Sziget Festival 2016 in Budapest is one of the top five music festivals in Europe, joining ranks with Rock Werchter in Belgium, the Glastonbury Festival in England, Roskilde Festival in Denmark, and Oxegen in Ireland. It is held for a week in mid-August, and has been growing in popularity since the first festival in 1993.
Sziget Festival History and Facts
Budapest has always been a cultural center, with plenty of nightlife and great events. In the early twentieth century before World War I, it had a cultural atmosphere equal to that of Vienna and a café society as lively as that in Paris. Even under communist rule after World War II, the cultural atmosphere of the city thrived with plenty of state funding. After the end of the communist era in 1989, the city faced a cultural crisis due to the lack of funding. A group of students started the Sziget Festival in 1993 to fill that gap, and called it Diaksziget (meaning Student Island).
The first festival welcomed 43,000 attendees and boasted 200 concerts and a number of film showings and theater performances. In spite of welcoming 1430,000 attendees in 1994 and such luminaries as Frank Zappa, Jefferson Starship, the Birds, and Eric Burdon, it lost money until 1997. Today, there are around 600,000 attendees and you can expect legendary acts like Judas Priest, Amy Winehouse, Rise Against, Smash Mouth, R.E.M., and Iron Maiden. The Festival was once referred to as Eurostock (Europe's answer to Woodstock), and today is considered Europe's answer to the Burning Man Festival because of its unique, fantasy-like, and eclectic atmosphere. There are stages for blues and world music and a tent for jazz, in addition to the Main Stage concerts with more traditional pop/rock offerings.
Sziget Festival Location and Directions
The Sziget Festival Budapest Hungary lives up to its name. Sziget is the Hungarian word for "island," and the festival takes place on the largest Danube River island within the city. The island is called Hajogyyari (meaning shipyard or shipbuilding) and is alternately called Obudai (meaning Old Buda). It is nestled up against the western bank of the river in the northern part of the Old Buda district of the city.
The northern part of the island is primarily a large park where the festival is held. There are some shops and restaurants on the southern part of the island, and some lively bars and nightclubs. Except for the festival, city residents who come for picnics during the warm weather are the primary visitors. Most tourists visit Margaret Island to the south, which is much closer to the city attractions and boasts one of the largest of the thermal Budapest baths and spas. If you are a passenger on one of the many Danube River cruises, you will undoubtedly pass by both of these islands.
Unless you use a bicycle, it is highly recommended that you reach Sziget Festival Budapest Hungary by public transport. Use the local HEV train from Batthyany ter. Once you get onto the island, there is a bicycle rental outlet at the entrance—an excellent way to get around the festival grounds. If you bring your own bike, it can be left safely for free at the entrance lockers. Staff will even assist with small repairs. There is also regular boat service operated by the boats that run regular Budapest tours. Do not attempt to swim to the island; it is illegal and dangerous.
Sziget Festival Tickets
You can purchase single-day tickets or tickets for the entire Sziget Festival 2016, with or without camping. Tickets for Day 0 and Day 1 are the least expensive, and purchasing tickets in advance is less expensive than waiting until after the first of May. You can also purchase "Night" tickets just for an evening's performances.
Sziget Festival Lodging
As with many similar festivals, camping is a big part of the experience. The island is filled with parklike green spaces, and the camping areas are virtually in the festival grounds. There are also caravan camping tickets available. Your vehicle must be a bona fide camper van, not just a station wagon with the back seats down or an empty van with a sleeping bag thrown on the floor.
If you aren't camping, you have Sziget Festival Budapest Hungary lodging choices that range from world-class five star luxury hotels to modest Budapest hostels. There are numerous Hungary apartments and vacation rentals, and many resident closest to the venue will rent out rooms or even vacate their apartments in order to make extra money during the weeklong event. There are many more hotels further south in the main city center, but for something close to the venue you might choose the Corinthia Aquincum Hotel at Árpád fejedelem útja 94 across from the southern end of the island near the Arpad Bridge that crosses Margaret Island.