The UK Festival Awards 2006

The UK Festival Awards 2006

Photographer: Lisa RocketNick Bruce on 19 October 2006

The raffle tickets handed out at the entrance of the Islington Carling Academy are a good sign. Two pastel pink tickets, consecutively numbered, accompanied by both a smile from the attractive promo girl and the words 'complimentary drinks'. Around the corner, bags from the charity Shelter are being handed out along with Bacardi poker chips. The buzz in the stairwell, let alone the venue floor itself, is palpable. The first UK Festival Awards ceremony is going to be very special. That this is the only awards ceremony dedicated to celebrating the incredible work done by the vast spectrum of British festival organisers deserves as much applause as the award winners are about to receive.

But enough with the sycophancy, and on with the night.Islington Academy is packed to the rafters with the cream of this country's festival talent: the movers and the shakers; those that decide what acts are going to headline the closing night; and, hidden somewhere in the throng, a few of the year's best artists.

The proceedings, as with any awards ceremony new or otherwise, have teething problems. Videos freeze and winners find making it onto the stage difficult. But speeches are heartfelt and sensational. The performances - from Brakes, Nizlopi, The Levellers andKav and Jon fromThe Happy Mondays - are superb, and a perfect slice of the year's festival Mana.

What really impresses about the night is how ego has been left totally at the door. Sure, this might not be the Brits. But a celebration of the festival scene and the real, primordial, eclectic spirit of international music does not need the paper thin, two dimensional tuxedo sincerity dominant at the Brit Awards. Everyone present tonight is here to have a good time and congratulate their peers and colleagues with sincere hugs and handshakes.

And so to the winners: Best New Festival goes to End of the Road and, as the team enter the stage, host Barry Peters unleashes a rendition of the Boyz 2 Men classic. Nice. Best Breakthrough Act goes to The Kooks, who according to Barry, entered the music scene as "a right kick in the fanny". An apt description, though whether the band would appreciate such a reference remains to be seen. Maybe an analogy on big hair would have been more appropriate. Double act Double Penetration (The Cuban Brothers in yet another guise) leap on stage dressed in pink and black spandex, and proceed to whirl about through a myriad of questionable dance moves. Think homo-erotically charged BBC Childrens' television presenters.

Best Innovation Award goes to the Carling Cold Beer Amnesty. The Prodigy, landing Best Dance Act, are unable to attend, but have an email acceptance read out. The wonders of modern technology. Best Pop Act (and this was something of a "What the fuck?!"award), goes to Girls Aloud who unfortunately could not attend. Absolute pity, as it would have been a real privelage to have the opportunity to drunkenly seduce Cheryl Tweedy. A rather sheepish V Festival representative takes to the stage to collect the award.

The three major awards - Best Small Festival, Best Medium Festival and Best Large Festival - go to Summer Sundae, Bestival and T in the Park respectively. Three hugely different events that truly encompass the diversity and incredible magnitude of the British festival scene.

Rob Da Bank summed it up after accepting his award on behalf of Bestival, telling VF: "Three years ago we drank too much red wine and came up with the idea of a festival ... three years later and we've drunk too much red wine again and we're winning awards..for the second year!

"Thanks a mill to Virtual Festivals for putting them on, to everyone whos worked on Bestival so manically the last 3 years and the beautiful public who voted. Long live the independent festival!"

Roll on 2007: a new summer of mud, sun, music and fun. A new crop of festivals will be born, and new festival goers will be created throughout the United Kingdom. The UK Festival Awards 2007 will beback to celebrate all the blood sweat and tears that go into making our events the best in the world. It's gonna be huge. See you at the front.

Read about the UK Festival Awards from the perspective of VF's Editor HERE.

Find out whothe big winners wereHERE.

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