Belgian festivals emerged as the big winners at the first ever European Festival Awards, bagging four of the eight public-voted categories as well as one voted by an industry panel.

The awards were held on the opening night of European music conference and festival Eurosonic at the Grand Theater in Groningen, the Netherlands (Jan. 13).

In total, Belgium was awarded best medium-sized festival for Dour Festival, best small festival for Cactusfestival, best new European festival for Openfields Festival and best line-up for Rock Werchter, which featured acts including Coldplay, Metallica, Oasis, the Killers and the Prodigy in 2009. Poland's Heineken Open'er Festival won best major festival.

In artist-related categories, Coldplay's "Viva la Vida" fought off competition from Lily Allen's "Fuck You" and Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" to be named festival anthem of the year. U.K. acts the Prodigy and White Lies took out best headline artist and best artist newcomer respectively.

Rock Werchter also won artists' favorite festival in the panel-voted categories, alongside Norway's Öya Festivalen for green 'n' clean festival, Live Nation Belgium's Herman Schueremans (the man behind Rock Werchter's double win) for promoter of the year and Jan Smeets, founder of Pinkpop in the Netherlands for the lifetime achievement award.

The awards featured performances from Swedish rocker Adiam Dymott and up-and-coming U.K. act Band of Skulls, and were hosted by music journalist Allan MacGowan.

The European Festival Awards are a joint venture between Festival Awards Ltd., the team behind the U.K. Festival Awards, and European festival association Yourope.

Christof Huber, general secretary of Yourope, tells Billboard.biz it was a pleasing first-year result. "We're quite happy with how it all went," he says. "We've had a lot of really positive feedback, everyone liked the evening and we feel it was a good starting point." He adds that it would make "perfect sense" for the awards to return to Eurosonic in 2011.

More than 100,000 votes were cast by fans via European festival portal Virtual Festivals Europe while the industry panel contained a mix of journalists, booking agents, managers, artists and promoters.

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