I’m so excited, because I’m off to review Just So Festival this weekend (In Cheshire at Rhode Hall: doors open at 2pm on Friday and we get kicked out of the campsite on Mon at 11).
Last year was brilliant, but it was my first ever festival, so I had no idea what to expect.
Apparently I picked the best one, so I’m sticking with it!
I’m now a veteran as this is my 3rd ever family festival (there was the Mudfest at Pennfestival in between, and yes I am joking about the veteran bit!).
So I thought I’d tell you the key to a successful family festival:
Going with the Flow
With no clue of what is on, and no plan of what to do you’ll keep arriving as things finish and miss what your kids would most love to do.
But you need to leave space for magic and adventure to find you as well, especially when we are talking Just So.
Be too organised, and the kids will be constantly on your case as to what is next. They need to learn to chill and find the unexpected, but having a couple of plans up your sleeve will help to avoid the disaster of wandering aimlessly for a couple of days and not getting immersed in the festival.
So, I’ve been sitting down with Curly Headed Boy and I’ve come up with this plan (which I’ll mention at some point to the Hairy Northerner of course!).
This is just my plan, you might need a cuppa or a glass of wine and a couple of hours to make your own. But I thought you might like some hints, especially if you are a first timer.
Here’s a quick summary of the different areas from what I can grasp from the online programme (expect changes, things to not be in the programme and surprises!):
Social: Food is looking good this year, I’m really impressed (basically everything I wanted last year is there this year!). So I’m just planning on taking Tea, Friday night food, breakfast, juice, squash, snacks, fruit and maybe a spare meal for sunday just incase. Just So is packed with things to do, so I don’t really want to have to go back to the tent and cook. Other festivals don’t start until lunch time, so there is more time.
Jitterbug: Dancing and discos (I fancy the belly dancing and Curly Headed Boy wants to learn the Chitterbug or Jive)
Footlights: Some of the bands, but it looks like there is lots more music this year and I know one of my favourite bands is elsewhere.
Lazy Days: Don’t be fooled by the ‘lazy’, I reckon it’s going to be pretty energetic with the sports day and circus there. I missed Capoeria last year, so really want to do it this year: (Friday 4-5pm Saturday & Sunday 10-11am & 4-5pm)
Nowhere Now: These look like fun things to pop in and experiment with, I remember Physics busters from last year and they were fab.
Peekaboo: Baby fun and some pampering from Weleda
40 winks: Looks like a fab chill out place with story telling and dens
Wild Things: Was popular with Curly Headed Boy last year and looks like there is even more fun to be had with bush crafting, den making and don’t underestimate making clay faces
All the worlds a stage: Don’t miss out on getting the kids to do their own imaginative face painting, lots for the more dramatic in the family here
Away with the fairies: a must, they’ve added loads to it this year, but be prepared for the queen to be popular to see (Friday 4-6pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am-12noon and 2pm-4pm)
Elsewhere: Looks like the fun eclectic stuff from Just So that you wander into and then slip away into a magical and slightly weird universe ;o)
High Seas: Pirate training was so brilliant last year and they’ve added loads more (Friday 4.30pm & 5.30pm or Saturday & Sunday 9am, 10am, 11am, 2pm & 4pm), I think that the fox pockets and stone balancing are appealing to me too, no idea why!
Tribes and Parades:
We are part of the fish tribe, which will I’m sure mean more on the festival, but we are definitely going to make the willow lanterns this year and get involved in the parades. We missed out last year and only watched it and the kids were gutted.
Get all settled, let the kids play outside the tent, wander around getting our bearings (it’s changed location this year)
MUST DO: Jon Paul Palombo 6.30 on ‘all the worlds a stage’ (check out my a fab video of him here: gorgeous and brilliant!)
yoB: looks like they will really suit our friends (going on the music they enjoyed last year – OMG!): Fri 5.30-6.30
Really fancy the fables and music with Fox pockets at the High seas Saturday 11.30am & 4.30pm
Robbie Boyd Band: Look like they could be brilliant Sat 7.30
The Lantern parade is Saturday at 9 – meet in Lazy Days from 8.30 for lantern lighting.
Weekend Sun: Are a must, sounds really cool and funky Sun 4.30
Fiona Bevan: Sounds lovely, I think she could be the shining star of the show: Sunday 6.30
Eighties Disco – Yay!!!
The wild rumpus parade is at 7.30. Again, meet at Lazy Days.
Check out my tips on:
What to wear to a festival, and remember at Just So anything goes as long as it’s fun. Sadly Wellies are going to be a must this year, but it’s looking pretty warm too, so don’t bring your winter clothes!
A brilliant festival/first timer tent, incase you need some ideas for next year.
Why family festivals are great if you still need some persuading or are worried.
Don’t worry about the Mud if it rains, we survived Mudfest and it was fun.
We are taking a radio flyer, and you can rent them from Trolley Tots and they are great with little ones (even the 6yo still uses it).
If you’re camping here’s my ultimate camping list!
UPDATE ON MY RETURN
Forgot to say take a picnic blanket as there probably wont be anywhere to sit (thank fully we always have one with us).
Plus extra wet wipes incase you don’t fancy queueing for showers (it’s only 3 days, you’ll survive I promise!)
Set your kids expectations as to how much they might be able to spend per day or the number or icecream vans; that will reduce the number of arguments when you get there and they see a few stalls full of lovely stuff.
Disclosure: Last year I went to the festival on my own steam, but this year I begged them to give me a family camping ticket and they very kindly agreed. This doesn’t affect my opinion of the festival, I would have loved it anyway!