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The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced the winners of the 2017 Independent Festival Awards at a packed-out ceremony at DEPOT in Cardiff.

Hosted by Glastonbury Festival’s Ben Challis, the awards ceremony took place on the evening of the first day of AIF’s annual Festival Congress (Monday 30 October).

There were eight awards categories designed to recognise the hard work and success of the industry’s best events. Winners included Womb with a view at Shambala (Unique Festival Arena), Secret Garden Party (Best Smart Marketing), Aespia (New Festival on the block), IDLES (Live Act of the Year), and Nozstock The Hidden Valley (mind blowing spectacle).

In addition to the coveted awards, Secret Garden Party founder Freddie Fellowes was the recipient of the inaugural Pioneer Award following his dedication to inspiring the UK festival scene with its participatory approach for 13 years.

Greenbelt Festival handed the second Act of Independence’ award for Amal and their new Muslim artistry venue and programme and their focus on Palestinian festival programming.

Nominations were put forward to AIF’s 65 member festivals and then determined by a steering group vote.

Paul Reed, general manager of the AIF, commented: “The Independent Festival Awards was an outstanding celebration. It is always a tough call with such a strong shortlist and this reflects the abundance of creativity and imagination fuelling this inspiring and growing sector. Congratulations to all of the winners and nominees.”

AIF Awards winners 2017:

  • Unique Festival Arena: Womb With A View at Shambala
  • Best Smart Marketing: Secret Garden Party’s VIP/Celebrity Obsession Theme
  • Live Act of the Year: IDLES
  • Mind Blowing Spectacle: Nozstock The Hidden Valley’s Closing Festival Fire Show
  • Festival Caterer of the Year (in association with NCASS): Happy Maki
  • New Festival on the Block: Aespia
  • Act of Independence: Greenbelt Festival
  • Pioneer Award: Freddie Fellowes – Secret Garden Party

Following the ceremony, congress delegates enjoyed an original science-themed party, with street food catering, a ‘secret lab’ bar and an aftershow at The Big Top, 10 Feet Tall.

Festival Congress 2017

Festival Congress 2017 featured 25 sessions with over 60 speakers

Festival Congress 2017

This year, Festival Congress featured 25 sessions with over 60 speakers. The first day of the conference took place at Cardiff’s National Museum, featuring an inspiring keynote from John McGrath (CEO and artistic director, Manchester International Festival), and a quick-fire talk from Zoe Cormier, author of ‘Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: The science of hedonism and the hedonisim of science’, to name but a few.

The second day was hosted at the Wales Millennium Centre (WMC), featuring a packed day of panels and workshops entitled ‘Festivals under the microscope’.

AIF also revealed that the flagship event will move from Cardiff and take place in Sheffield in 2018 after a tender process earlier in the year.

Commenting on the next Festival Congress, Reed said: “As we look towards the next phase of the Congress and Sheffield in 2018, this has topped off a phenomenal four years in Cardiff.”

Festival Congress is supported by headline and exclusive gold sponsor The TicketSellers. PlayPass are the exclusive RFID partner and BIMM are the lead educational partner, with Help Musicians UK the exclusive charity partner.