Music Reviews

Sziget Festival, Budapest – The Review

Sziget is a week-long festival which takes place during August in the beautiful city of Budapest, Hungary. Sziget was founded 26 years ago based on the concept of a ‘’dream nation’, celebrating all cultures and people across Europe and complete freedom without prejudice or exclusion.

One of the many great things about Sziget is what it stands for. Sziget puts a strong emphasis on and supports the ‘take a stand’ movement, which encourages social cohesion, promoting awareness and tolerance for all cultures, genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, colours and origins, striving to make the world a better place for everybody.

As well as this, importance is placed upon environmental awareness, specifically with a newly-introduced re-usable cup system. Cups are 450 HUF, approximately £1.25, and can be exchanged for a clean one at any bar at any point (they also make great souvenirs to take home with you). You will also only get a straw if you ask for one, due to the harm they have on the environment. On top of this, you can even catch a giant street theatre performance, ‘As The World Tipped’, by the Wired Aerial Theatre, confronting one of the planets most prevalent issues as it tells a powerful tale of ecological crisis.

The festival’s location is easily accessible, with shuttle buses running to and from the airport, a Sziget boat service, and several forms of public transport which are easy to navigate and extremely cheap, working out at under £1 for any single journey.

The line-up, spanning endless different genres and cultures, had something for everybody. Main stage headliners included Kendrick Lamar, Gorillaz, Lana Del Ray, Mumford & Sons, Dua Lipa and Arctic Monkeys, with the nearby Mastercard Stage hosting other popular artists such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Everything Everything, Slaves, Wolf Alice, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Goo Goo Dolls, Nothing But Thieves and Gorgon City.

Aside from these stages, there was vast range of other places to watch all kinds of music, such as the World Music Stage, showcasing different styles of music from all around the world, the Music Box, offering acoustic sets from up and coming artists across the globe, the One-Love Afro-Latin-Reggae Village, the Bacardi Arena, providing dance tunes from the likes of Flux Pavillion, Jamie Jones and What So Not, and of course the Colosseum, which never slept and was the perfect spot for a two-stepping boogie into the early hours of the morning.

“Alex and the boys, cool as ever, played a seemingly chilled out yet mesmerising set”

Sziget was an amazing festival from start to finish, though there were several highlights for me. First of all, Kendrick Lamar. Despite leaving the crowd waiting for over an hour, his performance was not in any way reduced in entertainment value as he put on an extremely lively performance, complete with incredible visuals which captivated the audience whilst he let the lyrics do the talking.

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard also played an extremely high energy, crazy set that didn’t seem to stop for even a second from the moment they started playing, creating a hypnotic trance-like feeling. Slaves definitely hold a spot in the highlights, with a highly engaging performance as they gave a bit of a back-story to each song and excited the crowd when they picked audience members to come on stage with them to do the ‘Cut And Run’ dance. And of course, the grand finale of the festival, the Monkeys. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Arctic Monkeys’ set, and how they would balance new and old material, but Alex and the boys, cool as ever, played a seemingly chilled out yet mesmerising set with the perfect blend of new music as well classics such as ‘I Bet That You Look Good On The Dance Floor’ and ‘Teddy Picker’.

Beside the music, you can find plenty of other entertainment at Sziget, such as dance workshops, yoga sessions, TedX talks, comedy shows, arts and crafts stands, and even their very own Cirque Du Sziget. An especially entertaining performance was ‘FAMEFatale’ in the Magic Mirror tent, a show combining cabaret, new circus and dance. The fact that Sziget is on an island also means it even has its own pebbled ‘beach’, complete with a cosy chillout zone decked out with pillows and mats (perfect for napping away those hangovers), food stands, several bars, and music playing throughout the day and night.

One of the most appealing things about the festival, as a student (trying to be) on a budget, is its low cost. With 7 days of music, and an endless list of other kinds of entertainment and things to do, the cost of a 7 day ticket for £306 is great value for money. As well as this, you won’t face the horrendous drink prices that you do at UK festivals, with a pint costing the equivalent of just under £2 (!!!), and cocktails costing around £6, which isn’t bad at all considering a single measurement in Budapest is 40ml!

For added ease, attached to the Sziget wristband is a small contactless card to be used for cashless payment, which saves carrying all your cash about with you. These cards can easily be topped up with cash or card at one of the many Festipay top-up points on site, and any money that isn’t used can be refunded to you in cash at the end of the festival.

Another addition to the endless list of amazing things about Sziget is the food options. Cuisines from all over the world are offered, such as Italian, Thai, Chinese, Greek and Mexican, and if you have any dietary requirements such as vegetarian, vegan or gluten free, you will not miss out. As well as several gluten free stands, there were a range vegan trucks offering options such as vegan gyros, an array of vegan burgers, vegan corn dogs and even a vegan ‘steak’ sandwich. My personal favourite was ‘Pizza XXL’, where you could get a slice of pizza for the equivalent of only £2.20, and it really was XXL.

“Sziget festival is everything you could possibily want from a festival and more”

This self-proclaimed island of freedom and love was everything it says on the tin, there was the most amazing atmosphere throughout and everybody was so friendly. You’re pretty much guaranteed to make friends with people from all around the world, I definitely made friends with some amazing people that I will without a doubt be seeing in the future. Sziget festival is everything you could possibly want from a festival and more, and for that reason I have to give it a 10/10. The first line up announcement for next year will be in September, with ticket sales following shortly after in October, so keep an eye out and go check out this incredible festival if you get the chance!


Alana McKenna

Featured image and all article images courtesy of Alana McKenna. 

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