Festivals of all sizes were recognised at the 13th annual event in Groningen, the Netherlands.
The first day of the Netherlands’ major music industry event Eurosnic Noorderslag (ESNS) kicked off in Groningen with a wide array of music acts, as well as holding the 13th annual European Festival Awards.
Celebrating the best of music festivals across the continent in 2023, the ceremony took place at the Oosterpoort in Groningen.
The three top festival awards – Best Major Festival, Best Medium-Sized Festival and – Best Small Festival – were all awarded to worthy winners.
Hurricane Festival in Germany won for Best Major.
Operating since 1997 in Scheeßel, where previous huge names played in 1973 and 1977, Hurricane has grown to an 80,000 person capacity and last year had Billy Talent, Muse and Queens of the Stone Age on the line-up alongside other rock acts both international and domestic.
Pohoda Festival in Slovakia won for the Best Medium-Sized category.
Pohoda had previously won the Take A Stand Award and the European of The Award For Excellence And Passion at 2018’s awards and the Green Operations award in 2017. With acts like Central Cee, Caroline Polachek and Jamie XX, Pohoda swings way above its weight for its modest capacity.
For Small Festival, Maifeld Derby in Germany took home the gong.
Set on a horse-racing track and catering to around 5,000 revellers, Maifeld Derby still managed to pull in an incredible 2023 line-up including Bat For Lashes, Death Grips, Phoenix, Loyle Carner, Interpol and M83.
2023’s line-up of the year went to the UK’s Glastonbury Festival. Despite Euronews Culture and co-organiser Emily Eavis’s criticism of headliners (Elton John, Arctic Monkeys and Guns N’ Roses) not representing female acts, the west country festival always presents a huge array of musical artists, alongside comedians, circus acts and many more, making it a somewhat deserving win.
We’re still waiting on Eavis to confirm Madonna will headline 2024’s event.
Hungary’s much lauded Sziget Festival took home the Take A Stand Award, which recognises the festival’s work to prioritise political and social action during the event.
Tamás Kádár, the festival’s CEO said: “Sziget has been representing these values from the very beginning, standing up for acceptance, tolerance and individual freedom. For more than a decade, these principles, the values that form the DNA of Sziget, have been embodied in the Island of Freedom and Love Revolution slogans, but they have also been the pillars of our programming and communication for 30 years.”
Both Glastonbury and Sziget made it onto our Unmissable 2024 European Music Festivals picks, which you can check out here.
Elsewhere, the Lifetime Achievement award went to Ruud Berends.
Between 2002 and 2023, Berends held numerous roles in running ESNS, acting as head of conference since 2017.
Berends parted ways with ESNS in 2023 over creative differences to continue his work as the co-founder and Head of Agenda of the International Festival Forum (IFF), CEO of Network Music, and one of the busiest people in the Dutch music scene. Despite his departure from ESNS, there’s clearly no bad blood as Berends received a standing ovation when picking up his prize.
Event Safety Award went to OpenAir St. Gallen in Switzerland, while Green Operations Award went to Boom Festival in Portugal.
Eric van Eerdenburg, the director of the huge Lowlands Festival in the Netherlands won this year’s Award for Excellence and Passion. Van Eerdenburg has run the festival since 2000 as it grew to become one of the country’s most notable music events.
The awards show saw performances from Irish band Kingfisher, Polish artist Berry Galazka, and English band Picture Parlour.
Other category winners included South Korean K-pop group Balming Tiger winning for Best Newcomer, Tom Schroeder from Wasserman Music winning Agent of the Year, Germany’s Heroes & Hype Festivals & Unilever Axe winning the Brand Activation Award, and Alter Art winning Promoter of the Year.