This summer we spent a fun filled weekend camping at Just So Festival at Rode Hall in Cheshire. It was our second year at this event, last year we only dipped our toes in spending one day there to see if we liked it or not, needless to say we LOVED it and went all in this year camping Friday to Monday.
So the weekend didn’t get off to the best start, driving rain and wind meant that we hit flooding before we even got onto the Rhode Hall grounds. Then when arrived we had to navigate mud slides and put up our tent in the worst conditions. We wondered whether to turn back so many times but our excitement couldn’t be dampened and the forecast for sun the next day kept us going. Keep reading it gets better I promise!
On the plus side – Eldest kid had a scrumptious Lemon and Lavender cake to enter at the Bake Off competition but by the time we got set up on the Friday evening we were soaked through, tired and hungry at which point someone had the brilliant idea to eat the Bake off entry instead. We voted it the winner and ATE THE LOT!
Just So festival is all about family fun and a fantastic one for kids of all ages. The event gets it’s name from the ‘Just So stories’ by written by English Novelist Rudyard Kipling in 1902 and a big part of the festival is about choosing an animal tribe and dressing up. It’s not a necessity but it is pretty good fun for children and adults alike.
This year the kids decided we would go as owls! Not the easiest of costumes I thought, but because I sew they had high expectations of what we could achieve (no pressure).
The tribes to choose from are Fox, Stag, Fish, Bee, Lion, Owl or Frog and you will see whole families getting into the spirit, head to toe in fabulously inventive costumes. In the planning stages I created a Pinterest board called Dress Up for inspiration (see here).
During the festival golden pebbles/stones can be won from Tribal leaders by telling jokes, performing or generally showing off and at the end of the festival, on the Sunday night, there is a Tribal Tournament when the pebbles will be counted and one animal tribe will win. This event is very loud and competitive but heaps of fun and very good natured, seeing the effort people have made with their costumes in the name of fun is amazing.
The Programme of events at Just So Festival is packed full of exciting activities suitable for all ages, hosted at 13 different sites spread around the grounds, so walking is a petty big part of the event and almost all parts of the site are accessible by pathways suitable for wheelchairs.
There is SO much going on it would be impossible to see everything, unless you can be in two places as once, so a good idea is to study the programme before you go and pick out the things that interest you the most.
My advise would be to make a loose plan so that you don’t miss your favourite events but give yourself time in between events to relax and soak it all in.
Below are some of the events that we enjoyed the most this year:
Danny English – Storyteller
We watched Danny English storytelling at the Wonderland theatre which was magical. Danny draws you in with his enthusiasm and charm, his love and knowledge of nature is unsurpassed and he had us all completely captivated. It was a joy to see the children totally engrossed and in wonder.
We actually know Danny as we live in the same town of hilly Ramsbottom and the kids have attended his Woodland Forest school Communitree.
Danny has also published one of his stories called the Happiness Tree which is available to buy online.
We first met the cast of Fabularium in the Garden of Delight when they walked, talked and sang us through a beautiful little hidden garden. The Animal characters and costumes were fantastic and we were totally hooked. The Actors played their characters faultlessly and the animal masks were astonishing, the attention to detail mixed with the enthusiasm of the cast had you totally sold. We then saw them again the next day when we watched their latest production The Hare and the Moon a funny feel good story with comedy and thrill in equal measures. We’re totally stalking these guy’s on Instagram now and looking at their schedule to see if we can catch another one of their shows later this year.
We caught ‘SeveS’ at the Woodland theatre on the Saturday and loved their performance! These two are French, body percussionists with harmonies to die for. They sang tuneful melodies and French nursery rhymes about animals which was very apt for the event.
The Rhode hall site makes a wonderful setting for the festival full of fields and forests to roam. The programme also gives you a map to help you get around and plan.
To stay on site during the festival you can choose to Camp, Glamp or bring a Caravan/Campervan and stay for 1,2 or three nights in the grounds of the Rode Hall estate. We took our tent with us this year and stayed Friday to Monday. The space is lovely and the facilities are well organised with toilet blocks, and water points positioned around the camp.
The price of this event is not the cheapest but it’s been well worth every penny for us to attend such a well organised family event, to share in the kids excitement, and to be around such fun loving people.
If you are thinking about going to Just So Festival there is a great First timers guide available here and if you are unsure whether it’s for you, you could always attend one day like we did our first year.
If you like theatre, dressing up, dancing, singing, stomping in mud, eating ice cream, wandering in forests, laughing, crying and you can handle a compost toilet, then I would say that staying over is really worth it. Top Tip: BOOK EARLY and you can take advantage of early bird prices each year.
And if you are going to Just So next year we’ll see you there!
Other forthcoming Wild Rumpus events include:
Links for your interest: