Zenfest in Essex has announced plans to expand the small one-day house music event to a new, larger venue in September.
The festival, described by organisers as a “boutique experience” will take place on 4 September and will host 3,000 people at Kelvedon Hall – an Edwardian manor house next to a lake near Brentwood, Essex.
Founders Stefan Poelman from Chelmsford and Sam Cottrell from Ingatestone, launched the festival in 2016 at the age of 18, off the back of their clothing range Zen Apparel.
The first Zenfest event was held with 250 people in an Essex field. This was followed by its first “official” festival in 2019, when Poelman and Cottrel applied for a one-day license to host the event for 1,000 people on land in the village of High Ongar.
Poelman said the process of organising the event at the six-acre Kelvedon site has been far easier than working at the previous site: “The amount of paperwork and back and forth we had to do with Epping Forest council, and the push back we were getting from the locals just made it too much of a headache but then we spoke to someone who had been dealing with the licenses for us and he directed us to a location down the road, which is under Brentwood Council, who are more used to doing events and already had a license.”
Poelman said he is hoping for the best and preparing for the worst this summer, but is not prepared to host the event with social distancing in place and will look to postpone the event beyond September should such measures be required.
He said, “We could have held one last year with social distancing, and people sitting around tables, but that’s not the vibe we want to create. We want it to be as good as it can be, and just throwing something together to make a bit of money just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. We’d rather be able to do it when everyone can have the best time possible and then we can feel more at ease with it.”
Poelman said he has received no government support other than some Covid-19 support loans last year: “I know too many people who are not in a good place right now in terms of events and hospitality.
“A lot of the guys doing the sound systems for our event said that if everything gets called off, they don’t think they will survive another year of restrictions. So I don’t think the government are helping out enough.”
The festival is partnering with local Essex brands, including food and drink suppliers, with the aim of creating a community feel at the event.
The festival’s 2021 lineup features Richy Ahmed, ANOTR, Rossi, Pat Wilson, Max Dean, Ryan Resso, DJ Caspa and Funk Cartel.