Just So Festival – a fun filled family adventure

Just So is an award winning family-festival set in the beautiful surrounds of Rode Hall Estate, near Congelton in Cheshire. Now in its sixth year the festival is run by Wild Rumpus team Rowan and Sarah, who are well known for creating imaginative large-scale outdoor experiences.

Unlike some of the bigger family festivals Just So is unique in that the whole weekends entertainment is solely dedicated to children, young people and their families. Even the bands are chosen for their family-friendly sounds.

Set across ten main areas there’s a wonderful array of engaging outdoor activities from music, immersive theatre, literature, arts, film, and most importantly adventure of every kind. Families have the freedom to explore, dance, chat and play in an uninhibited way that nurtures all round memory making.

There’s a variety of activities to capture the imagination of any child and adult from woodland walks, tribal tournaments, circus skills workshops, pillow fighting, lantern making, paper plane creating, campfire songs and storytelling, giant battleships, pirate training, dancing workshops, fairyland house and wand making and intrepid explorer training.

Peekaboo is designated area for the youngest of festivalgoers with baby yoga, sensory workshops, baby massages, bathtime and lullabies to sooth them to sleep.

There are no shortage of toilets on site, a mix of portaloos and flushing toilet blocks. Everything was super clean as one would hope at a family festival. The site facilities were exceptional from baby-changing tents, hot showers (rarely any queues), trolley hire and a buggy park.

Most things wound down by 10.30pm and it was lights out by midnight…. this was the quietest campsite I have ever had the pleasure of staying on ‘shhhhh’. It made a refreshing change not to be kept awake by the rumbling sounds of some distant dance tent.  

Eating out at a festival can get prohibitively expensive, so many brought picnics & snacks to keep the costs down.  For those who indulged there was a great selection of gastronomic delights from street food vendors selling falafels, wood-fired pizzas, pulled pork, fish & chips, paella, hot dogs, pasta, corn on the cob and frozen yoghurts. Hoban & Son’s travelling bars in converted ambulances provided a superb range of handpicked beers, ciders and ales.

A torrential storm brought Saturdays festivities to an early close, which meant the eagerly awaited lantern parade was called off. Luckily they got the power back up in time Electro Swing Circus who brought the festival alive again with the mix of sassy swing and stomping electro beats.

A highlight for me over the weekend was meeting the Gruffalo in the Spellbound forest. It’s amazing how quickly you can feel like a child again. That’s the thing I finally figured out…for adults Just So is all about getting in touch with your inner child, relinquishing the shackles of rat race and having heaps of unbridled FUN!

Many of our friends have dropped off the festival scene since entering parenthood, fearing festivals are too dirty or too stressful to cope with kids – I beg to differ. I have found the answer. Just So Festival has an array of offerings to suit everyone’s taste and in comfortable and stunning surroundings. I can’t think of a better way to spend some quality family time. There’s absolutely no way your children can get bored at Just So, and neither will you.

Just So, the family festival is just three weeks away


The award-winning Just So Festival (21 – 23 August), produced by Wild Rumpus announces its brilliantly bonkers programme based on the golden age of travel for 2015, the largest programme in its six year history.

An annual, intimate, weekend-long camping festival for children and their families the Just So Festival provides an imaginative outdoor adventure like no other, showcasing the best art, music, literature, comedy and theatre for families all embedded and entwined in a wondrous landscape of woodland clearings, rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside spots in the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire.

With an incredible mix of regional, national and international artists and performers, it promises to take you on an expedition of mischief and mayhem, to lands full of magical midnight feasts, raucous pillow fights, tribal tournaments, curious creatures and breathtaking beauty.

The eagerly anticipated Tribal Tournament will once more be headed up by that motley crew from immersive theatre specialists LAS Theatre. The Fox, Frog, Owl, Fish, Stag and Lion tribes will compete in ridiculous games and all manner of unexpected shenanigans. Find your tribe on festival Sunday and round off the festival in style with the Tribal Parade. Inquisitive and adventure driven family explorers can expect to tour the most curious of lands and encounter creatures and characters beyond your wildest dreams.

A visit to Grand Central complete with Passport Office, Bureau de Change and mischievous luggage porters is advice worth heeding, before venturing into the uncharted territory that is Just So Festival 2015. Head to our new eccentric Village Green to encounter ridiculous knitting, toddler jousting, pillow fighting and a nonsensical, outrageous game of Consequences.

Roll up, roll up at Head over Heels for the most spectacular and flamboyant area of Just So yet. Expect tumblers and somersaults, aerial mastery and juggling galore. Gasp and faint at amazing shows, and try your hand yourself at all manner of circus amazement.

Step into the Spellbound Forest to a place quite extraordinary. Woodland theatre, dancing and exploring by day, bonfire bands, stories and songs as dusk falls and the woodland magic really begins

Whispers have reached our ears of a Fairy City and Fairy Ball found within Away With The Fairies, an enchanting woodland, home of the Fairy Queen.

Make your way into the perilous High Seas supported by SunSense. Maps will be needed, encounter massive battleships, pirate training camp and watch out for the kraken.

At Footlights and Jitterbug we will see foot stomping, wild whirling and swirling, and unmissable family music and theatre performances including poet John Hegley, comedian James Campbell and authors Emma Carroll and Paul Stickland. When evening comes, dance the night away here.

At Silver Screen take part in BFI slapstick workshops, delve into the Picture Palace, encounter eccentric producers from the turn of the century, or bring a blanket while night falls and snuggle up to watch family classics.

Peekaboo, supported by Weleda, is where to find the best arts (and right royal facilities) for the tiniest visitors. Music, paint, clay, dens and bubbles, listening to stories and songs and baby bath time will ensure the littlies doze off to the sound of our choral lullabies as dusk falls.

Don’t miss The Marie Celestial. A co-commission between the Northern Festivals Network, headed up by Just So, and Glastonbury Festival, this melancholy, mechanical beast will form the incredible beating heart of Just So Festival and other Northern festivals in 2015.

Winners of Festival Kidz Gold Award for three years running Just So Festival aims to create memories treasured by families year-round. Rowan Hoban and Sarah Bird, Directors of Wild Rumpus who produce large scale family arts events in wild natural landscapes set up Just So Festival in 2009 to create a spellbinding weekend where families could play, dance and create together and see the world class breathtaking outdoor arts.

Rowan says “At Just So 2015, audience members will be journeying through the most magical, awe-inspiring landscape for three nights. They must watch carefully the whole journey…as Roald Dahl once said, the best adventures and greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places”.

Sarah says “we immerse families into a world of imagination, letting their creativity run wild. We believe in the power of a wonderful moment to change the way that a family engages in the arts together. If we don’t give you goosebumps we are not doing it right.

For the full line-up, further information and tickets visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.

Follow Just So @justsofestival https://www.facebook.com/justsofestival


Just So Festival announce program details for 2014

Just So Festival the award winning family music and arts  festival has announced its initial programme release for 2014. The festival celebrated as a cultural highlight of the summer for families runs from the 15th to the 18th August at Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire.

Highlights include Long Nose Puppets Arthur’s Dream Boat, Gabby Young and Other Animals, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners, Shanty Theatre’s Story Giant and Cheshire Dance presenting The Dancing Games.

The performances and activities on offer span a wide range of high quality arts and this year will include premiers of new commissions as well as works reimagined for the outdoors.

Director Sarah Bird said “We’re phenomenally excited about our 5th Just So Festival, the programming is by far the best we’ve had yet. It is a hugely eclectic line up that celebrates and rewards the curious and imaginative, it’s as much a mix of high quality arts and performances as surprising interventions and intriguing happenings”

The award winning event takes the very best in arts aimed at the whole family and presents them in a variety of outdoor environments from an arboreal amphitheatre to a beautiful lakeside and glorious parkland.

Just So Festival asks you to throw away your inhibitions and immerse yourselves in a world of pillow fights, midnight feasts,  campfires, jiving and acrobats.  Families who camp for 3 nights on the Cheshire Estate are immersed from dawn til dusk in a magical awe inspiring environment.

Full programme details at www.justsofestival.org.uk

Just So Festival update

Site specific music, art, theatre and dance designed with a family audience come together to create a magical experience.  The musical line-up is rife with accordions, ukuleles, banjo’s and horns with festival favourites Cut A Shine being joined by Skinny Lister, the Lovely Eggs and The Perhaps Contraption,  an astonishing, twisted brass, art punk marching band.  Just a few of the theatrical highlights are; Lost In Translation Circus production of La Balade de Bergerac a wild, breathtakingly beautiful circus show inspired by Cyrano De Bergerac;  The Revenge of Mr Trout, a zany chaotic, interactive outdoor adventure and Taking Flight Theatre’s inclusive a Midsummer Night’s Dream. Co Director Rowan Hoban said “this will be the most adventurous and exciting programme line up we’ve ever had”

The award-winning festival, which takes place in Cheshire each August takes families out of their day to day lives and invites them to sing, dance, play, explore and discover art together in a spellbinding natural landscape. The festival is unique in its offer of a weekend packed entirely with performances and workshops specifically for families. It has grown from strength to strength in its first three years and organisers are certain that Just So Festival 2013 (16/17/18 August) will be the best yet.

In 2013 the festival team will be delving further into the woods on the Rode Hall Estate to bring the audience some exciting new areas including Telling Tales, a world full of books and The High Chaparral where everyone can release their inner cowboy.  Buckets & Spades the beach installation from 2011 will be making a return and what better setting than the banks of the lake at Rode? Peekaboo, their area for 0-3 year olds will again be providing high quality performances and experiences designed around their smallest visitors.

The Just So team are gearing up to make a resounding success of their 4th annual festival for which Early Bird tickets sold out in September.  Full details of all acts, activities, adventures and tickets are available on the website now at www.justsofestival.org.uk

Just So Festival moves to a new home!

The festival provides a magical experience where art, music and literature are embedded and entwined in a beautiful and wondrous landscape. We provide a broad range of musical, theatrical, visual and aural performances, workshops and installations within a safe, natural and magical setting. Every clearing and glade holds a new way to unleash creativity. Families discover and delight in the spectacular within the woodland environment during this spectacular weekend event.

The Just So Festival has a brand new home for 2012 – the wonderful woods and parkland of Rode Park, near Scholar Greenthe beautiful woods and parkland of Rode Hall in Cheshire. The not-for-profit family arts festival will take place in its new location over the weekend of 17th-19th August 2012 when families can share a weekend of wonder, magic and discovery in the company of authors, performers, artists and musicians. Sarah Bird, festival director, said “Rode Park is a beautiful landscape, with acres of mysterious woodland and surprising nooks and crannies just waiting to be transformed into magical and exciting spaces. Campers will be able to spread out among glorious parkland, which has at its heart a breath-taking lake”

The family arts festival was launched in 2010 by Sarah Bird and Rowan Hoban, who after spending years visiting traditional festivals with their children found much of the entertainment off-limits for the whole family. The result was the Just So Festival, a weekend-long journey of the imagination, where everything from a beach installation, gypsy bands, top-name authors and creative workshops illuminated the arts for children and parents amid the natural landscape.

Over the coming months the team will release lots of exciting bits of programming, great acts, workshops and vendors, but with Early Bird tickets sold out since September festival goers will need to be quick if they want to join in the festivities. Rowan Hoban, festival director, explained, “ We certainly won’t be expanding the number of people at the festival, we think that we currently have the right balance with a safe and intimate atmosphere so that families can have creative adventures, singing, dancing and playing together without having to queue up or make their way through overwhelming crowds. Our aim is to create spellbinding environments where the audience feel like anything is possible”


Date: 17-19 August 2012
Location: Rode Hall Parkland, Cheshire

Saturday Day Tickets sell out at the Just So Festival

The Just So Festival was the brainchild of two mums with a love of the arts and a desire to create a shared experience for families through participation, discovery, wonder and play.
Director Sarah Bird says ‘Day tickets for the Saturday have now completely sold out but we still have weekend camping tickets available as well as day tickets for the Sunday. Our programme of events has more than doubled since last year and there are many performers, workshops and events taking place on both days as well as a great many which are exclusive to the Sunday. Tickets will not be available at the gate, so we would recommend that families planning to come along this year snap them up quickly!
Co-Director Rowan Hoban continues, ‘The response to this year’s festival has been truly amazing. Our early bird tickets and glade camping tickets sold out incredibly quickly after last year’s festival and we are unspeakably excited about welcoming our families into the festival to share what promises to be an extraordinary line up of events.
Some of the many varied highlights of this year’s festival include music from the Zen Hussies and Polly and the Billets Doux; workshops by bestselling authors Adele Geras and David Lucas; a beach installation; circus and pirate training; a midnight feast; digital camera workshops; baby yoga; multisensory and food sculpture as well as appearances from both The Gruffalo and Elmer the elephant.
Rowan Hoban says, ‘This time last year Just So Festival had only existed inside our heads and we couldn’t quite believe it was really happening. We’re so happy that we’re here again; that we’re allowed to call this festival organising lark our job. We think 2011 is going to be even more magical than last year and are ever so grateful to our festival families for coming along and making it what it is.’

Just So Festival 2011 announcement

Held over the weekend of Friday 19th August 2011 to 21st August 2011.


Girl Peculiar, Polly and the Billets Doux, The Zen Hussies, Cut a Shine, Gypsies of Bohemia, Jessie and the Orbits and The Augustalias are the first acts confirmed.


An adult weekend ticket (16+) is priced at £80 , a weekend child ticket (aged 3-15 years)is priced at £35, with children aged under 3 free to attend. Please note that 2011 camping will be a mix of glade and field camping. The first 250 families will be allocated glade camping, and later bookings will be camping on adjoining fields. An adult day ticket (16+) is priced at £20, a child day Ticket (3-15) is priced at £10. Under 3s day tickets are free. All under 18s must be accompanied to the festival by a responsible adult..


The family festival experience includes family camping, nice loos, baby changing tents with changing mats and wipes, a breast-feeding boudoir, an area with electicity points for bottle warmers and sterilisers, and more.


Just So Festival is set in 65 acres of English woodland in Staffordshire, under an hour away from Manchester and Derby, and under an hour and a half from Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham and Sheffield.

Other attractions

The festival will provides an experience where art, music and literature are embedded and entwined in a beautiful and wonderous landscape. Expect also a lantern parade, midnight feast, festival opera, festival choir, children’s authors and illustrators, animation workshops, machinery drama workshop, Wonderland, a Gingerbread House, circus skills, Bespangle hazel wood circle, Famous Five Picnic, storytree, puppet show, the Jumblies, The Button Museum, and more.