This weekend sees the 7th year of the Just So Festival held at Rode Hall Staffordshire, where worlds of wonder and mystery meet for a truly fantastic family festival. Whether you are an old hand at festival going or one of the new comers like us we would definitely recommend heading to the Just So Festival for the eccentricity of theatre, art, music, fun and adventure. There is an abundance of amazing wonderful attractions from story time to circus skills, clay craft to hand painting, story time in the Big Tent to bubbles on The Green, hula hooping to sensory play in the Big Red tent – whatever your age and whatever you fancy there is something here for every member of the family.
Despite the weather, the frolics and fun ran from the moment we arrived. We were greeted by the team who exchange your tickets for wristbands for adults, children and babies so that everyone is accounted for and once you’ve entered under the huge welcome sign, the playground is yours for the taking. A packed programme from Friday afternoon through to Sunday evening promises to engage and amaze whether you fancy something relaxing or you are more of an adventurer you’ll find your needs are met. Can Can, Bollywood Dance, Retro Discos or Family Ballet – take your pick from the dancing offerings in the Jitterbug zone or simply just chill out to some great music in the Footlights zone.
There’s plenty of food to choose from. We went for organic burgers but could easily have been tempted by the Spanish, Indian or Italian cuisine. In fact, I would happily have eaten from any of the emporiums – the fish & chips and the veggie options smelt great too. As well as a delicious lunch, I may have slurped a couple of coffees and noshed some churros to battle against the rain and the Little Lady may have devoured an ice cream from the delicious flavours on offer. All of the food outlets offer children’s portions, which I was particularly impressed with. There’s even a bar if you have time between all of the activity – Mrs View From a Daddy said that we didn’t have any spare time as we marched on!
With such a packed schedule of events, you have to grab a programme to make sure you make the most of everything. Lots of activities run more than once so you can cover the things that you’d like if there is a clash or you have just spent more time in one zone than you anticipated. What is great is that the price of your ticket includes all of truly brilliant activities. We started with making clay faces, soon got stuck into story time, had a hula hooping session, watched a show, nibbled some lunch, had our face glittered up* (as you do), went to sensory story time, listened in to the Big Roar story time, lapped up some ice cream, learnt some circus skills, played some wild instruments, had a horse ride (on a french human horse?) built a den and even had time listen to some pretty great musical performances.
For the Littlest View From a Daddy who was sleepy for most of the day, there was plenty to do too but best of all from Mrs View From a Daddy’s point of view, there was a feeding tent sponsored by Medela where she and the baby could go and feed out of the wind and in the calm. There was also a well stocked baby changing area sponsored by Naty but, best of all and, if we were camping, I would definitely have been taking advantage of this, there is a bathing area for babies where baths are to be drawn early evening helping to settle them down for a relaxing night. Clean toilets are available around the site with changing coloured lighting – fascinating to a 3 year old I must say!!
If you like the idea of trying out a sling, there is a library available as well as a buggy park in the Peekaboo zone.
Other practical features include a shop for the essentials that you may have forgotten especially useful for those camping, phone charging points – a small miracle if you are so inclined and a cash machine – like a mirage in some out of town spots.
The whole weekend is about building memories whether it’s the competition between the tribes of animals which you can choose to join: foxes, frogs, fish, lions, stags, and owls are meandering around the site big and small and are rewarded earning points for the competition to see who wins the overall challenge of the weekend akin to a House System at school – it’s all good fun. You don’t have to join in the dressing up but you aren’t alone if you pop on your antlers or a tail.
There really is so much to mention that the best way to experience it is to get along there yourself. Sunday has a packed programme too but if you have missed this year’s fun the dates for next year have been released (18th – 20th August 2017) so be sure to get them in your diary.
We have all had a great day where everyone has been able to get involved, have a giggle and spend some real quality time together. Who knows maybe next year, we may bite the bullet and get the tent out!
For the full programme and ticket information visit www.justsofestival.org.uk