Just So Festival, 18 – 20 August 2017, Rode Hall Estate

The multi award-winning family arts festival, produced by Wild Rumpus, has started to reveal its programme of regional, national and international artists and performers and new areas for families to adventure through in 2017.

Now in its 8th year and recently awarded Best Festival by the National Outdoor Events Association, Just So is an annual, intimate, weekend-long festival – an imaginative outdoor adventure like no other as the only arts camping festival in the UK dedicated solely to children and their families.

With a love of stories and childhood escapades at its heart, Just So Festival enables families to step out of their day to day lives and into a wonderland of world class literature, arts, theatre, dance, music, comedy and creative pursuits together. Underpinned by the Tribal Tournament, the most bonkers competition in the land, it takes audiences (from bumps to great grandparents) on a unique expedition of mischief and mayhem, to lands full of magical midnight feasts, curious creatures, raucous pillow fights, hidden retreats, top notch food, drink and boutique camping options and breathtaking beauty.


The glorious lakeside Silver Screen glade is a new large-scale area dedicated to all things cinematic. Recreate famous dance scenes from favourite flicks, join a musical chorus line, become extras in a Just So epic production, try live drawing scenes and get ready for Hollywood with film star styling. Expect marvellous music, theatre dance and circus all themed around the big screen and the completely competitive Just So Film Quiz. Bring a blanket while night falls to the beautiful outdoor cinema here and snuggle up to watch the best silent movies and family classics together.

Head to the new Social Barn for a completely crackers celebration of fodder. Located next to The Social (with its incredible array of artisan food and drink) expect insect eating, foraging, the inaugural Just So jelly fight, peculiar picnics, barmy dinner parties, a food funny face challenge, the famous Just So Midnight Feast and The Great Just So Bake Off.

Inquisitive family explorers can discover the new Forgotten Courtyard. Tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall is Rode’s beautiful Italian Garden. Expect to stretch your knowledge of the world around you and take part in workshops, provocations, debates and talks. Experience soundscapes and spoken word events here against the backdrop of the beautiful fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees.


Step into the extraordinary Spellbound Forest and experience the best new outdoor performance for families including brand new shows Baba Yaga’s House by contemporary circus and theatre company Dizzy O’Dare and Matthew Harrison’s The Actual Reality Arcade. Experience the extraordinary Theatre For One from Horse & Bamboo, tales from our storyteller extraordinaire Ian Douglas, and tickle your senses further with a new Sound Garden and Barefoot Walk experience. Don’t miss campfire tales, music and songs as dusk falls and the woodland magic really begins.

In the magical Woodland Theatre award-winning performance poet Joseph Coelho will reveal the mysterious rules of The Werewolf Club, how to look like a rainbow and how to fold up your gran. Laugh until you fall over at a new show from comedian James Campbell and learn birdsong and get ready to take flight for the first time in Flit Flap Fly by Fine Chisel.

Adventure into Tales of Animalia to encounter lands, creatures and characters beyond your wildest dreams from the strange imaginations of our friends The Fabularium. Deep within the forest find Away With The Fairies, an enchanting secret fairyland. Find it to visit the Fairy City, spy sprites making mischief up in the trees and meet the Fairy Queen.

Head to the eccentric Village Green to meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors sharing the best new books out this year. See new show The Jukeboxes from Bootworks Theatre and meet Wilford, a rockabilly tree planting anarch-nomad in Seed, the brand new show from Pif-Paf. Keep your eyes peeled for a tandem and Random Acts of Kindness, an interactive dance show like no other by Them Two Dance. Head to the new, glorious Games Tent, do a spot of Maypole dancing and hone your circus skills on the Green too. Visit the special Just So Post Office – send a letter to a new pen pal at Just So Brasil.

The Village Green is also the nerve centre of the Tribal Tournament and where festivalgoers can encounter a sports day with a difference – toddler jousting or pillow fighting anyone? Throughout the festival join the Fox, Frog, Owl, Fish, Stag or Lion tribes to compete in ridiculous games and all manner of unexpected shenanigans to earn coveted golden pebbles. Find your tribe on festival Sunday and take part in the Tribal Parade, a Just So highlight.

Dance like wild things to the outstanding line-up of over 20 brilliant artists and bands on the Footlights stage including the UK’s current award-winning queen of country music Laura Oakes, the carnivalesque Bramble Napskins, and the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band. Don’t miss footstomping to the marvellous The Baghdaddies and Cut A Shine here too. Do some more wild whirling and swirling at Jitterbug where more unmissable music and dance performances and workshops include CanCan, Charleston, Circus Swing, Flatfooting, Bollywood, Ballet, Tap and Jive. When evening comes, dance the night away at the DISCO here too.

Contemplate the universe at The Observatory with brand new performance How I Hacked My Way To Space by Unlimited Theatre and be wowed by Spanish contemporary trampoline circus show Anyday by Max Calaf Seve. Learn about the constellations with Star Gazing sessions led by an astronomer, play our Eye Spy in Space game weave stars for Woollen Constellations to form a tapestry of beautiful stars lit up at night and make an array of star and moon shaped lanterns to parade against the twilight sky.

Head to The Peekaboo Garden for the best arts for the tiniest visitors – an entire area of innovative performances, activities and right royal facilities for 0-4s. Look out for the curious bubble-loving snail Snigel in brand new inspirational performance The Adventures of Snigel. Music, paint, clay, dens and bubbles, baby book club and baby bath time here will ensure the littlies doze off to the sound of our choral lullabies as dusk falls.

Make your way to the calming High Seas on the Left Bank of the stunning Rode Pool lake for relaxation galore. Walk through Between Stillness and Storm, a newly commissioned, mesmerising, large-scale sculptural installation by renowned artists Aiden Moesby and Tim Shaw and experience changing sound, light and motion made by a range of historic and contemporary instruments for “sensing” the weather. Enjoy family yoga, tai chi, meditation and take a wooden rowing boat out on to the tranquil expanse of water. Look out for some fishy and feisty mermaids here too!

Just So is set in woodland clearings, rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside spots in the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire, one of the most stunning landscapes in the UK, with limited public access the rest of the year.

A not-for-profit arts festival, the ticket price includes all entertainment and programming across the festival site, with capacity capped at 5000 to ensure a magical, relaxing and safe environment for all.

Winners of Tourism Experience of the Year, Festival Kidz Gold Award and Inclusive Tourism Award, Just So Festival aims to create memories treasured by families year-round and has a pioneering approach to accessibility, enabling families with all needs and preferences to enjoy and participate together.

Rowan Hoban and Sarah Bird, Directors of Wild Rumpus who produce large scale immersive outdoor family arts events in natural landscapes, set up Just So Festival in 2009 to create a spellbinding weekend where families could step out of their day to day lives, be immersed in incredible stories and moments of wonder together, and experience world class, breathtaking outdoor arts.

They say

“thank you to all our incredible audiences who have adventured together at Just So to help us make it one of the best family festivals in the world today. Spending time together as a family, exploring the woods, venturing to the Lake at dawn, singing around the campfire, eating under the stars, dancing like wild things to incredible foot stomping bands and listening to stories that will fill us full of awe and wonder at the magical world around us….what’s not to look forward to. We can’t wait to share Just So 2017 with you soon.”

Families planning to come to Just So 2017 are being advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year, with tickets selling at a record rate for the 5000 capacity August event.


Family adventurers should keep their ears to the ground for more adventures and surprises to be revealed each month.

For information and tickets visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.

Follow Just So @justsofestival https://www.facebook.com/justsofestival