AIF’s Independent Festival Awards Shortlist Announced

09 Oct 2017
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Gearing up for it’s fourth annual Festival Congress, the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced its Independent Festival Awards shortlist.

Taking place on Monday 30th October at DEPOT in Cardiff, this year’s winners will be announced during a sparkling awards ceremony hosted by Glastonbury Festival’s Ben Challis, as part of the AIF’s yearly flagship event.

This year, there are eight awards categories, designed to recognise the hard work and success of the very best events in the industry, including ‘New Festival on the Block’, ‘Unique Festival Arena’, ‘Mind Blowing Spectacle’ and ‘Live Act of the Year’.

The Festival Congress will be introducing a new Pioneer award for 2017, in order to recognise and celebrate the work of an individual in the festival world who has pushed the medium forward, creating new frontiers through their event.

The inaugural Pioneer award will be given to Secret Garden Party’s Founder and Head Gardener Freddie Fellowes. Fellowes is a founding AIF member whose event drew to a close this year after inspiring the UK festival scene with its multi-arts, participatory approach for 15 years.

The Act of Independence award will this year go to Greenbelt Festival for their work with Amal and their new Muslim artistry venue and programme, as well as their focus on Palestinian festival programming to mark the key anniversaries in Israel-Palestine this year. This is an extension of the festival’s long-term commitment to highlighting human rights issues in the Middle East conflict through artistry, ideas and activism.

The Cineramageddon area at Glastonbury, ‘Happy Kanye’ micro venue at Bestival, Mirracocco Luminarium at Bluedot, Cinderella’s Motel at Standon Calling, Womb With A View at Shambala and The Outlands at End of The Road are all up for Unique Festival Arena award this year.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Yonaka, IDLES, Oh My God! It’s The Church and Loyle Carner are all nominated for Live Act of the Year award.

Those in the running for other categories this year include the likes of Victorious Festival, Boomtown Fair’s ‘Sector 6’ area, Beyond the Tracks and Samphire Festival.

See below for a complete list of nominees.

AIF General Manager Paul Reed said: “The Independent Festival Awards will celebrate the energy and creativity coursing through the independent festival sector. We’re also extremely proud to this year acknowledge Freddie Fellowes as a truly inspirational pioneer who has contributed to the evolution of independent festivals on numerous levels with Secret Garden Party. We look forward to another memorable awards and party in Cardiff”.

Secret Garden Party Founder, Freddie Fellowes said: “It is fantastic to be chosen as the first pioneer. Thank you AIF. SGP has been one massive adventure for all of us involved and it is on their behalf that I accept it. It has been one hell of a roller-coaster ride that has shown me more love (and sometimes tears) than I ever thought possible. But every ride should know when to stop: it is a great privilege to be able to wrap up this project, letting it remain unspoilt in our memories and hopefully inspire other people to pioneer as well. The frontier always moves, so let’s keep it moving”.

The Awards will be followed by a dedicated aftershow party at The Big Top Venue, 10 Feet Tall in Cardiff.

This year the Festival Congress is expected to play host to over 400 delegates, and will be centred around the theme of ‘Pseudoscience’. The first day of events will take place within the spectacular surroundings of National Museum Cardiff, while the second day will be hosted at the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC), featuring a packed day of panels and workshops entitled ‘Festivals Under the Microscope’.

The event offers unique networking opportunities alongside a platform for industry discussions and its progressive format includes quick fire talks, training workshops and fireside chats with leading industry experts, with over 60 speakers confirmed for this year- including a keynote from Artistic Director and CEO of Manchester International Festival John McGrath, author Zoe Cormier and Creative Industries Federation Chief Executive John Kampfer. The second day will feature 15 smaller scale panels and workshops, with topics ranging from creative production to crisis management and contingency planning, digital marketing and counterterrorism.

Attendees include notable festival organisers from the likes of Glastonbury, Bestival, Boomtown Fair, Kendal Calling, Shambala, End of the Road, Liverpool Sound City 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 £200 general sale exclusively through headline event sponsor The TicketSellers.


PlayPass are the exclusive RFID partner for the Congress and BIMM will again be the lead educational partner, with Help Musicians UK the exclusive charity partner.


For further information and tickets visit


The Independent Festival Awards shortlist:


Unique Festival Arena

Cineramageddon at Glastonbury

The Mirracocco Luminarium at Bluedot

Cinderella’s Motel at Standon Calling

Happy Kanye at Bestival

Womb With A View at Shambala

The Outlands at End of The Road


Best Smart Marketing

Secret Garden Party’s VIP/Celebrity Obsession Theme

Bluedot Festival Sends Orbital into Orbit

Victorious Festival’s Madness Announcement

End of the Road’s Lineup Announcement Video


Live Act of the Year

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes



Oh My God! It’s The Church

Loyle Carner


Mind Blowing Spectacle

Secret Garden Party’s Saturday Night Spectacular

Bestival’s Temple & World’s Biggest Confetti Cannon

BoomTown Fair’s Sector 6

Nozstock The Hidden Valley’s Closing Festival Fire Show

Murmuration at Greenbelt


Festival Caterer of the Year (in association with NCASS)

Happy Maki


Strumpets With Crumpets


Nonno Luigi


New Festival on the Block


Samphire Festival

Beyond the Tracks

Houghton Festival

Grinagog Festival

Act of Independence: Greenbelt Festival

Pioneer Award: Freddie Fellowes – Secret Garden Party