Sziget festival


Love music, bored of going to the same festivals year in, year out? Then head to Sziget festival in Budapest for the ultimate festival in Europe.
Location:       a majassive island in the middle of the river running through Budapest, Hungary
Date:   9th-15th August 2006 (yes, a whole fucking week!)
Music:  more genres than you can shake a stick at!
Cost:   Peanuts

This is reportedly the largest festival in Europe, and with Beer costing less than water (80p a beer), you can see why. I don’t know where to start explaining Sziget festival, the music, the people, the atmosphere, the ridiculous ability to get fucked whatever time of the day. There is just too much to choose from.

A group of 8 of us went last year, we turned up the day before to set up our tents, which we sucked at (Thought it would be cool to plonk our tents in the middle of the campsite which meant that by 10am our tents were too hot to sleep in. If you go definitely camp under the trees), then went to the local bar (loads on the island and all 24hours) and started to get some serous drinking in. Woke up the next morning sweating like a paedophile in a playground with a gnarly hangover, went for a swim in the pool (which was our daily shower alternative!) then off to check out the music.

Let me explain the music at Sziget, you have stages for every genre: jazz, metal, dance, world music, African stages, blues stages… too many to remember basically, and considering we started drinking every day when we woke up, the whole week is pretty hazy! The best bet though to cure a hangover is head to the world music stage, you can sit on the mound at the back of the crowd, play frizbee, sunbathe in beautiful 300c weather, drink ridiculously cheap beer and if you get bored of watching the Hungarian beauties walking past in bikinis then you could always listen to the groovy music. At this stage, Robert Plant, Goran Bregovic’s ‘Wedding and Funeral Band’, 17 hippies, Leningrad and Afro Celt Sound system were our favourites. If you want to go to a festival to see people you know then maybe don’t go here, but if you’re open minded then this is the place.

Then as the day moves on, you can have a look at  all the other tents to check out better known bands. My favourites were: Jovanoti (Italain Geezer), Guru, The Orb, Radiohead, Beatsteaks, Iggy and the Stooges, Mylo, Soul of Man and Prodidgy. When I say they were my favourites, its only because after about 10pm my memory gets a little hazy, but the dance music there is awesome.

As it starts getting dark, the other stages begin to close, being replaced by the heavy thumping of the dance tents warming up. By midnight they get into full swing, with dodgy looking fuckers selling the finest beans in Europe (says me, the wannabe connoisseur). For some reason they love Breakbeat and DnB in Hungary, which is just what I love, and they had some crazy DJ’s that I’ve never heard of playing some awesome music I’ve never heard before on some sweet sound systems. One of them was an octagonal shaped open air arena with a ridiculous sound system with bass that could be heard over most of the island even with the sound proofing around it. During the day they even sprayed water vapour over the crowd to keep them cool. If you want to try something slightly different then you can always head to the headphones tent (not sure what it is really called). When you walk in you are handed a set of headphones on which you can choose two different stations to listen to. While this is fun for a while, it looks a bit stupid with some people dancing to gabba, while others have smurfs go pop playing. And headphones that are quieter than a ants sneeze mean you can’t take it very seriously.

The Dance tents went on till about 9 every morning (that’s a massive guess, when I was still going that late, there was no way I could understand how to use something as complex as a watch, and if I did my brain strongly refused to remember anything apart from the constant beat in my head). But time doesn’t matter in a place like this, with music playing on some part of the island  around the clock, and with enough random foreign geezers dotted about 24/7 there is always a great opportunity to get into some classic European banter, with a guy that barely understands English, which you probably aren’t helping by talking like a drunken hobo who has just been woken by the police.

Then as the sun comes up, we start to retreat back to our tents (after the 2nd night we gave up on our sweat-fest tents and took our bedding and slept in the shade), grabbing our last beer of the night at one of the bars along the way. After finishing our beers with the Crazy Dutch kids who were camped next to us, we pass round one final J then savour our few hours of kip before we get woken up by the truck coming by to empty the portaloos. As a new day begins we wake to the arduous task of getting shitted all over again.

During the week we thought of cooking for ourselves, but being a bunch of lazy bums, couldn’t be arsed, but there were so many fast food places around (and all about £3 or less) and even a fresh fruit stall that we really didn’t need to bother bringing a stove. One thing you should definitely bring is your own green, cos it costs a shit load once you are on the island (close to twice what it costs in London). We were pretty clever about this (we thought anyway), brought 1.25 ounces, which should have lasted. Split it up between 3 of us for the journey. Then on the first night met some jokes 18yr Old Dutch kids who were camped next to us and got really baked with them till the sun came up, then we headed the 2 metres to our tents for some seriously needed kip. I woke up a couple of hours later hearing one of my mates swearing at the top of his lungs. Thinking he had punctured his foot on a tent peg, went running over, tripping over the minefield of guy ropes to find out that he had sneaked out to have a cheeky early morning J. But instead of skinning up, he realised that he had lost all his green the night before. For most of the day we searched his tent and the 2m between where we were the night before and his tent. But it was gone.... shit, shit, shit. After a panicked day we gave up, deciding we could cope with just an O.

Then 2 days later at about 5 in the morning after munching beans for the night, we decided we needed a J to calm the gurning, asked my mate who lost the green in the first place to roll a J with mine, he rolled the J, walked away and left the baggy lying on the floor. So now the bastard had lost 2/3 of our green and we were forced to spend ridiculous amounts on the shitty home-grown stuff there. On the up side the beans there are really pure, some of the best I’ve ever had, and none of us had any dodgy ones.. Sweet! So all in all twas an awesome week, the bits I can remember at least. The people there are all really cool (Hungarian girls are gorgeous and scantily clad!) and even though most of them aren’t English, everyone speaks it. And if you are lucky you will bump into a mate that you haven’t see in a couple of years at 3 in the morning in the Breaks tent gurning his tits off!

For 1 week only this island becomes a paradise for all music lovers worldwide, and this year is its 15th Birthday so it will be extra special. You need to check this festival out before it gets too expensive:

I guarantee you will have a great time, meet some awesome people, and if you are lucky have some memories to look back on!