Review: Campo Sancho 2021

Art & Culture

Campo Sancho is an independent family-friendly festival, serving as an organic extension of Sancho Panza’s years of throwing parties around the world and most notably their 20 year Notting Hill Carnival residency. The festival is set on a gorgeous bit of countryside in Hertfordshire, tucked far away from any signs of civilisation and yet only an hour from London.

Like pretty much every festival last year, Campo Sancho had to cancel their 2020 excursion and in a stunning act of well-deserved luck, ended up being on the first weekend back after restrictions were lifted for 2021. Naturally excitement levels were high, so like all good keeners who haven’t been in a field of music for a long time we arrive early on Friday lunchtime.

The site itself is a long stretch of lush grassy field, the top dotted with tents and boutique camping options, a shop and hot showers. Walking down through the trees reveals a wide range of activity tents for all ages, food vendors and two main music stages with a bridge the festival built on their first year there.

The Middle Row stage – named after the street on which Sancho Panza’s long standing Notting Hill Carnival stage was located  – provides an idyllic daytime soundtrack with it’s large outdoor dance floor, Funktion-One speaker stacks and a little stretch tent over the top in case of any British summer downpours. We spend Friday daytime easing ourselves in with Junior playing extended floaty edits while we check out the food vendors – excellent Paella, Pizzas & Curry all at reasonable prices.

At night, all eyes, ears and sequins head to The Snare & Hi-Hat. A mixture of swirling projections and spot-lights fill the tent, at the front is a dancefloor powered by more of the latest Funktion-One speakers making their first outing to a festival – they sound amazing. Being back in front of loud, amplified dance music feels genuinely emotional. At the back of the tent, a well stocked bar including slushies are served at lightning speed by a lovely group of bar staff.

On the decks, Dicky Trisco blends all kinds of bouncy disco edits and packs out the tent full of elated dancers. It’s later this night that sees the set of the weekend for us though: DJ Paulette – quickly getting laser-focused and locked into the crowd, effortlessly working through acid cuts, house and breaks – a true master of her craft and it shows; the crowd cheering and jumping to whichever way she decides to turn them next.

After over a year of no dancing or festivals, just one night out bought it all flooding back – the crowd a bundle of smiles, hugs and laughter. As a family festival, seeing kids enjoy what must have been a first for many of them added a really charming side to the festival and for our first party back, made for the perfect balance of easing back into this wonderful thing we all love to do.

Naturally, Saturday daytime is quite a slow start, but a quick stop by the Espresso Martini bar shakes off the last of last night’s haze and it’s back to Middle Row where the festival organisers and self-titled residents transition day into night by cutting through disco and house building to an apt crescendo of Human League’s The Things That Dreams Are Made Of to a field of hands in the air. Jim and Matt aka Sancho Panza play again in the Snare & Hi-Hat later on to a huge applause as they take us into the sunset on Saturday night.

Sancho Panza has built a family over the years – many people there that met at some of their parties, now have kids and continue to come year after year now.  Campo Sancho is a festival put on by the right people for the right reasons. Or as they put it “We’re not trying to change the world but for 3 days we come together with like minded people on a mission to dance, to cuddle and to laugh.”

A highly recommended addition to your 2022 calendar. To be the first to know when tickets go on sale, follow them on Facebook here.