The Sziget Festival, taking place on an island in the middle of the River Danube every August, has developed into one of the largest music and cultural events in Europe. And it’s still growing! Recent attendances at the summer festival have reached an estimated 400,000 visitors who have seen headline acts such as Snow Patrol, Placebo, Lily Allen, Manic Street Preachers, Miss Platnum, The Prodigy, The Ting Tings, Primal Scream and Fatboy Slim on the Main Stage.
Sziget has certainly come a long way since its inception as a local student event in 1993; now it even has its own ‘party train’ bringing festival goers across Europe to Budapest. In fact, it is reckoned that 50% of the total audience is comprised of people from outside Hungary.
Sziget is held on Óbudai-sziget, or Old Buda Island, a 266 acre site, creating its own festival town on the site of Budapest’s shipyard. There is a camp site at the festival as well as an area for caravans. Recently, a VIP camping ticket has been introduced which allows ticket holders, amongst other ‘extras’, to make full use of the outdoor swimming pool on the island. This pool used to be open to everyone during Sziget but overcrowding led to it being closed down until the introduction of this new scheme.
The island itself can be reached from Budapest by bridge, although some people prefer to make use of the local boat service. In the past, more ‘exuberant’ festival goers have tried to swim across but, in such a fast-flowing river as the Danube, this really isn’t to be recommended.
Budapest itself has become a very popular destination for visitors during recent years, as more and more people have recognized it as one of Europe’s most beautiful cities. In addition to the many wonderful buildings in the city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are also some stunning examples of modern architecture and, of course, the majestic Danube. A recent survey came to the conclusion that Budapest has the best quality of life of any city in central Europe and the 20 million visitors here each year will understand why.
Practical Budapest Information
Flights to the city’s international airport, Budapest Ferihegy, are plentiful with, amongst others, British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair and Jet2.com flying from various British airports. There are plenty of bus and train services into the city itself, where the internal public transport network includes a four line Metro system. The infrastructure of the city is completely adapted for tourists with a wide range of hotels and hostels.
The Sziget Festival takes place in August and will undoubtedly continue to develop its reputation as one of the biggest, friendliest festivals of the European circuit. Full details concerning tickets and the programme appear on the official Sziget website.