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AIF Announces Core Programme and additional speakers for Festival Congress 2016

Date: 25/08/2016

The Charlatans lead singer Tim Burgess and speakers from Secret Garden Party, Bluedot, The Eden Sessions and more join AIF flagship event in Cardiff.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), the London based trade association that represents UK festival organisers, has announced the core programme and additional speakers for Festival Congress 2016, which will take place in Cardiff for the third year running later this year.

Confirmed for 1st and 2nd November 2016 Festival Congress, which will take place at the Wales Millennium Centre and DEPOT, will play host to over 400 delegates and will be a celebration of the independent festival industry.

New additions to the programme include:

  • A ‘Fireside chat’ with Tim Burgess (The Charlatans) that will cover Tim’s experiences at festivals, the Tim Peaks venue that he has taken to many independent festivals and his second book ‘Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco’. Tim Peaks will also feature at the Congress, serving coffee at the conference.


  • A headline panel discussion of the ground-breaking drugs testing service introduced at Secret Garden Party this year. Secret Garden Party Founder Freddie Fellowes will be joined by Professor Fiona Measham (The Loop), Superintendent Justin Bibby (North Cumbria Police) Steve Rolles (Transform) and Jon Drape (Ground Control) for a discussion of the key issues, results and next steps.


  • Further quickfire ‘Talking Heads’ sessions- These include Emma Brunjes (Director, EBP) who will discuss crafting immersive theatre experiences such as Alice’s Adventures Underground and The Game’s Afoot.


  • A ‘Festival Frontiers’ panel- featuring speakers including Ben Robinson (Director, Kendal Calling / BlueDot / Off the Record) and John Empson (Promoter, Eden Sessions and Programmer, Wilderness and Citadel) – this session will reflect on the 2016 season and recent trends in an attempt to map out the future festival landscape.


  • In-depth workshops on topics including virtual reality, YouTube, festival finance, legal advice for festivals and crime and security including weather planning and terrorism.


  • A break out session catering specifically for multi-venue city based festivals led by John Rostron (Promoter, Sŵn Festival and AIF Vice Chair).


  • The evening celebration and Festival Congress Awards takes place on the evening of the 1st November at DEPOT, Cardiff featuring street food, Rob da Bank and Tayo 3000’s ‘Purple Rave’ Prince tribute and a Tim Burgess DJ set.

Paul Reed, General Manager of AIF said, “Festival Congess is a fantastic forum to debate the issues and challenges facing the independent festival sector and to celebrate the continued successes of our members. There is a feeling within the AIF camp that this could be the best Congress yet. We are going from strength to strength with an amazing line-up of speakers this year covering a huge range of topics. We’ve also got some great social events lined up so it won’t be all work!”.

Tickets are on sale now, priced at £100 for AIF members, £135 to Friends of AIF and £185 general sale exclusively through headline event sponsor The TicketSellers.

PlayPass will be the RFID partner for the Congress and BIMM will again be the educational partner, delivering the satellite student sessions. Festival Congress is supported by the Major Events Unit of the Welsh Government.

For full ticket information and to see the complete list of speakers for Festival Congress , which also includes John Giddings (Isle of Wight Festival/Solo Agency), Lee Denny (LeeFest/Camp Wildfire), Sammy Andrews (Entertainment Intelligence), Simon Parkes (Brixton Academy) and Zac Fox (Kilimanjaro Live/NOWIE) go to

Festival Congress Award Nominees Announced

Date: 10/10/2016

The nominees for the 3rd Festival Congress Awards have just been announced taking place during the Festival Congress on the 1st November at the DEPOT in Cardiff. The awards will be hosted by Glastonbury’s Ben Challis and are decided on by votes from AIF members.

There are ten award categories including, among others, ‘New Festival on the Block’, ‘Unique Festival Arena’, ‘Mind Blowing Spectacle’ and ‘Festival Caterer Most Likely to End up on Instagram.’

One newly introduced category is the ‘Act of Independence’ award, highlighting a moment in the festival season that embodied the spirit of independence.

Nominees for this particular award include Shambala for introducing a 100% meat & fish free policy and MAST onsite drugs testing, which was piloted at several AIF member festivals this summer.

Others in the running for awards this year include the likes of BluedotGlastonbury’s female-only venue ‘The Sisterhood’, ‘The Good Life Experience’, Deer Shed Festival’s Film Production Big Top, Wilderness Festival’s ‘Saturday Night Spectacular’, Bestival’s ‘Spaceport’ and ‘The Tim Peaks Diner’, the brainchild of The Charlatan’s Tim Burgess, who has also been confirmed as a keynote speaker at the conference.

It has also been confirmed that the 2016 ‘Unsung Hero’ award will be presented to health, safety and welfare expert Penny Mellor, who has worked in the events sector for over 40 years, managing welfare services and developing good practice guidance.

The Awards after-party will feature Rob da Bank and Tayo 3000’s ‘Purple Rave’ Prince tribute alongside a DJ set from Tim Burgess.
For tickets and information –




Convergence Festival

Lost Festival

The Good Life Experience


The Vicars Picnic



Children’s Café at The Good Life Experience

Forrest Stage at 2000trees Festival

Tim Peaks Diner

Glastonbury’s female-only venue – The Sisterhood

Deer Shed Festival’s Film Production Big Top

Bestival’s Spaceport




Symphonica with MR Switch

Spring King

Moose Blood

Jack Garratt



The World’s Biggest Bouncey Castle at Bestival/Common People

Wilderness Festival’s Saturday Night Spectacular

La Compagnie des Quidams at Festival No. 6

Brian Eno’s Light Installation at Bluedot



End of The Road’s Lineup Announcement Video

Shangri La’s Media Hell Campaign

Secret Garden Party’s Gardner’s Guide To The Galaxy Theme

Bestival’s Hand-drawn/painted triptych of the Spaceport Headliners

Eastern Electrics Rickshaw DJ/Pacman Lineup Announcement



David Hillier

Marcus Barnes (Fest300)

Slummy Single Mummy





The Cheese Truck

The Bhangra Bus Café

Kelis’ Le Bun





Artist Liaison at Barn on the Farm

Comedy/Team Ops at End of The Road

Sue & Jo at Bingley Music Live

Artist Liaison at Blissfields

Clean Campsite Team at Nozstock The Hidden Valley

LarMac Live at Bestival, Common People, Camp Bestival



Shambala goes 100% meat & fish free

MAST drugs testing piloted at festivals

Bestival staff Swim2Bestival

Steve Bedlam – Refugee Community Kitchen

General Public’s Hop Project



Penny Mellor

AIF announces winners of the 2016 Festival Congress Awards 

Date: 02/11/2016


The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced the winners of the 2016 Festival Congress Awards at a packed out ceremony at DEPOT in Cardiff.

Hosted by Ben Challis (Glastonbury Festival),the ceremony took place on the evening of the first day of Festival Congress (Tuesday 1st November).

Winners included Bluedot (New Festival on the block), End of the Road Festival (Best Smart Marketing), Brian Eno’s light Installation at Jodrell Bank (Mind Blowing Spectacle), Spring King (Live act of the year) and Deer Shed Festival’s Film Production Big Top (Unique Festival Arena).

In addition, the Multi Agency Safety Testing (MAST) drugs testing piloted at Secret Garden Party and Kendal Calling this year won the newly introduced ‘Act of Independence’ award, introduced to highlight a moment in the festival season that embodied the spirit of independence.


Nominations were put forward and then voted for by the AIF’s 60 member festivals. The winners are as follows:

New festival on the block (no more than three editions)

  • Bluedot

Unique festival arena

  • Deer Shed Festival¹s Film Production Big Top

Live act of the year

  • Spring King

Mind blowing spectacle

  • Brian Eno¹s light Installation at Bluedot, Jodrell Bank.

 Best smart marketing campaign of the year

  • End of the Road¹s lineup announcement video

Festival journalist of the year

  • David Hillier (Freelancer for The Guardian, Vice etc..)

Act of Independence. 

  • MAST drugs testing piloted at UK festivals

Festival caterer most likely to end up on Instagram. 

  • The Cheese Truck

The Backstage Award. 

  • Artist Liaison at Blissfields

Unsung hero

  • Penny Mellor- Health, safety and welfare expert at festivals.

Following the ceremony, congress delegates enjoyed a festival-themed party, with décor with House of Bestival, street food catering and DJ sets from AIF members The Head Gardener (Secret Garden Party), Chris Tofu (Continental Drifts) and a ‘Purple Rave’ tribute to Prince from Tayo3000. 

Paul Reed, General Manager of the AIF said: “This was the third Festival Congress Awards and a fantastic celebration of the independent festival sector. Our members had some difficult decisions to make with such a strong shortlist and we’re delighted to acknowledge the creativity and hard work that goes into producing the best festival festivals in the world, bar none”.    

This year The Festival Congress conference took place at Cardiff’s Wales Millennium Centre and featured over fifty guest speakers. For info go to

Festival Congress is supported by the Major Events Unit of the Welsh Government. The TicketSellers are headline sponsor and exclusive ticketing partner. Playpass are the exclusive RFID partner, BIMM are the lead educational partner and Help Musicians UK are the lead charity partner.