It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Never has a famous literary quote been more apt for a family arts festival.

2019 was our fifth year at Just So and our muddiest yet.

But with mud comes fun and with some families unable to even access the site because of the waterlogged car park, we counted ourselves among the lucky ones and quite literally got stuck in to the packed programme of events.

It's always tricky deciding the 'must-dos' from the 'if we have times', and with the festival celebrating its 10th year, there were more activities to choose from than ever.

Even with three days there you can't fit everything in, especially when there are the all-important golden nuggets to collect along the way.

The all-important Tribal Scoreboard

That's because underpinning this entire event is the hugely competitive Tribal Tournament, which sees families dress as their chosen animal and battle it out to see who can collect the largest number of golden pebbles across the weekend.

The winner is crowned at the end of Sunday night's tribal parade. And if you think you won't miss much by leaving early, then you can think again.

It's a true highlight and when we hear so much about making memories with our children, I'm pretty sure no youngster would ever forget the time they dressed as a frog and chanted 'rib it, rib, we're gonna win it' at thousands of bees, lions, foxes and the rest of those losers.

Swipe right through the gallery below to see more images from Just So 2019


OK, we lost too, but nobody really cares. OK, our eight-year-did sulk a bit but he soon got over it. And he was already green anyway so his envy was well hidden.

That's because the true joy is simply being part of what is an utterly bonkers yet equally brilliant event - one where you can truly forget about the outside world and embrace the magic that lies within.

From the theatre shows and circus workshops to the campfire songs and stories of Spellbound Forest and the classic films shown at Woodland Theatre, there's something new to discover at every turn.

Five years in and we're still finding new activities to entertain our now 10 and eight-year-old.

We finally made it to the amazing silent disco with Our Kids Social - a concept that proved way more fun than we expected. Give it a few more years and the kids might not take so kindly to mum air guitaring her way through Livin' On A Prayer.

They also delighted in joining the clay modelling workshop from Aardman Animations, creators of Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep and Morph.

Given step-by-step instructions, they were able to make their own Feathers McGraw character to take home, while learning the tricks of the trade from the masters.

While sessions like that need booking when you get there, you can just stumble across much of the other fun as you wander around.

We were lucky enough to catch the hilarious Dizzy O’Dare’s Giant Balloon Show within our first hour - and he set the bar high for our entertainment expectations for the rest of the weekend.

Thankfully festival creators Wild Rumpus make sure the multi award-winning event, which takes over Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire for a long weekend every August, caters for every age group.

And the first wave of the 2020 programme, released earlier this year, shows there's even more fun on the cards this summer.

What will the weather hold? Who knows. If it rains it rains. If it's muddy then so be it.

It certainly won't be the kids moaning about getting muck on their clothes because they'll be having too much fun to care. Us grown ups could all do with taking a leaf out of their book.

This year's Just So takes place from August 21 to 23 at the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire.

Day tickets cost £45 for adults and £20 for children. Under threes go free. To book visit

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