Budapest’s world-famous week-long festival is set to take place again this year in from August 10th to 17th. It is widely regarded as one of Europe’s biggest festivals with over 1,000 performances taking place there each year. With a full week of performances from the likes of Rihanna, Muse, David Guetta, Sia and Noel Gallagher on an island within the city of Budapest, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t travel over to Hungary for it. Sziget’s Interational Relations Director, Andras Berta, told us more about what to expect from this year’s festival.
How did you first get involved with Sziget?
In the mid-90s I started out as a fan of the festival. This was basically my dream event, always loved to take part and also took many of my foreign friends to Sziget, so they could experience the same magic. Then many years later I started to work for the Hungarian music export office and we had a project at Sziget, so the professional connection was established. When they offered me my current position in 2010 I was happy to take it.
What can we expect from this year’s festival?
As always, Sziget is a lot more than just a chain of concerts. Just make sure you arrive with an open mind and be prepared to have a full week of artistic holiday. You will definitely love the concerts on the main stages, but you will also discover that visiting this festival can be a very unique and important occasion, one that can change your general attitude towards the important things in life.
What makes your festival different from the rest?
The concept is quite independent from the usual festival concept. Yes, we have big stages (a lot of them, by the way), yes we have pubs (a lot of them), but we like to think that fans arrive to a completely different world once they cross the entry bridge that leads to the island. We put a lot of efforts into the visual experience of the event, so you feel special at every single moment. We also call Sziget the ‘Island of Freedom’ and this actually means the freedom of choice. A huge festival area with around sixty program venues makes sure you get new impressions all the time. So even if you have a clear idea on what you want to see at a given time slot, there’s a big chance you will be stuck to check out something completely different at the same time simply because you have the choice to do so.
Why should people travel over to Hungary for the festival?
If the program of the festival in itself is not enough, there are a great number of activities provided by Budapest, so this can become a city holiday at the same time. Budapest is famous for its beautiful architecture, its spa culture, the world famous ruin pubs and a lot more. We even provide a season ticket, so festival fans can check out the city (including public transport, spa entry, etc.) for a discounted price. The weather is usually nice and warm, there are multiple travel options to and from Budapest and there’s a wide range of accommodations both in the city and at the festival. Last, but not least: this is one of the biggest international festivals in the world as last year we had participants from over ninety countries.
What else does your festival offer outside of music?
Theatre, new circus, visual arts, museums, cabaret, giant campfire, beach, logical games, sports and a lot more. We take programming very seriously and it was a great feedback to receive the ‘Best Line-Up’ award at the European Festival Awards this January.
What is your favourite thing about working at a festival?
Creating something that makes hundreds of thousands so happy. It’s just great to walk around the festival area and realize that this huge community of people are here and have the time of their lives because we created the event.
What advice would you give to first-time festival goers?
Sleep a lot before you arrive.
ZIGET FESTIVAL AUGUST 10TH – 17TH Budapest, Hungary.
Words – Sophie Butler
Images – Sandor Csudai & Balazs Mohai