The gates to the Island of Freedom will open again this year. If you are still hesitating whether to come or not, wait no longer. Why? The passes are expected to be sold out by the month end. So what is awaiting you at the Sziget Festival 2016? Here are 10 reasons why you should not miss it this year!
1. Budapest and the Island
The Sziget Festival is hosted by Hungary’s capital – Budapest. A city that annually ranks among the best destinations to visit in Europe for its location, availability (name the low-cost airline, and for sure they serve Budapest), low prices and architectonic beauty. Sziget in Hungarian means an island, and surprisingly the festival takes place on one. It is called Obudai, and it is located in the middle of the Danube.
Unlike at other festivals, which are usually located far from the urbanised parts, you can quite easily reach the city centre of Budapest within 30 minutes. You are still in the city with all that this metropolis can offer, but at the same time, you are on an island that is separate from the heat and dust of the pearl on the Danube. The whole island is dedicated exclusively to the festival, and it takes no time to feel there like home. Why? Because Sziget is magic.
Last year, Sziget Festival attracted an impressive crowd of 441,000 people coming from 95 countries of the entire world. It is probably the most multicultural gathering of music and art lovers of the whole planet. Sziget won the Best European Major Festival award.
This year, the 24th Sziget Festival will open its doors in the period 10-17 August 2016 and the line-up is pretty impressive: Rihanna, Muse, David Guetta, Sia, Manu Chao La Ventura, Hardwell, The Chemical Brothers, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Bastille, Sigur Rós, The Last Shadow Puppets, John Newman, The Lumineers, Die Antwoord, SUM 41, Kaiser Chiefs, Parov Stelar, Nicky Romero, Crystal Castles, M83, Editors, Bloc Party, Chvrches, MO, Bring Me The Horizon, Skunk Anansie, Kodaline, Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg, and this is just a small fraction. Check out if your favourite band made it to Sziget Festival 2016.
3. Art, art, art
The line-up of Sziget Festival 2016 is very diverse and can speak to lovers of pretty much all music styles. But Sziget is not just music, but a parade of art and culture too! There is a section of the magical island devoted to Art, but the fun part is that you are surrounded by art wherever you go. The art comes in the form of used art, recyclables that got a second life meaning thanks to the crafty hands of local artists.
These pieces are always popular with the Szitizens, people of the Sziget Festival, and collect many selfies. Among last year’s favourites belong without a doubt the recycled dragon made of plastic bottles, the intergalactic robot and the wooden installations, be it the Colosseum, Easter eggs or swinging wooden horse.
The organisers of the Sziget Festival are every year encouraging young, talented artists to make the island a bit more magical than the year before, so even though you come for the first or 10th time to Sziget, you will always find something new and fascinating.
4. Inventive lights
The work with light is something truly exceptional. It will not only help you with navigation around the island at night, but it will also make you want to capture a shot of it. My personal favourites are the little aluminium foil coated stars and a disco ball that reflects light on these stars that reflect it further. Simple, yet very efficient.
The organisers need to make more parts of the island illuminated, because, during the year, the island serves as a park. So naturally people do not camp on it. To avoid darkness, they wrap light chains around tree trunks, hang umbrellas with light bulbs in the centre high above your head or have cute illuminated dresses. You just simply gotta see this for yourself!
5. Circus with humans, not animals
Did you love going to the circus when you were little? Sziget Festival every year features numerous theatrical and acrobatic performances, many of which are taking place in a grand circus tent, some shows are outside. Last year, the performances of Czech Cirk La Putyka were a true highlight of the whole Sziget Festival, and all their shows were full even though they had every day. When walking through the island, have your eyes open, because there are street performances everywhere. Last note, no animals get to participate.
6. Talks, debates and queer culture
Sziget Festival attracts every year people from all the corners of the world. They meet and celebrate humanity together regardless of their age, gender, background or religion. The stage Magic Mirror is very successful every year. It brings in not only queer performances but debates and award-winning movies to help you rest after the nights full of dance. In the evenings, the stage transforms into a massive travesty dance club with many breathtaking performances. Last year, special guests, Nadia and Masha from Pussy Riot, came and debated with the Szitizens. Sziget knows how to broaden one’s horizons and is not afraid to do it.
7. Hungarian culture
Sziget Festival takes place in Hungary, and although you do not need to master the language or know anything about this country, you can totally grab this knowledge while dancing with thousands of foreigners to Hungarian national folk dances. Although, the locals are being outnumbered at the Sziget Festival, the showcase of the Hungarian culture, including a stage dedicated to Hungarian bands, Hungaricum stage with traditional folk dances and various treats that you can come across to when on the island, work very well.
Hungarians are patriots, and they show it in the best way – as being fabulous hosts at this huge event. Hats off!
8. Thematic parties
Sziget Festival brings every day various thematic parties, to name a few, colour party, bubble party, confetti or balloon party. These bring people together to have fun, and they frame the start of the evening program on the main stage. It feels nice to be a part of the huge crowd and to get some fame by making it to the numerous pictures taken.
The whole Sziget Festival is not just about music but gives place also to NGOs to demonstrate their cause, because the Szitizens are open-minded people with devotion. It is always refreshing to meet young people helping out in these organisations. Be sure to reserve some time to walk through their stands, it can be truly inspiring and they always have some goodies.
Fancy a beach-like feeling? No need to rush off to the seaside, Sziget Festival offers a beach too, and it would not be a music festival if there would not be a stage with a DJ playing there. The island also has a swimming pool and for those that prefer the smell of burning wood and some guitar accompanied by singing voices will for sure like the fireplace stage.
And even more art…
Do you want to experience something visual and extraordinary? Then check out the Luminarium! This kaleidoscopic structure made of plastic is a real specialty of Sziget Festival. It is hard to describe what you will see with words. Pro tip: head to the Luminarium already during your first days at the festival, because the queues will always be there and they will only be getting longer towards the end of the festival.
DIY – be the artist at Sziget Festival
Fancy some yoga? Or feel creative? All these urges can be fulfilled thanks to the rich program. In fact, there is so much happening that you would not realise how fast the time passes, and it is quite sure that you will miss a great deal of it. There is just so much happening.
Made up your mind about becoming a Szitizen and joining the biggest celebration of freedom? Curious how will the Sziget Festival with the magical number 24 on the jersey look like? Or need more persuasion? Check out my diary from Sziget Festival 2015 and 2014 here. The 7-day and daily passes are still available.