A password will be e-mailed to you.

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) gears up for its fourth annual Festival Congress and has announced the Independent Festival Awards shortlist.

Award winners will be revealed during a ceremony on 30 October at Depot in Cardiff. The event will be hosted by entertainment lawyer and Glastonbury Festival counsel, Ben Challis.

The eight award categories have been 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. It recognises and celebrates 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 Freddie Fellowes, founder of Secret Garden Party and ‘Head Gardener’. Fellowes is a founding AIF member whose event drew to a close this year afterfor 13 years of inspiring the UK festival scene with its multi-arts, participatory approach.

“The Independent Festival Awards will celebrate the energy and creativity coursing through the independent festival sector,” commented AIF general manager Paul Reed. “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.”

Commenting on the announcement, 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 Act of Independence award will go to Greenbelt Festival for its 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 through artistry, ideas and activism.


Unique Festival Arena

  • 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
  • The Outlands at End of The Road

Live Act of the Year shortlist:

  • Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes
  • Yonaka
  • Oh My God! It’s The Church
  • Loyle Carner

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.

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

Workshops and networking

This year the Festival Congress (30-31 October) 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 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 featuring a progressive format including quick fire talks, training workshops and fireside chats with leading industry experts, with over 60 speakers confirmed for this year.

Keynote speakers include 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 festival organisers from the likes of Glastonbury, Bestival, Boomtown Fair, Kendal Calling, Shambala, End of the Road, Liverpool Sound City and many more.