Sziget Festival Starts Today
Sziget is a vibrant, diverse festival, a feeling of life, a rich repository of unmissable moments of the year, a flood of concerts and parties, and a wealth of cultural delights - but we already know that. This year, one of Europe's biggest festivals comes with a host of innovations that you will want to experience in person. Now, let's take a look behind the scenes at what's behind the six days of unforgettable entertainment.
On August 19, 1993, the first visitors to Sziget, then known as Diáksziget (Student Island), entered an event that was much missed after the fall of communism, with 200 concerts, 80 films, and 40 theater performances during the week-long event, which attracted 43,000 visitors. Thirty years on, Sziget has long been recognized as one of Europe's best festivals, but its reputation extends far beyond the borders of the old continent, with visitors coming to Budapest from over 100 countries around the world, including New Zealand, 18,000 km away. Hungary is still the biggest market, with almost half of the total number of visitors coming to Sziget. This year, Sziget will feature more than 50 venues, with an international line-up of 62 artists from 62 countries performing in different genres and almost 200 Hungarian participants in a variety of venues. Find out all about them at www.sziget.hu.
"Since its inception, Sziget has been constantly evolving, innovating in different areas every year. However, after a two-year hiatus, last year we were also happy to have managed to survive the difficulties that many of us had to face on several fronts," said Tamás Kádár, the festival's chief organizer."
The 76-hectare site took three weeks to build, with a daily capacity of 90,000 people, including festival workers and visitors, making it the 10th largest city in the country for these six days. Services are designed to accommodate visitors comfortably. There are, for example, around 100 catering outlets, with a varied menu, including an even wider range of international cuisine and a variety of vegetarian, vegan, and "free-from" dishes, in addition to local flavors. The food courts on the island are designed to ensure that anyone within 150 meters can find something to suit them. The food outlets will offer so-called "budget food" at a price of HUF 2,500 and the prices of the food in general have been set so as not to be more expensive than similar offerings in the capital.
The guest experience is enhanced by the VIP venues on the Island, which are now available to visitors from last year. The VIP tickets available for purchase will give access to four VIP sectors at the same time, which will be set up next to the Main Stage, the Mastercard FreeDome, the Ticketswap Colosseum and the Samsung Party Arena.
A "city center" will be set up, with an information point, customer service and a ticket office. The island will have luggage and valuables storage, a lost and found, ATM machines in several locations, currency exchange, bicycle storage and a host of other amenities. The festival is a cash-free zone, where you can pay with your own credit card or with a topped-up wristband, which can be topped up online or with cash and credit card on site, with the remaining amount being automatically refunded online or at the cash redemption points set up at several points.
Several campsites will be at the service of festival-goers, with different levels of services and attention to wheelchair access, hygiene and accessibility throughout the island.
Organizers have also set up a health center for the duration of the festival, available 24 hours a day, with a staff of over 200 doctors, nurses, helpers and ambulances and their associated personnel. In addition to treating minor injuries and other ailments, the Island "hospital" will also be able to carry out X-ray examinations. Security is maintained 24 hours a day by hundreds of security and additional law enforcement personnel, and a fire brigade is on duty. The management team includes meteorologists, firefighters, members of the armed forces and operators.
This year, mobile toilets will disappear from the communal areas and be replaced by flush toilets, with around 1,000 English toilets in decorative container blocks. The English toilets will be kept in operation by 70 pumps, a unique international feat for a festival of this size, as will the use of recirculating water from the river, in this case the Danube, for dust removal.
In order to protect the soil of the Shipyard Island, some 25,000 m2 of plastic and a further 5,000 m2 of aluminium paths will be laid.
In the days preceding the Island, heavy rainfall of around 70-80 mm fell, and the area was cleared by the organisers with the help of 80 people, 10 machines and seven pumps over three days. And the organisers are also prepared for the potential dust that caused a major problem last year, which will be solved by a new dust suppressant in addition to the continuous "grey water" irrigation.
The "greening" of the festival is also continuing. This will be evident, for example, in the catering facilities, but the use of explosive transport will be minimised, and apart from the most essential vehicles, only electric or human-powered vehicles will be used by all workers on the Island. The basic principle is to minimise disruption to festival-goers from the various vehicles, and to this end a new transport plan has been drawn up for the duration of the Island this year. As regards environmental protection, the area of the gallery forest bordering District III will be closed again this year, in line with the reclassification of the forest as a nature reserve by the capital and the WWF, due to the protected flora there.
This year, Sziget will be much more spectacular, with several venues getting a new design and improvements to their sound and lighting technology. The hugely popular and internationally unique Art Of Freedom will return, bringing its stunning artwork and the visual power of its spectacular space installations to the exciting world of Sziget. The now iconic K-bridge of Sziget was renovated in 2022, so this year it will be decked out in its new glory. And all over the Island, 60 km of string lights, 8,000 decorative bulbs and 40 giant "wall lights" will make the night-time festival a spectacular experience.
The biggest stage on the Island, the Big Stage, has "grown out of the ground" in 10 days, covering more than 1,000 sqm and 600 sqm of LED wall backdrop. The Samsung Party Arena has an auditorium of 4,000 sqm, the Freedom presented by Mastercard tent has a capacity of more than 10,000 people and the TicketSwap Colosseum is built from 3,000 pallets. And the smallest tent is just 4 sqm.
And how these numbers translate into real-life experiences remains to be seen between August 10-15.
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