15 Reasons why we loved Just So Festival 2016 – Review

Rather than just churn out a chronological recount of our day at the 7th annual Just So Festival, I thought we’d share a list of things we love about it . . .

Although Just So Festival is held over the course of three days there are a variety of ticketing options available from full weekend camping to single day attendance or even two days with no camping (which would be great if you were fairly local and averse to camping with small children . . . )

Having never camped with the kids before (in fact my last camping experience was at Leeds Festival some years ago) we have no equipment to speak of and decided that, although we think the kids would have loved to camp, it wasn’t really feasible for us this time round. (That said, Dave has since spent some time researching tents bigger than our back garden . . . )

So without further ado – here, in no particular order, is what we think makes Just So Festival so magical:

1. A wide variety of reasonably priced food stalls
We all know that when it comes to festival food we’re pretty much sitting targets, it’s going to cost a fortune right? Although we had taken some snacks with us (and were grateful for the Soreen lunch box we were given on arrival) we had taken the decision to buy our lunch on site – partly as I think it’s important to be able to report back for you guys but also because we knew the weather wasn’t looking great and a warm meal was going to be greatly appreciated if we were a bit cold and soggy.

The site is dotted with refreshment opportunities – we spotted candy floss, coffee and cakes on the Village Green but chose to head down to the Social for our lunch where we found the most awesomely named hot dog vendor “Piggie Smalls” selling an array of puntastic hot dogs including “Pig Daddy Kane” and “Amy Swinehouse” – I had fancied the mac & cheese dog but they’d run out, Amy however enjoyed a kids’ hot dog for £3.

Jenny from The Brick Castle was a big fan of her vegan haggis from iSpice.   Chloe tucked into a tub of kids’ pasta (£5) from Rigatoni’s Pasta and Ben demolished an enormous Aberdeen Angus steak burger and fries (£6) from The Little Diner.  Dave and I hit up Las Paelleras for a super satisfying chicken and chorizo paella (£6.50).  The only disappointment was Donny’s “Kid’s taco” which wouldn’t have even filled Amy up so he ended up “helping” his Dad out with his paella!!  Both families tucked into a portion of churros for a suitable sweet hit at the end of our meal!

Just So Festival - Churros

It’s worth mentioning that although we chose to have our lunch at what I would class as pretty much peak time, there were no massive queues for food.  The number and variety of vendors meant that everyone was really well catered for and the combination of fair pricing and no queues meant we were happy for the kids to be able to choose pretty much whatever they fancied rather than just feeding everyone from the same stand which would be our normal route.

2. Easy access
On arrival we were directed to a parking space which was probably no more than ten minutes walk up to the main festival site – there was no queue to speak of for the wristband exchange and we were quickly into the site and ready to start our day! (It was also easy to leave when we’d had enough, no trouble getting back to the car nor any queues to get off site).

3. Gacko
We stumbled across Gacko (also know as Gary Bridgens) telling stories on the Village Green at lunch time and we were enthralled – his performance of the Magic Porridge Pot was enthusiastic and hilarious.  We had only stopped for a minute to wait for Dave and Amy to get back from the toilet but ended up staying till the end of his performance.

Just So Festival - Gacko

4. Theatre for One 
We stumbled across this little gem in the Spellbound Forest – a collection of miniature puppet shows performed to individuals.  All three kids were entranced by a little mouse in a house, in fact Amy must have watched this particular show at least three times.  They also watched one where they had to wear headphones and there was a little dude doing some painting, the big two thought it was cool but Amy was more than a little freaked out by it to be honest!

Just So Festival - Theatre for One

Just So Festival - Theatre for one headphones

5. Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers
Prior to the festival we were sent a programme to peruse and a copy of this year’s Just So Festival CD featuring tracks from performers.  We had a listen in the car on the way there and loved the cheeky upbeat nature of Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers.  We were lucky enough to catch their performance on the Footlights Stage – from start to finish they were clever, comical and thoroughly entertaining.  Dave and I laughed our heads off whilst dancing around with the kids and listened to My Mysterious Uncle on repeat for the duration of the drive home – we all now know the words!  For the kids’ first real experience of live music I would say that scores top marks.

6. The poshest festival toilets you will ever see
The toilets on site at Just So were plentiful and impressively clean – from your average portaloo to some decidedly swisher toilets in proper portacabins – which were ideal for Amy who is currently potty training – they even had fancy lighting in them. The queues were never more than a couple of people deep and there was always toilet paper! I actually saw the portaloos near the main entrance being thoroughly cleaned out no less than three times during the course of the day.

7. Corey Baker Dance
Another accidental discovery in the Spellbound Forest.  This was in fact one of the first things we saw as we had ducked into the forest to avoid a shower and were drawn to the loud music coming from one corner.  We found a thoroughly entertaining dance & acrobatics performance based around a phone box and a very clever soundtrack.

Just So Festival Corey Baker

Amy watching Corey Baker

8. Candy Floss
From the moment Chloe spotted FaeryFloss there was no way we were getting her out of the event without a £3 stick of sparkly sugary goodness!  We managed to make them wait till the end of the the day, treating them to candy floss rather than our usual ice cream!  (It wasn’t really ice cream weather to be honest and the candy floss was far more of a novelty).  Ben wasn’t at all impressed that we made them share one between the three of them but they were huge and nobody wants an hour’s drive home with three over tired kids buzzing on a pink sugar high . .

Just So Festival - Candy Floss

girl eating candy floss

9. Shelter
Between the natural cover provided by the Spellbound Forest, the various tents and an enormous shed next to the Footlights Stage, we did a fairly good job of avoiding any major downpours.  The festival is nicely spread out so nowhere ever felt really crowded, even when it was raining a little heavier than most of us felt we wanted to cope with!

10. Safe, friendly atmosphere
First and foremost Just So Festival is about the kids – this isn’t a grown up festival where kids are welcome, it’s children’s festival where the grown ups have fun too!  As such, from the moment we arrived and were asked to write out phone numbers on the children’s wristbands incase we got separated I felt relaxed and safe.  We were all there for the same reason – to have a jolly good time with our kids.

Team Ginger

11. Tribes
Having not really researched Just So Festival much before rocking up on the Saturday, I must admit that the idea of “tribes” had rather passed us by unfortuantely.  Essentially there are six tribes (foxes, stags, fish, frogs, owls and lions) and you choose a tribe to join – over the course of the weekend tribe members can earn tokens for their tribe.  The culmination of the Tribal Tournament is the Wild Rumpus on the Sunday night when the winning tribe is crowned.  (This year’s winners were the fish I believe).  It didn’t matter one jot that we hadn’t pleged our alligence to a particular tribe – we just loved seeing the amazing costumes that people were wearing – full families dressed in tweed and fox tails, amazing owl capes and masks or sequin fish scale shawls.  Some people really go to town on their tribal costumes and it’s a wondeful sight to behold.  Amy was rather besotted with the leader of the Stags is must be said . . .

Just So Festival Stag

12. Incredible attention to detail
This isn’t just a few tents flung up in a field at the last minute with some children’s entertainers – the whole site is strewn with bunting, lights and general all round magic.  Everywhere you turn there is something new to notice and discover.

Just So Festival - Kids with a statue

Just So Festival - Canon ball Ben

13. So much to  see and do
We were only on site for a day and in that time we could only touch on the amazing things on offer – story telling, dance perfomances, circus skills, live music, craft, a campfire sing along to name but a few.  It would have been lovely to stay for the full weekend and really take our time to explore and immerse ourselves.  I’d have loved to see how the site changed after dark with the campfire and light parade which I’m told was stunning.

Just So Festival Performance

14. You can plan your schedule . . . or not!
During the course of the day there were lots of times where we stumbled across performances just as they were finishing and thought that perhaps we should have been more oganised about what we wanted to do but in reality I think pottering around here and there was probably a really lovely way to explore what was on offer.  I found myself thinking we had missed out on things until we were driving home and talking about all the things we had seen.

15. It’s not a grand money making scheme
Just So Festival isn’t about rinsing you of as much money as possible – it is run by a not-for-profit communiy interest company called “Wild Rumpus”.  All the profit goes back into arts programmes to support emerging artists and the volunteers who run the event.  Alongside this – those of us with press tickets were offered the chance to “Pay it Forward” and make a donation towards allowing someone else to attend the even too.  Tickets were then passed onto the Gingerbread Project who work with local homeless single parent families.

There is something so very magical about Just So Festival – it feels so far removed from the real world and that escape was very welcome.  Next year I think we’d better organise a tent . . .


Early bird tickets for next year’s event are available now!

If you’d like to read other about some other experiences of this year’s Just So Festival check out:

*  The Brick Castle

*We attended Just So Festival as guests for the purposes of review, all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*Read more reviews here*

*Read about more of our adventures here*

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44 Comments

  1. August 31, 2016 / 3:42 pm

    That sounds like one seriously fantastic event! I’d never heard of this festival before. I’m sure my kids would LOVE it!

    • Colette
      Author
      September 1, 2016 / 8:34 am

      It really was magical Elizabeth x

    • Colette
      Author
      September 1, 2016 / 8:33 am

      It made all the difference to the day!

  2. August 31, 2016 / 5:05 pm

    You guys look like you had a blast, such a beautiful family.
    We’ve not been to a festival before and would love to take Hayden – Just So Festival looks like its perfect for families.
    Thanks so much for sharing hun
    Charlotte x

    • Colette
      Author
      September 1, 2016 / 8:33 am

      Thanks Charlotte! Yes its a great first festival experience for the kids! Definitely look into it if you get chance x

  3. August 31, 2016 / 7:02 pm

    Nice post! It was lovely to spend some time together and let the kids play again – they make me laugh when they’re shy at first and 5 minutes later best mates 😀

    • Colette
      Author
      September 1, 2016 / 8:32 am

      I thought the same! Xx

  4. Mads
    September 1, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    Sounds like you all had an amazing time. Great pics by the way x

  5. September 6, 2016 / 8:09 am

    Candyfloss and posh toilets, I’m sold already! Looks like a great family frinedly festival and you clearly had a blast. #TriedTested

  6. September 6, 2016 / 8:14 am

    Looks like a brilliant festival. I think next year we will be trying out a family friendly festival, the girls will be a great age for it. I love the idea of making a donation for someone to attend the event, what a great gesture. x

  7. September 6, 2016 / 8:15 am

    This looks like a really fab event for families. Glad to hear they have super clean toilets as that’s always a big one for me when visiting festivals with kids.
    #TriedTested

  8. September 6, 2016 / 8:23 am

    Wow this looks fab! Never heard of it before, great idea! #TriedTested

  9. September 6, 2016 / 9:16 am

    Oh wow, this looks and sounds amazing!! I’ve never heard of it but I want to go, it sounds so magical xx #TriedTested

  10. September 6, 2016 / 9:20 am

    I love the whole ethos of this. It’s amazing to be able to access reasonably priced food at such an event, but to know it’s all for a good cause too is brilliant!

  11. September 6, 2016 / 9:22 am

    wow this sounds like such a fun day out! So much to do. I think I need to get organised and arrange a trip to a family festival next year – they look like such fun #triedtested

    • Colette
      Author
      September 6, 2016 / 7:32 pm

      I miss festivals & live music so being able to take the kids to something like this was great!

  12. September 6, 2016 / 9:24 am

    This looks great! we have something similar that runs near us but this looks so much better! I think it looks perfect for children and what day out wouldn’t be complete with candy floss! 🙂

    #triedtested

    • Colette
      Author
      September 6, 2016 / 7:31 pm

      It’s clearly so well thought out – I guess after 7 years they’ve got it nailed!

  13. Poppy Reflects
    September 6, 2016 / 9:50 am

    Magical is definitely the first word that springs to mind when reading this. It looks like heaven for an outdoors loving family and so well thought out, this may well be on my bucket list for next year! x #TriedTested

  14. Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One
    September 6, 2016 / 9:59 am

    Looks like a great day out, we don’t do camping, but would have been right up our street if we lived closer

  15. September 6, 2016 / 10:03 am

    I usually find festival food is ridiculously priced so it’s nice to hear the prices weren’t too bad!

    • Colette
      Author
      September 6, 2016 / 7:28 pm

      It really was super – we’re definitely planning a return next year!

  16. September 6, 2016 / 11:34 am

    OMG! I am sorry but this is my idea of hell with all this mud! Having said that, you said the toilets were the poshest ever so it gets some brownies points. More seriously, it looks like both parents and children had lots of fun and the prices are quite good. #TriedTested

  17. September 6, 2016 / 11:56 am

    This looks like great fun! I’ve never heard of it though x
    #TriedTested

  18. September 6, 2016 / 2:01 pm

    I can’t wait to take the boys to a festival in a couple of years… I’ve not heard of this one before and it sounds great especially the loos!! #TriedTested

  19. mummy3+1dog
    September 6, 2016 / 4:25 pm

    Loving the fact that you pointed out they had posh toilets, I hate using toilets that smell and well horrible. Sounds like a fantastic day out

    • Colette
      Author
      September 6, 2016 / 7:26 pm

      I think it’s really important! Who wants to be taking a toilet training toddler to a minging portaloo!

  20. September 6, 2016 / 6:40 pm

    Well these are all fab reason to love it, although yo had me with the initial mention of food 🙂 #TriedTested

  21. September 6, 2016 / 7:44 pm

    The Theatre for One looks fabulous. It sounds like you had a great day out 🙂

    #TriedTested

  22. Jenna
    September 6, 2016 / 9:46 pm

    Gosh, it sounds like there was loads to do there but also that you all managed to cram so much in. I had never heard of this festival before but it’s definitely something I’d like to take my girl to when she’s a bit older. 🙂

    #TriedTested

  23. September 6, 2016 / 9:50 pm

    Colette I love following you instagram pics from your visit, I am gutted the boys are past this stage as they would have loved it when they were little. I love how you are not fleeced and everything seems reasonable plus it all looks so much fun and well organised x

    • Colette
      Author
      September 7, 2016 / 9:41 am

      Thanks Sarah! I’m glad you enjoyed our photos from the day!
      I must admit we were really pleasantly surprised by the lack of “fleecing” so to speak – festivals can often make you feel like a bit of a siting target can’t they!

  24. Jodie Melling
    September 6, 2016 / 10:09 pm

    Wow this sounds amazing! Clean, safe and fun what more could you want. It looks like you had a amazing time!
    Jodie X

  25. September 7, 2016 / 9:08 pm

    My first festival was Just So Festival when I was only a baby. We’d love to have the opportunity to go back and review. We’re seasoned festival goers after attending 6 festivals this year…must have the bug. We were team stag when we visited in 2014 🙂 it’s one of the most creaive festivals we’ve seen and the latern parade is stunning! Love your piccys!

  26. Tracey Bowden
    September 9, 2016 / 12:13 pm

    I’ve not head of this before it looks brilliant. I love hoe you mentioned the food prices it’s so handy to kn ow about things like this when visiting events as I usually find them so expensive and busy

  27. September 9, 2016 / 2:57 pm

    Sounds like a really fab festival for kids. I’ve been to Glastonbury pretty children but though I wouldn’t want to go back with children, for various reasons, I would like to do some sort of festival with them and this sounds pretty perfect!

  28. September 10, 2016 / 8:25 am

    This sounds like such a brilliant festival! I’d never heard of it before. Theatre For One sounds like such a fun, cute idea xx #triedtested

  29. September 11, 2016 / 8:53 pm

    This looks amazing and I loved seeing your photos on Instagram. The canon?! Monkey would love that! Also that candy floss. It’s good to know its not a money making exercise. Thanks for hosting #triedtested xx

  30. September 12, 2016 / 9:58 am

    We’ve never taken the kids to a festival but it’s something I’d really like to do. Looks great! #TriedTested

  31. September 12, 2016 / 10:08 am

    This looks like such a good fun day out for the whole family. I think we’ll definitely be looking to travel up for the day next year as it looks great fun. Great round up too! The food looks brilliant

  32. September 12, 2016 / 11:30 pm

    I’ve not heard of this festival before but it sounds like great fun! Good to hear that the food wasn’t overly pricey and no huge queues is always a bonus! #TriedTested

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