Not so long ago, the word ‘festival’ had a very specific meaning for me. A weekend of loud music, cheap cider and ‘bathing’ with baby wipes.
These days I can barely warrant the time away from my children to go to a mainstream festival, let alone the money!
If I’m to spend hundreds of pounds on one weekend, I want the rest of Team Palmer to be with me. Plus to be honest I’m getting a bit too
snobby mature for cheap cider or the smell of unwashed underarms ;-P For a while now, I’d considered my festival days over.
I know now that they’re not – they’re definitely not! After going to Just So Festival in August, I can tell you that not only is it a family friendly festival, it’s a family festival I would recommend to families with children of all ages and one that I’d actually choose over a ‘grown up’ version in a heart beat!
Before we went to Just So, I did a bit of research. The internet is full of chatter about the tribal tournament, lanterns, pillow fights, camp fires, fairies and magic. There are pages of lush photographs of smiling, mucky children, grown ups being silly and costumes and decorations that could have leapt right out of a story book. It all looked so Pinterest-perfect. Too perfect in fact.
I’m of the social media savvy generation that looks at a beautiful image and contemplates the direction that’s gone into it. The composition, the filter, the lighting. Surely these images must be staged? Surely it can’t all be this wonderful? I tried not to be sucked in too much, lest the reality turn out to be a disappointment. But I needn’t have worried – it was all real.
Honestly there were several occasions over the weekend when I could have cried. It was as though someone had jumped into my imagination and made my dreams a reality. From enchanted forests, dripping with fairy lights, to sumptuously dressed Rajasthani bands. From talking animals and giant snails, to pirates playing swing music and walk through video games.
There was every kind of food you can imagine, paella, fish and chips, churros…even a banquet made from food headed for the bin! Craft beers and cider for the grown ups and of course marshmallows toasted on an open fire whilst listening to fantastical stories.
I was a bit worried about spending a potentially wet weekend outside with a toddler, but the Weleda Peekaboo Garden had everything we could possibly have needed – a feeding tent, a changing tent and even a bathing tent for really mucky pups. Dorothy had an amazing time, but the festival wasn’t solely aimed at her age group. There was something for everyone, even teenagers.
Beth’s fourteen and on the Saturday night we had to practically drag her back to the tent at 10pm. She would have stayed around the camp fire listening to the bands into the wee small hours if we’d let her, and had we not had a little one with us, we would have done too! I’d half expected the music to be a little bit…well…CBeebies, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. It was very folky, very cool, in fact I’ve looked up a lot the bands since so that I can listen to more of their tracks.
We probably could have done a better job of camping. Most of my limited experience in tents has been in the sunshine, so the downpours we weathered that weekend tested my packing and preparation to the max. We’ll do better next time and I’ll share the lessons I learned in another post.
I think I’m still coming down from Just So. The sheer creativity of the event, the sense of adventure and imagination it sparked in everyone, has reinvigorated my own creativity. I have so many ideas and so much energy for them – and not just in terms of costumes for next year’s tribal tournament.
Tickets for next year are available now and I genuinely can’t recommend strongly enough that you book soon because you really don’t want to miss out!
I really hope to see you there.
Love Rachel ❤️