Independent Festival Awards 2019 shortlist revealed

07 Oct 2019
  • Four new categories including ‘European Festival of the Year’, ‘Backstage Hero’ and ‘In On The Ground floor’
  • Actor, writer and comedian Thanyia Moore to host
  • Final conference speakers announced including keynote from Owen Kingston, Artistic Director of immersive theatre company Parabolic Theatre
  • Tickets on sale now:

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced the shortlist for the 2019 Independent Festival Awards, which will take place on 6th November in Sheffield as part of its sixth flagship Festival Congress.

Taking place again at 92 Burton Road in Sheffield, this year’s winners will be announced during an awards ceremony hosted for the first time by actor, writer and comedian Thanyia Moore.

In 2017, Moore joined the likes of Katherine Ryan, Andi Osho, Sarah Millican, Miss London Hughes and Desiree Birch when she was crowned Funny Women Champion, beating over 400 women in the process and also reaching the semi-finals of the BBC New Comedy Award in 2018.

In a shake-up for the Independent Festival Awards, there are nine awards categories in total this year, designed to recognise success and innovation across the independent festival industry. These include, ‘Unique Festival Arena’, ‘Smart Marketing Campaign’, ‘Live Act of the Year’ and four new categories: European Festival of the Year’, ‘Backstage Hero’, ‘In On The Ground Floor’ (forward thinking artist booking) and ‘Never Mind The Pollocks’ (best festival artwork).

The Smirnoff Arctic Disco at Snowbombing Austria, The Seaside Stage at Victorious, The Street at Beat-Herder, Elephant’s Grave at Nozstock and The Roadhouse at Black Deer Festival are all up for Unique Festival Arena this year.

The contenders for Live Act of the Year, presented in association with PRS for Music, are KOKOKO!, Yola, The Murder Capital, Black Futures, and Bloxx.

Elsewhere, Pete The Monkey (France), Snowbombing (Austria), Let It Roll (Czech Republic), Dunk! Festival (Belgium) and Blue Balls Festival (Switzerland) are all in the running for the inaugural European Festival of the Year award.

Nominees across other categories include Standon Calling, Barn On The Farm, Twisterella, Deer Shed and The Mighty Hoopla.

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “We’re refreshing the Independent Festival Awards this year, with a new host and four new categories. The awards were set up as an irreverent alternative to other award shows, and the ultimate end of season celebration for the independent sector – so it’s important to keep moving. We’re delighted with the shortlist after receiving a record number of nominations from our members, proving there is no shortage of creativity and innovation in the independent festival sector. We’re doing even more with the production and theme of the awards this year to emphasise that festival feel – and we’ve introduced a European Festival of the Year category to demonstrate that, no matter what, the UK industry will remain a Europe-wide market and community.”

DJ/producer Bear Growls – dubbed ‘the purveyor of the cosmic boogie’ – will DJ at the awards, which will be followed by an after-show party at Yellow Arch Studios with DJ Katie Owen.

AIF has also announced the final Festival Congress schedule including an opening keynote from Owen Kingston, Artistic Director of immersive theatre company Parabolic Theatre, whose productions include ‘For King And Country’ and ‘Land Of Nod’.

Kingston joins over 45 speakers including previously announced Bing Jones (Extinction Rebellion), rock ‘n’ roll photographer Jill Furmanovsky, Bert Cole (Arcadia Spectacular), Rebecca Wrigley (Rewilding Britain), Chris Sheldrick (what3words) and many more, with panels and workshops on topics including sustainability, the nature of independence, volunteer management, festival apps and data, licensing, contingency planning and more.

The theme of the event is ‘Utopia And Dystopia’, and the two-day conference will take place at Abbeydale Picturehouse – a 1920’s cinema in Sheffield.

See the complete schedule and list of speakers at

The Independent Festival Awards shortlist 2019:

Unique Festival Arena

Smirnoff Arctic Disco – Snowbombing Austria

The Street – Beat-Hearder

Elephant’s Grave – Nozstock: The Hidden Valley

The Roadhouse – Black Deer Festival

Seaside Stage – Victorious


Live Act of The Year (in association with PRS for Music)



The Murder Capital

Black Futures



Smart Marketing

Lewis Cowpaldi – Standon Calling

Potato Lineup – Truck Festival

2000 Palm Trees – 2000trees

Dinosaurs April Fools – Kendal Calling

Pre-event videos – The Mighty Hoopla


Backstage Hero

Megan Evans – Deer Shed Festival

David Peverly – Shambala and Boomtown

Nathan Stephenson – Nathan Stephenson Audio Production

Jean Lennihan – Black Deer Festival

Rob Nosworthy – Nozstock: The Hidden Valley

Alex Barton – Elderflower Fields


European Festival

Pete The Monkey


Let It Roll

Dunk! Festival

Blue Balls festival


In On The Ground Floor (In association with Marcato)

Barn On The Farm

End Of The Road


Standon Calling

Hanwell Hootie


Never Mind The Pollocks

Pete The Monkey

Standon Calling


Deer Shed Festival

End Of The Road


Caterer of the Year (In association with NCASS)

Ghetto Grillz

Flavours Of Africa

Manjula Catering

Open Sesame

Eat Like A Greek