The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has announced the shortlist for the 2019 Independent Festival Awards, which will take place on November 6 in Sheffield as part of its sixth flagship Festival Congress.

This year’s winners will be announced during an awards ceremony hosted for the first time by actor, writer and comedian Thanyia Moore.

In a shake-up for the Independent Festival Awards, there are nine awards categories in total this year, designed to recognise success and innovation across the independent festival industry. These include Unique Festival Arena, Smart Marketing Campaign, Live Act of the Year and four new categories: European Festival of the Year, Backstage Hero, In On The Ground Floor (forward thinking artist booking) and Never Mind The Pollocks (best festival artwork).

The Smirnoff Arctic Disco at Snowbombing Austria, The Seaside Stage at Victorious, The Street at Beat-Herder, Elephant’s Grave at Nozstock and The Roadhouse at Black Deer Festival are all up for Unique Festival Arena this year.

The contenders for Live Act of the Year, presented in association with PRS for Music, are KOKOKO!, Yola, The Murder Capital, Black Futures, and Bloxx.

Elsewhere, Pete The Monkey (France), Snowbombing (Austria), Let It Roll (Czech Republic), Dunk! Festival (Belgium) and Blue Balls Festival (Switzerland) are all in the running for the inaugural European Festival of the Year award.

Nominees across other categories include Standon Calling, Barn On The Farm, Twisterella, Deer Shed and The Mighty Hoopla.

Paul Reed, CEO of the AIF, said: “We’re refreshing the Independent Festival Awards this year, with a new host and four new categories. The awards were set up as an irreverent alternative to other award shows, and the ultimate end of season celebration for the independent sector – so it’s important to keep moving.

“We’re delighted with the shortlist after receiving a record number of nominations from our members, proving there is no shortage of creativity and innovation in the independent festival sector. We’re doing even more with the production and theme of the awards this year to emphasise that festival feel – and we’ve introduced a European Festival of the Year category to demonstrate that, no matter what, the UK industry will remain a Europe-wide market and community.”

AIF has also announced the final Festival Congress schedule, including an opening keynote from Owen Kingston, artistic director of immersive theatre company, Parabolic Theatre.

 Kingston joins more than 45 speakers including previously announced Bing Jones (Extinction Rebellion), rock ‘n’ roll photographer Jill Furmanovsky, Bert Cole (Arcadia Spectacular), Rebecca Wrigley (Rewilding Britain), Chris Sheldrick (what3words) and many more, with panels and workshops on topics including sustainability, the nature of independence, volunteer management, festival apps and data, licensing, contingency planning and more.