Heard of it before? If not, this is most definitely for you.
In the beautiful city of Budapest, lays the island of Obuda, which turns into an island of freedom for seven days quenching all kinds of festival goers thirst. I have visited the festival twice and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a perfect week off, enjoying your favorite bands live in action, while also exploring and experiencing a different kind of world that feels like an accomplishment as much as fun by the end of it.
How to Enjoy the Sziget Festival
The festival is best experienced while camping, that said, staying at a Hostel/Hotel gives you the luxury of going back to a clean toilet and a warm shower. It is a trade-off between comfort and deeper festival experience, I have been to the festival two times, staying in a Hostel and Camping the other time. I stayed for all the 7 days on both the occasions, Yes! it's worth it.
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Staying outside the Sziget Festival
While staying outside the festival, I spent most of my days exploring Budapest, eating food from the city and heading over to the festival around sometime in the afternoon. Budapest is an exciting and happening destination on its own and there is a lot of things to do, especially the Parliament, the Ruin pubs, the magnificent architecture and the natural thermal spring baths. During that visit, I loved the city so much that I skipped the festival for a couple of days and just enjoyed the city, which also has a great nightlife.
Camping at the festival
During the second visit, camping on the island turned out to be a richer experience, but also a much more difficult one. You are given a Sziget passport when you enter the festival and you have all kinds of activities to participate in, where you earn a stamp as you visit a particular area of the Island or perform a certain task (Felt a lot like playing Pokemon again!).
I realized that I could not get all the stamps on my passport even after 7 days, and saw another side of the festival which did not really make me miss the already amazing Budapest City.
The Camping days usually begins with me waking up due to the people talking around my tent, and the adventure begins, we camped closer to the main stage and there were quite a lot of mechanized toilets, which were cleaned regularly. They also had charger plugs for trimmers, which were mostly used to charge phones by ‘Szitizens'.
The biggest struggle is taking a shower, as the queues can be quite long and this whole process of getting ready takes about an hour, though the showers are pretty good and some do have warm water facilities. The next part of the day is usually finding your friends or going alone to explore the Island, the island is quite big and get tricky to follow the map. There are a lot of campers who prefer to sleep or just chill around their tents, let's say I wanted to experience more of the Island.
The Sziget Beach
This is a hidden treasure on the island, I managed to visit it only once during my first visit, but I was there almost every day during my second. It offers beautiful views, Shisha (Water pipe), non-alcoholic drinks, mats and pillows for sleeping and free yoga classes and massages everyday.
This place also turned out into a haven for people this year, as it touched forty degrees in Budapest during the Sziget festival and many preferred sleeping here by the beach. You could find me lying here on most days doing nothing but sipping my Chai.
You are supposed to enter this place with a question in mind and you are asked to perform a few activities and answer some questions to exit the lab with a clarity over the question in your mind. It was an interesting experience for me, I got more questions than answers by the end of the visit.
The Foam Party
This is one of the new additions of Sziget – 2015, and it was a pool filled with foam and dancing music. With foam being poured over from the top every fifteen minutes, it was a place I often visited. It was the place to be, as it was also a perfect alternative to one of those long queued showers on the island.
The Street acts and Circus
Streets acts are to be found everywhere, from dances to magic tricks, you just need to keep your eyes open on this island. The Circus brings in some international talents from around the world to show some really cool acts. There is also a street theatre, which I could not make in time, but it seemed pretty cool, there is a lot of
There is also a street theatre, which I could not make in time, but it seemed pretty cool, there is a lot of non-music artists who are involved in this mainstream Music festival, which makes it very different from the conventional festivals.
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The Ability Park and LGBT Center
These two places make Sziget a friendly festival. At the Ability Park, Szitizens go through activities like Blindfold walking, using a wheelchair to play basketball and other activities to better understand the life of a differently able person and experience what it's like.
The place gave me a better perspective about the differently able and I just felt a lot more grateful for life. The LGBT center aka Magic mirror has regular sessions talking about LGBT issues and has acts performed by the community.
For more on Ability Travel Read: Unlimited Freedom – Travel in a Wheelchair
Among other numerous activities like Bungee jumping and The Giant wheel, there is a lot of artwork around designed by local artists and architects. You can basically do everything from yoga to play table tennis or solve some rubik's cube. Besides these, there are crowd themed Color, Confetti, Bubble and Balloon parties that happen everyday on the Main stage.
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The good bands usually play as the evening begins to kick in, so after a long day of exploring, we usually head off to the music stages to experience the big bands live. Last year had a great line up, with Blink 182, Queens of the Stone Age, Skrillex, Stromae and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis being my favorites.
This year, I was in more for the experience than the lineup, though there were some really cool performances from Robbie Williams, Avicci, Kings of Leon and Alt-J. One beer cost about 2 euros in the festival, it's about the same for a cold coffee as well, It’s pretty decent for a festival.
Many prefer going to the supermarket close-by called ‘Auchan' to get a cheaper meal or to buy some water, you can bring it into the festival. Auchan also sells some cheap tents, you could buy one of these, if you just want a tent for 7 days.
The Weather and struggles
It was burning for most of the days, and it was super dusty in the island. There were a lot of people coughing, it was quite difficult to breathe properly at a point, but I guess it's part of the experience. I would suggest bringing a mask along, which can be really helpful. It rained quite intensively on the last night of the festival, luckily I left by then, but camping after that would have been quite a mess.
Sziget is a festival that lets you experience a high-quality music festival in a completely different ambiance, It offers adventure, culture and some really good music, It can be a festival that you want it to be. I met some really cool people there, the weather and the living conditions pushed me.
But it was all part of an experience that I can never forget while not troubling my wallet too much.You will usually start the week with strangers and end with a family who you will want to visit again.
I got Szigeted, pretty much.
Watch My Experience at Sziget festival on Youtube here :
The Sziget Festival is held every August in Budapest and is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. For more information visit the Sziget Festival Website: A 7 Day Szitizen Prime Package costs 235€ and a 5 Days Sziget Festival Pass costs 199€
Vishanth primarily works as a Research assistant at The University of Gent. He likes to write about his travels and life experiences in general and is the creator of vishualization.com with a goal to inspire and be inspired. His recent interests include travelling alone and volunteering with animals and children. Follow his journey at vishualization.com or via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram