By Simon Donohue
While I’ve never been to the Just So Festival, I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a number of other events organised by Wild Rumpus and they are always extraordinary.
I think I’m right in saying that the Just So Festival remains the flagship in the Wild Rumpus calendar, creating a magical space for families of all ages at the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire from 18 – 20th August.
Recently awarded Best Festival by the National Outdoor Events Association, Just So is an annual, intimate, weekend-long festival – an imaginative outdoor adventure like no other as the only combined arts camping festival in the UK dedicated solely to children and their families.
With a love of stories and childhood escapades at its heart, Just So Festival enables families to step out of their day to day lives and into a wonderland of world class literature, arts, theatre, dance, music, comedy and creative pursuits together.
Underpinned by the Tribal Tournament, the most bonkers competition in the land, it takes audiences (from bumps to great grandparents) on a unique expedition of mischief and mayhem, to lands full of magical midnight feasts, curious creatures, raucous pillow fights, hidden retreats, top notch food, drink and boutique camping options and breathtaking beauty.
The multi award-winning family arts festival will have new areas for families to adventure through in 2017.
- The glorious lakeside Silver Screen glade is a large-scale area dedicated to all things cinematic. Recreate famous dance scenes from favourite musicals, join a musical chorus line and become extras in a Just So epic production. Expect marvellous music, theatre dance and circus all themed around the big screen. Bring a blanket while night falls to the beautiful outdoor cinema here and snuggle up to watch the best silent movies and family classics together.
- Inquisitive family explorers can discover the new Forgotten Courtyard. Tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall is Rode’s beautiful Italian Garden. Expect to stretch your knowledge of the world around you and take part in workshops, provocations, debates and talks. Experience soundscapes and spoken word events here against the backdrop of the beautiful fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees.
- Head to the new covered Social Barn for a completely crackers celebration of fodder. Located next to The Social (with its incredible array of artisan food and drink) expect Famous Five picnics, anarchic food fights, barmy dinner parties, odd ingredients, a colouring cafe and midnight feasts plus The Great Just So Bake Off.
Back by popular demand for 2017 is Away With The Fairies – deep within The Spellbound Forest find a secret fairyland. See if you can spy some fairies making mischief up in the trees and meet the Fairy Queen.
Together with these new areas, family festivalgoers can also:
- Head to Peekaboo for the best arts for the tiniest visitors (an entire area of innovative performances, activities and right royal facilities for 0-4s).
- Step into the extraordinary Spellbound Forest for woodland, nature and bush crafts, den building, tree climbing, campfire tales, music and songs as dusk falls and the forest magic really begins. Keep your eyes and ears peeled for a very special celebration campfire.
- Experience the very best new outdoor shows for families in the magical Woodland Theatre.
- Adventure into Tales of Animalia to encounter lands, creatures and characters beyond your wildest dreams from the strange imaginations of our friends The Fabularium.
- Dance like wild things to the outstanding line-up on the Footlights stage and in Jitterbug.
- Head to the eccentric Village Green to meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors sharing the best new books out this year, a glorious Games Tent and special Just So Post Office – send a letter to a new pen pal at Just So Brasil.
- Take part in the Tribal Tournament – the Fox, Frog, Owl, Fish, Stag and Lion tribes will compete in ridiculous games, challenges and all manner of unexpected shenanigans. Toddler jousting or pillow fighting anyone? Find your tribe on festival Sunday and take part in the Tribal Parade, a Just So highlight.
- Relax at The High Seas. On the Left Bank of the stunning Rode Pool lake enjoy family yoga, tai chi, Indian head massage, reiki and take a rowing boat out on to the tranquil expanse of water.
- Contemplate the universe at The Observatory with star gazing, moon landings, space age theatre and lantern making.
- Experience an enhanced boutique camping area in yurts, bell tents, tipis and the addition of vintage tents for 2017.
Just So is set in woodland clearings, rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside spots in the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire, one of the most stunning landscapes in the UK, with limited public access the rest of the year.
A not-for-profit arts festival, the ticket price includes all entertainment and programming across the festival site, with capacity capped at 5000 to ensure a magical, relaxing and safe environment for all.
Winners of Tourism Experience of the Year, Festival Kidz Gold Award and Inclusive Tourism Award, Just So Festival aims to create memories treasured by families year-round and has a pioneering approach to accessibility, enabling families with all needs and preferences to enjoy and participate together.
Rowan Hoban and Sarah Bird, Directors of Wild Rumpus, who produce large scale immersive outdoor family arts events in natural landscapes, set up Just So Festival in 2009 to create a spellbinding weekend where families could step out of their day to day lives, be immersed in incredible stories and moments of wonder together, and experience world class, breathtaking outdoor arts.
They said: “Thank you to all our incredible audiences who have adventured together at Just So to help us make it one of the best family festivals in the world today.
“Spending time together as a family, exploring the woods, venturing to the Lake at dawn, singing around the campfire, eating under the stars, dancing like wild things to incredible foot stomping bands and listening to stories that will fill us full of awe and wonder at the magical world around us….what’s not to look forward to. We can’t wait to share Just So 2017 with you soon.”
Families planning to come to Just So 2017 are being advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year, with tickets selling at a record rate for the 5000 capacity August event.
START YOUR ADVENTURE NOW
For information and tickets visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.
Family adventurers should keep their ears to the ground for the programme to be revealed in January.
Follow Just So on Twitter @justsofestival or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/justsofestival