Over the summer, with much fanfare, LEGOLAND opened the new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham. We had a weekend away in Birmingham in September and a visit to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham was very high on our list of things to do.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham is quite similar to the one in Manchester. We visit the Manchester centre quite often, so it all felt quite similar there. We loved the Birmingham Miniland – which includes models of some of the more iconic buildings and places to visit in and around Birmingham. We’d been to Warwick Castle the previous day, so their model of the castle was an absolute treat!
The new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham has all of the things we’ve come to expect from a Discovery Centre. The Kingdom Quest ride is something we enjoy doing; but there’s often a queue and if you just want to get straight into the LEGO action it’s easy to skip.
The 4D Cinema (which we didn’t go in, because the boy just wanted to play with the LEGO) looked good. The queues were pretty minimal for that and I always think it’s a good excuse to sit down for 15 minutes and enjoy a mini-LEGO movie.
Also at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham there’s the Duplo Farm, LEGO City Builder and LEGO Racers Build and Test. These are all areas where you can just dive in and build whatever you want with the millions of bricks which are there. These are obviously very popular and my son loves (really loves) the chance to sit and build with unlimited bricks for as long as he wants. It is a LEGO fans dream really.
If you’re looking for a more formal building experience, the Creative Workshop was brilliant. They run regular sessions throughout the day. Everyone is given a kit and instructions to build something (on the day we visited it was a LEGO BBQ). It’s well worth setting aside a bit of time to do one of the workshops, for me the workshop was probably my highlight.
My son is not a fan of rides; so we gave the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride a miss in favour of half an hour of LEGO City Soft Play. The soft play is always popular. It’s well thought out, with lots of fun LEGO details and it’s soft play; so all kids like it and ultimately refuse to leave until you promise to buy them a biscuit/LEGO from the shop/a puppy.
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham is well worth visiting if you’re in the area. It’s not massive, but there’s enough to entertain you for a few hours. We loved Miniland, the Creative Workshop, all the LEGO building areas and the soft play.
Tickets are from £15 per person, but deals and discounts are available online. For more information about Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham and Merlin Annual Passes, visit their website. Our Merlin Annual Pass gives us entry to all Merlin Attractions and it worth getting if you’re a regular visitor.
Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.
At the start of the summer, my Facebook timeline was full of memes about how we only get 18 summers with our children and how we need to make the most of them. This is summer number 8 for us, and the annual highlight of our “making the most of our time together” is always the Just So Festival. It’s three days away together, entirely unplugged; learning, exploring, enjoying and just loving everything the festival has to offer.
The Just So Festival 2018 has had a tiny shake up. All the old favourites were there, but just enough things had changed to keep it fresh for the families like us who come year after year.
Back in July we went to the Timber Festival, run by the people behind Just So, but aimed at a slightly older crowd with more of an ecological bent. There were some really fabulous things at Timber which thankfully made their way to Just So too. Things like The Lost Words, The Moth Hotel, Hammer and Chisel and the Coppice Maze.
A couple of the areas had been jigged about, the (fabulous) Flamingo Lounge was up near the Village Green and seemed more popular than ever. Hurrah for the Pirate King was a surprising but wonderful opera-ballet-pirate mash up with added unicorn. Modern Warrior was a great opportunity for everyone to get involved in a spot of martial arts style dance and The Silent Disco was a particular highlight (do not miss this if it’s on next year).
Down by the lake, there was a re-named area called Roll up! Roll up! which had more of a circus theme. There were circus skills workshops running throughout, trapeze artists, a custard catwalk, the amazing Band at the End of the World and the incredible Bullzini Family running high-wire workshops and putting on a spectacular performance.
I really enjoyed the Idlewood area this year, the Woodland Library had moved in and there were lots of colourful hammocks lashed to the trees where you could recline and relax with a good book. There were also theatre performances, Tai Chi and a chance to meet the Fairy Queen.
The highlight for me, was as always the Spellbound Forest. Tucked away in the woods, perched on a log around the campfire, listening to ancient stories told by Ian Douglas, watching Mr Foppletwig and Professor Pumpernickel variously perform amazing magic tricks and scientific experiments and campfire songs with Ian Mackintosh. It’s so comfortable around that campfire, it often feels like hard work to tear yourself away and explore what else is going on.
And there is so much going on. There are three packed Just So days and it’s almost impossible to get round to everything you want to see and do. I always end up having Just So regrets about things I have missed. Things people tell you about after they’ve happened. You make a mental note of it for next year and hope for the best.
Just So is such a remarkably safe space for families. It’s safe in a way that you can send a pair of 8 year olds off into the woods to do a Barefoot Walk for 10 minutes and know that they will come back filthy, with damp socks and full of the spirit of independence. It’s safe in the way that you know that everything they see and do will enrich them in some way. It is safe, because it just is.
We sang, we danced, we ate, we laughed, I might have had a little cry of loveliness too. We had late nights, early mornings. We were filthy, we were covered in sand, custard and feathers, but we were happy and we were free. Just So is three wonderful, magical days a year which we remember incredibly fondly and look forward to above and beyond anything else.
This July sees the first ever Timber Festival which is located in the stunning surroundings of the National Forest. Timber is a family festival which is taking place on the 6th – 8th July in Feanedock, in the heart of the National Forest. Brought to you by Just So Festival organisers, Wild Rumpus, the Timber Festival is set to be a thought-provoking three days in the forest.
Timber will be three days of music, arts, creativity and philosophy in the woods. With lots of different areas in the woods where festival-goers will be able to learn, relax, experience or just be. There will be live music, workshops, discussions, a chance to really chill out, great food, light and fire installations as well as storytelling and a lantern procession. Timber has seven themes to explore, with lots of different things happening in each one. The themes are; Gather, Provocation, Sound, Light, Breath, Feast and Time.
The Breath theme includes family yoga, Tai Chi, Indian head massage and forest bathing. I am in dire need of some serious chill out time, so I think I know where I’ll be spending the weekend! Explore the experiences available over the weekend and find out more about the artists and performers appearing here.
You can camp in the forest, learn more about the woods, reconnect with nature and have a really special weekend with the family. We are Just So Festival veterans and our favourite part of Just So is spending time in the Spellbound Forest; so I have high hopes that Timber Festival will have all of the wonder of the Spellbound Forest and more!
With den building, crafts, woodland workshops, campfire songs, tree climbing; as well as famous faces such as Stuart Maconie, Geoff Bird and Robert Macfarlane; Timber looks set to be a fabulously thought-provoking and fun weekend for the whole family.
Come along to the Timber Festival this July where the peaceful tonic of the wildness rules supreme!
Timber Festival is on the 6th – 8th of July 2018. Tickets for Timber Festival are now available at £130 /£45 for a weekend ticket; £40 /£15 for day visitors, under 3’s free. People who live within the National Forest get an additional 10% off their ticket price.
Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester is one of our nearest Merlin attractions. We like to visit a few times a year, but we’ve not been since they refurbished last year. We’d heard that over Easter they’d launched a new Space Mission area and we were very keen to check it out. Plus there was the relatively new Ninjago area which we still hadn’t seen. Over the Easter break we swung by for an afternoon of Legoland fun!
We were pretty impressed with the new layout of Legoland Discovery Centre. The cafe area had been tucked away in a colourful room of its own, most of the old favourites were still there. Mini-land had been improved with the Manchester bit looking more Mancunian than before. I especially liked the new Lego Media City building and the working tram trundling about.
As we rounded the corner to get into the main area, the boy spotted the huge Ninjago area straight away. There are a few Ninja training zones where lively kids can burn off some energy, so he dabbled a bit there, striking Ninja poses and generally getting stuck in. There’s a soft play area/temple and he disappeared in there for ten minutes, returning to us with a big smile on his face. There’s also a moving climbing wall which had quite a long queue, so we might have a go another time.
Obviously apart from the awesome soft play temple, his highlights from that area were the huge Ninjago figures made of Lego and the free building area where he just let his imagination run wild. It’s excellent, really excellent. If you like Ninjago, you’ll love this. It’s perfectly thought out.
Time was ticking and we needed to go and check out the new Space Mission area. It’s a reasonably small space compared to the Ninjago area, but they’ve really packed everything in. You can build and launch your own Lego rocket, or drive remote control buggies and explore the surface of the Lego planet. There’s an animation desk where you can create your own Lego animations and lots more.
I especially liked the space shuttle which takes off every five minutes. The level of detail is pretty awesome. We spent quite a lot of time looking at everything and exploring the area. The boy really liked the control desk and anything where he can just build Lego is always a hit.
Living half an hour from Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester, we really ought to visit a little more often. We’ve got Merlin Annual Passes, so it’s no bother to pop in for a quick hour of Lego fun, or a bit longer if we have the time.
If you’re local we can totally recommend the new Space Mission area and the Ninjago area is fantastic. Everything else has been spruced up for 2018 too.
For more information about Legoland Discovery Centre and Merlin Annual Passes, visit their website.
Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.
Have you got your tickets for the Just So Festival yet? If you haven’t, you’ll be missing out on three days of weird, wonderful and incredibly magical family fun. We went last year and had the best time, it was the absolute highlight of our year. Three days and nights off grid, spending time together with family and friends; walking barefoot in the woods, having insane pillow fights and dressing up as bees (don’t knock it till you’ve tried it). Here’s what’s new and wonderful this year.
Taking place on 17th – 19th August at the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire this year’s Just So Festival is packed with familiar old favourites and an array of exciting new things to see, do and experience. Step out of your everyday life and enter a wonderland of world-class literature, arts, theatre, dance, music, comedy and creative pursuits together as a family. Immerse yourselves in a weekend full of magical midnight feasts, curious creatures, raucous pillow fights, hidden retreats, top-notch food, drink and boutique camping options and breathtaking beauty.
Join the Tribal Tournament – the most bonkers competition in the land! Dress up as a fox, owl, stag, frog, fish, bee or a lion and compete to win gold pebbles,. Take part in the glorious Tribal Tournament and the tribe with the highest score wins. Who will lift the Tribal Trophy this year?
New for 2018 there is the intriguing and enthralling Playground of Illusions. This is a new area full of mystery and trickery from Travelling Light Circus – see the world in a new light in this hypnotic fusion of science and art.
Roll Up, Roll Upwill be a glorious large-scale area by the lake, dedicated to all things circus and seaside. Expect tumblers, somersaults and aerial mastery from the best performers in the land including a spectacular high wire show Equilibrius and tightrope workshops from The Bullzini Family.
There’s also The Flamingo Lounge, an area filled to the brim with all things dance. Strut your stuff at Silent Discos and summon all strength for Power Ballad Yoga. Whirl, swirl, disco, cancan, jig, jive, rhumba, spin, strut, shimmy, swing, two-step and throw all kinds of shapes in this gloriously kitsch wonderland. When night falls you can boogie the night away here too.
Step into the extraordinary Spellbound Forest for tales from storyteller extraordinaire Ian Douglas. Enjoy a Barefoot Walk, or nature and bush crafts; den building, tree climbing, campfire tales and bonfire bands and sing songs as dusk falls and the forest really comes to life.
Visit a living Weleda garden to discover more about the amazing healing properties and powers of our native plants. Join the Weleda team for a tea party and sample Weleda’s pure and 100% certified natural products. Enjoy some grown-up relaxation time with complimentary Weleda Skin Food hand massages.
The Just So Festival is set in woodland clearings; with rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside spots in the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire; one of the most stunning landscapes in the UK. Families choosing to camp at the festival can experience the stunning boutique camping area in Landpods, yurts, bell tents, tipis and vintage tents; or bring your own tent or camper van.
If you’re planning to come to Just So 2018 you are advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year. Tickets selling at a record rate for this limited capacity event.
We’ve been going to the Just So Festival for four years now and each year we throw ourselves into the magic of it all. It is absolutely the highlight of our year. This year was no different, we arrived anticipating good things and we left sad that it was all over for another year. Just So Festival 2017 was an utterly enchanting experience.
There’s so much going on at the Just So Festival, it’s impossible to fit everything you want to do into a weekend. We’d been quite organised before we arrived and I’d jotted down a timetable of things we’d like to see and do, knowing that we would miss some of what we’d selected, but we’d probably accidentally happen upon some Just So magic along the way.
It’s almost impossible to choose just five outstanding things from the Just So Festival 2017, but after much deliberation we’ve narrowed it down to these weird, wonderful and decidedly enchanting Just So moments –
The Just So Pillow Fight!
Ben took a bit of persuading to get stuck into the pillow fight, but once he could see his friends in there having fun there was no stopping him. The pillow fight is a completely bonkers but wonderful sight. Several hundred people bashing each other with pillows, most of which burst and feathers flew everywhere. The initial fight went on for about half an hour, with proceedings being halted a couple of times to retrieve children lost in the feathery mire.
The fighting went on for several hours, with small skirmishes periodically breaking out. It was the most fun to take part in and almost as much fun to watch. The pillow fight is a definite highlight!
Campfire in the Spellbound Forest
The Spellbound Forest is my absolute favourite area at Just So. We always gather each night around the campfire to listen to storyteller Ian Douglas; marvel at Dieter’s mad science and sing our hearts out with resident Scout Master, Ian Mackintosh. This year something a little different happened in the forest, Ian Douglas got married at Just So and we were all invited to the Wedding Feast around the campfire. It was an evening of storytelling, song, celebration and magic.
The Spellbound Forest is also the place to be for a whole raft of creative and nature based activities. We went on a wonderfully refreshing barefoot walk though the woods. Once again we made clay faces; we toasted marshmallows at campfire cookery; enjoyed the intimate little Theatre for One sessions and met the Wildlife Champions from Chester Zoo. There was no formal den building session this year, but our adventurer and his friends built their own and it was brilliant.
Peekaboo and the Weleda Tent
With the boy being a strapping six years old, really we have no business being in the Peekaboo area (which is for babies and toddlers really). But this year there was a mud play area which was planted up with bee loving plants. Our little bee couldn’t stay away. He loved digging and discovering more about the plants.
I also owe a debt of thanks to the Weleda team. I’d booked a free Skin Food Hand Massage which took place in a shed. On my way to the massage I fell over, skinned my knees and made my bottom lip wobble. They were very lovely to me when I arrived at the shed and let me sit down to gather my thoughts and gave me some cream for my knees. The hand massage was also excellent, I felt so relaxed and my hands were treated to some much needed TLC.
Insect Eating, Wild Food & Foraging at The Social Barn
We all fancied learning more about foraging so off we went to the Social Barn. While we waited for the session to start the boys got stuck into some insect eating (dried mealworms and crickets), they also did some jellybean architecture and tried some wild food before we went off to explore the Rode Hall estate in search of foraged goodies.
Under the expert guidance of James Wood, professional wild food forager, we learned about how to find and cook elderberries, nettles, chestnuts, acorns and hawthorn berries. All the boys got stuck in, foraging for goodies and we even got to sample some of the wild food. I can say that I’ve eaten an uncooked nettle and it didn’t sting!
Just So Festival 2017: Joining the Bee Tribe
Just So is famous for its Tribal Tournament. Each year families dress up as owls, foxes, frogs, stags, lions, fish or bees. The new tribe this year were the Bees, being from Manchester we just had to be Manchester Worker Bees. There were lots and lots of bees this year, all in sunny yellow, sporting wings and striped socks. We’d been fairly low-key with out costumes, wearing yellow and black tops with bee wings and antennae.
We fully embraced the Tribal Tournament this year, with the boys all buzzing about collecting the golden nuggets to give to the Queen Bee. Alas we didn’t win this year, but we had a good time trying. The foxes won and were a little smug about it. Maybe the bees need to bring them down a peg or two next year!
Just So Festival 2017: The best of the rest…
You could easily spend a week at Just So, but you have to squish it all in to just three days (or one day if you’ve got a day ticket). I couldn’t possibly list all the amazing stuff we did and saw and ate, but honourable mentions to go – The Baghdaddies; Stargazing at The Observatory; The Cautionary Tales of Animalia; How I Hacked My Way Into Space; The Actual reality Arcade; Dancing the Conga; The Forgotten Courtyard; Away with the Fairies and the wonderful wand making workshop; Bollywood dancing at Jitterbug; and the food, ALL the food!
It was a wonderful weekend. It filled our hearts up with joy and creativity and adventure. We were happier, better people for our time at the Just So Festival 2017. Roll on next year!
Early bird tickets for Just So Festival 2018 (17 – 19 August, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire) are on sale from Friday 25 August at www.justsofestival.org.uk at special early bird prices. Under 3s free.
Throughout August The Lost Carnival has pitched up just south of Manchester, in the gardens of National Trust property, Dunham Massey in Cheshire. We went along to find out more about the carnival and to explore the beautiful gardens at Dunham Massey.
This is the third year The Lost Carnival has been in town, having previously been located in Bury and Crewe. The carnival is the brainchild of Wild Rumpus, the arts company specialising in unique outdoor productions which both children and adults can enjoy, such as the famous Just So Festival.
This interactive circus carnival almost seamlessly ties in with the current exhibition in the house, Dunham’s Lost Years – A Victorian Tale of Love and Abandonment. The exhibitionuncovers the controversial marriage of daring circus performer and beauty Catharine Cox to Dunham’s young heir, George Harry. The link is that the performers from The Lost Carnival will be rehearsing across the summer at Dunham “under the invitation” of Catharine Cox.
We arrived at Dunham Massey and parked in the vast car park (£6, free to National Trust members) and made our way to the visitors reception and picked up our tickets to the garden (adults £8.60, children £4.30, free to National Trust members). The Lost Carnival itself is free, but you need to buy a ticket to enter the garden area).
When you enter the garden (if you’re lucky like we were, you might spy some of the deer roaming the park) you are handed a Lost Carnival map which helpfully gives you some background to what’s going on and highlights the carnival areas for you to locate. Naturally we put our six year old in charge of the map and he guided us through the gardens expertly.
The Lost Carnival attractions are nicely spaced out around the gardens. I recommend you first head to the “Chant” area, where a carnival performer will teach you the chant, the actions and give you some clues about what you need to do while you’re there. From there we moved on to explore Popou’s Caravan. This is a gorgeous caravan filled with trinkets, maps and clues for kids to explore. It was very busy so we only managed a quick look inside. When my son emerged he only had one word – “wow”!
Part of the fun is spying carnival attractions through the trees and discovering secrets and clues in the gardens. I was enchanted by the zoetrope, one of those devices where you turn the handle and watch through the slats to see a horse galloping and an acrobat performing stunts on its back.
Wandering through the gardens to the “Dressing Room” we met a glamorous carnival seamstress who whispered secrets about the missing star-crossed lovers Sergei Bird and Popou Ingenue. She asked us to help her out finishing a beautiful costume. We sewed a bright button onto a wedding dress (I wonder who that is for) and had the chance to try on some of the carnival costumes.
Further down the gardens in The Orangery we stopped to write a letter to the heads of the rival carnivals (and those star-crossed lovers) Sergei Bird and Popou Ingenue, imploring them to return to the carnival. After we’d had a little sit down while he wrote his letter, we wandered through the gardens to find hula hoopers hooping, so the boys had a little go.
There was enough carnival activity to make things interesting for my son; but not too much that it overwhelmed the tranquility and beauty of the gardens. Apart from the carnival itself, we had a great time exploring the extensive gardens which have formal and informal areas. We were lucky that the weather was so sunny and kind to us. The gardens are equally fine on rainy days. There are plenty of sheltered spots under the trees if it’s really pouring.
Immerse yourself in the world of the two of the greatest carnival families, the Birds and the Ingenues and see if you can help them bring the heads of the rival carnivals Sergei Bird and Popou Ingenue back to their families again.
The Lost Carnival is on until 30 August, from 10.30am – 4.30pm daily at Dunham Massey. Parking and entrance to the garden is free to National Trust members. For non-members a charge applies – visit the website for more information.
We were invited guests of The National Trust. We were given complimentary tickets and parking in exchange for this write up. All images and opinions are our own.
As a keen eater of food, I can think of few things more exciting than going to a food festival, particularly a food festival on a glorious July weekend in the grounds of one of the great Cheshire estates – Tatton Park. We had VIP tickets for the day, so on Sunday we made the short trip from Didsbury to Knutsford to enjoy the Foodies Festival 2017.
If you’ve never been to the Foodies Festival before, it’s a bit like a giant farmers market, with lots of street food stalls and beer tents as well as little stalls selling kitchenalia and other foodie items. They also have some marquees where you can book to see various demonstrations, kids cookery, wine tasting and yoga if you’re so inclined.
The Foodies Festival does an annual summer tour around the UK, but sets up camp in Cheshire each July. It’s a real celebration of global food with stands and stalls from all over the world, plus local UK producers keenly selling their wares.
It is and it isn’t a family event. Both times we have been we have taken the boy and he’s quite liked it, mainly because he gets ice cream and a good hour in the excellent adventure playground afterwards. I guess being dragged around a busy festival while your parents swig samples of gin and nibble excellent cheese doesn’t really do it for most six year olds. Which is why booking tickets for one of the kids cookery demos would have been sensible idea had we thought of it earlier.
I’m reliably informed that Friday is the day to go to avoid the crowds, Sunday was busy but we picked our queues carefully and tried our best not to be too greedy. Between us we ate some delicious dishes; nibbling Spanish cheeses and meats, Paella, Calamari and er, chips and garlic mayo. We found homemade cakes and bags of fudge for pudding. Along the way sipped prosecco, mateus rose (it’s still a no from me), gin samples, raspberry juice and a lovely gin cocktail.
If you enjoy good food and discovering new and interesting things then the Foodie Festival is for you. It is busy, especially on the weekend days and the tickets are not so cheap that you’d just pop in for a quick bite for your lunch (VIP tickets are £35 each). With an additional £6 to park your car at Tatton Park, the costs of the day soon mount up.
Next time I think I will find a foodie friend to go with, rather than take the boys. That way I can explore things at my own pace. It’s certainly the place to go with a picnic blanket to sit on in the sunshine; listening to the live music and getting pink-cheeked merry on pimms or prosecco from the Bus Bar.
Click here for more information about the Foodies Festival 2017.
Note: I was given a pair of tickets to the Foodies Festival 2017 in return for this blog post. All images and opinions are my own.
The Just So Festival is now in its 8th year and 2017 promises to be a vintage one for this award-winning family festival. Produced by Wild Rumpus and taking place on 18th-20th August at Rode Hall in Cheshire, the Just So Festival is a wonderful melting pot of music, literature, arts, theatre, dance, comedy, storytelling, magic and adventure, with new and exciting sights, sounds and things to do. This annual, intimate, weekend-long family festival is an imaginative outdoor adventure like no other.
Just So veterans will recognise the familiar festival goings on, such as tales from storyteller extraordinaire, Ian Douglas as well as campfire music and songs in the Spellbound Forest. There’s a full programme of extraordinary events happening throughout the weekend. Experience the wonder of the Woodland Theatre. Encounter lands, creatures and characters beyond your wildest dreams in Tales of Animalia. Visit Away With The Fairies, an enchanting secret fairyland where sprites make mischief up in the trees and you could with luck meet the Fairy Queen.
Sing and dance your socks off at the Footlights stage with over 20 brilliant artists and bands performing over the weekend, including Just So legends The Baghdaddies. Dance the night away in the Jitterbug tent where you can learn to dance the CanCan, Charleston, Circus Swing, Flatfooting, Bollywood, Ballet, Tap and Jive, not forgetting the retro disco.
Explore the universe at The Observatory. Learn about the constellations with Star Gazing sessions led by an astronomer, make an array of star and moon shaped lanterns to parade against the twilight sky. Explore the High Seas and enjoy some family yoga, tai chi, meditation and take a wooden rowing boat out on to the tranquil lake.
The littlest Just So adventurers should head directly to The Peekaboo Garden – an entire area of art, music, paint, clay, dens and bubbles and top notch facilities for the under 4’s.
This year Just So are introducing some exciting new areas to explore. By the lake you’ll find the Silver Screen – an area dedicated to your favourite family films, recreate iconic dance scenes, join in a chorus line or become an extra in a Just So production. In the Social Barn next to The Social you’ll find insect eating, foraging and the first ever Just So jelly fight. Not to mention peculiar picnics, barmy dinner parties, a food funny face challenge, plus the legendary Just So Midnight Feast and The Great Just So Bake Off.
Discover the new Forgotten Courtyard.Tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall is Rode’s beautiful Italian Garden complete with a fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees. Find this secret spot in the grounds of Rode Hall and take part in workshops, provocations, debates and talks. Meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors and find out more about the world around us.
Take yourself out of your day-to-day lives and experience a weekend of pure magic and wonder. At the heart of Just So is the now famous Tribal Tournament. Join in with the most bonkers competition in the land as festival goers of all ages dress up as a fish, frog, fox, owl, lion or stag and compete throughout the weekend to see which tribe comes out on top.
Whether you’re visiting for a day, or camping for the weekend, the Just So Festival is just the ticket for fantastic family fun. Get creative with clay, make a paper lantern, sing, dance, explore and immerse yourself in the magic and creativity of this wonderful family festival.
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.
The Just So Festival is an annual, intimate, weekend-long family festival is a wonderful, creative, arty, family outdoor adventure like no other. We go each year and it is such a highlight. I look forward to it all year long; we can’t wait to get there and we are always sad to leave.
Now in its 8th year, the 2017 this award-winning family festival just gets better and better. Each August the Just So Festival pitches up in the gorgeous grounds of Rode Hall in Cheshire, filling three days with music, literature, arts, theatre, dance, comedy, storytelling, magic and adventure. We always leave feeling inspired, rejuvenated and completely reconnected as a family.
Produced by Wild Rumpus, the Just So Festival this year takes place on 18th-20th August. You can go for a day, or you can camp for the weekend. We have done both. We loved camping at the festival so much, being under canvas really adds to the adventure.
Why should you go to the Just So Festival this year?
ONE – Around the campfire There’s so much to do at Just So, it’s hard to pick favourites. But we loved being around the campfire before bedtime, singing our hearts out with Scout Master, Ian Macintosh and listening to stories told by Just So legend, Ian Douglas. It sends you off to bed feeling happy, content and smelling vaguely of wood-smoke.
TWO – The first ever Just So Jelly Fight! This year for the first time, in the Social Barn next to The Social you’ll find insect eating, foraging, jelly bean architecture and the first ever Just So jelly fight. Get ready to join in with the messiest, stickiest and most ridiculous of food fights.
THREE – Tribal Tournament Just So veterans will know all about the famous festival Tribal Tournament. Festival goers of all ages dress up as a fish, frog, fox, owl, lion or stag and compete throughout the weekend to see which tribe comes out on top. Join in the Wild Rumpus Parade at the end of the weekend where the winners are crowned!
FOUR – Food, glorious food! The range of food available at the Just So Festival is incredible. The Social area is where most of the food stalls are, but there are more on the Village Green and in the High Seas area. If you wanted to you could eat something wildly different for every meal at Just So. Our favourites are the grilled sweetcorn from Cotswold Corn Roast, ice cream from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium and hot dogs a-plenty from Piggy Smalls. Though other food vendors are available.
FIVE – Do the Jitterbug! Strut your stuff at the night time retro discos in the Jitterbug tent – dressing up is encouraged! If daytime dance is more your thing, you can learn to dance the CanCan, Charleston, Circus Swing, Flatfooting, Bollywood, Ballet, Tap and Jive.
SIX – The wonderful Rode Hall Estate The Rode Hall Estate is beautiful and absolutely perfectly designed for the wonderful goings on at the festival. Explore the grounds and find hidden magic around every corner. New this year is the Forgotten Courtyard, abeautiful Italian Garden tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall complete with a fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees. Find this secret spot and take part in workshops, discussions, debates and talks, plus meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors there.
Plus this year the Rode Hall Tea Rooms will be open for homemade breakfasts, lunches and cakes made from the organic produce grown on the estate. I heartily recommend their Staffordshire Oatcakes and steaming mugs of tea!
SEVEN – Carry on Camping, or glamping if you prefer I didn’t think I’d be a happy camper, but I was. In our first family camping weekend, we whispered into the night under the canvas, cooked sausages on our little camping stove and snuggled up like caterpillars in our sleeping bags.
With toilet blocks and actual real life showers with hot water, the facilities are excellent. If you have tiny tots they have their own special baby bath time available in Peekaboo.
For campers who fancy a touch of luxury, there are a range of glamping options available to pre-book and campervans and caravans are welcome. Come for the weekend, camp, have fun, go off grid, get twigs in your hair, let go, have fun.
EIGHT – Award winning Accessibility
I have chronic pain and nerve damage. I can’t really feel my feet and legs, so accessibility is important to me. The Just So Festival organisers have thought of everything; from accessible camping, refrigeration for medication, wheelchair charging points as well as accessible toilets and changing areas.
I used many of the accessible facilities last year I can say hand on heart they accessibility is excellent and is seamlessly woven into the fabric of Just So. It’s a truly accessible event. And that’s exactly how it should be for everyone, everywhere.
NINE – Lively live music!
Down by The Social, you’ll find the Footlights stage with over 20 brilliant artists and bands performing over the weekend, including Just So legends David Gibb, The Baghdaddies and singer, Laura Oakes.
These are my nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year. These are only nine of about 900 wonderful reasons. There’s so much to see, do and experience there. Immerse yourself in the magic and creativity of this wonderful family festival. Leave feeling inspired, rejuvenated and completely reconnected as a family.
Tickets for this intimate and fabulous family festival are selling fast, so make sure you book your tickets as early as you can.