Can you imagine an island of freedom filled with every kind of music, food, drink, creative events and parties with half a million people from all around the world? Well, Sziget Festival gives you all and -waitforit- for 7 days!
This year this colorful festival took place between 10th and 17th of August and hosted famous artists like Rihanna, Sia, David Guetta, Hardwell, The Last Shadow Puppets, Bastille, John Newman, MØ, Afrojack and many more. I was there as a szitizen to enjoy every inch of it; however, I could not keep up with everything since the island is too big and the things to do were countless.
With its worldwide famous bands and artists, cirques, parties till the morning, sport fields, creative workshops for every taste, free fun treats like bubble blower (it was enough to make my day), world cuisine, daily special parties at 7 p.m at Main Stage, Sziget is ready to give you the golden days of your life… And people… Everyone was so happy, fun and friendly, you immediately feel on top of the world!
It was my second time in Budapest (you can read my first one from here) and first time in Sziget. Therefore, I focused on the festival rather than city seeing, otherwise I would be wrapped up in Budapest. Before the event, I read blogs and articles about what to bring, the things you can bring on the campsite, transportation, camp gears, charging and Wi-Fi facilities… You know, one can not simply walk into Sziget.
1. General information (transportation, security and payment):
You can reach the festival site by bus, coach or metro from anywhere you are. Just have the right maps and tickets. It is easy, believe me.
If you are planning to tour Budapest, you can buy CityPass that Sziget offers for its visitors (this year 13 Days pass was 33 Euro and 2 Days was 12 Euro). However, if you will enjoy the island most of the time, I suggest you to buy block of 10 single tickets for 3000 HUF (around 10 Euros). It is plausible since there are hardly security at metro or bus stations. Therefore, your 10 single tickets will last more than you think!
As to security, the island is quite safe. At the entrance, they control people if they are on “an international arrest warrant or watch-list” while giving them wristbands. Yes, they do check bags but they cannot do it thoroughly since there are 500 thousands people coming in an out. So, if you want to sneak alcohol, you may have a chance 🙂 You did not hear it from me, though! (P.S: I heard one guy, who is certainly not me or my friend, sneaked one bottle of vodka in his pants.)
Do not forget, Sziget Festival is a cashless event. Instead, you can buy a Festipay card, which is like 2 Euros, and deposit as much as money you want on it. At the end of the festival, you can refund your money and the fee of your Festipay card or you can take it home with you. Alternatively, you can also use your contactless card.
To keep up with everything going on in the island, you should definitely grab one of those Sziget Passports which they give at the entrance for free.
2. How to survive (clothing, camping and everything):
The weather is quite moody during Sziget. It can be boiling hot, freezing cold, chilly or rainy with thunders and lightnings but during the night it is always cold. Therefore, regardless of where you come from you should bring every kind of clothes.
I suggest to wear in layers because, be it from alcohol or excessive dancing, you can be soaked with sweat. But here are the things you should definitely take with you:
- a cardigan or a jacket
- one or two sweat shirts
- your favorite t-shirts, tops, shorts and a bathing suit for the hot days
- trousers, leggings, tights, whichever you find comfortable
- definitely a raincoat, remember umbrellas are not allowed
- warm pajamas for cold nights
- socks, both thin and thick
- rain boots, preferably the kind that does not make you sweat, sneakers and flip-flops
- hat, sunglasses, sun screen and towels
Other than that, camping is an important issue because your tent will be your home sweet home for 7 days! If you want some comfort while you enjoy the hell out of Sziget, you should consider buying VIP camp tickets beforehand.But here is the essential things if you are bringing your own tent:
- a waterproof tent (I saw many szitizens’ day ruined because of rain )
- a good inflatable bed
- a blanket or a sleeping bag
- a little torch for the night
- insect repellent
You can also bring hammock, chairs, tables or even a canopy to upgrade your campsite. But do not be afraid; you do not need to bring all of these with you because there is Decathlon and a supermarket which is five-minutes to the campsite where you can buy everything you want at a reasonably low price. It would be much more annoying anyways especially if you are flying with some low-cost airlines like Ryanair or Easyjet. And do not forget to decorate your area, it is both fun and memorable!
Before setting up your tent, control nearby stages. If you plan to sleep early, you should choose a place near to avenues that closes before 12 a.m. like Afro-Latin-Reggea Village.
And here comes showers… I think they were okay but it was quite crowded between 11 am and 1 pm. Also, beware that some showers have hot water and hair dryers while some do not. While wandering around the island, take a look at them and choose whatever you want!
I have nothing to say about toilets, though. The white ones were always clean and had flush but stay away from the blue ones unless necessary (it will be necessary).
3. Wi-Fi and Charging Facilities:
In the case of 7 days of madness, you will definitely in need of a telephone and internet. Because who would not want to post their awesome festival photos on Instagram? (Please, do not post while drunk.)
There are several free electrical sockets on the island but I never saw them empty. Alternatively, you can give your any electrical device to the official charging points. They charge 3000 Mah for 600 HUF, which is quite cheap; however, you should mind queues.
I think power banks are the most reasonable things to bring in case of charging. For example, I bought this new power bank rated 13000 Mah which kept my iPhone 5 alive for 6 days!
As to Wi-Fi, yes, there are some free Wi-Fi points, the kind of that never connects… But there was a thing called Wi-Fi for Trash I discovered in the last days of the festival. You give them at least two plastic bottles and they give you 15 minutes free Wi-Fi in exchange. Is not it very clever? (You can also take apples or different Sziget souvenirs with your trash.)
4. Food and Beverages:
You can bring your own food and 2.5 liters max non-alcoholic beverages to the campsite. If you do not want to bother with these, there are endless choices of delicious food and drink option on the island.
There are traditional Hungarian food, Mexican and Chinese dishes, omelettes, fruits, döner, huge pizza slices for only 700 HUF, hotdogs, fries, vegan food and even cereals and yoghurt! As to beverages, beer choices are quite limited, so be prepared to drink Dreher all the time. Other than that special Bacardi, Jack Daniels, Unicum and wine tents are waiting for you to come and enjoy their music along with their beverages!
However, you should be prepared that water is quite expensive. You pay 450 HUF for a 0.5 liter one. Instead, I recommend you to bring your own water from the supermarket or to refill it from the taps around the island, which is more wiser and easier.
As to the prices, they are all the same everywhere. You can find the complete list all on the Sziget Passport. I think, apart from some foods, they were quite cheap.
5. Workshops and Activities:
I swear, these made my days! Because you can find everything on this amazing island like Chess Tent, Hungarikum Village, Ted talks and a number of little tents ready to entertain you with quizzes and surveys. But my favorite ones were ArtZone, Luminarium, Wedding Tent, the wall of “Before I Die”, H&M ❤ Sziget… Oh boy, I think I will count everything!
Other than that, you can get awesome face and body paintings, have your hair braided or make yourself a crown out of feathers for free. Also, do not forget to chill under a giant flower, mushroom or a little tent. Maybe you can fall asleep in a wooden castle, maybe on some giant tires… In short, you cannot what to expect on this island of freedom 🙂
But you can expect daily special parties at 7 p.m. at Main Stage! This year there was pinwheel, clapping sticks, flag, color, cheer pom poms and confetti parties. They distribute these party tools at the middle of the area, so if you want some cheer pom poms you should be there.
Even though I enjoyed every minute of this festival of freedom, I still cannot get enough of it. So, I want to thank you Sziget and Dan Panaitescu, booking manager of the festival who died in a tragic car accident this July, for making our days with this magnificent madness…
Have you ever been to Sziget? Or not I hope this post makes you want to go there next year and we can have fun together!