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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - circus tent

We were provided with Press tickets to the Just So Festival in Cheshire this year and could not have been more excited. The not-for-profit festival focuses on family arts and seemed to offer something that little bit different to other festivals I've been to in the past. We packed up our tent and travelled along the A1, M62 and M6 and before we knew it we were there. We were able to camp for up to three nights and the campsite was very close to our car which was a blessing. Anyway, we fell head over heels in love with Just So.......here are few reasons why:

1 - We snacked on Corn on the Cobb

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - corn van

My kids love Corn on the Cobb and it was the first thing they spotted when we entered the festival site. It was sweet, juicy and really hit the spot - the perfect festival snack!

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - corn on cobb

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - corn on cobb

2 - The attention to detail was superb

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - lantern
The attention to detail at Just So was simply amazing - I have no idea how long this must take to put together but I am guessing they must already be starting on 2017. From the hand-drawn signs to the twinkly lights and bunting everywhere you turn. The detailing was well thought out and really added to the magic. 

3 - We could dance the night away

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - music on footlights stage at night

The footlights is the perfect place to set up camp, get the drinks in and dance the night away with new friends. A real highlight for us was the huge 'Zombie Congo' which snaked through the field one afternoon courtesy of the Baghdaddies.

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - footlights stage at night

4 - We were captivated by stories around the bonfire

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - bonfire bands and story telling in the woods

It's not often you get the chance to listen to stories by the bonfire and these were by real story tellers who had kids on the edge of their seats and the grown ups laughing at the jokes that went over the kids' heads. The tale about the boggles of Cumbria was or favourite.

5 - There's lots of space to chill out

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - sailcloth city by the lake

Sometimes festivals can be full on but at Just So there were plenty of spots to chill out whether this be by the lake, in Sailcloth city, during family yoga, whilst enjoying an Indian head massage or simply just under a tree. There were lots of places to escape the craziness which was appreciated. 

6 - The festival setting is beautiful 

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Rode Hall Estate Gardens

The Just So Festival is set on the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire. The grounds are beautiful and very well kept with lots of flowers, ponds, woodland and shrubs. 

7 - We learned all about bees

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Bee Hives

I appreciated the hands on & educational aspect to the festival and my three loved lifting the bee hive lids hidden in the spellbound forest to learn all about these special creatures.

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Bee Hives

8 - We composed our own song using pots and pans

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - pots and pans music

My kids were transported right back to their toddler years and composed their own song using nothing but pots, pans and crockery. Lots of fun!

9 - The staff were all fantastic

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - outdoor story telling

From the roaming actors who stayed in character the whole time to the friendly faces on the entrance gate to the parking stewards and volunteers helping us create our own lantern - all of the staff we encountered were happy, friendly and made us feel welcome and nothing was too much trouble.

10 - We joined the circus

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - circus skills

It's not every day you can join the circus! We loved learning new skills and by the end of our session we were all spinning plates with ease. What an achievement! 

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - circus skills

 11 - We discovered the magic of the forest

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - spellbound forest

The Spellbound Forest at Just So truly is a magical place - from the moment you step through the storybook entrance you can't help but be taken in by the twinkling lights, hidden theatres and secret trails. We even managed to bump into the Gruffalo!

 12 - We enjoyed contemporary dance

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - contemporary dance

Watching contemporary dance isn't something you'd normally find us doing as a family but we actually ended up thoroughly enjoying the performance.

13 - We were immersed in all things crazy

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Les Enfants Theatre

A flying boat, egg heads that crack, stardust, robots, empty planets and vacuums.......all part of one of the truly crazy but funniest shows of the weekend.

14 - Mud and rain were dealt with and weren't an issue

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - wellies

Sometimes rain and mud can cause problems at festivals and hamper the fun - well not at Just So! There are plenty of spots to hide under cover, indoor activities and the mud was dealt with promptly with staff laying down straw to stop it getting slippy. Hats off to the festival organisers for being so well organised.

15 - It was an excuse to dress up

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - fox ears
Some of the costumes at Just So are AMAZING. From grown men in lion suits and dressed as Fantastic Mr Fox to babies dressed as frogs and full mermaid costumes, I REALLY need to up my game next year. Still, it was nice to walk around with a pair of fox ears all weekend and join in the fun. Steve has already started a Pinterest board with costume designs for next year! 

16 - The Tribal Leaders

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Frog Tribal Leader

Before you visit Just So, you should align yourself with a tribe. With our red hair, we naturally aligned ourselves with the foxes. Every tribe has their own leader who spends time walking around the festival and entertaining everyone. The leaders were funny, over the top, always in character and took the time to speak to every single child. 

17 - Inclusive performances

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - woodland theatre

Most of the festival was accessible by wheelchair, there were accessibles loos and many of the performances were also provided with an interpretor and sign language if needed. I loved this inclusive feel to the festival - it felt like nobody was left out of the fun. 

18 - There was candyfloss

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - fairy candy floss
Candy floss is the one thing I'm not keen on my children eating - it is pure sugar after all. The candy floss at Just So though was just irresistible with it's magic fairy dust. We couldn't resist ordering some fresh from the two lovely ladies and indulging a little.

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - fairy candy floss

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - fairy candy floss

19 - We spent time with friends

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - North East Family Fun and Her Come the Hoopers selfie

Festivals are the perfect place to visit with friends - there is plenty to see and do so you aren't on top of each other but then there's also lots of opportunity to enjoy a couple of drinks together or catch a performance. We visited with our friends the Hoopers (who we actually hadn't met in real life until the festival - we were just internet friends) and it was lovely to have someone to share the experience with. 

20 - We camped under the stars

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - tent in camping field

Part of the magic of festivals has to be the camping - the pitches at Just So are very close to the car park (so no great distance to carry everything) and pretty close to the festival entrance. There are clean loos and shower blocks and fresh water is available too. Yes it rained (quite a bit) but there is definitely something special about just embracing the festival vibe. 

21 - There was FREE Soreen

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - free soreen

This was perhaps a little unexpected but we were handed free Soreen samples throughout the day. My eldest was in his element and we actually discovered he loved Soreen so will be adding a bar to his packed lunch when he returns to school. It turns out Soreen is the perfect snack to nibble on and keep you going between performances. 

22 - Something new to see everywhere we turned

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - heron

You could never be bored at Just So - there is something new to watch around every corner and you never know what to expect next from giant Heron's to galloping human horses. We were definitely entertained.

23 - We joined in with crafts

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - free craft, make your own placard

I'll be the first to admit I'm not at all crafty and crafts at home aren't really my thing so when the kids had the chance to create something fantastic at Just So, we really appreciated it. They loved making their 'Team Fox' placards and they now stand proudly against their bedroom wall.

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - make your own placard at the high seas

24 - A little healthy competition and rivalry

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Tribal Tournament leaderboard

Throughout the festival you have the chance to earn special golden pebbles from actors and performers - you then must hand these to your leader and they are counted up at various points throughout the day before a winner is announced at the grand Tribal Tournament finale. Foxes took an early lead but sadly it wasn't our year. The healthy competition was lots of fun though, especially as rumours spread amongst tribe members about how to obtain extra pebbles. 

25 - There was GOOD coffee available from Little Espresso Co

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - coffee from Little Espresso Co

No weak tea or cheap coffee here - only the best for Just So parents which pleased me no end! It was blissful to grab a cup on Sunday morning and take in an outdoor performance with the kids. 

26 - We learned how to become spies

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - spy science

H&H enrolled in Spy Science and learned how to write secret codes using invisible ink - just one of the free spy school workshops available to book. 

27 - We joined in with a HUGE pillow fight on the Village Green

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - pillow fight on village green

The Village Green was home to an EPIC pillow fight on Sunday afternoon, It was so much fun to both watch and participate in and very well organised by the tribal leaders who ensured things didn't get too out of hand. Feathers everywhere!

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - pillow fight on village green

28 - There was time to sit back and watch the world go by together

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016

Sometimes the best thing about spending the weekend with your family is actually spending time with your family. We didn't charge our phones on purpose (there is a charging tent should you need it) and loved the time with our children away from technology and simply having fun.

29 - The Boy Who Cried Wolf

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Animalia and The Fabularium performance of The Boy Who Cried Wolf

Animalia in the middle of the woods was home to the most fantastic theatre company (the Fabularium) we loved gathering around and listening to the beautifully performed Boy Who Cried Wolf.

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Animalia and The Fabularium performance of The Boy Who Cried Wolf

30 - We tried something new together

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - acrobatics

I was well and truly pushed out of my comfort zone and joined in with an acrobatics class with Heidi - it was lovely to try something new and as always, fantastic for Heidi's confidence as she was praised by the staff for her flexibility and grace (me not so much - haha).

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - acrobatics

31 - We were captivated by the story of Reynard the Fox

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - Animalia and The Fabularium performance of Reynard the Fox

Another favourite from the Fabularium - the tale of Reynard the Fox. Young and old loved this performance and there were a few jokes in there just for grown-ups too. It was a definite highlight for Jack and I and we couldn't help but fall for Reynard's charm. 

32 - Indulgent treats for grown ups too

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 - festival food

Freshly made curries, fries topped with bacon and cheese, gourmet burgers, local ales and ciders, proper fish and chips......there were plenty of treats for grown ups to enjoy too. 

33 - We ordered our own pizza which was made to order

33 Reasons we LOVED the Just So Festival 2016 -  festival pizza

I love encouraging the kids to do things for themselves and H & H were proud as punch when they ordered and paid for their own pizza for lunch one day. It was delicious too! Most food vendors sold children's meals (typically £5 for a main, side and drink) and food wasn't too overpriced. 


In conclusion, the Just So Festival was everything we expected and so much more. It was fun, inspiring, creative and chilled......all at the same time. Once you pay for your ticket, everything apart from food, drink and concessions is included. I loved not having to put my hand in my pocket when the kids wanted to join a craft session or we signed up to family yoga. Because of this, the Just So Festival really is superb value for money. To get more of a flavour of the festival, please check out our short video below. I promise the pillow fight isn't as crazy as it seems! LOL



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. 

Disclosure: We were provided with Press Tickets to attend the Just So Festival and write an honest review. 


Monkey and Mouse
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17 comments

  1. It's sounds awesome!! After reading this we will definitely consider going next year. Great post.

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  2. Looks amazing, so much to see and do. Never seen anything like it before. Perfect for families who want to experience the outdoors, get stuck in and be creative, try new things and gain confidence. Great post :-)

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  3. Th only thing that is bad with festivals is that you wont want to leave after! Such a lovely trip and endless activities to do and love =)

    #whatevertheweather

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  4. Wow! Looks like you had a lot of fun!! The festival looks amazing!

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  5. Looks like the children had tons of fun, so much to do! I think my children and I would've really enjoyed the theatre and I love corn on the cob, I'd been at that stall every day.

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  6. We were there too (our first year) and I agree it was brilliant! Can't wait for next year already. Thanks for the blog, it brought back lovely memories.

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  7. We had a wonderful weekend, my girls are already planning their costumes for next year!

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  8. Wow it looks like you guys had a great time there. Love all the photo's you really get a feel for the event.

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  9. Ahhhhh Foxes! We were Team Stag a couple of years back! It was my first family festival back in 2014 and we reviewed JustSo and had a great time. Waiting until I'm a bit older to return again xx great review.

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  10. I keep hearing how amazing this is and have friends travel there from Cumbria... must go before my kids are too old!

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  11. Looks like you guys had an amazing time. Love the photos.

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  12. I love that you could even find that many pro points. The aerobatics class, so good. Glad you was pushed out your comfort zone and you tried something different together x

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  13. Looks like you had an amazing time! Corn on the cob - yum yum!

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  14. I love these kinds of festivals, just god rustic festival fun! Corn on the cob and festival activities is a big win!

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  15. Free soreen! I'm there! I absolutely love the sound of this! Perfect for families and I want to go even without a family!

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  16. This looks like so much fun. I went to a circus workshop as a kid and loved it, and I'd happily now as an adult indulge in a bit of spy writing, pillow fighting and eating all the food. Glad you had such a great time

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  17. Oh wow!! It looks amazing! I love that there is just so much to do and the kids seem to have had a whale of a time! Especially love the photos of you and your daughter doing the acrobatics class, brilliant! I need to go to a festival with the kids next year, might have to check this one out. Thanks so much for linking up to #Whatevertheweather :) x

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I always love reading your thoughts and comments - Sam x

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