Have you ever been to the moon? I went to the moon and back every night for seven days. Every night, in a crowd of people, I would look to the top left corner of the sky. There she was. The moon staring down at me just as I was staring up at her. I would close my eyes and that was it. Every night from that moment on I was transported to a new land. A land that was out of this world.
It was a land of no worries, only wanderers. No problems, only poets. A land of freedom, imagination and art. A land where music has the ability to create 10,000 smiles and unify a field of diverse strangers. Every night, on my journey to the moon my world would become a whirlwind. It was beautiful. It was amazing. It was unforgettable. It was Sziget.
Sziget is one of Europe’s largest and longest music festivals encompassing seven days of pure carnage and beauty in Budapest, Hungary. Since 1993 it’s been attracting thousands of festival goers from around the world and this year, in 2016, it attracted me.
It was equally the longest and shortest 10 days of my life (including early move in days). When I think back to it, each day is one big blur merging in with the next. I couldn’t tell you the order of what happened or why it happened but parts of what I do remember are below.
I remember stopping to stand still just to feel the energy around me. I remember being coated in a sudden cloud of dust at the colour party. I remember Sia possibly being the best performance of my life.
I remember drunkenly shaving my legs at 3am in desperate search of a hot shower. I remember my friend falling asleep on the dance floor with great determination to see her favourite artist (a girl wearing a merch singlet to a show is not messing around). I remember waiting for Rihanna to begin her set and being forced to pee in a crowd of 90,000. Similarly I remember my friends squatting in broad daylight. No shame.
I remember seriously reconsidering my upper body strength after completing a high ropes course and the next day believing I could transform myself in to an acrobat after attending the circus. I remember being mesmerised by the sudden bursts of fireworks at the end show.
I remember every morning witnessing my friends slowly transform from hungover monsters to pizza gobblers. I remember watching our health slowly deteriorate as each day ate away at us. I remember thinking I was tough enough to enter the mosh pit at Bullet for My Valentine and emerging with a blood nose.
I remember shedding a tear to Jess Glynne singing ‘Rather Be’ so happy with where I was and what I had witnessed because of this festival. There’s no place I’d rather be. I remember looking over to the group next to me hoping they hadn’t noticed. I remember enjoying every single minute.
I remember waking up every morning and thinking of the moon, staring down at me and me back at it. I remember every morning feeling more than ready to do it all over again.
Sziget was the longest amount of time I have spent in any one place in Europe. For 10 days Sziget was my home and I will always remember it as that.
Some practical information/insights on the festival are below. Of course these are purely subjective so please let me know if you’ve had a different experience.
Crowds – are big and the island is huge. It’s a good idea to factor in walking time if your schedule for the night is tight and start moving before a band finishes. If you’re with a large group of friends you should also create meeting spots at each stage to find each other quickly. Works a charm!
Food – is really good on the island and their are plenty of options at good prices. However I would suggest bringing your own snack foods as eating takeout for seven days can get draining.
Alcohol – is cheap but also considerably easy to sneak in and you won’t get in trouble if you get caught. Up to you but no one ever said no to a bottle of vodka!
Duration – 7 days. It sounds long but my advice would be to go for the whole time. The people with 5 day passes were left with crappy camping spots and missed out on some of the best acts. Be in it to win it!
Showers – are pretty standard for a festival. I would say the water is only warm between 3am and 7am which is why on more than one occasion I ended up showering drunk.
Activities – do the extra curricular activities as this is half the reason Sziget is so awesome. Some examples are theatre and dance performance, sports, circus, yoga and street art.
Chill spots – you will need somewhere to relax in the morning and early afternoon and it’s likely your campsite will be in ruins. Some good places to chill before the music starts are ‘The beach’ (grossly misnamed), the sports zone or one of the eating areas with tables and chairs.
Stages – there are seven main stages. Make an effort to visit some of the smaller stages even if you haven’t heard of many of the artists. You will most likely be pleasantly suprised.
Dress – there is not an extent of festival gear clad chicks running around so no need to dress to impress. The novelty wears off after day two or three anyway. Remember a jumper as the nights are cold and mud-proof, rain-proof and stomp-proof shoes.
Sleeping situation – something you need to seriously consider before you arrive. The tents that Sziget provides are really only comfortable for one person, not two as they say. Think pillows, blankets and something to sleep on. You may have roughed it at a festival before but seven days is a long time. The ground will start to take its toll. Also, Airbnber’s you should consider travel time and costs to and from the festival as well as missing out on day time vibes and activities. It’s a good idea to weigh up your options.
Some stand out performers for 2016 were (again subjective):
The Chemical Brothers
Sia (again, possibly one of the best performances of my life)
When Noel Gallagher performed ‘Wonderwall’
Bullet for My Valentine
If you get the opportunity to attend this festival, do it!! You will not regret it.