a troupe of young musicians to help perform a story and song especially for the Facebook Page Story Competition winners - who were sitting in front of us. They were so touched, it was a great gesture and a lovely prize for anyone.

Ian Douglas Gary Bridgens Spellbound Forest Just So Festival 2019 Sunday afternoon

Professor Pumpernickel's science tricks exploding cornflour with huge burst of flame above crowd

Professor Pumpernickel's science tricks smoke bomb circles diaphragm pressure experiment

Our weekend had to end, it was work at 7am next morning for my partner. Before heading home we had a walk around to say goodbye to the site and our lovely neighbours from Hodgepodgedays blog, and enjoy a few more minutes escape from the real world.

We managed to drive away without needing a tractor pull too - yeeay!

Just So Festival Mud 2019 Giant dice

There was so much more that we didn't see or take part in, including the Pillow Fight, discos, bands, theatre, workshops and performances. We crammed absolutely loads into our 2 days though and had a really awesome time. Mud doesn't stop anyone at Just So Festival - it's what wellies were made for.

Just So Festival is an annual 3 day weekend festival which takes place at Rode Hall, Cheshire and we have been a few times now. It is designed especially for families with children 0 - 11 and is organised by Wild Rumpus. 

For a different review, see Hodgepodgedays Blog!

We love Wild Rumpus and everything they do to bring the arts and nature together in such perfect collaborations - they are also the people behind The Lanterns At Chester Zoo, The Forgotten Carnival, Hinterland Film Festival, Timber Festival and more... Here are the events we've reviewed for them...

We were guests of Timber Festival to review, and we paid for everything except our entry. 


  1. I've never been to a festival before, this always makes it look so good. I should do this at some point with the kids xx

    1. You really should try it at least once. You can go as a day visitor if you are scared at the thought of camping, although that's one of the big highlights for the kids itself :)


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