The Charlatans lead singer Tim Burgess and representatives from Secret Garden Party, Bluedot and The Eden Sessions will form the core programme at this year’s Festival Congress.

Organised by the Association of Independent Festivals, the Festival Congress will take place for the third year running at the Wales Mellennium Centre in Cardiff on 1-2 November. More than 400 delegates from the independent festival industry are expected to attend.

The programme, announced today (6 September), includes a ‘fireside chat’ with Burgess, as well as a panel discussion of the groundbreaking drugs testing service introduced at Secret Garden Party this year.

In-depth workshops have also been introduced this year, with topics ranging from virtual reality, YouTube, festival finance, legal advice for organisers and crime and security.

The Festival Congress Awards will take place on the first evening. Held at Cardiff venue DEPOT, the celebration will feature street food, Rob da Bank and Tayo 3000’s ‘Purple Rave’ Prince tribute and a DJ set from Burgess.

“Festival Congress is a fantastic forum to debate the issues and challenges facing the independent festival sector and to celebrate the continued successes of our members,” said Paul Reed, general manager of the AIF.

“There is a feeling within the AIF camp that this could be the best Congress yet. We are going from strength to strength with an amazing line-up of speakers this year, covering a huge range of topics. We’ve also got some great social events lined up so it won’t be all work.”

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AIF Festival Congress programme:

·      A ‘fireside chat’ with Tim Burgess (The Charlatans) that will cover Tim’s experiences at festivals, the Tim Peaks venue that he has taken to many independent festivals and his second book, ‘Tim Book Two: Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Francisco’.

·      A headline panel discussion of the groundbreaking drugs testing service introduced at Secret Garden Party this summer. SGP founder Freddie Fellowes will be joined by Professor Fiona Measham (The Loop), Superintendent Justin Bibby (Northcumbria Police), Steve Rolles (Transform) and Jon Drape (Ground Control) for a discussion of the key issues, results and next steps.

·      Quickfire Talking Heads sessions, including Emma Brunjes (director, EBP), who will discuss crafting immersive theatre experiences such as Alice’s Adventures Underground and The Game’s Afoot.

·      A Festival Frontiers panel, featuring speakers including Ben Robinson (Kendal Calling/Bluedot/Off the Record) and John Empson (The Eden Sessions/Wilderness/Citadel), reflecting on the 2016 season and recent trends in an attempt to map out the future festival landscape.

·      In-depth workshops on topics including virtual reality, YouTube, festival finance, legal advice for festivals and crime and security, including weather planning and terrorism.

·      A breakout session catering specifically for multi-venue city-based festivals led by John Rostron (Sŵn Festival and AIF vice chair).

For more information and to buy tickets to the 2016 Festival Congress, go to