Tag Archives: just so festival

Five things to do in Manchester in May Half Term

It only seems like five minutes since the kids when back to school after Easter and the May half term is just around the corner. It’s often hard to think of things to do to entertain the troops. Playdates and trips to the park always feature heavily, but it’s good to have a few bigger things in the diary too.

I’ve picked a few things to do in (and around) Manchester with the kids this May half term. We’ll definitely be popping along to some of these.

The Lost Carnival

If you’ve ever been to the Just So Festival, A Day at the Lake or event The Lost Carnival last year, you know that Wild Rumpus know how to put on an event. Last year we went to The Lost Carnival which was in Bury, this year you can experience an evening of wonder in Crewe, and trust me, it is an experience to remember for all the best reasons.

This year features a “Battle of the Carnivals” between the rival carnivals, The Ingenues and the Birds. Together they will meet for a thrilling evening of spellbinding theatre and enthralling installations, circus, music, visual trickery and sideshows galore. Last year was so good it gave me goosebumps and this year looks set to be even bigger and better!

The Lost Carnival will take place on May 28/29/30 (4-9.30pm) at Queen’s Park, Crewe, Cheshire CW2 7SE. Early Bird tickets cost £10 per ticket. Under 3s go free. Carnival goers should dress for the weather, and wear sturdy shoes.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre & SEA LIFE Manchester

Over the May half term, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and SEA LIFE Manchester at the Trafford Centre will have lots to entertain families come rain or shine. better still, guests only have to buy one ticket and will have the freedom to explore two brilliant attractions!

In the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre visit the brand new play area, City Builder. Visitors can create their own buildings and structures in the City Builder zone. The only limit is your imagination!

For movie enthusiasts, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre has another new 4D movie starring the LEGO Nexo Knights. Experience this fantastic new 4D film with all the elements – wind, water and smoke – bringing the battle to life all around the cinema.

May Half Term

Down at SEA LIFE Manchester, families can dive deep to the fascinating world of new exhibition, Octopus Hideout and spot the star of the show, the Giant Pacific Octopus called Hank and his Cephalopod friends. A visit to SEA LIFE is always a fascinating, fun and educational day out.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the LEGOLAND website and the SEA LIFE website. 

Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park

From Easter until the end of 2016, Tatton Park is is bringing Roald Dahl’s imagination to life, with a host of children’s trails and events for all the family. Join Danny the Champion of the World in the gardens, Fantastic Mr Fox at the farm and Matilda in the mansion and you’ve got to be careful of The Enormous Crocodile out in the parkland!

We’ve already visited and explored the farm at Tatton Park where we found Fantastic Mr Fox, and we’ll be visiting again over half term to explore some of the other fabulous Roald Dahl goings on. You can read the full preview of the Roald Dahl adventures at Tatton Park here.

May half term

For more information visit tattonpark.org.uk/RoaldDahl.

GeronimO Festival at Tatton Park

The Geronimo Festival is on at Tatton Park (May 29th and 30th) and will feature CBeebies star live shows, a full circus, 3 theatre companies, amazing bands, a full county fair arena including jousting, sheep shearing, motorcycle displays, funfair rides, tortoise encounters, spy school den building and 100 other amazing activities.

This year CBeebies megastar Justin Fletcher will be there, as well as Mr Bloom, presenters Andy Day and Alex Winters and Cook and Line from Swashbuckle. As well as Les Enfants Terrible who present their Imaginary Menagerie. We’ve seen this show before and it is fantastic, so we won’t be missing that particular festival highlight! You can read my preview here.

For more information or to buy tickets visit www.geronimofest.com.

What else?

Manchester is a lively, vibrant city full of museums, art galleries, things to see, do and explore. Just a short drive out fo the city you have a wealth of unspoilt countryside and fresh air to fill your lungs with.  

If the weather is decent then you could visit and explore outdoors at Dunham Massey, Lyme Park, Delemere Forest or Quarry Bank Mill. There’s Manchester Museum to explore; the Museum of Science and Industry, The Police Museum, Manchester Airport Viewing Park, Stockport Hat Museum, the air-raid shelters; as well as Wythenshawe Community Farm and the utterly fantastic Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire.

There’s lots to do this May half term, do you have any interesting ideas for things to do during May half term?

Review: A Day At The Lake 2016

I think any right minded person who opened their curtains this morning and saw hail (it’s blooming well May tomorrow) would have just closed them again and gone back to bed. However, we are a household of optimists and packed our wellies, a warm jumper and a waterproof and headed off to Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire to experience A Day At The Lake.

By the time we got there (about a 45 minute drive from South Manchester) the rain had dried up and the sun was winking away from behind a cloud. We parked up in the free car park and walked to the entrance, this took ten minutes on firm but muddy paths which were fine for me to walk on (I can struggle with my mobility). You can get the train for a few pounds, but we’d just missed it so chose to walk instead.

A Day At The Lake

We’ve never visited Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire before (it’s technically a reservoir) but it is incredibly beautiful. A long lake in a valley surrounded by woodland and with a small steam train line puffing up and down it. 

During the day there was a full programme of events including –

  • Bullzini the amazing tightrope walker
  • Storytelling
  • Marching bands
  • Victorian Bather’s Juggling Show
  • Circus sideshows
  • Mesmerising Mermaids
  • A Helter Skelter and Swing Boats
  • Rowing boats and Vintage boat trips on the lake
  • Donkey and steam train rides along the shore
  • Craft and Vintage shopping at the Treacle Market
  • Street food and local ales

Everything you would expect from a Wild Rumpus event! For us the real highlights were Bullzini who walked a very high tightrope across the lake which had everyone watching in awe. The small boy enjoyed the donkey rides, the fabulous storyteller in his caravan, the ice cream from Gingers Comfort Emporium and the vintage boat trip.

A Day At The Lake

Hubs enjoyed exploring the street food stalls and loved the scenery and I really enjoyed the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Ensemble who played their socks off. I thought the Victorian Bather’s Jugglers were great fun and very brave to be wearing so little given it was raining ice. I enjoyed pottering around the Treacle Market and had I brought more pocket money I’d have filled the car with treasures!

A Day At The Lake

The weather was a bit hit and miss, lovely blue skies followed by dark clouds and heavy rain. Thankfully we dodged the worst of it by taking a boat trip for one heavy shower and having a cuppa in the picnic yurt during the other downpour. It’s an event in the countryside, so it’s always wise to wear wellies and bring a waterproof coat to these things anyway. I don’t think many people minded the weather and almost everyone was dressed for it.

It’s a small site, but there’s plenty to do and explore, plus lots of different street food stalls to enjoy (don’t forget the hog roast up near the Treacle Market which shouldn’t be missed if you enjoy a porky lunch). There’s a new spectacle to enjoy on the hour, every hour from 11am until 8pm and lots to do in between. We had a lovely day out, discovered a very beautiful spot and the boy came home with a head full of aspirations to be a tightrope walker (oh dear).

A Day At The Lake

For the full line-up and tickets visit www.dayatthelake.org.uk.  Follow A Day At The Lake on Facebook and Twitter at #dayatthelake.

A Day At The Lake will take place on 30 April, 1 and 2 May 11am – 9pm at Rudyard Lake, Staffordshire ST13  8XB.

a day at the lake

A Day At The Lake – an Edwardian Adventure

If you’ve ever been to a Wild Rumpus festival or event, you will know that whatever they do, you’re in for a treat. In May this year their latest outdoor family event is taking place – A Day At The Lake which for one weekend only will be at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire.

A Day At The Lake is a reimagining of the lake in the late 1800s, which was an excursion place for thousands of day trippers who were transported out of their day to day lives by watching spectacular feats and outdoor arts of the age.

a day at the lake

A Day At The Lake promises to be a real treat – with three days filled with spellbinding outdoor arts and astonishing performances. A series of spectaculars on the lake will include a recreation of Carlos Trower, “The African Blondin’s” daring tightrope walk by Bullzini of the Bullzini Family.

On a floating stage on the lake will be showstopping performances from “the finest purveyors of Circus Swing” Gabby Young & Other Animals, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra Ensemble and glorious vintage dry land synchronised swimming routines from Yorkshire Life Aquatic.

On top of all that, A Day At The Lake will also feature…

  • A walkabout performance
  • Storytelling
  • Marching bands
  • Victorian Bather’s Juggling Show
  • Circus sideshows
  • Mesmerising Mermaids
  • Helter Skelter and Swing Boats
  • Rowing boats and boat trips on the lake
  • Donkey and steam train rides along the shore
  • Craft and Vintage shopping at the Treacle Market
  • Street food and local ales

Rudyard Lake is a stunning Staffordshire beauty spot. Known as “the Blackpool of the Potteries” the two and a half mile long lake is located near Leek on the Staffordshire-Cheshire border. This man-made lake was built to supply water to the expanding canal system, and the arrival of the North Staffordshire Railway in 1849 brought day trippers to the lake in droves, leading it to it becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations of the time. Visitors to the lake included John Lockwood Kipling and Alice Macdonald who named their son Rudyard Kipling after the beauty spot where they first met.

a day at the lake

We’ve very excited to be going to A Day at the Lake on the opening day of April 30th. Not only will it be a fantastic Edwardian adventure, but as with all Wild Rumpus events we’ll be talking about it for a long time afterwards too!

Advance tickets cost £14 per adult, £7 per child. Under 3s go free. Admission includes all performances and entertainment with small additional charges for rides and boat trips.

For the full line-up and tickets visit www.dayatthelake.org.uk.  Follow A Day At The Lake on Facebook and Twitter at #dayatthelake.

A Day At The Lake will take place on 30 April, 1 and 2 May 11am – 9pm at Rudyard Lake, Staffordshire ST13  8XB.

Days Out: Rode Hall Snowdrop Walks

Having enjoyed a quiet half term at home, by weekend we were itching to get out for some fresh air and exercise, so we headed off to Rode Hall near Congleton, home of the fabulous Just So Festival, to blow away some cobwebs on their famous annual snowdrop walk.

On what was probably one of the wettest and miserable days we’ve seen so far this year, we were undeterred by the weather and determined to enjoy a day out at Rode Hall. Wrapped up against the elements, we headed off into the Old Wood to explore the glorious hide and seek woodland, and to see if we could find all of the willow animals dotted around. These are new this year and the simple act of looking up and down and all around for these willow creatures makes for an interesting adventure for children and adults.

Rode Hall Snowdrop

We were given the job of finding the seven woodland creatures, some were hidden up trees, around corners, hovering over ponds, lurking in the undergrowth, it was a real job to find them all, but there’s a certain satisfaction in finding them all and having a good look at these beautifully made willow animals.

The woodland walk is approximately a mile long, but we spent a little over two hours exploring the woodland and finding all the interesting little nooks and crannies, like the grotto, the stew pond and the sugar pool, it felt very magical and you can see why it is the perfect place for the Just So Festival. Walking down to the lake we enjoyed drizzly views of the boathouse and Birthday Island, it all felt very Swallows and Amazons.

Rode Hall Snowdrop

I was thrilled to see that as well as the snowdrops we’d come to see, that some of my favourite winter flowers, Hellebores (the pink flower above) were in abundance. The Old Wood is a fantastic place to explore whatever the weather and even in the depths of February it is full of life and interest.

After our time exploring the woods we headed to the more formal areas, the rose garden, past the summer house and Colonel’s Walk and into the walled kitchen garden. By this time we had worked up an appetite for some lunch and thankfully they have a rather excellent tearoom complete with a roaring fire.

The tearoom is a gem of a place, the menu is packed with homegrown and homemade treats. I opted for a couple of Staffordshire oatcakes filled with melted cheese, hubs had a chicken and bacon pie with peas and gravy and the boy had a sausage bap. The homemade cakes looked so good we were powerless to resist, so we didn’t, besides we’d earned a treat!

I love a good tearoom and I can say with confidence that the Rode Hall tearoom is one of the cosiest and best I’ve been to in a long time.

The Rode Hall Snowdrop Walks end on 6th March, but if you miss out this year, their bluebell walks begin on 30th April, an event we have already penciled in our diary!

Rode Hall Snowdrop Walks  30 January – 6 March
Open Tues – Sun 11-4pm (Closed Mons)
Admission £5/Children 5-15 £1
For more information visit their website www.rodehall.co.uk/snowdrops

Rode Hall Snowdrop

Our Top Five Most Fun Summer Things

It has not by any stretch of the imagination been a boring summer, ok the sun could’ve shone just a little bit more, but we definitely made the most of it. We had days out to exciting places, met new people and tried new things. We had days in and did painting, crafts, splashing in the paddling pool. But mostly we had a really good time. Looking back over the summer here are our top five most fun things we did…

1. Coombe Mill – we snuck in a visit to meet the Coombe Mill gang, and take a tour of their farm while we were on holiday in Cornwall. It’s such a beautiful place and 100% geared towards families. The small boy loved it and still talks about his visit. We met and helped feed all their animals, collected eggs, tracked down a newborn deer, we played pooh-sticks on the river which runs through the farm and best of all, we visited their miniature railway. A grand day out and we can’t wait to have a proper holiday there soon.

Coombe Mill

2. CBeebies Land at Alton Towers – this falls squarely into the “we didn’t think we’d like it as much as we did” category. Neither of us adults like roller coasters, so we visited with very mixed feelings. By the end of the day we were completely won over and the small boy had the time of his little life. His highlights include meeting Postman Pat, the Charlie and Lola House and the In The Night Garden boat ride. A brilliant day out and the queues weren’t as dreadful as we imagined. We’ll be back!

Things to do summer

3. Blackpool – Being a northern girl I have fond memories of trips to Blackpool as a child, one sunny day we decided to hop in the car and head off to see a show on the pier, take in the sights and have a stroll on the beach. Blackpool has changed a lot since I was a girl, but the small boy loved the razzmatazz of it all and couldn’t get over the fact there were actual, real donkeys on the beach. We’re going to try and take him to see the illuminations this year, I think he’ll be wowed by them.

4. Just So Festival – We managed to bag ourselves a day ticket to the festival and we were suitably wowed. The Just So Festival which is held in the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire was a magical, mysterious, marvellous experience. It’s a family festival which is packed full of amazing things, from pirate boats and buried treasure, forest adventures and crafty fun, drumming and dancing to theatre productions and circus training. All the festival goers dress in “tribes”, so be an owl, fox, stag, fish, frog or a lion, be yourself if you want. This was most definitely the highlight of my summer. I came home with flowers in my hair, looking more relaxed and happy than I’ve done in a long time. Oh, and the boys had fun too, as much fun, if not more than me! We’re already booking our ticket for next year!

Just So Festival 2014

5. Picnic in Delamere Forest – at the start of the summer we hopped on a train and the boy and I went to Delamere Forest. It was our first solo trip since my operations and I was nervous, but everything was fine, better than fine, we had a great day. He loved the train ride and was as good as gold. We got to the forest and found all our friends there, so we set to work making sandwiches for our picnic with the help of Roberts Bakery, while the children ran around and tumbled on the grass, later being entertained by a storyteller. Delamere Forest is a fabulous place to explore, I’ve heard they’ve got a Gruffalo trail, so we’ll be heading back their soon, you never know who we’ll meet in the deep, dark woods!

Roberts Bakery

Of course wherever we go, whatever adventures we’re having, we always take a picnic, you can find some of our favourite picnic sandwich recipes here and here. And if you’re looking for something to keep boredom at bay and for summer things to do, then Roberts Bakery have some great ideas in their 50 Days of Summer Activity Pack which you can download for free from their website.

Note: This is not a paid for post, I have not been financially compensated in any way.

Marvellous memories from The Just So Festival 2014

This was our first time at the Just So Festival, we went for just a day but next year we’ll be hoping to go for the whole weekend. It’s a fabulous family festival, full of magic and wonder. I’ve taken a few pictures to hopefully capture a flavour of our day there and some of the extraordinary sights we saw…

Just So Festival 2014

Just So Festival 2014


Just So Festival 2014

The annual weekend of music, magic, the arts, theatre and wonder is a real feast for children and families. It’s a lovely way of sparking their imaginations, filling their heads with wonder, and it is the most creative, relaxed and downright fun time we’ve probably ever spent together as a family.

The festival is split up into different sections, with activities taking place in the woods, or by the lake, or in circus tents. It is completely and utterly family friendly, with good toilets (for a festival) and a lovely baby changing and even bathing area. You can bring your own tent if you’re staying over, or you can book a luxury yurt or tent.

I have written a full review of the Just So Festival 2014 for Mums & Dads Magazine, it was a truly fantastic and fantastical experience and probably the highlight of our summer!