Just So Festival, 17 – 19 August 2018, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire

The multi award-winning family arts festival, produced by Wild Rumpus, has revealed its programme of artists, performers and new areas for families to adventure through in 2018.

Now in its 9th 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 sister festivals in New Zealand and Brazil.

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. 



Enter the intriguing and enthralling Playground of Illusions*, a new area full of mystery and trickery from Travelling Light Circus – see the world in a new light in this hypnotic fusion of science and art. Explore and play together in a mysterious collection of giant experiences that each contain an illusion and make incredible things happen. Look out for “The Gravity Vortex Floor”, “The Utterly Convincing Mirage” and “The Forever Speeding Up Rhythm”. Then be mesmerised by the magical, mechanical movements of the hypnotic Pendulum Wave Machine.


Celebrating 250 years since the first circus in the world was formed by local lad Philip Astley (from Newcastle-Under-Lyme, just 8 miles from the Just So Festival site), Roll Up, Roll Up will be a glorious large-scale, lakeside area, dedicated to all things circus and seaside. In this most spectacular and flamboyant area of Just So, expect tumblers, somersaults and aerial mastery from the best performers in the land including spectacular high wire show Equilibrius and tightrope workshops from The Bullzini Family.

Don’t miss the chance to shimmy your way down the inaugural Just So Custard Catwalk! Made entirely of this most scientifically boggling of liquids, can you walk fast enough to reach the end or will you wobble and sink?

Look out for brand new show from Ramshacklicious, The Band At The End of the World!* featuring raucous brass music and existing within their very own miniature apocalyptic microclimate. Meet curious characters at sideshows galore, try your hand at all manner of circus amazement with Circus House, take part in the wickedly fun L_ve Hangman with Mufti Does Games, and relax and play together on the stunning lakeside beach.


The Flamingo Lounge is a new area filled to the brim with all things dance and tripping the light fantastic. Take part in fast-paced Modern Warrior* from Rosie Kay Dance Company.  Channel your inner Bruce Lee, pick a side and learn exciting and dramatic sequences as two opposing groups meet in an epic stand-off! Take part in unmissable Swing Circus and Film Dance  performances and workshops led by Stephen Salinger and Lana Williams (choreographer for Strictly no less), strut your stuff at Silent Discos from Our Kids Social and summon all strength for 80s Anthems Yoga.  Don’t miss the riotous madness of Remix Reeling – a ceilidh with beats and bass from Cut A Shine, flatfooting and ballet workshops too.. When evening comes boogie the night away here too.

Just So is once again delighted to team up with acclaimed current affairs magazine The Week Junior to provide a packed programme and creative space for children age 8 and over. Inquisitive young minds can stretch their knowledge of the world around them through challenging and exhilarating workshops, provocations, debates and talks.  Highlights will include the author and comedian James Campbell for the premiere of his brand new show That Was The Week For Kids – a hilarious look at the week’s news from the perspective of children.  It will include special guests, the actual headlines and issues relevant to children such as education, the environment, the near extinction of lollipop ladies, tooth fairies and “what the flumming bling is going on with everything lately.” This will be followed each day by the chance to take part in a topical debate with The Week Junior team.



Head into the woods to indulge in relaxation, tranquillity and rejuvenation at the brand new Idlewood area.  Enjoy ukulele and singing workshops, family yoga, tai chi and take part in the Twilight Chorus. Unwind in hammocks and Tentsile tree tents suspended up high between the boughs. Experience dreamy live music and performance together including Canopy of Stars performed in the trees from Whispering Woods and harpist Nancy Elizabeth who will transform the stories of your dreams into songs.


Head to the new Ministry of Games barn for the ultimate board and parlour games experience. Settle down on a sofa and get your game face on. Hone and learn powers of cunning, dexterity, strategy and (ahem) fair play together.  Roll the dice, choose your counter, deal the cards, pick your pieces and come and play some of the best games ever. Quick or slow, little or large there’ll be games for all.

Don’t miss the famous Just So Midnight Feast here too. Held at midnight on Just So Saturday, expect this year’s feast to be ever so playful with beautiful stories and songs from Ian Douglas, Gary Bridgens and Dieter Wadeson.


Together with these new areas, family festivalgoers can also head to:


Step into the extraordinary Spellbound Forest for tales from our storyteller extraordinaire Ian Douglas, Barefoot Walk, nature and bush crafts, new woodland playground, den building, campfire tales and bonfire bands as dusk falls and the forest magic really begins.

Don’t miss Seek, Find, Speak: A Conjuring Told In Gold, the new outdoor theatre companion to the enchanting, best-selling illustrated book of acrostic poems The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. Created by Director Collette Murray, experience a forest theatre trail for all ages, both self-guided and also led by a charm of Goldfinch performers. It will feature stunning 3D installations of Jackie Morris’s golden illustrations and Macfarlane’s words, such as spells wrapped in gold lettering around trees, animals to be discovered in the woodland, and lines of spells perched on branches like starlings. Together with sound recordings of the spell poems from some of Britain’s famous voices of all ages and accents, including inspiring athletes, naturalists, actors, poets, musicians and scientists, The Lost Words will come alive at Just So Festival for families to Seek, Find and Speak this summer.

In the magical Woodland Theatre witness new stand-up comedy from James Campbellfrom his new book The Funny Life of Pets. Uncover the side-splitting life of cucumber scaredy-cats, non-stop pooping hamsters and exploding fish. Discover how the lives of a sapling and a child are entwined in Like A Tree by Hocus Pocus Theatre and take part in Legs 11 – an absurdist’s tale of land and home told through song, puppetry and a game of chance. As night falls snuggle up together to classic films here too including The Princess Bride, Mrs Doubtfire and My Neighbour Totoro.


Head to the eccentric Village Green to be wowed by some of the best new outdoor arts performances created especially for festival audiences in 2018. Take part in riotous bicycle powered musical Bicycle Boy* – a celebration of pedal power by Helen Eastman Production and Look Up* by Hikapee Theatre –  a collaboration of circus, puppetry and theatre that celebrates what we can see by stepping outside of our everyday lives. Follow the unexpected tale of a postman whose packages have lost their labels in Special Delivery from Bird In The Hand Theatre.

Don’t miss new show There Be Monsters from acclaimed outdoor performers The Fabularium. Join cranky but noble knight Don Quixote and his side-kick Sancho Panza on their epic quest to revive chivalry, confront monsters and seek to right what is wrong or accidentally wrong what is right.

Unleash your inner artist and create your own Jackson Pollock style painting with water pistols in Never Mind The Pollocks.

The Village Green is also the nervecentre 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 2018.  Don’t miss the legendary Just So Festival pillow fight and Tribal Parade.


Dance like wild things to the outstanding music line-up of over 20 live bands on the Footlights stage. Headliners include Manchester’s finest folk-hop and barrel-house pop band Honeyfeet  (whose new album Orange Whip was recent album of the day on BBC 6 Music), legendary Leeds –based troubadour Gary Stewart recreating Paul Simon’s landmark Graceland album with his incredible 7-piece band, and famous anarchic hoe-down and Ceilidh squad Cut A Shine.

Footstomping is guaranteed with award-winning progressive brass from Perhaps Contraption, the infectious Voodoo Love Orchestra, folk rock from Holy Moly and the Crackers, moustache-powered troubadours Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers and good-time-gang Thingumabob & The Thingumajigs. Let your imaginations soar with award-winning musician David Gibb who will be performing toe-tapping songs from recent new album Climb That Tree. Boogie to diverse sounds from Don Kipper, joyous pop from Alphabet Backwards, British-Americana from A Different Thread and top tunes from Manchester’s vintage band The Retrosettes.

Don’t miss mini musical circus experience 12-piece The Roustabouts, interactive concert from clarinettist and composer Arun Ghosh and toe-tapping folk from The Shackleton Trio and The Carry Nations.


Step through a verdant archway into the Weleda Peekaboo Garden – an area of botanical bliss, innovative performances, activities and right royal facilities for 0-4s in a new location in a gentle, tranquil valley. Experience some huge adventures for little people connecting us to our natural world.  Don’t miss The Bewonderment Machine*, a magical cycle-powered ride-on carousel and miniature theatrical flight of the imagination from A Bird In The Hand Theatre *. Enter the slapstick world of the Weathermen and help create rain showers, storms, snow and sun… with the help of dance and a special Weather Machine.

Visit a living Weleda garden to discover more about the amazing properties and powers of our native plants. Join the Weleda team for a tea party and sample Weleda’s pure and 100% certified natural products including their multi-award winning baby, pregnancy and kids ranges.  Flex some creative muscles together in flower crown making workshops (advance booking) and enjoy some grown-up relaxation time with complimentary Weleda Skin Food hand massages.

Across the weekend, take time to find out more about the benefits of ethical and natural beauty and key ingredients with a special Q&A session with a Weleda expert, a Skincare Workshop for tweens, teens (and their grown-ups!) and take part in a Clean Beauty Amnesty, swopping products for a natural alternative.

Transport your babies to another world in Adventure Babies interactive story-telling and sensory sessions. Music, paint,  baby book club and baby bath time here will ensure the littlies doze off to the sound of our harp lullabies as dusk falls.



On the Left Bank of the stunning Rode Pool lake, encounter intrepid adventurers Phileas Fogg and his French valet Passepartout in new theatrical adventure from circus and outdoor theatre company Dizzy O’Dare.  Make Lanterns for the Just So Lantern Parade. Enjoy beautiful vistas and take a rowing boat out on to the tranquil expanse of water.


Stretch your knowledge of the world around you, meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors sharing the best new books out this year and take part in workshops, provocations and talks in the beautiful Forgotten Courtyard.  Keep your ears to the ground for exciting announcements in May.

Keep your eyes peeled for curious characters and experiences to take you by surprise across the festival including  Rimski and Hankerchief on cycling piano and bicycle bass, roller-skating Flamingos and roaming Dream Antelope. Taking Flight Theatre’s Anti Fun Ministry meanwhile, will be patrolling the site to ensure compliance with their legislation.

Enjoy an incredible array of artisan food and drink at The Social and across the festival site and experience the stunning boutique camping area in Landpods, yurts, bell tents, tipis and vintage tents.

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 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, 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 “We love to plot and plan for the next Just So Festival just days after the last one, when our heads are still full of magic and ridiculousness – what better inspiration than our festival families whose phenomenal sense of tribal community knocks our socks off every year. We hunt high and low throughout the UK and beyond to find the very best performers and artists who we think can bring the festival to life. We love incorporating Just So traditions with new and exciting ground-breaking outdoor arts which we hope will create the most incredible memories. So roll on 2018 and in the words of the great Maurice Sendak ‘Let’s make mischief of one kind or another‘.

Families planning to come to Just So 2018 are being advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year, with tickets selling at a record rate for the 5000 capacity August event.


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

Follow Just So @justsofestival facebook.com/justsofestival

*Family friendly performance commissioned by Without Walls.


Just So Festival
Just So Festival

An imaginative outdoor adventure like no other as the only arts camping festival in the UK dedicated solely to children and their families.



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