Full line-up announced for Just So Festival’s 10th anniversary year
Just So Festival, 16/17/18 August 2019, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire

Just So Festival organisers Wild Rumpus are delighted to announce the full line-up for the festival’s 10th anniversary year. With poets including John Hegley, world-class music acts to get the audience dancing, adventurous theatre, circus and dance, this year’s festival promises to be ‘the most spectacular Just So ever’.

The multi award-winning Just So is dedicated solely to children and their families, offering astonishing arts, unique experiences and the chance to see the best in new outdoor arts each year. With a love of stories and childhood escapades at its heart, Just So enables families to step out of their day to day lives and enjoy creative pursuits together in the great outdoors.


Poetry and music

Just So are thrilled to welcome poet, comic, singer and ukulele player John Hegley to the Footlights stage. Hailed as ‘comedy’s poet laureate’ by The Independent, Hegley brings his unique material about dog hair, potatoes and handkerchiefs to this year’s festival.

The Just So music line-up is guaranteed to get audiences on their feet. Energetic 9-piece The Zing Zong Allstars return to the Footlights stage after rocking last year’s festival with their soaring vocals and thrilling percussion. The Baghdaddies bring their fusion of Caribbean grooves and Middle Eastern rhythms (with a Geordie flavour!), with influences from ska, jazz, punk and metal. Mr Tea and the Minions will ignite crazy dancing with their high-energy Balkan party music, combining Gypsy flavoured ska, dub and swing to put a smile on your face and your knees up past your ears!

Folk collective Harry Bird and The Rubber Wellies perform their mash-up of shanties, Mexican rancheras, bossa nova, reggae and swing, skippered by singer-songwriter Harry Bird, multi-instrumentalist Christophe Capewell and fiddler/vocalist Kitty Theodore. Canadian roots singer-songwriter Old Man Luedecke, known for his storytelling, song craft and impeccable comic timing, releases his new album Easy Money this summer and marks the occasion with an appearance at Just So.  

The Hallé Children’s Choir, made up of children from across Greater Manchester and beyond, celebrate their 10th birthday with a performance of How the Leopard Got His Spots from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. The choice of piece is particularly fitting because Just So is named after Kipling’s collection of children’s stories; the original festival site overlooked Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire.

Go on a theatre adventure   

Join one of the many theatrical adventures happening across the festival site. Watch out as mobile street theatre troupe The Wheelabouts bring Boudicca to Just So! Witness the iconic woman warrior rampage through the festival aboard a stunning chariot led by a galloping mechanical horse, accompanied by a raucous soundtrack. The Fabularium are back with The Hare and the Moon, a story all the way from Far East Asia. The sun has disappeared and the Arctic Animals must band together to reclaim it, but are the strongest creatures actually the best for the job? Expect to see new animal headpieces, puppets, original music, and for the first time ever for The Fabularium – illuminations!

Wrigglers and wanderers are encouraged to join a scurvy crew for Absolute Opera’s Hurrah for the Pirate King, an opera, ballet and art-song show designed for children. Follow the Great Pirate King’s adventures as he takes you on a musical journey to find a treasure beyond gold and jewels. Babies won’t miss out on the musical fun. Little ones and their grown-ups can play in a 30-minute workshop with Hurly Burly, creators of Over the Moon – a first opera for little people. Join in with familiar nursery rhymes and games, learn new songs, enjoy sensory play and listen to beautiful music along the way.

Take a dip in the world’s smallest and most exciting bathhouse. Theatrical wellness experience Vespaqua from Dutch company Swoolish Garage takes the joy of bathing to the next level by providing a bath with a view! Festivalgoers don swimsuits and are driven around the Just So site in mint green bathtubs towed by a 1966 Vespa Ape.

World-class circus and dance

Just So Festival has partnered with Without Walls to present five extraordinary pieces of outdoor dance and circus. Apocalyptic Circus bring My House, a playful circus experience taking place in a magical, free-standing outdoor structure. Kapow Dance Circus Theatre present dance piece Adrift, the story of two women lost at sea on a wooden raft. This moving story will be performed in the round using dance, physical theatre and circus. Mimbre’s Lifted is a brand-new, captivating performance exploring three strong women moving, lifting and balancing each other. Aerial dance company Newtons Ladder will perform Sirin (Hope is the Thing with Feathers), inspired by the ancient myths of man falling in love with beautiful half-human creatures, whilst Thingumajig Theatre present a night-time procession of giant illuminated creatures in Ghost Caribou.

Animation celebration

The Just So Cinema returns to the Woodland Theatre; festivalgoers are invited to bring a blanket, travel the fairy lit path into the woods and hunker down under the stars. This year the cinema is celebrating all things animation with the oldest surviving animated film from 1926, The Adventures of Prince Achmed, accompanied by an original new live score by Chris Davis, the 30th anniversary of Aardman’s A Grand Day Out, and the 10th birthday of Pixar’s modern classic Up.

Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph, are giving Just So-ers the chance to bring their very own characters to life in a series of fun clay modelling workshops. Led by one of their expert model makers, you’ll also get the opportunity to ask questions about the tricks of the trade from the Aardman studio.

Authors in Wonderland

Wonderland is an area hidden away in the woods where audiences can enjoy author talks, music workshops and night-time DJ sets. Joining the Wonderland line-up is one of the nation’s favourite illustrators Rob Flowers, who will read from his book Festival Folk, an illustrated atlas of carnival customs and costumes. Novelist Catherine O’Flynn (What Was Lost; Mr Lynch’s Holiday) also takes to the stage to read and discuss her work.

Get tribal with The Tribal Tournament

Festival favourite The Tribal Tournament returns for the 10th time for the battle of the decade. Families dress up as different animal clans and compete to win golden pebbles, culminating in the crowning of the Tribal Tournament champions. This year families can prepare their costumes with Wintercroft, a family-run design company known for helping people make fantastical animal masks from sustainable materials. Wintercroft have created seven incredible new masks for the Tribal Tournament, so get involved, build your favourite animal and represent your tribe.

Relax with Weleda

Natural beauty brand Weleda have sponsored Just So since the very first festival and are back this year as sponsors of the Village Green area. Festivalgoers can pay a visit to the Nice Cream Van to get their hands on Weleda’s latest beauty products, including their iconic Skin Food, and the team will also be giving pampering hand massages in the Weleda shed over the weekend.


Just So 2019 will have several exciting new areas for festivalgoers to explore. Be dazzled by the stunning Fire Garden, a pyrotechnic marvel of light set among the trees of a brand-new orchard. Delve into the mysterious Garden of Delight, a palace of secrets in part of the Rode Hall Estate that has never been open to the festival audience before. Head into the woods to enjoy author talks, music workshops and night-time DJ sets in Wonderland, and visit the New Curiosity Shop to learn amazing art, animation, digital and journalism skills.

There will also be new locations for some favourite areas. Footlights, where you can dance like wild things to live bands – including the upbeat folk harlequins The Whiskey Rebellion and Balkan brass virtuosos The Destroyers to name just a few – will move to the lakeside so you can watch the sun set over the water as you show off your best moves.


The tenth Just So will see the return of festivalgoers’ favourite programming from previous years. This includes the Ten Favourite Acts, those ten acts that have brought the most to Just So across the decade. There’s campfire storyteller Ian Douglas, award-winning musician David Gibb, the ‘riotously odd’ musical outfit Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers, family comedian James Campbell, the brilliant ceilidh dancing of Cut A Shine, Thingumabob and the Thingumajigs’ unmistakeable ‘good time music’, and the ever-popular Midnight Feast, Silent Disco with Our Kids Social, Tribal Tournament and Lantern Parade.

Roll Up, Roll Up is Just So’s exuberant area for all things circus. In this most spectacular and flamboyant part of the festival, we’ll be celebrating some of our favourite female circus acts. Look out for breath-taking Strong Lady Betty Brawn and Hocus Pocus Theatre’s Clown About Town.

The Flamingo Lounge returns with all things dance. Take part in unmissable dance workshops including Tap, Capoeria, Flat Footing, Remix Reeling, Circus Swing, Film Dance,

Disco, Bhangra and Bollywood. And when night falls, the neon comes on and the party really starts. Dress to impress for the Ragroof Tea Dance featuring 1920s-1950s music, vintage costumes, glorious dance displays and dance classes helping you skip the light fantastic.

Head to the Ministry of Games for the biggest ever pass the parcel, plus your favourite playground and party games as well as a selection of board games, both big and small. Hone powers of cunning, strategy and (ahem) fair play together. While you’re there watch out for sheep on the loose… Sports Day meets Sheep Trials in Mufti Games’ new interactive show One Kid and their Dog, inspired by the much-loved TV show of the same(ish) name.

Relax at the High Seas with yoga, mindfulness, tai-chi and holistic Ayurveda while watching the light on the tranquil Rode Pool lake. Or, if you’d like to get even closer, take a rowing boat out onto the water and explore.

Step into the Spellbound Forest for bush crafts, tree climbing and campfire tales as dusk falls. Marvel at the Giant Marble Run suspended between the trees, watch theatre and film classics at the Woodland Theatre, and enjoy wild play at the Hammer & Chisel, our unique woodland playground. Under the supervision of forest play experts, create your own world or add to ours using pallets, ladders and ropes to create dens and secret spaces. 

Head to the eccentric Village Green to be wowed by some of the best new outdoor arts performances created especially for festival audiences in 2019. Be sure to catch the hilarious Dizzy O’Dare’s Giant Balloon Show and Toast, a new show from festival favourites Pif-Paf. You’ll also meet amazing walkabout performers, dance the maypole, see incredible bubble displays and build your very own lantern for the Just So Lantern Parade.

Step through a verdant archway into the Peekaboo Garden – an area of botanical bliss, innovative performances and activities for 0-4s in a gentle, tranquil valley. This area is about huge adventures for little people, with music, stories and messy play. Baby bath time here will ensure the littlies doze off to the sound of our choral lullabies as twilight settles.