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…And the 2011 winners are…!

THE GREAT and the good of the UK Festival industry were out in force tonight at London’s Roundhouse to celebrate the eighth annual UK Festival Awards, which followed the Festival Conference, which took place during the day. Hosted by The Cuban Brothers, the event saw 16 trophies handed out throughout the evening, which featured exclusive comedy performances by Trevor Lock, Luke Benson and a closing set from John Cooper Clarke. Seven awards were announced during the Festival Conference.

The double winner of the UK Festival Awards – Derbyshire’s Y-Not Festival – received the awards for both The Grass Roots Festival Award’ (in association with ID&C) and ‘Best Toilets’ (In association with Shewee), having expanded from a gathering of sixth form pupils to three stages and more than 30 bands. These awards were announced at the Festival Conference.

Folk music and dance promoter Steve Heap was honoured with the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ for his services to the festival industry.  Steve Heap has been Director of Mrs Casey Music for over 30 years.  Mrs Casey Music is a specialist promotion company that organises folk/roots festivals and events such as Towersey Festival attracting 10,000 people per year, Sidmouth International Festival (65,000 people), and more recently Big Session Festival and other events at venues including regular promotion at London’s South Bank Centre.

In the Events Industry, Steve specialises in Community Arts Events in the size of 1,000 to 10,000 people in either green field sites or indoor venues. He is a leading member of the Events Industry Forum and a regular contributor to Arts & Events Industry Publications including the Purple Guide.

He is Director of The Association Festival Organisers (AFO) a body of some 200 Festivals that promotes supports and lobbies on its members behalf.  AFO hold and annual conference that attracts some 260 delegates from the Events Industry.

From headlining the BBC Introducing tent at Glastonbury, to performances at Reading Festival, Bestival and Jersey Live festival, Ed Sheeran was named ‘Best Breakthrough Artist’ (in association with Brothers Cider), beating off competition from Bruno Mars, Jessie J and The Vaccines.

‘Headline Performance of the Year’ (in association with Jagermeister) went to Paolo Nutini at Latitude Festival whose set was strewn with hits including ‘These Streets’ and ‘New Shoes’, pipping the likes of Metallica, Magnetic Man and Chase & Status to the post. Chase & Status didn’t go home empty-handed however as they were honoured with the award for ‘Anthem of the Summer’ for ‘Blind Faith’ – the No.1 UK dance single taken from the No More Idols album.

Rob Da Bank’s masterstroke Bestival was honoured in a brand new category for 2011: ‘Fan’s Favourite Festival’. The sold-out festival played host to some of the biggest names in music this year including Bjork, The Cure, PJ Harvey, Brian Wilson and Public Enemy.

This year the categories for ‘Best Major’ / ‘Medium’ / ‘Small’ Festival, ‘Best Metropolitan’ Festival, ‘Best New’ Festival, ‘Best Family’ Festival, and ‘Best Toilets’ were decided upon by a judging panel of journalists and experienced reviewers, who packed their tents and donned their best festival outfits throughout the summer to pass their esteemed judgment and critiques.

Crowned winner for ‘Best Major Festival’ (in association with The Ticket Factory) was the almighty Glastonbury, whose headline performances from Beyonce, U2 and Coldplay stole the headlines over the summer. ‘Best Medium-sized Festival’ went to Secret Garden Party, the fiercely independent festival which this year featured acts including Marcus Foster, Yasmin, Leftfield and Ghostpoet. End of The Road was honoured with ‘Best Small Festival’ (in association with Doodson); the North Dorset event saw live sets from Laura Marling, Joanna Newsom, Mogwai this summer.

Sheffield’s Tramlines beat off competition from The Great Escape, Dot to Dot and Gaymer’s Camden Crawl to be crowned ‘Best Metropolitan Festival’.

‘Best New Festival’ (in association with Access All Areas) went to Wilderness, a new ‘celebration of the arts and outdoors’ in Oxfordshire, which The Observer described as a ‘bohemian haven’. ‘Best Family Festival’ (in association with Showsec) went to Beautiful Days – after five years shortlisted for the title!

‘Best Dance Event’ (in association with Peppermint Bars) went to Creamfields, with this year’s event boasting hot favourites Chemical Brothers, Katy B and Kissy Sell Out. Croatia’s Outlook was honoured with ‘Best Overseas Festival’.

‘Line-Up of the Year’ in association with XL Video was awarded to Sonisphere, for an immense bill, which saw the Big Four – Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth unite for what most fans described as heavy metal heaven.

Steve Strange was named ‘Agent of the Year’ (in association with IQ and Secret Productions were given the title of ‘Promoter of the Year’ (in association with Virtual Festivals).

The following were announced during the day at the Festival Conference: The Beat Hotel (‘Concession of the Year’), Shambala (‘The Greener Festival Award’ in association with Robertson Taylor and, Capitalize – Bacardi (‘Best Sponsor Activation in association with Field Marketing and Brand Experience’), Bearded Kitten (‘The Extra-Festival Activity Award’ in association with Music Week), The Event Safety Shop (‘Outstanding Contribution to Festival Production’ in association with TPi).

James Drury, Managing Director of Festival Awards Ltd said: “Hundreds of thousands of votes were cast for over the 200 events which took part across the UK, demonstrating just how passionate people are about festivals.

“The Festival Awards is all about recognising the hard work everyone in the industry puts in – and sharing the thanks and love from the public for those efforts. Everyone involved – not just the winners – should be rightly proud of what they’ve achieved in a year has been more challenging than others.

“This is the best-attended Festival Awards we’ve had, with almost 1,000 people from across the industry coming together to celebrate the world-leading scene we have in the UK.”

The UK Festival Awards were preceded by the Festival Conference, which took place earlier in the day. Topics discussed included: maintaining customer loyalty, social commerce, the issues stemming from terrible weather, and sport vs music sponsorship in the year of the Olympics. The Conference also featured an exclusive Q&A with Festival Republic MD Melvin Benn.

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