Step into a magical world where woodland creatures roam free to learn circus tricks, share stories around the campfire, and congregate for an afternoon pillow fight. This is a land where the weird, wonderful and wacky are embraced with a creative quirk and quintessential English charm, igniting imaginations of young and old. Just So is a totally kid-centric festival which focuses on imaginative outdoor play, in the heart of the Cheshire countryside, and this is our Just So Festival review.
Disclaimer: TraveLynn Family was offered complimentary 2018 tickets in return for this honest Just So review. As always, these are all my own words and opinions.
Things to do at Just So Festival
Like many summer festivals around the UK, you’ll find lots of great music and amazing food stalls. But there are so many activities, installations and performances to keep the kids entertained (which in turn makes the parents’ job easier!)
The grassy fields around Rode Hall are segmented and transformed into themed areas (including Spellbound Forest, Roll Up Roll Up, Village Green) with planned activities commencing from the Friday afternoon, right through to Sunday evening. There are even activities late at night including movies, bonfire bands and a midnight feast on the Saturday. Although these were way too late for our boys aged 3 and 4, who did well to stay up until 9pm (fuelled by campfire marshmallows).
However, there are activities to cater all ages – baby yoga, capentry, custard walks, a playground of illusions, circus training, ballet lessons, campfire songs, maypole dancing, tai chi… the list is seemingly endless and this is only a very small subset of all that is offered.
This was our first ever festival with the boys and a huge success. We really had no idea what to expect and didn’t do any planning whatsoever. We love to just wander and see what takes our fancy. However, we really would have benefited from a little bit of planning as we did miss out some really fun activities and often turned up to acts just as they were finishing. Plus, some of the popular activities get extremely busy (such as the lantern making) and it would have been very worthwhile arriving early.
However, don’t chase the programme. Have a few activities/acts for each day that you would like to be involved in and then allow yourselves time to go with the flow. There are so many roving acts, quirky displays and people to meet to distract your intended path. And well, the kids always have other ideas anyways!
Picking your tribe
What really makes this festival special is how everyone picks a tribe (team) and dresses up accordingly (foxes, frogs, owls, fish, lions, stags, bees). Well almost everyone. We shamefully didn’t get round to organising costumes, which I was so gutted about as I love dressing up (lame excuse, but we had just moved house after returning back to the UK). Kids can then win golden nuggets around the festival to go towards their team’s final score. Next time…
As our regular readers know… WE LOVE CAMPING! We camped for two nights in the designated camping field in our Vango Air Tent, which was gifted to us just before the festival. There’s lots of space for camping, and the grass is nice and soft for those tent pegs. But don’t expect too much space around your tent, this is a festival after all!
We pitched up next to our blogging friends (Mini Travellers, Otis & Us, The Twinkle Diaries and Rainbeaubelle) in the caravan area as our friends had campers. This was handy for us as we could drive the car to our pitch and unload. If we were in the tent area, we would have to park our car first and then lug all our stuff to our pitch. It was then just a 5 minute walk to the festival entrance.
There are portaloos dotted around the site (we never had to queue longer than a minute) which are cleaned regularly over the weekend. Plus, there are sparkling white showers with hot water available! This festival is certainly a bit more upmarket than your student festival days 😉
Would we go again?
Most definitely! Although next time, I think we’ll take our Mazda Bongo.
Now we know what to expect and I hope you do to after this Just So Review, I’m going to plan for a few special activities and performances I don’t want to miss out on. It was so good meeting up with friends and making new ones, and the boys had an absolute blast! They were asking to go back as soon as we got home on the Sunday!
And I’m already planning the family costumes for Team Lion next year! Raaaaaarrr!
Oh and if you little ones love a good festival, why not throw them a festival themed party for their next birthday?
Were you an intrepid backpacker in your previous life? Exploring distant and exotic lands on a budget, getting off the beaten track and feeling like you were doing something different? Now that young kids are in the picture, travel priorities may have changed. But you don’t have to get sucked into the package holiday bubble. Adventure travel with young kids is possible! Jenny x