Festival Review: Sziget, Budapest

I was excited to return to Óbuda Island in Budapest for the third year running to attend the Sziget (9-16 August 2017) for seven days of sunshine and spectacle.

As well as more than 10 music stages, Sziget promised a varied programme including theatre, dance, traditional Hungarian craft workshops and even an interactive games area focusing on helping people with disabilities.

Who goes to Sziget Festival?

Diversity is the heart and soul of Sziget Festival, with over 100 countries represented on the island. As well as Hungarians, who tend to purchase day tickets, the festival attracts hoards of ‘Szitizens’ from the Netherlands, France, Italy, Germany, the UK, and beyond. There were more than 1,000 Australians at Sziget this year: quite a journey to make for a festival!
Sziget Szitizens enjoying the festival (c) Andrew Moss

Accommodation

I opted to avoid camping at the festival and instead rented an apartment with a group of friends. This allowed me the opportunity to return home each night for a shower and a decent night’s sleep, and also meant I could catch the Sziget boat to the island each morning: a truly lovely way to start the festival each day.

The simplest way to rent an apartment in Budapest is through Airbnb, and if you book enough in advance you should be able to rent a lovely, air-conditioned apartment for peanuts. Our base was only a 10-minute walk from Sziget boat and housed 14 people, at the cost of £15 a night – bargain!

You can also book an inexpensive hostel in the ‘Pest’ side of the city. If you go down this route, make sure you check there is air conditioning in the bedrooms.

You can, of course, camp at the festival and there are plenty of shady spots to pitch your tent. There is also a VIP camping option, but if you’re willing to spend the extra cash I recommend you book an apartment or hostel in the city instead.

Food and Drink

During my previous trips to Sziget, the food was disappointing. There wasn’t that much variety and what was there was greasy and salty. This year there was a definite improvement, especially in the area near to the Hungarikum Village. I sampled some delicious Goulash Soup as well as a Russian dish called pelmeni: mixed pasta stuffed with beef and pork with sour cream and vinegar. The food options around the main stage were fairly uninspiring so I recommend branching out from the centre of the festival when you get peckish.

You can’t take in your own alcohol to Sziget. A beer or plastic cup of wine costs less than £3 while one of the festival’s signature cocktails is around £5.50. As with previous years, Sziget’s alcohol policy allows for a very jolly atmosphere without creating too many alcohol-related casualties.