One of the top 3 things on my to-do list for 2016 was ‘go to my first music festival’ – and I’m beyond happy to say that my friends and I hit Budapest, Hungary, for the 7-day music bonanza known as Sziget (10 – 17 August 2016).
The festival actually takes up an entire island (Obudai Island to be precise), where the brave (i.e. not me) can pitch their tents, roll out a bed, and camp for however long they wish to be there for. I’m absolutely terrible at camping in any way, shape, or form – add my insane allergies to that and you’ll have one very cranky, sneezy, puffy-eyed excuse for a festival-goer. Trust me when I say no one deserves to deal with that. I stayed at a boat hotel just a short taxi ride away.
Getting to the festival was a bit of a mess thanks to a ridiculous train delay that left us stuck in Vienna for a few hours. When we finally stepped out of Keleti Station in Budapest, we were just desperate for a quick shower before getting a taxi to the festival and meeting the rest of the (massive) group.
Taxi Top Tip: Download the City Taxi app to make booking your taxi super straightforward. It’s perfect for the tourist who can’t pronounce anything Hungarian, because you can send them your location via GPS.
When we picked up our Sziget Passport and walked into the festival for the first time, it was like stepping into some sort of Alice in Wonderland-type setup, with more fairy lights than an 18 year old girl’s dorm room.
On the first night, our priority was to rendezvous with the rest of the group and hit Tale of Us for some serious partying. The rest of the festival was essentially a non-stop party from dawn until dusk and beyond, with anything from techno or foam parties to daily yoga sessions, massages, guided sleep sessions, capoeira classes, TED talks, and impromptu dance parties in this little square we christened ‘Il-Pjazza’ (‘The Square’) near the main stage. There was something to do at literally any hour of the day or night to fill the gaps between acts.
The first major act I saw was Rihanna – but I have to say I wasn’t very impressed. She seemed a little bored, and turned up ridiculously late only to give a half-hearted performance. Not to worry – Muse, Bastille, The Neighborhood, Tinie Tempah, Sia, and The Lumineers more than made up for it.
If, like me, you see food as a top priority, you’ll be glad to know that Sziget caters to practically any taste or dietary requirement under the sun. Staying on the healthy side of things was a bit of a challenge, but if you look hard enough you’ll be alright. The streets are filled with food stalls offering fruit, corn on the cob, pasta, pizza, vegan dishes, burgers, wraps, piadinas, smoothies, gourmet (and not-so-gourmet) burgers, and even some pastries or ice cream for dessert.
Tasty Top Tip: Leave your food conscience at home. Seriously.
I could write about Sziget all day, but the most important thing I could do is urge you to get a ticket to the next Sziget Festival. Next year is actually the festival’s 25th birthday, so I expect the organizers will have something pretty damn special in store for us all.
Want to know anything else about this incredible experience? Just leave a comment below!