Picture this… its your 10th birthday coming up, a big one. You have the mother of all parties planned, your biggest and best one yet which is going to last three days. All your guests have RSVP’d as nobody wants to miss out on this one, the foods been confirmed, the entertainment is all sorted as well as the sleeping arrangements. Only, despite everyone having the same idea of how epic its going to be, someone uninvited decided to turn up and try and steal your thunder… literally.
The organisers and all those involved with planning Just So Festival would have been forgiven for having the mother of all meltdowns given the weathers attempt as trying to wipe out all the months of preparation and planning which has gone in to helping to plan and provide the excitement and anticipation for their 10th anniversary, however they were having none of it and Just So, unlike many other festivals this year, didn’t get wiped out by the weather.
I will get the worse out the way at the start though as despite only living 20 minutes away from the usually gorgeous setting in Rhode Heath, Cheshire, it actually took us close to four hours (yes four hours) to get into the venue thanks to the relentless rain and much slower pace which had to be undertaken by the 4000 visitors getting parked up and tents set up safely. Yes I’ll be honest and say I think more needs to happen outside of the venue to ensure traffic flows smoother, as it would have even been quicker to walk than drive for us given the delay and although we felt it, having two very excitable but vastly becoming unmanageable children in the car, others travelling much further would have felt it much worst after a typical three hour journey on top of the final three hour 1 mile congestion. That said, once in the venue, all the volunteers couldn’t do enough for you, whether that was simply showing a welcome smile, or help you park up, help set up your tent or empathise accordingly.
For those of you who have never heard or been (seriously?!?), Just So Festival is an annual event set in Cheshire and is a three day family festival containing everything involved in the arts; from theatrical performances to bands; from storytelling in the woods around a campfire to silent discos and bhangra dancing. There’s also the unique and wonderful as well; like meeting the fairy princess; midnight feasts, pillow fights and bubble baths in a moving bath tub…
Although it typically kicks off at 2pm on the Friday, due to the weather, it was a massive achievement to have parked up, unpacked and set up our borrowed tent in torrential rain so knowing the remaining two days had sunshine planned, we wondered over to the many food venues in the festival, picked up a wood fired pizza, a toastie and some snacks and headed for an early night.
Thankfully when morning broke, (which was about 6am in our tent) the sun and will power of all the Just So’ers had a positive effect as we didn’t see anymore rain for the remainder of the weekend. The site was a bit of a mud site by this point but given the fact majority of kids love muddy puddles and wellington boots, (mainly thanks to an annoying certain pig) this never even became an issue to the little people and just added to the fun and experience. It did mean there wasn’t many places (*read none) to set up our picnic blankets and relax catching the August sun rays whilst watching some of the awesome performances on show, from the fantastic David Gibb and his crowd enticing songs to our favourites, Thingumabob and the Thingumajigs and their classic song about Runcorn (everybody loves Runcorn) but that didn’t matter as we were more than willing to stand to catch these, in fact the children took the chance to dance around in their wellies to the tunes as well.
The Woodland Theatre and Spellbound Forest were their usual magical experiences and continued to never disappoint on the multiple occasions we’ve now been to Just So. We all love listening to tales from the extremely captivating storyteller Ian Douglas who, whilst also bagging the top spot around the marshmallow toasting campfire also knows just how to make the masses listen with some kind of silent enchantment but equally join in during other stories too with plenty of laughter included along the way.
This year though we really loved the Flamingo Lounge which included a mix of topic and debate for mid to older children, bhangra dance classes, and our favourite, a silent disco held by a trio of ladies from Manchester with Our Kids Social. Our Kids Social are all about socials which involve the whole family, epitomising Just So really. The kids even got to witness my flossing thanks to being called up on stage by the OKS ladies… much to H’s embarrassment and D’s pride…
As a family we really love Just So Festival, there’s something so magical and care free about it… like a warm hug on a cold day, like an ice cream on a hot day… its just feels like a release from everyday distractions and the mundane. We love wandering around and just stopping to admire a performance going on, equally planning in some of our favourite acts or experiences as well. Its also great if you are camping to be able to nip back to your tents, set up a mid afternoon BBQ before wandering back into the venue for early evening events. Its proves as a family we don’t need technology (other than our cameras to capture memories, we don’t need TVs, we don’t get bored and we all become so immersed as a family in the arts and performances which despite the rain, left us all feeling like our adventure this year was just as good (and some more) as any other Just So Festival and that no matter how intent the weather was to try and ruin Just So’s 10th Festival, it never stood a chance.
I’ve not even had the word count to mention the amazing facilities for really little ones, rowing boats on the lake, the tools station (which the kids loved by the way – hammers, saws and nails!) or the fire garden which were equally as impressive, or the fact that the Foxes won this years tribal tournament (come-on the foxes!)….. OR EVEN THE INFAMOUS LANTERN PARADE!!… I could go on….
Everyone involved with Just So, whether that be its creators, Wild Rumpus; the amazing volunteers who were prepared to stand in the pouring rain and lend a hand; the amazing acts who continued to give their all; the tasty food and drink and merchandise stalls and all the festival goers who like the family we all are, made for an incredible weekend and the best party yet. We hope we are invited back again to continue the party for the next 10 years as well as the fun of camping out and enjoying the adventures along the way.
Early bird tickets for next years Just So Festival 2020 are on sale now so if you fancy a discount on the usual ticket price, and want to experience the magical and entertaining family festival, then purchase them now before they go as they don’t hang around for long.
Until next time.