Welcome to the Island of Freedom!
Since 1993, more than two hundred thousand people gather in Budapest’s Old Buda Island, located right next to the city centre in the first week of August. For a span of seven days, these people enjoy tens of music performances, attend theatre and circus shows, taste international dishes and drinks, play sports and make friends. Sziget Festival, which will be held between 9-16 august this year, is celebrating its twenty fifth year.
There are multiple stages (including ones that are specifically dedicated to Hungarian music, jazz, blues, circuses, dance shows, reggae, EDM, etc.) but many famous artists make an appearance on the Main Stage, however, keep in my mind that it is possible to find new gems while wondering around smaller stages.
This year, there are names such as Pink (Wednesday, 21:30), Tom Odell (Thursday, 17:45), Wiz Khalifa (Thursday, 21:30), PJ Harvey (Friday, 19:30), Rita Ora (Saturday, 18:00), Macklemore& Ryan Lewis (Saturday, 21:30), The Chainsmokers (Sunday, 21:30), George Ezra (Monday, 16:00), Major Lazer (Monday, 21:30), The Kills (Tuesday, 16:00) and Alt-J (Tuesday, 19:30). The end show is again done by DJs. In 2017, Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike will be performing in the breathtaking event.
Other stages also offer fantastic performances brought to you by different bands from different genres. Groups like Pretty Reckless (Sunday 22:00, OTP Bank Stage by A38), Sunnery James& Ryan Marciano (Friday 02:30, Telekom Electronic Beats Arena), Goran Bregovic Wedding and Funeral Band (Saturday 21:30, World Music Stage by Ibis) and many more will appear. Don’t forget to check the time for the bands and make sure to keep in mind the distances between the stages if you don’t want to miss a performance!
Every day at 19:00, there is a small “party” at the Main stage. Last year, there were paint parties, balloon parties and flag parties. Basically, you gather with 50 thousand or more people and jump around with a blasting music. I recommend you to visit it at least once, especially the paint party, where you have a huge paint fight with strangers.
Like most festivals, Sziget offers accommodation for its attendees. You can get basic camping for free with your entrance ticket, where you bring your own tent and sleeping bag (or buy it for 89 Euros) and use the festival site’s toilet and shower facilities. If you want a more comfortable camping experience with space for your baggage, extra toilets and security, you can upgrade your ticket to deluxe camping. These camping sites are only available for those who have the tickets.
The sites have different locations around the islands and they are surrounded by different cuisines and different types of “hospitalities”. Alternativa site is known for its “Dolce Vita” feeling, Italian hospitality, an abundance of trees and the Light Stage located right next to it. Right next to Alternativa, there is the Apero site, with French hospitality, activities and a 24-hour DJ booth (this may not be a good thing if you want to sleep after 2 am). On the other side of the island, Siesta site with a shady and breezy area is available. There is also the Bridge site, which is located right next to the K Bridge entrance and the Sziget city centre.
Is Camping A Good Idea?
This is a very tricky question. The positive sides of camping are a lot: you get to meet new people around the world (People from 95 different countries attend to Sziget every year.), be extremely close to the venues, live the “festival life” and have a budget friendly stay. However, the appealing sides shouldn’t cover up the negative sides of staying in a tent. Even if you upgrade your camping site to one of the deluxe sites I mentioned earlier, you should understand that you will be using portable-potties, waiting at least an hour to shower, and waking up every time someone drunk passes by your tent screaming.
If you are afraid of insects, forget about camping, or else you will be awake at 3.30 am, waiting outside your tent in the pouring rain while your Dutch neighbours try to kill the earwigs inside your deluxe tent. Not the Dolce Vita life you think you’d have.
You can always stay in a hotel or Airbnb inside Budapest, the public transportation is quite easy. I wouldn’t recommend using CouchSurfing since the entire festival experience is tiring and I believe that you should have a bed to sleep in.
One of the best options for stay is hostels! They are both cheap and convenient for meeting new people. You can use hostelworld.com to look up available hostels. Though, I recommend the Sziget Hostel, located just outside the island (only 800 meters!). With a friendly staff and a budget friendly cost (19 euros for a night), it can turn your painful hungover mornings into nicer times.
If you still want to stay in the island, there are more expensive options. You can stay in the Flexotel Village (2 person, 895 Euros for a week) or in the PodPad village (2 person, 855 Euros for a week).
The Ultimate Packing List -What you REALLY need
- Toilet Paper: 9 out of 10 toilets in the island don’t have toilet paper. Make sure to have a roll with you on all times.
- Portable Charger: You will lose your friends and will have to call them to meet again.
- Sunglasses: The sun is even brighter when you are hungover.
- Flip flops: Whether you are staying in a hostel, or in a campsite, you should wear flip flops to the shower.
- Raincoat and boots: It rains in Sziget At least one day every year. The ponchos sold in the markets are very expensive, so make sure you are prepared.
- Eye mask: For sleeping in the afternoon.
For further information, check out Sziget Festival’s official page! Hope to see you this year!