AIF announces Independent Festival Awards shortlist, Sarah Nulty of Tramlines awarded Outstanding Contribution

08 Oct 2018

Tickets on sale now: 

  • Sarah Nulty of Tramlines to posthumously receive Outstanding Contribution award.
  • Meltdown awarded ‘Act of Independence’ for addressing mental health in the music industry.
  • Seven awards categories including New Festival on The Block, Unique Festival Arena, Smart Marketing Campaign and Live Act of the Year
  • Other nominees include Black Deer, Arcadia London, Elrow Town, Shame, Lost Village and the Forest Sessions at 2000Trees

Gearing up for it’s fifth annual Festival Congress, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced the shortlist for the 2018 Independent Festival Awards.

Taking place on Tuesday 6th November at 92 Burton Road in Sheffield, this year’s winners will be announced during an awards ceremony hosted by Glastonbury Festival’s Ben Challis, as part of the AIF’s annual flagship event.

The Outstanding Contribution Award will be posthumously given to Tramlines Festival Director Sarah Nulty, who tragically passed away after a short illness aged 36 earlier this year.

There are seven awards categories in total, designed to recognise the hard work and success of the most innovative events in the industry, including ‘New Festival On The Block’, ‘Unique Festival Arena’, ‘Smart Marketing Campaign’ and ‘Live Act of the Year’.

The Act of Independence award will be awarded to Southbank Centre’s Meltdown festival for replacing Frightened Rabbit’s set at the festival with a panel on mental health awareness and the music industry, following the death of singer Scott Hutchison earlier this year.

The Forest Sessions at 2000 Trees, the Main Stage at Elrow Town, Abandoned Chapel at Lost Village, Paradise Heights at Boomtown and the Data Mine at Shambala are all up for the Unique Festival Arena award this year.

Magical Festival, El Dorado, Black Deer, Houghton and Arcadia London are all in the running for New Festival on The Block, while Dream Wife, Henge, The Blue Planet In Concert With The Halle Orchestra, Shame and Barney Artist are nominated for the Live Act of the Year award.

Nominees across other categories include Lost Village, Kendal Calling and 2000trees. See below for a complete list of nominees.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “The Independent Festival Awards are now an annual fixture and a true celebration of the creativity and innovation taking place across the independent festival industry”

“It feels fitting in our first year in Sheffield to honour Sarah Nulty with the Outstanding Contribution award, not only for her tireless work ethic and incredible achievements with Tramlines but the wider contribution that she made to the independent festival world and what Sarah meant to our community. See you in Sheffield”.

Tramlines Operations Director Timm Cleasby said: “We are all so proud that Sarah has received this award and never was it more deserved. To be recognised by her peers for all her hard work, drive and determination, is a true honour to her memory, and to the legacy she’s left behind in Tramlines”.

Commenting on the Act of Independence award, Bengi Ünsal, Senior Contemporary Music Programmer at Southbank Centre, said: “We are incredibly honoured and humbled to receive this award. After hearing the news of Scott Hutchison’s death, instead of leaving the Queen Elizabeth Hall un-programmed and keeping the issue in the dark, we wanted to use the space and the platform of Meltdown festival to bring people together and shine a light on the worryingly common issues of mental health across the music industry. I am grateful to this year’s curator Robert Smith and to the wider Southbank Centre team for making it happen, and to the bravely candid panellists for sharing their experiences.”

The Awards will be followed by an aftershow silent disco at Yellow Arch Studios.

This year, AIF’s Festival Congress is expected to play host to over 400 delegates and will be centred around an ‘Under the sea’ theme as a follow up to AIF’s Drastic on Plastic campaign earlier in the year. The first day of the conference will take place at The Crucible Theatre, with the second day hosted at Showroom Cinema.

Over 40 speakers are confirmed for the conference this year- including keynotes from Secret Cinema Founder Fabien Riggall, Shangri-la Creative Director Kaye Dunnings, author Rob Chapman and marine biologist Dr. Kerry Howell.

Final speakers for the programme are now confirmed, including Snowbombing Event Manager Joanna Leljevahl and Liverpool Sound City MD Rebecca Ayres. See the complete schedule and list of speakers at

Attendees of the Congress include notable festival organisers from the likes of Glastonbury, Boomtown Fair, Kendal Calling, Shambala, End of the Road and many more.

Ticket Information

Tickets for the two-day conference and awards are now on sale, priced at £100 for AIF members, £135 to Friends Of AIF and £185 general sale exclusively through headline event sponsor Eventbrite.

For further information and tickets visit

The Independent Festival Awards shortlist 2018:

Outstanding Contribution: Sarah Nulty (Tramlines)

Act of Independence: Southbank Centre’s Meltdown Festival – Mental health panel in replacement of Frightened Rabbit performance

New Festival on the Block (In Association with Marcato)

Magical Festival

El Dorado

Black Deer


Arcadia London

Unique Festival Arena

Forest Sessions at 2000 Trees

Main Stage at Elrow Town

Abandoned Chapel at Lost Village

The Data Mine at Shambala

Paradise Heights at Boomtown Fair

Live Act of the Year

Dream Wife


The Blue Planet in Concert with the Halle Orchestra


Barney Artist

Festival Caterer of the Year (In Association with NCASS)

Smokin’ Hot Tamales

The Peckish Peacock

The Lambassadors

Le Bao

Barbeque Dreamz

Smart Marketing Campaign

The Red Stars – Kendal Calling

‘Making Waves’ video game – Deer Shed

20th Birthday ‘Nozstalgia’ theme – Nozstock

Promotional videos – Lost Village

Renaming the event the ‘Gareth Southgate’ festival – Truck