The UK Festival Awards 2008

IndigO2, Greenwich, London. 30 October

The UK Festival Awards 2008

Photographer:Sara Bowrey

30 October 2008

Awards, ey? Love them or hate them they’re taking over the world. Gone are the days when the BAFTAs and Sports Personality Of The Year made up your awards year. Now there are hundreds of them, so much so that the backlash has welll and truly begun.

But those who hide behind computer screens bitching about award shows as they beat off to The Jonas Brothers are generally the ones who aren’t invited. And there’s a reason for that; they don’t really create anything. It’s an accusation that could have been levelled at us three years ago, which is why we put the wheels in motion to build something in homage to those who've made this country the world's best festival destination.

The UK Festival Awards is more than an awards show, it’s a celebration of the festival year just gone as well as a look forward to the next one. And if there was ever a need for the biggest party the festival industry has ever seen then this year was it. It also fits that Thursday’s awards should be preceded by the first ever UK Festival Conference, a chance for organisers to discuss ways to take the industry forward in the context of current challenges, ranging from environmental law to the credit crunch.

Now, for any festival fan reading this it must be easy to say: ‘Why should I give a flying monkey’s toss for the people who make loads of money out of me by selling me festival tickets.’ The answer is, they generally don’t make megabucks. Festival organisers rarely get rich and most, like you, spend their time festering in far off fields for the sheer love of it. Rob Da Bank and Michael Eavis, two of the big winners on the night, both recently admitted that their respective festivals made little profit in 2008 (in fact, Camp Bestival – winner of Best New Festival – will undoubtedly have lost money in its first year.)

So what better industry deserves a good knees up and awards show in recognition of such hard work and dedication to the cause? Remember, the lifespan of a successful festival demands year-round toiling towards one precarious weekend, a weekend when everything can go wrong, bankrupt even, depending on the weather, economy, roadworks, war or some other uncontrollable factor thrown in. What other industry would take such needless risks? Oh yeah that one, let’s celebrate them shall we? Or what about our ever-talented advertising execs, tonight snorting the cubicles to pieces down the road at the Media Week Awards?

Talking of toilets, what other festival show can boast a Best Toilets award? It was previously known as the Portaloo Sunset Award until Portaloo the company complained, forcing the change of name. Since then, The Big Chill has been victorious, picking up the gold rimmed gong twice in two years in recognition of its royal relief system. Another technology winner went to Standon Calling who picked up the Innovation Award for their underwater dance arena (no, we’re not entirely sure either but it sounds awesome.) But rather than go through each winner in turn – which you can for yourself HERE – we thought what better way to sum up and explain an awards show than to break it down into another awards show? So, the awards for the UK Festival Awards go like this...

Best Table – Biffy Clyro hands down. The Scottish rockers managed to perfectly blend the look of manicured demure with highlander hairy, clearly at home swimming in a sea of complimentary cider before they received a standing ovation for Best Rock Act. Man mountains indeed.

Best Joke – Compere Shaun Keavney was a bit of a swearer, and yes a few complaints were received, but the man is a breakfast show DJ on the BBC (and from Bolton) so the dirty jokes must all build up inside. Our favourite: “Pop is no longer a dirty word. Motherfucker, that’s a dirty word. Cock sucker, that’s two.” Of course we did have Jonathon Ross lined up but he pulled out last minute for some reason.

Rock’n’roll moment – Either the woman on table 26 who was violently sick over her table before the awards had even started, or the guy who had the bejesus beaten out of him by two twins in the car park for happy slapping his girlfriend in a drunken rage. We are proud of neither, nor should they be.

Worst loser – There were several people who properly kicked off due to not winning certain awards. Some later apologised (fair enough, we say, it was an emotional night) while others didn’t (fair enough, we say, you’re an emotional person). Either way it showed that people care about winning, which has to be wholesomely embraced.

Best stage show - Pete And The Pirates and Ocean Colour Scene both put on good shows but it was the Secret Garden Party's Napoleon Dynamite-like dance off which proved the highlight performance. A moonwalk here, a wiggle there, some kind of feral face mask and some glamorous suits and dresses. If only every award could be accepted by 20 people at a time.

Best speech – The Prodigy ‘sadly couldn’t be here because we’re doing something else’ but they did give a video speech in which they held aloft a lamp which they’d mistaken for their award. Must be all that frenetic dancing as young lads, all that jiggery movement of brain cells. Yes that.

So there you have it, the UK Festival Awards 2009 rocked. Michael Eavis picked up the Outstanding Contribution Award and Best Major Festival and (almost) everyone left happy. We can’t wait to do it all over again. Thanks to everyone for their support, for voting and for making it such a special occasion. Roll on 2009!


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