AD/ Press Trip. We have been going to Just So since 2014 and we are huge fans of this wonderfully magical family festival. Each year is different from the last, sure there are some of the same things going on, but each year is delightfully different. Just So Festival 2019 was their 10th festival and memorable for a million reasons.
This summer has been a bit damp, we’ve had fairly extreme rain and some sunshine. I was hoping for a sunshiney weekend, but as we packed up the car on Friday morning, the heavens opened and over the next 12 hours dumped about a months worth of rain on the North West. We arrived at Rode Hall during a huge deluge and despite the best efforts of the organisers, we had to wait for about 45 minutes to get on site, which was fine.
We were camping in the Accessible Camping area and despite the rain we managed to pitch the tent and go and get our wristbands. By the time we were unpacked and settled, it was 8pm and the boy was asking to go to bed. It was still raining so decided to turn in early in the hopes that the morning would bring some sunshine.
Saturday did bring sunshine, so we put our wellies on and headed onto the site to explore. I’m not going to lie, it was very muddy, pretty slippy and quite treacherous in parts. I have limited feeling in my feet, so this made things harder for me to get about. My husband lent a steady arm and we explored as best we could. A lot of families were recreating the “squelch squerch” pages from We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, which tickled us quite a lot, maybe they need a Bear Tribe for next year?
Saturday at Just So Festival 2019 saw us enjoy a whole load of fun things; the Silent Disco, the Woodland Library, Sirin, Toast, Campfire Stories and Campfire Songs, the Woodland Playground, The Retrosettes and a wander down to the lake to watch people go for a row. We met up with some wonderful friends and had a gossip, a catch up and a play. We sat down a lot because I was finding walking on the mud a bit hard going, but it didn’t dampen our spirits too much. Squelch squerch.
Sunday arrived and the site had dried up a treat. It was still muddy, but not as slippy as it had been and I found I could get around an awful lot easier. We launched ourselves into our last day and walked around looking for all the small things which bring us Just So joy, like the Dream Antelopes, the rollerskating flamingos and Boudicca on her chariot.
We ventured down to Footlights again for lunch and a listen to Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers. Wandering through the woods past the queue to meet the Fairy Queen, up to the Spellbound Forest and around the campfire with the very incredible Professor Pumpernickel (not pumpy knickers, as he corrected us). The blue haired professor is always a highlight. His collections of whizz-banging experiments are not to be missed and the boy was rapt. He even went up to him afterwards and had a chat with him, which demonstrated a huge leap in his confidence.
He loved the Giant Marble Run and Hammer and Chisel. We didn’t make Clay Faces this time, but we can do that at home too, so it’s no hardship. We listened to Hurrah for the Pirate King and danced to the ukulele orchestra. Together, we did all kinds of brilliant things and we filled our hearts up with a enough magic and wonder to last us a while yet.
I always find it takes a day to unwind, shake off our real world stresses and properly get into the rhythm of Just So. Our evenings by the campfire, listening to stories and singing our hearts out are a highlight. We love the live music, we love dancing down the Flamingo Lounge. We love the bits of magic around every corner.
It’s such a shame that the heavens opened and cast a cloud over the festival. There were a few grumbles and I did retire early on health and safety grounds on the Saturday night, but all the staff were really helpful and did their very best to make sure the show did go on.
It would have been nice if the sun had shone a little more, but we made a whole lot of muddy memories and my son had such a brilliant time. One of the most important things about our Just So weekends are that they really make us disconnect from our busy lives and reconnect with each other. It’s not just about the magic and the wonder, it’s about slowing down, dressing up as an owl (or a fox, or a stag, or a fish) for a few days and just experience life through the eyes of my child.
I hope next year it’s drier and a lot less muddy, but no less magical. I take my hat off to everyone who worked at Just So Festival 2019 and everyone who managed to bring joy to the weekend in spite of the weather.
See you round the campfire next year?
To grab your tickets for next year’s Just So Festival, visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.
We were invited guests of the Just So Festival 2019, we were given weekend camping tickets in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are our own.