Held on 6 December at Manchester’s Escape to Freight Island, the long-anticipated return of the UK Festival Awards provided an ideal opportunity for a sold out audience of festival organisers, suppliers and the wider live entertainment industry to get together and reflect on the past season while looking forward to the next.

The awards were decided by either fan votes or judges’ verdicts in categories including Best Major Festival, Outstanding Contribution and, for this year only, the Positively Perfect Pivot Award – which acknowledges the festival business that applied its skills to alternative activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The award for Outstanding Contribution to Festivals was handed to two winners this year; the AFO General Secretary, Steve Heap and the former CEO of the AIF, Paul Reed. In presenting the award, event sponsor Ticketmaster’s VP of Music and Festivals said of Steve, now a 2 time winner of the accolade: ‘his determined work throughout the pandemic, when he should’ve been looking forward to his retirement, could not go unnoticed.’ and of Paul she said “He transformed the organisation and through extensive lobbying won several key battles for independent festivals. His leadership was never more prominent than during the pandemic”

The list of winners:

Exit Festival/NFT-TiX, The Innovation Award, sponsored by Festival Insights

Parklife, Marketing Campaign of the Year, sponsored by Ratcat

Back 2 Festival, The Positively Perfect Pivot Award, sponsored by The Loop

Beat the Streets, The Sarah Nulty Community Impact Award, sponsored by Universe

Mighty Hoopla/Vodafone, The Brand Activation Award, sponsored by CGA By NielsenIQ

Altitude Comedy Festival, Best Overseas Festival, sponsored by Camden Town Brewery

Mighty Dub Fest, Best Non-Music Festival, sponsored by Get Comedy

Sound City, Best Metropolitan Festival, sponsored by Mustard Media

3 Wishes Fairy Festival, The Grassroots Festival Award, sponsored by Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Green Gathering, The UK Greener Festival Award, sponsored by A Greener Festival

The Great Escape, Best Festival for Emerging Talent, sponsored by TikTok

Teddy Rocks, Best Family Festival, sponsored by Event Traffic Control

RADAR Festival, Best New Festival, sponsored by ID&C

bluedot, Line-Up of the Year, sponsored by Riot

Boomtown, Best Festival Production, sponsored by TPi Magazine

Black Deer, Promoter of the Year, sponsored by Production Futures

Woo Fest, Best Small Festival, sponsored by We Get Sponsors

2000 Trees, Best Medium Festival, sponsored by O’Donnell Moonshine

Manchester Pride, Best Large Festival, sponsored by Peppermint

Steve Heap, The Outstanding Contribution Award, sponsored by Ticketmaster

Paul Reed, The Outstanding Contribution Award