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Just So Festival 2015

On the 21st August my wife and I set off for the Just So Festival at Rhode Hall in Cheshire with our three children: 2 boys aged 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 and our 10 month old girl. To say I was nervous was an understatement as camping at a festival with three kids under 5 was going to be tough but the activities on offer at the festival sounded so varied and exciting we just had to give it a go.

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On arrival at the event (which was well signposted and easy to find) there was a little wait to get in but that just added to the excitement and also showed us how big and busy the festival was going to be. The tickets we had were for the whole weekend with camping from Friday afternoon until Monday morning.  The gates for camping opened at 12.00pm and the festival opened at 2.00pm. Once in the grounds of the hall the marshals directed you to the parking spots then it was off to find a place to pitch your tent in the large camping area. Tickets allowed not only tents but camper vans and caravans (you just need to book a pitch in advance).

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Once we had found a site to pitch our tent it was back to the car to collect the kit. A really good idea is that you can hire a cart/trolley from Mr Trolley who are based in the car park area to transport your stuff. After surviving putting up the tent (without getting divorced) we set off into the festival! A good idea picked up from another blog is to get your wristbands as soon as you can after you arrive to avoid the queues later as the event opened, so I had got ours while my wife carried on putting the tent up (she’s better at stuff like that than me!).

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As you went through the entrance archway made out of suitcases it was like you were sprinkled with fairy dust and transported to a magical place far away from the stresses of everyday life. The fun began straight away and there was a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air for the weekend ahead. The list of events and activities was so extensive that on the Friday we mainly stayed around the large central area and explored there. As you walk into the site on the left is a wooded area complete with fairy trail with little fairy houses and a number of smaller activities like Clay Faces (making faces on trees from clay), toasting marshmallows over an open fire, and magical stories round the camp fire to name just a few.

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In the central area we saw and had a go at tight rope walking, hula hooping and circus tricks. The Peekaboo zone designed for babies had a changing area, baby baths, feeding tent and some lovely activities like Clay Babies for our little girl which she loved. The main stage was the centre point for the tribal activities – you can choose to join a tribe (all named after animals) and take part in fun activities to score points for your tribe over the weekend.

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Fancy dress is positively encouraged and we were amazed at some of the fab family efforts we saw on display! As night time fell we settled down to listen to some great stories around the campfire then the two youngest children went back to the tent with myself while my wife took the elder one to watch Mary Poppins on the Silver Screen, which is an outdoor cinema where everyone sits on the sloped hill on a picnic blanket or camping chairs.

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We all flopped into bed that night with visions of fairies and magical folk in our heads and slept brilliantly! There was rain over night and thunderstorms forecast the next day but this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. The next morning the smell of bacon wafted around the campsite (unfortunately our kids had to make do with cereal) and we got ourselves ready to go back into the festival.

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Going further into the site we found a whole new area we had missed out on the Friday. After following the fairy trail deep into the wood we stumbled across another large area complete with a large pirate ship in a large sand pit for all the kids to play in, a giant game of battle ships for the children who played across the field after some pirate training. We stayed there or a couple of hours sampling the wide variety of eateries and baking in the sun with the thunderstorms staying away.

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In the afternoon it was back up to the main area for more circus skills, hoola hoop lessons and for the older kids/adventurous adults a parkour training session. As the weather rolled in we donned our waterproofs and in true British fashion the show went on with all the outdoor events moving under trees or into the many tents around the site. We let the kids jump up and down in muddy puddles (and yes we did too!) and ended a long and tiring day eating freshly made pizza and chips in a barn listening to a live acoustic set from one of the many bands who played throughout the day on the outdoor music stage.

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As the weather got worse we retired for the night and hoped for good weather the following day. As we woke on Sunday morning to sun and blue sky we headed back into the site for more fun and craziness. After again visiting the circus skills, which my boys loved, we found a lovely book shop for a bit of quiet time, my eldest completed some art work whilst some of the other guests had a large scale pillow fight gaining more points for there selected tribe. We ended the day doing a bug hunt with members of the RSPB and completed a bug identification quiz.

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We left the site early Sunday afternoon with three very tired and happy children and two shattered but contented parents. The festival continued until Sunday evening but in truth we had seen everything we wanted to and played hard all weekend.

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In the car on the way home we reflected and realised that there was so much more to do and when the children are older the experience will probably be even better. We will definitely be returning in the future!

If having read the review you want to experience Just So in 2016 for yourself, why not take advantage of the Early Bird Offer. The Just So Festival 2016 will run from 19 – 21 August 2016. Tickets are now on sale (click here) with early bird prices of £110 per adult and £45 per child for weekend tickets (£125 per adult and £50 per child after early birds have sold out). Under 3s are free.

NB: We visited Just So Festival as guests in exchange for this review, but all views are our own.

Mami 2 Five

Ian & Emma Phillips

Ian & Emma Phillips

Ian & Emma Phillips live in Bolton with their two boys aged 5 and 3 and their little girl who is just one.

20 Comments

  1. barjerow
    August 29, 2015 at 11:37 pm — Reply

    Sounds like a fab weekend, glad you enjoyed it. XX

  2. August 30, 2015 at 9:06 am — Reply

    This looks like such a lovely festival, and the weather almost seems to have been a fun bit of it! #sundaystars
    Megan – Truly Madly Kids recently posted…Thoughts On – My Time ManagementMy Profile

  3. August 30, 2015 at 9:24 am — Reply

    This looks amazing! What great photos. I would love to go next year and it’s not too far from us! #sundaystars
    Erin – Yorkshire Tots recently posted…10 reasons to try the Bolton Abbey Welly WalkMy Profile

  4. August 31, 2015 at 7:32 am — Reply

    Looks like a magical place to visit. What a great idea. Such fun for the children! Well done on surviving camping with three kids! Respect xx

  5. August 31, 2015 at 8:05 am — Reply

    That looks so sweet – I bet there were a lot of tired people at the end of the day- big & little….
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…Sisterhood of the World Travelling BloggersMy Profile

  6. August 31, 2015 at 8:48 am — Reply

    We really fancy the Just So festival – think it will be on our list for next summer.
    Alice Project: Wanderlust recently posted…Slow Living On Porthcurno Beach, CornwallMy Profile

  7. August 31, 2015 at 8:52 am — Reply

    I am yet to take Charlie to a festival, but this looks like so much fun! I will definitely try to go next year 🙂
    Maria (one tiny leap) recently posted…Me & Mine [August 2015]My Profile

  8. August 31, 2015 at 9:52 am — Reply

    Ah this festival looks wonderful for little ones – I love that you can hire a trolley from the car park – after experiencing a long walk to our pitch from the car park at Glastonbury (minus children) with lots and lots of luggage, I always wonder how we would to it with kids in tow!
    North East Family Fun recently posted…#TravelTours – A Monthly Travel Vlog LinkyMy Profile

  9. August 31, 2015 at 10:08 am — Reply

    I have seen a few posts on this festival now and it all looks such a wonderful place to take kids too. Thanks for linking up to #SundayStars
    Karen (@karenjwhitlock) recently posted…Sunday Stars 30th AugustMy Profile

  10. August 31, 2015 at 11:07 am — Reply

    This looks a great festival if you have younger children. So many varied and fun activities to keep them busy and entertained. Great review x
    Tracey Williams recently posted…My Sunday Photo 30th August 2015My Profile

  11. August 31, 2015 at 7:14 pm — Reply

    What a really fun adventure! Looks like a great way to spend the day, and so many cool things to experience.
    Crysta Parkinson recently posted…The Tale of the Rogue Suitcase (Sometimes Things Just Go Wrong)My Profile

  12. August 31, 2015 at 10:49 pm — Reply

    It sounds like a great festival for families:-) You were very brave to camp at a festival with three children! High five to you 🙂
    Lisa (Travel Loving Family) recently posted…Croft Farm Water Park, TewkesburyMy Profile

  13. September 1, 2015 at 12:49 pm — Reply

    Wow it looks so odd but so much fun, glad you had a fab time I bet is was a little magical for little ones x
    Sarah Christie recently posted…Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa And How I Found My ParadiseMy Profile

  14. September 1, 2015 at 4:10 pm — Reply

    I’ve always wanted to take my boy to a festival but I hate camping so much that it’s really put me off. But reading your post and others has made me think it won’t be as bad as I am envisaging! There is so much to do! Thanks for linking up to #MondayEscapes ps. My badge code went wrong, but it’s okay! Sorry!
    Ting at My Travel Monkey recently posted…Monday Escapes #15My Profile

  15. September 1, 2015 at 10:29 pm — Reply

    What great event for families! It’s nice that there was so much to do for your younger kids. Ours are both under three and I worry about there not being enough aimed at them at festivals but it sounds like that’s not a problem at all at Just So #MondayEscapes
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Bailey Unicorn Cartagena caravan reviewMy Profile

  16. September 1, 2015 at 10:48 pm — Reply

    This looks do much fun – definitely the kind of event which might tempt me to camp with my daughter. And I need lots of tempting! #MondayEscapes
    Cathy (MummyTravels) recently posted…16 things to do on the Isles of Scilly with kidsMy Profile

  17. September 7, 2015 at 8:04 am — Reply

    This looks amazing! I wonder if someone would lend me a small child so I can go next year? 😉 #MondayEscapes
    bevchen recently posted…Tinguely Museum, BaselMy Profile

  18. September 8, 2015 at 9:41 am — Reply

    That looks a lot of good old fashioned family fun. Anything that involves marshmallows and campfires has my vote and the outdoor film idea is great. No wonder they were so tired! #MondayEscapes
    Kate , Baby Routes recently posted…Bringing Nature Indoors with Oriel Hicks at the Phoenix Craft Gallery, ScillyMy Profile

  19. September 9, 2015 at 5:37 am — Reply

    Whoa this looks awesome! As a kid, I would’ve loved to go to something like this festival. Kudos for taking the little ones!
    Lo @ Travel the Unbeaten Path recently posted…Top 3 Staycation Resorts in PhoenixMy Profile

  20. […] Chosen by Karen Beddow, Mini Travellers. Read more about the Just So Festival here. […]

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