Weather: 🌞 🌞
Novelty factor: 🌈 + ♭ + 🎸 + 🍭 + 🍹
Aptly name The Island of Freedom, Sziget festival is Hungary’s very own answer to Glastonbury. The week-long hippie fest sprawls out over the entire Obudai Island, located on the Danube River in the heart of Budapest. Unlike other festivals Sziget lives up to its 24 hour guarantee, with music and mayhem spanning over 7 full days.
A myriad of music and performance acts from all over the world slayed the various stages of Sziget this year, making it the most something-for-everyone line up of the all the summer festivals. Although the majority of headline acts hailed from the UK – Florence & the Machine, Alt-J, Ellie Goulding – global chart toppers such as Avicii, Major Lazer and Kings of Leon were amongst the other famous faces gracing the majestic main stage.
For music lovers, this is undeniably the place to be, but the beauty of this set up is that should you end up so wasted you miss all your favourites (easily done considering the high 30’s temperature and bargain buckets of lethal cocktails) you could still have the best week simply wandering around, feasting your eyes on all the island has to offer.
Organisers successfully created a magical gypsy community, intricately decorated pathways and cleverly crafted arenas created the feeling we were wandering around a makeshift village like characters in The Beach. I’ve never seen fairy lights be put to such good use.
I think one of the biggest letdowns of any festival can be the realisation that, having forked out for a ticket after spotting your favourite artist on the line up, your beloved band are only permitted a naff twenty minute slot, their set cut-short by time restraints put in place to allow for an extensive show for the headline act. Refreshingly, this is not the case at Sziget. Each and every artist, on every stage and tent, is scheduled to be on for a full one hour and thirty minutes. Music is really at the heart of this festival and we took full advantage.
Being a natural scrimper, I managed to do Sziget on a pretty low budget, but taking into consideration that not all people are as comfortable with slumming it as I am, I would say the full seven days would cost the average person no more than £600. This accounts for flights, accommodation AND festival ticket.
This might seem too good to be true, but honestly the best thing is that everything inside the festival gates is an absolute steal. Bottles of water are the equivalent of about 50 pence, beers are roughly £1.20 and generously poured alcoholic cocktails are no more than £3.00. As a British festival attendee this may sound inconceivable but the rumours are true, it is as cheap as chips in there.
As you’d expect, airlines don’t miss a trick and ticket prices sky rocket across the board for the week of the festival. However, this shouldn’t deter you as we still managed to find a return flight for under £200 each. Besides, this is the most amount of money you will be spending on anything for the whole week.
Even the tickets are super affordable and considerably cheaper than any weekend festival in the UK:
7 day pass: 219 euro (£169)
5 day pass: 169 euro (£123)
Day passes: 60 euro (£43)
On top of that, camping is included, although I would highly recommend staying on Margaret Island or in the city centre of Budapest unless you are prepared to be fried alive in your tent. Spending that little bit extra for accommodation is worth it. Taxis are super cheap and so well organised, you won’t have to wait in a queue for longer than ten minutes, even at the busiest times.
Photo: László Mudra – Rockstar Photographers – http://www.facebook.com/festivalphotographers
Surprisingly there were hardly any Brits which was quite refreshing as we are infamously lame when faced with the exotic combination of extreme heat + free-poured spirits. There were instead heaps of Aussie’s, Dutch, German and of course Hungarian. There was such a noticeably feel-good vibe to every crowd we found ourselves in, in fact this was the case everywhere. Everyone seemed incredibly laid back, there purely to have fun and listen to good music.
SIDENOTE: for anyone like me who is prone to needing to pee an inconvenient amount of times when drinking, the toilet facilities at this festival were above and beyond. Like seriously, it’s peeing paradise, no queues and their are toilet attendants in little huts handing out FREE LOO ROLL.
Highlights (other than the free loo roll)
The ‘Luminarium’ – AKA the adult bouncy castle. This impressive art installation was open all hours but had a fifteen minute time limit in place, probably to prevent exhausted campers falling asleep in there. The ultimate chill spot.
A Crowd Surfing First – We spotted this guy during Major Lazer’s unbelievable set (maybe my favourite of the week) and I’m so glad someone captured it. I feel like this photo perfectly epitomises the crowd mentality at Sziget and it makes my heart burst.
Florence & the Machine – So I can’t guarantee she will be there again next year, but Florence was undeniably a huge highlight. The coolest thing about her performance was witnessing firsthand how insanely popular she is in every European country, not just homeland.
As promised she played all her staple songs, but even her most recent release What Kind of Man from her latest album was met by equal enthusiasm and high energy. Flo absolutely killed it, but having her headline on the Tuesday was perhaps an error of judgement by organisers, as she set the standard ridiculously high so early on in the week.
I think I’ve just about covered everything. Suffice to say I can’t recommend this festival more highly, all that is left to say is that you’d be mad not to consider this for next summer!
Photos & Video: courtesy of the Sziget Festival Official website – http://szigetfestival.com