Review: Just So Festival 2019, The One With All The Mud!

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Just So 2019 will go down in history, maybe because it was the 10th birthday of the now well established festival, but mainly because it was the year of ALL THE MUD! It certainly was NOT for the faint hearted!
I‘ll quickly explain that this was our first time at Just So…and, did the conditions put us off? Did they heck! I’m not gonna lie, it made getting around the site with a trolley and a baby in a stroller much much harder, but we got a free workout (I used muscles I didn’t know I had!), and the boys absolutely loved doing their best ‘We’re going on a Bear Hunt’ impressions squelching through the deep oozy mud!

In fact, from what I saw there were A LOT of mud loving littles about. I might suggest to organisers Wild Rumpus that from now on they create a mud pit area regardless of the weather so that we can chuck the kids in while us parents relax nearby on dry land!

We had an absolutely amazing weekend despite [or maybe because of] the mud. Full of magic, fun and laughter. Just So Festival really is the perfect place to spend some quality time together as a family.

These were our favourite muddy moments:

Dressing Up and Letting Go

We decided to go big or go home and threw ourselves into the craziness of the Just So tribal tournament, we were all kitted out as a shimmering shoal of five fish – read how I made our costumes here. For those of you planning a Just So adventure, I highly recommend dressing up letting go of your inhibitions.


Seeing herds of stags, swarms of bees and some roarsome lions strolling around the aptly named Spellbound Forest, really is truly magical. A sight you’ll honestly never forget, and your photos will look absolutely amazing too!

It was like being part of a real life fairytale and really helped us to see the wonder of the weekend through our childrens eyes. Stanley really got involved and was instantly drawn to other fishy families, we enjoyed a game of Giant Guess Who with some fellow fish team mates and won a golden pebble in a wager! Woo hoo!

The humongous Tribal Scoreboard situated on The Village Green is updated throughout the weekend as golden pebbles are handed in to Tribal leaders and counted.

Keeping Score!

We earned pebbles for our costumes, picking up somebody elses litter when the wind blew it away, for the Guess Who game, and then for ingenious costume repairmanship using duck tape – note to self: need to vastly improve sewing skills! I’m still not sure if there are any hard and fast rules on how to earn pebbles but it’s certainly fun trying.

Meeting our Tribal leader blub blub blub!

Stanley really was rooting for the fish team to win and was cheering us on all weekend, he also got involved in some lighthearted taunting of the other teams too. We came 5th overall, the Foxes bagged 1st place this year! I think it teaches children a great lesson about competition, teamwork, loyalty and doing your best.

Getting Our Groove On

One of the things we all agreed on when we looked at the programme was that we wanted to take in as much live music as possible. We joyfully discovered at Timber Festival that we have two little groovers on our hands.

My little fish swimming at High Seas

The Footlights stage was at High Seas and after a true trek to get there via the mud (it was at it’s worst at this point), a toilet stop, more mud, then skirting around the field with the trolley, and a bit more mud we finally set up our ‘base’. After all that effort it made sense to stay put for a bit and it was a great excuse to enjoy the music, we were also reasonably close to a bar and some yummy food vendors – perfect!

The Baghdaddies’ exuberant and rampant brand of world music is an exhilarating cocktail of Balkan melodies, ska and latin grooves and sizzling brass played with furious energy and theatrical humour, making them as unforgettable on stage as they are when performing as wandering brass troubadours. They take themselves incredibly seriously so you don’t have to…

The Baghdaddies blew us away, they got everybody (including us) up on their feet and dancing! The lyrics are also hilarious, and you cant help but smile. It’s pure feel good music!

We also caught Harry Bird & The Rubber Wellies who again provided a very toe tapping mix of folk inspired sea shanties, Mexican rancheras and reggae. And finally Mr. Tea & The Minions for some gypsy flavoured party music. Not your average playlist eh?

One of the Baghdaddies songs included the line ‘Have a Tequila son’ which Eli took literally!

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, YES mud does make dancing in a field absolutely 100% more enjoyable if your aged 5 and 2!

We also tried out the silent disco hosted by Our Kids Social in the Flamingo Lounge. My boys weren’t sure at first and found it all a bit odd, but they soon got into the swing of it for a bit of oops upside your head! There was a parents vs kids dance off battle that got very animated – think Dadtastic air guitar moves on one side with some fierce flossing on the other. Great fun!

And finally, it was a bit of a surprise when my cautious 5 year old wanted to try out Circus Swing! So on Sunday we had a lesson in swing dancing that included some neat circus tricks too. I only dropped him on his head once while he did the no hands cartwheel over my legs, so I’m calling that a win!

I love the fact that Stanley was willing to try out new things, James has experienced a silent disco at the ripe old age of 2 and that we all got to listen to some excellent live music.

Singing Along

Watching David Gibb perform in the natural amphitheatre of the Woodland Theatre on with Stanley was my highlight of the weekend. He’s not a big fan of sitting still but the combination of catchy tunes, audience participation and easy to remember lyrics meant that we made it through the entire performance with big smiles on our faces.

We learned all about bats, discovered that we (and the rest of the audience) couldn’t count to five, became roses and showed off our muscles. Stanley also became a huge fan of Teddy at the Disco and has been singing it on repeat ever since. We sat next to our good friends over at Typical Mummy (there’s nothing like sharing a plastic poncho to sit on, to really cement a friendship) and we were all happily singing along together.

It was during this performance that I experienced what I’ll always remember as the Just So spirit, a real sense of camaraderie. The steep incline of the Woodland Theatre plus wet ground made it more than a bit treacherous underfoot. Getting in and out was no easy task and to this purpose I saw children being passed along rows, hands and arms being offered to help steady balance and people sharing seating arrangements to ensure everyone had a great time. There was a real sense of we’re in this togetherness, the mud was not going to stop anyone having fun!


I’m happy to say we now have David’s brand new album Rolling down the Road (released 23rd August) winging it’s way to us (order yours here) and also Climb that Tree for our Teddy at the Disco fix – my car journeys are never going to be the same again! Stay tuned as I will be posting a review of the new album soon!

Slowing Down

In a way the conditions did us a favour, it made us really think about what we wanted to see and do. Most of Saturday was spent in and around High Seas and the nearby Roll Up Roll Up simply due to logistics, we took in the music as I’ve previously mentioned but we also watched Clown about Town which thoroughly entertained the boys and only mildly terrified me (she was absolutely lovely but I’m not a fan of clowns!)

A clown on the run, wanted for a crime she didn’t commit. In trying to prove her innocence, she finds that the silver lining is daring to be yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. A joyous celebration of what it is to be human with slap-stick comedy, puppets and silly dancing!

Even I admit that the overly theatrical blood scenes (not as bad as it sounds, honest!) were really funny! This then inspired Daddy and the boys to wade over to the big top to try their hand at some circus skills while I stayed with a snoozing Eli.

Again, after watching David Gibb in the Woodland Theatre we ambled to The Spellbound Forest via the Corn Shack and settled in to watch our old favourites at Campfire Stories. I’d been eyeing up the huge corn cobs all weekend and me and Stan treated ourselves on Sunday – they were absolutely delicious!

We love Ian Douglas and have been lucky enough to sit and listen to his stories at several different events so he was an easy and relaxing watch while we nibbled away.

Then it was onto our crazy haired friend Professor Pumpy-Knickers Pumpernickel who we first encountered at Timber Festival. Once again he was thoroughly entertaining, and made the forest come alive with explosive science!

Embracing the Eccentricity

Just So proved to be just as bonkers as we were expecting – we’ve experienced nothing else like it! One thing we definitely wanted to catch was the lantern parade on Saturday evening. We didn’t make a lantern at the workshop as we’d heard that it gets very busy but we were armed with our Jelly fish umbrellas which lit up and looked the part.

Well, it’s hard to describe the spectacle that was the lantern parade, there was a clog wearing lady singing and dancing with some enormous Ghost Caribou. Then, the Baghdaddies arrived, the Caribou suddenly lit up and off we went, following the craziness towards Footlights!

Over the weekend we also bumped into the Dream Antelopes, Boudicca in her chariot (the moving puppet/sculpture horse was AMAZING) and got soaked as water pistol wielding passengers sped past in Vesaqua, shooting at us as they went. What’s Vesaqua? It’s a bathtub on wheels attached to a 1966 Vespa of course!


Anything We Would Change?

The weather played such a huge part this year that I’m not sure what a ‘normal’ Just So looks and feels like. I would have liked a few more seating areas – we took chairs luckily, but pulling them around in the trolley was really hard work because of the ground conditions. I’m assuming that there are usually more hay bales dotted about to perch on but again due to the weather these were probably repurposed as ground cover on the worst affected areas.

The golden pebbles – are still a complete mystery to us! I don’t know who can give them out, or what they can be earned for! Having said that I’m not sure if a full explanation of this via the programme or a information board would take the magic away? It felt like a secret that you had to learn about from fellow more experienced Just So’ers…but maybe that’s the point, to get people talking and build a community of seasoned Just So families? I will say this – once you’ve earned one it quickly becomes a quest to get more, it’s so addictive!

And Finally…

There you have it, if you want to let go of the stresses of everyday life then this is the festival for you. You can completely immerse yourself in a bubble of make believe for an entire weekend. Got kids? Then it’s a super family friendly festival (mud aside), it has everything to entertain little ones and baby changing, bathing and quiet areas too. We can’t wait for next year!


Earlybird tickets for Just So Festival 2020 (21/22/23 August 2020) will be available from TODAY (Friday 30th August). Visit the Just So Festival website to grab yours.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all the team at Wild Rumpus, the volunteers and site staff who when faced with almost biblical conditions on Friday went the extra mile to ensure people got on and off the site safely and pushed cars out of the mud, all with a smile on their faces.

All images are my own unless otherwise credited and must not be reproduced without permission.

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