Last weekend saw us packing our overnight bags and heading an hour or so north to the Just So Festival.
If you’ve not heard of or been to the Just So Festival before, then I’d describe it as being full of adventures for families, activities taking place everywhere you look, with a friendly and magical atmosphere. It’s that perfect mix of arts, crafts, live music and relaxation, a difficult blend to get right, but Just So got it spot on for us.
The kids pretty much ran from one thing to the next the whole time that we were there, with never a dull moment. To first time visitors like us, it was tricky to know where to start, so I’m glad the programme guide included a first timers section packed with helpful advice. I also loved that we received this in advance of attending, along with a great CD to get us into the festival mood on the journey there.
We walked (the kids ran!) from one area to the next, soaking everything in and joining in wherever the children wanted to. We didn’t really stick to the programme guide, but I think next year we’d want to pay more attention to that so that we get to cram even more in. I think we’ll also look to stay and camp for the weekend as we could get to see and do more that way and I think you’d sink into it all that much more knowing you were there for the duration.
The festival is split up into various different areas, from the Spellbound Forest to The High Seas and everything in between. It means that you move through winding pathways to open spaces, round corners to amazing sights and are lured to fields by the sound of music ringing out. There was not an area that we didn’t explore or enjoy, and they’d even got the basics right as the food was truly delicious and easily found, and the toilets were clean and dotted around the site meaning no huge queues in any one place.
We loved the sailing cloth village, huge sandpit, dancing to the live music that we stumbled upon practically around every corner, the travelling treasury, and the many shows we managed to catch. Oh, and there were sweets, my son wanted that to get a mention, too! There was so much more, so we absolutely must return and see every single thing next time. We must.
The staging was beautifully done, and we flitted from stories to circus skills to shows….
Now, you know what I’m like where snail mail is concerned, right? So when I spotted a little van with a sign about pen pals, I knew that I had to explore. This is what I found when I stepped inside, and they were indeed signing up people as pen pals, young and old. Though I was sorely tempted, I do write to a fair few people, so instead I found a new pen pal for Boo. She’s delighted and she’s already written to her new friend, a really lovely take-away from the festival.
The kids played in the huge sandpit for ages. Perfectly positioned near to a bar and with live music ringing out, I’d guess many kids spent a lot of time here whilst their parents could relax. Boo was making us sandy ice creams, apparently…
And a fabulous extra? The tribal tournament…
Over the weekend, all of our performers, volunteers and the like will have tokens to give out to worthy recipients (best dancer, grubbiest baby, most impressive fox etc), which they can post into their tribe’s measurometer on the village green. There will also be secret events over the weekend, which tribe members need to keep their eyes peeled for. On the Sunday evening, tribes can march together in the Wild Rumpus to the crowning of the winning tribe.
We had not chosen our tribe this time, but saw so many other families joining in with this and dressing up – anything from a head band and tail through to a full outfit with face painting, great to see. The only issue we have is deciding who to join, as the Husband wants to go with the frogs whereas I’m leaning towards foxes, so we will see…!
All in all? We loved it. Yes, we’d recommend it and yes, we’re already choosing our tribes for next year – got to be a good sign, right?
Here’s a short video to give you a feel for the festival and what we got up to…
Early bird tickets for Just So Festival 2017 (18 – 20 August, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire) are on sale from Friday 26 August at www.justsofestival.org.uk at special early bird prices of £120 (adults), £45 (child) for weekend camping, £70 (adult), £25 (child) for 2 day non-camping, £40 (adult), £15 (child) for day tickets. Under 3s free.
What do you think? Would this be something your family might enjoy?
Disclosure: We received complimentary tickets for the purposes of this post