As is tradition, Eurosonic Noorderslag 2017 kicked off with two award shows: the European Border Breaker Awards and the European Festival Awards.  

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European Festival Awards - Honoring Sziget's  Daniel Panaitescu

Glastonbury’s Ben Challis – who unexpectedly returned as moderator, despite announcing to step down last year – took the stage and opened the eighth European Festival Awards.

The first award, best small festival, went to Snowbombing from Austria. Spanish festival Primavera Sound won best lineup. The brand activation award, which was handed out for the first time this year, went to Pukkelpop/UCLL/ENECO for a smart energy grid, employed at Pukkelpop 2016.

The agent of the year award, which was decided by a jury club of 25 established festivals, went to Natasha Bent, who couldn’t be there herself. So her boss Rob Challis, who incidentally was also nominated, picked it up for her. 


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Natasha Bent

“As a Glastonbury festival veteran, the idea of an indoor festival is wonderful,” said Ben Challis, introducing the next category, best indoor festival, which went to Germany’s Reeperbahn Festival.

Mad Cool Festival from Spain won best new festival, Sziget Festival, which featured MuseRihanna and The Chemical Brothers Aug. 10-17, was selected as the artists’ favorite festival. Muse was named headliner of the year.

As usual, the winner in this category was absent from the show. The health and safety innovation award went to Germany’s Southside, which experienced particularly bad weather in 2016. What made the jury choose Southside was their simple idea to tell festivalgoers with a spare space in their car to flash their lights, indicating that shelterless visitors could join them. “It was the most challenging and toughest season we ever had,” FKP’S Stephan Thanscheidt said when he accepted the award.

Switzerland’s Paleo Festival Nyon took home the best medium sized fesitval award. Shambala, which was 100 percent renewably energized and used no plastic in 2016, was given the green operations award, which is made of plastic. Alter Art from Poland was named promoter of the year. “We are all competing here, but we are such good friends,” CEO Mikolaj Ziolkowski told the audience when he picked up the award.

The coveted best major festival award went to Belgium’s Rock Werchter.

Promoter Herman Schueremans couldn’t be present to deliver one of his legendary speeches.

The award for excellence and passion went to Yourope general secretary and head of OpenAir St. Gallen Christof Huber.

Referring to the current state of the world, he said festivals “should lead the revolution again. We should actually take a stand.”

Fruzsina Szep of Lollapalooza Berlin gave a heartfelt eulogy for Daniel Panaitescu, who passed away in a car accident last year and was honored with the lifetime achievement award. The entire audience were on their feet to honor the Sziget legend.

Dua Lipa, whose career began a year earlier at Eurosonic Noorderslag, was named newcomer of the year. The London singer also won the public choice online voting at the European Border Breakers Awards.

The other winners were selected based on their airplay, sales, live performances in Europe as well as the position in the European Border Breakers Charts, which ranks tracks from around Europe based on airplay outside the act’s country of origin.

This year’s recipients are Alan Walker (NO), Jaakko Eino Kalevi (FI), Namika (GER), Hinds (ES), Filous (AT), Jain (FR), Natalie La Rose (NL), Walking on Cars (IE) and Era Istrefi (AL).