Search for...

Festival Congress – what we learned from the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) flagship event.

By Alex Hirst |
Experiential |
Friday, November 3rd, 2017

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) held its flagship Festival Congress event earlier this week in Cardiff. This annual event promotes the largest gathering of festival industry professional’s to be involved in the unique congregation of the independent festival community.

The two-day conference and independent Festival Awards is a ‘must attend’ date in the festival and live music calendar. It is renowned for debating key industry-wide issues, providing enlightening workshops and hosting illuminating speakers.

Our colleagues Lydia and Jo attended the event, gaining some strong insight into the future trends for the festival industry.

Key discussions involved the progression of festivals creating engaging experiential experiences and visually attractive builds to entice customers rather than selling tickets on the headline act alone. There was a strong emphasis on improving sustainability practices, how to effectively deal with a crisis and how to improve digital marketing activity to attract the right audience.


The AIF focused significantly on their Safer Spaces at Festivals’ campaign in a bid to raise greater awareness about sexual violence. The emphasis was on education, communicating a clear message to festival goers of the no tolerance approach with an ultimate aim of tackling the issue, by creating safe spaces within festivals.

‘Brave New Worlds’ provided industry insight into the creative production, visual arts and creating experiences that make each festival unique and how audiences’ are no longer looking to attend predominantly for the headline acts. Going forward festival organisers will be challenged with providing artistic, immersive and imaginative experiences.

Digital marketing trends were also hot on the agenda; discussions took place around utilising social media platforms and how to effectively market festivals to customers before during and after the show, stressing the importance of creating relevant and targeted content to target markets.

A strong emphasis was put on festivals striving to be greener. The ‘Waste Not Want Not’ session focused on sustainability. The panel discussed how to successfully run a festival on minimal waste and showed how recent campaigns have helped improve their own footprint while educating festival-goers.

Chris Johnson from the Shambala Festival demonstrated how they are big advocates on the subject holding the approach of “We would rather spend your money on music and art than waste and landfill tax”. They have done this by incorporating a bring a bottle campaign and reusable bar cups aimed at eradicating disposable plastics. Festival-goers are also charged a refundable recycling deposit of £10 when they arrive. They are given two bags (Green and Grey) encouraging them to recycle their waste during the festival. As an incentive for doing so, they receive their £10 back if they sort and distribute their rubbish into the relevant bins.

The event was a huge success and extremely informative to all who attended. AIF General Manager Paul Reed said: “The Festival Congress is an invaluable forum to debate the issues, challenges and opportunities facing the festival sector”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Submitted by Karin Brown

2024-01-09 16:50:27

Hello, please confirm the cost for a gantry header, size 12m x 2m. Many thanks Karin Brown Orkney Media Group Ltd

Submitted by Sarah Collinson

2021-05-20 09:35:52

Apparently I need to write more words here to test this.