Sziget Music Festival
This Hungarian music festival is every year for a week in August; musicians and artists from all over the world gather on the Island of Freedom to showcase their talents to hundreds of thousands of festivals goers.
Summer festivals are rampant throughout Europe and it's not hard to feel slightly jealous when events like Tomorrowland and Ultra exist. If you're looking for summer gigs to add to your bucket list then this one should be in your top 5; Sziget is a music festival in Budapest, Hungary; hosted on an Island in the middle of the Danube River with over 1000 shows across 60 stages for 7 days straight it's easily one of the biggest events in Europe.
Every year artists flood the island to showcase their many talents at multiple venues which include the circus, theater and museum quarter. The shows continue on through the night with light displays and fireworks at the main stage.
I only attended for 1 day as we were on a tight schedule for Budapest and didn't want to miss out on the opportunities to see what else the city had to offer, but I made sure to explore as much of the Island as possible to get a taste of what everyone else would be experiencing with multi-day passes.
Music + Entertainment
This year saw musicians like Ed Sheeran and Foo Fighters mixing with acts like Post Malone, Florence + the Machine and Martin Garrix with Macklemore being a late addition. There is an endless supply of entertainment but not only in the form of sound waves; take a stroll through any field opening and you might find yourself walking into a magician act, yoga classes, a mid summer Christmas with Santa and an oversize bubble machine, countless artist areas and creations for you to explore and enjoy, and even a shoe shop where you could purchase canvas white shoes and paint the vision your LSD trip is giving you.
This is where all the big acts perform towards the end of the night, although placed on a large field this area becomes hectic before the last act and crowds end up spilling out towards the food service areas. Don't feel like you have to be upfront and centre to enjoy the music though, I felt myself getting stepped on, spilled on and smoke blown into my face but if it wasn't for the layers of dust my body was carrying I could have looked past all these things but instead we dug our way to the edge of the crowd and enjoyed Martin Garrix with enough space around me I could dance freely like the lunatic I am.
7 days is a long time to be partying for anyone (but that doesn't mean it can't be done). You can choose from 1 day tickets to multi-day passes so you can pick and choose the days that intrigue you the most. The line up comes out early so you have time to plan and book your adventure.
Tickets also don't sell out within minute like other festivals, we bought ours only a couple of months out and I think Sziget sold out of all tickets a couple of days before the week started, so no need to set your alarm for a ridiculous hour so you can nab yourself a ticket when they're released.
Camping is available on-site; you can choose from the free 'camp anywhere' option or pay to camp within certain sections of camping communities. Budapest is relatively cheap when it comes to off site accomodation so don't forget to check Air BnB, Booking.Com and Trivago for any gems that might pop up within the city centre or close to the Island. We scored an apartment in District V and easily made our way to the festival via taxi.
Getting There - Uber doesn't exist in Budapest and unfortunately most taxi services require advanced pre-booking. Szigets official website have a list of taxi agencies to use but make sure you check out the rate and cost a few days out so you aren't stuck with no transport.
Getting Out - At the entrance to the festival there is a taxi rank easily visible near the main road, taxi's line up here towards the end of the night waiting to take anyone back to the city so there is no need to pre-book a taxi to head home.
Like most other festivals these days the Island of Freedom also doesn't allow for cash to be exchanged. Payments can be made from your wrist band which can be topped up at any of the dedicated kiosks within the island or you can pay for food and beverages with your contactless Mastercard.
Hydration + Health
Water - The heat in Budapest can reach ridiculous temperatures, we were there on a day it was 32 degrees celsius and I can't remember the amount of times I went to the bathroom to refill our water bottles. The water on the island is the freshest I have had while in Europe so don't be afraid to down some free H2O with your reusable water bottle.
Food - Whatever you feel like there is probably a food outlet for it, popcorn, pizza, hot chips, crepes, burgers you name it, they probably have it! The food is a bit more expensive than it is in the city so eat a good breakfast and/or lunch before arriving if staying off site, or even attempt to smuggle some snacks in if you can.
Alcohol - Just like the food it has a price mark up however still considerably cheaper than any bar I've been to back home. Cocktails, beers and mixes are all on offer so there are options for everyone.
Medic Tent - The only downside I found to this festival is there was only one medical tent and it was at the very far end of the island. We unfortunately ended up requiring medical help and I had to run in 30 degree heat for about 10 minutes before I found anyone qualified to assist. Not sure if this is usual procedure in Europe at big events but I know in New Zealand St Johns are dotted everywhere within stadiums and festivals which draw large crowds.
Hand Sanitiser - Unfortunately most of my trips to the toilet ended with me rinsing my hands with cold water and not much else, a lot of the hand wash or sanitiser stations had run out before nightfall, the toilets lucky stayed clean throughout the night but that still didn't stop me from thinking about the bottle of hand sanitiser I had sitting in my bag back at the apartment.
Bandanas - As green as the island is, it is also extremely dusty and sandy. You will notice if flicking through instagram pictures from Sziget a lot of people wearing bandanas around their neck or face; this is simply to save them breathing in any more dust than they need to, this accessory can also add to your outfit if you're planning some festi-wear
Wet Wipes - Budapests' temperature can easily reach over 30 degrees celsius in the summer; pair you're sweating with fine dust particles sifting through the air and you'll be feeling a little less than sparkling clean. Although wet wipes won't cure the muggy feeling they are better than nothing. Double down on some sanitiser wipes and you have yourself sorted if you cant find soap after using the toilet!
Sziget is called the Island of Freedom for a reason... WEAR WHATEVER YOU WANT. There was everything from simple shorts and shirts to an alien inspired g-string leotard and full on butterfly winged outfits. If you can't dress like an absolute maniac at a festival then where else will you do it?
This year I went for a mesh pair of pants paired with a black bralette and red bandana - simple yet effective.
Top tip: Don't be a silly bitch and wear heels, be practical with your footwear and search for sneakers or flat heeled boots that coordinate with your outfit.
Everyone thought bum bags/fanny packs were left back in 2002, but festival seasons have seen the slow but definite revival of the infamous pouch. As much as you cringe when you see family holiday pictures of both your parents rocking the sleek waist bag they were right when they said it's a practical option for carrying and storage, lucky for us these days there are endless options of colour and design to match your outfits. Get one of these bad boys and you might be confused for a drug dealer but you'll also 'thank your lucky stars' you have the ability to carry everything you need and want (including snacks for later).
There are a couple of kiosks dotted around the festival grounds where you can hire a portable charger for your phone, you have to pay a deposit but when you give it back at the end of the night you also get your money back. Keep returning it and switching it for a fully charged pack so you can keep Instagram and snapchat updated all night...
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