Sziget Festival: Why It Is One of the Best in Europe
The Sziget Music Festival has grown to become one of the biggest and best music and culture festivals in Europe. Every year revellers flock to the Hungarian capital, Budapest, to catch the very best performers in music, as well as to witness the start of the rise of the next big thing.
This music smorgasbord gets going each and every August on Óbudai-sziget, which roughly translates from Hungarian to English as ‘Old Buda Island’. In fact, the world ‘Sziget’ means ‘island’ in Hungarian, hence it is the island festival. The island itself features idyllic surrounds, spanning an area of around 226 acres, or around 108 hectares.
Are you ready to party like this?
It sits smack bang in the middle of the Danube river, the longest in the European Union and the second longest to span the European continent, and when the Sziget Festival rolls in to town there is nowhere else on Earth that the music aficionado and party lover would rather be.
From Small Beginnings to a Cultural Touchstone
The Sziget Festival has its origins late in the previous century. In 1993, Müller Péter Sziámi, Károly Gerendai and a number of others founded the event. It began as something that was quite low profile, an event for those on the fringe, rather than the mainstream. At this time, the Sziget Festival was not the colossal music and partying behemoth that it has subsequently become.
It originally sprung from a desire among music enthusiasts and students to reignite the festival scene in Budapest. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the unravelling of the Iron Curtain, and the collapse of the Soviet empire and its attendant satellite states in the late 1980s and early 1990s, governments no longer had the financial ability nor economic incentive to greatly fund festivals and other events as they once did. The newly democratic Hungarian government just did not have the fiscal capacity to keep such events afloat.
The students and music lovers stepped in to fill the gap that had emerged, providing private funding instead. It was truly a labour of love, as individuals ploughed in their own hard earned cash in order to keep the event going. This finally paid off when, in 1996, the Sziget Festival obtained the sponsorship of soft drinks giant Pepsi, which saw the festival renamed ‘Pepsi Sziget’ from 1996 until 2001.
The Sziget Festival Caters to All Tastes
Today the festival is famous around Europe, and indeed further afield, due to its commitment to providing an eclectic mix of different music styles for attendees to listen to and enjoy. These include blues, jazz, world music and other genres, differentiating it from other large music festivals, which cater primarily to a rock audience. The fact that the Sziget Festival encompasses a range of styles has meant that there is always something for everyone, and has certainly fostered the large increase in people that visit every single year.
The Sziget Festival has been called the ‘gem’ in the European festival crown, and it is easy to see why. With an unbeatable location, great party atmosphere and some of the biggest and best acts in the music business, it is easy to see why more and more people keep flocking back to this idyllic corner of central Europe.
Everyone is happy on the island of freedom
Visit the Sziget website for dates and more info on this fine event.
Check out some of the other great festivals in the world.