Just So Festival, 16/17/18 August 2019, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire

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 as well as new areas for families to adventure through in 2019. Festival organisers have promised ‘the most spectacular Just So ever’.

Now in its 10th year, Just So is dedicated solely to children and their families, offering astonishing arts and unique experiences. An annual, intimate, weekend-long festival, Just So is an imaginative outdoor adventure like no other. Just So Festival is renowned as one of the top family festivals in the world and the best place to see the best new outdoor arts each year.

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.


Just So 2019 will have several exciting new areas for festival goers to explore. Be dazzled by the stunning Fire Garden, a pyrotechnic marvel of light and heat set among the trees of a brand-new orchard. Delve into the mysterious Garden of Delight, a palace of secrets in a section of the Rode Hall Estate that has never been open to the festival audience before, brought to life by festival favourites The Fabularium. Head into the woods to enjoy author talks, music workshops and night-time DJ sets in Wonderland. And come to 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 brilliant Hope And Social; anarchic, upbeat folk harlequins The Whiskey Rebellion; and Balkan brass virtuosos The Destroyers to name just a few – will move to the lakeside. So now you can watch the sun set over the water as you and your family show off your best moves.


The tenth Just So will also see the return of festival goers’ favourite programming from previous years. This includes the Ten Favourite Acts, those ten acts or events 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 our glorious, exuberant area dedicated to all things circus. In this most spectacular and flamboyant area of Just So, we’ll be celebrating some of our favourite female circus acts. Look out for breathtaking Strong Lady Betty Brawn and Hocus Pocus Theatre’s Clown About Town. See Mimbre’s new show Three* celebrating women and acrobatics. Don’t miss Kapow Dance Circus Theatre’s nautical adventure Adrift*, where two women lost at sea on a moving wooden raft battle the odds and learn to live together in this small and unpredictable landscape. And head to My House* by Apocalyptic Circus and find a place at one of the windows to watch the show unfold within. 

The Flamingo Lounge returns filled to the brim with all things dance and movement – you’ll whirl, swirl, jig, jive and disco together in this gloriously kitsch wonderland. Take part in unmissable dance workshops including 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 and glorious dance displays and dance classes helping you skip the light fantastic.

Head to the Ministry of Games for a little competitive fun. We’ll have the biggest ever pass the parcel plus your favourite playground and party games as well as a great selection of board games, both big and small. Hone and learn powers of cunning, dexterity, strategy and (ahem) fair play together. Quick or slow, little or large, there’ll be games for all. 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. Practice yoga and tai-chi while watching the light on the tranquil water of the stunning Rode Pool lake. Or, if you’d like to get even closer, take a rowing boat out onto it.

Step into the extraordinary Spellbound Forest for nature and bush crafts, tree climbing, campfire tales and bonfire bands as dusk falls. Marvel at the Giant Marble Run suspended between the trees. Watch incredible theatre and film classics at the Woodland Theatre, our magical forest performance space. And enjoy wild play at 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 a myriad of walkways, 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 entranced by aerial performance Sirin (Hope is the Thing with Feathers)* by Newtons Ladder where a brave rigger woos a nesting bird, or is it a woman… And be sure to catch the hilarious Dizzy O’Dare’s Giant Balloon Show and Toast, a new show from festival favourites Pif-Paf. Look out for Thingumajig Theatre’s otherworldly Ghost Caribou* part caribou/part spirit as they roam a mystical world after dark. You’ll also meet all our amazing walkabout performers, dance the maypole, see incredible bubble displays and build your very own lantern for the Just So Lantern Parade.

The Village Green is also the nerve centre of the Tribal Tournament – join the Bee, Fox, Frog, Owl, Fish, Stag and Lion tribes to compete in ridiculous games, challenges and all manner of unexpected shenanigans. Earn golden pebbles and be crowned the winning tribe of 2019.

Step through a verdant archway into the Peekaboo Garden – an area of botanical bliss, innovative performances, activities and facilities for 0-4s in a gentle, tranquil valley. This area is about huge adventures for little people. There’ll be music, paint, clay, dens, bubbles and a baby book club. Baby bath time here will ensure the littlies doze off to the sound of our choral lullabies as twilight settles.

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 5,000 to ensure a magical, relaxing and safe environment for all.

Winners of Festival of the Year, Best Small Festival of the Year, Tourism Experience of the Year, Best Practice Award, Festival Kidz Gold Award, Inclusive Tourism Award and Attitude is Everything’s Gold 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, the directors of Just So Festival, said “We’ve been doing this for ten years, and every year we’ve been amazed by the exuberant energy our audience brings to the festival. To celebrate our first decade, we’re making sure that this is the most incredible Just So ever. We’re bringing back old favourites, but also making sure to pack the festival with surprises you’d never expect. We can’t wait to share this extra special Just So with everyone. We have some plans that are really going to knock our audiences socks off!”

Families planning to come to Just So 2019 are being advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year, with tickets selling at a record rate for the 5,000 capacity August event. In celebration of the festival’s tenth year, a limited number of free weekend tickets are available for ten year olds.