Written by Jane Lawrence
Holy Sziget! This isn’t just a festival, it’s a lifestyle. For reasons listed below, you NEED to make this Budapest gem a priority this summer.
1. IT’S ON AN ISLAND
They have their own freakin’ island. In the middle of Budapest’s Danube River sits a little land of goodness dubbed the “Island of Freedom”…and they mean it ! You can set up shop any where you like, so whack up that bivouac under some shade, swing your hammock between two trees, or even assemble your deck chair right next to the speakers if loud is how you like it.
2. SOUVENIRS OF DREAMS
Upon entry, festival goers receive their very own ‘passport’ that doubles as a programme of acts from each stage and a schedule of endless activities. You can even get your photo printed and laminated on to it for free! Get your passport stamped at each zone or village, and once you’ve collected them all, you can exchange it for a “green card” to become a proper Szitezen of the Island of Freedom.
3. CONSISTENTLY GOOD LINEUPS
We mean really, really good line-ups. Four headliners take the main stage on each of the 7 days, and countless more during the day at one of the 60 other stages. Yes that’s right, 60 other stages! They’ve got something for any and all music tastes: groove to Latin/African Reggae in it’s own village, or explore the Jazz, EDM, Rock or Alternative options elsewhere. There’s even a stage dedicated to tribute bands. Last year saw the likes of Ellie Goulding, Florence and the Machine, Kings of Leon, Major Lazer, Martin Garrix, Rudimental, The Script, Avicii and my personal favourite, Robbie Williams. This year is JUST as good, pulling names like Rihanna, Sia, Muse, David Guetta, Bastille, John Newman, Jess Glynne and countless more.
4. DRINK BEER IN THE AIR
Sziget has its very own sky bar. Clink your glasses high(er) into the air and observe the festival from 50 metres above. Literally raised up on a crane in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, you’ll have the best seats in the house. And don’t worry, you’ll be strapped in.
5. THEY KNOW THAT TIME IS PRECIOUS
Headline acts are perfectly staggered throughout the days to ensure you don’t miss a second of the action, preventing you from being forced to make sacrifices. Wander from one stage to another at your own pace, with time to grab a bite to eat and attend a fire spinning party or a yoga session on the way.
6. CHEAP PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SPECIFICALLY FOR SZITIZENS
Inexpensive transportation means you can explore all of what Budapest has to offer, or perhaps escape the city to refresh a few supermarket supplies. If you’re staying in Budapest instead of camping, this makes the daily commute to the Island of Freedom super simple (though I highly recommend the camping experience). The Sziget-Budapest Citypass is a specifically designed season ticket for festival goers to use during their stay, offering free transportation, entry to one of the famous Turkish spas, and more discounts to attractions around the city. It takes about 20 minutes and costs about 550 Florint (approx 2 Euros). Well organised and well worth it!
7. PART MUSIC FESTIVAL, PART FOOD FESTIVAL
The food at Sziget is amazing. Countless vendors boast a feast of international delights ranging from BBQ meats, burgers, paella, kebabs, pizza, crepes, flatbread, soup, pressed juice, Chinese and lots more. This spread alone almost makes the ticket worth it. Don’t forget to try some traditional Hungarian eats as well!
8. SHOWS WITHIN SHOWS WITHIN A FESTIVAL
There is so much going on, I wonder how someone could possibly get around everything during the 7 days. A must-do is the Cirque de Sziget, an epic circus display within an already epic festival. It’s almost too much! Crazy costumes, comedy, acrobatics and overall quirkiness all mix together and involve the crowd. If you need a rest from raving, the fest also offers the opportunity to watch some critically acclaimed Hungarian movies (with English subtitles, of course) or maybe some TedX Talks.
9. INCREDIBLE ART INSTALLATIONS
Sziget and the Island of Freedom are both visual and audible masterpieces. Installations dot the land, offering colourful sculptures and projects to explore and interact with. Combined this with stunning light shows, and you’ll never know what awaits around the corner. Art is supplied by local and international talent, and carries positive messages like happiness, joy, friendship and unity. Feast your eyes, ears, and heart!
10. ACTIVITIES, ACTIVITIES AND MORE ACTIVITIES
I have never seen any kind of event host such an extensive timetable of activities outside the standard musical entertainment. To name a few…
- An Art Zone with art and crafts booths for things like sculpting, tote bag making, body painting, stencil spray and other unusual offerings.
- A SportZone with every kind of court, table or field you could ever want. You could spend a whole day here playing foosball, volleyball, high ropes or bungee jumping (that last one is for you, adrenalin junkies).
- A zone dedicated to traditional board games, the best kind of games! I personally would love nothing more than to play a game of Backgammon, Rummikub or Battleships during my time at a festival, but if that’s not for you, there’s always the Poker or Chess tournaments.
Despite so many things going on around you, Szitizens are known for being chilled out beings, whether they’re spending their days in precarious yoga positions or sipping on craft beer down on the beach. Will you be one of them? Buy your tickets HERE.