Reality check: can Sziget live up to the (sky-high) expectations?

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Sziget 2019
Photo: Dianne de Kievit / Festileaks

Sziget 2019 has officially begun. For many visitors it means a long-awaited return to Budapest’s Óbuda Island, while others will enter the sacred grounds for the first time. Festileaks sent out Sziget virgin Luc to investigate how the festival compares to the expectations of a first-timer.

Upon entering the island, a whole new world opens up to the visitor. Stages to discover, places to explore – arriving at a new festival is always something special. But at Sziget, one of the most talked-about festivals in Europe, it’s at a whole different level. Can reality meet the expectations?

Sziget is HUGE

Sziget 2019
Photo: Dianne de Kievit / Festileaks

Expectation: Before arriving in Budapest, I had a look at the official festival map. With so many stages and campsites, transport facilities and even a laundromat, Sziget looks more like a temporary town than a music festival.

Reality: This is absolutely true. The festival really is enormous. A tour around the grounds can easily take over an hour, especially since there is always something to discover. From the circus tent and the ferris wheel to Sziget’s very own beach, it is impossible to see everything in seven days.

Hippie paradise

Sziget 2019
Photo: Dianne de Kievit / Festileaks

Expectation: On the website, Sziget really pushes its ‘Love Revolution’ theme. CEO Tamás Kádár also emphasised this in an interview with Festileaks. Everyone is different, comes from different parts of the world, but “the power of our diversity unites us and together we can change our environment.” The festival’s aim is a world without wars and without discrimination, where the planet and human rights are respected. Did John Lennon write this message?

Reality: At the festival itself, the ‘Love Revolution’ is more subtle. It’s especially the wonderful atmosphere that stands out. The audience is incredibly international, with people coming from all over the world, and this only adds to the positive vibes. Some festivalgoers start spontaneous parties, while others cool down the new crowds with water pistols.

Colours and glitter

Sziget 2019
Photo: Dianne de Kievit / Festileaks

Expectation: In a way, this is part of the hippie paradise. I expected to see many festivalgoers with flowers in their hair and glitter on their faces. Additionally, I always thought of Sziget as a very colourful place. Stages and decorations in all the colours of the rainbow, confetti during shows, and hundreds of fairy lights.

Reality: Indeed, there are many colourful, Instagrammable spots at Sziget. Yet, I was more surprised by how green the island is. Tents are placed between the trees and in the woods, and there is plenty of shade near the main stages as well. During the day this makes for a very chilled and relaxed atmosphere, while at night the island turns into a forest of lights and sparkles. This is when the festival is really at its best.

More than just music

Sziget 2019
Photo: Dianne de Kievit / Festileaks

Expectation: A big part of Sziget’s appeal is that it’s a very ‘complete’ festival. Of course, the music line-up is amazing, but I imagined there is way more to it than watching shows. From theatre and dance to workshops and talks, there seemed to be a lot going on.

Reality: This expectation was spot on. It’s super easy to spend an entire day on the island without seeing a single musician. Start your day chilling at the beach, play some games at the Travelling Funfair, see a show in the circus; everything is possible!

Seven days of partying

Sziget 2019
Photo: Dianne de Kievit / Festileaks

Expectation: Sziget goes on for seven days, from Wednesday to Tuesday. I expected this to be extremely exhausting. How does someone survive seven days of camping at a festival? Especially considering Sziget’s reputation for big, all-night parties.

Reality: Sziget really is the festival of raves. Many bars have their own DJ stands, and festivalgoers start their own pop-up parties with bluetooth speakers. At night the crowds went wild at the forest party or the amazing Colosseum stage, which blasts techno music until the early hours. Not a great time for sleeping of course, but if you take it easy during the day it’s surprisingly doable. And with these camping tips survival is actually pretty easy. However, we’re only two days in, of course…

How did you enjoy Sziget 2019?

Were you at Sziget 2019 too? We would like to know how you experienced the festival. Below, you can rate the festival in seven different categories. In September, we conclude which festivals were the best during the Festileaks Festival Awards. Participation is voluntary and anonymous.

[awards poll=”festileaks-festival-awards-2019″ festival=”sziget”]

Sziget 2019

Photo: Rockstar Photographers

Sziget is one of the largest music festivals in Europe, held every August in northern Budapest. In 2019, the festival is headlined by Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, The National, Florence + the Machine, Post Malone, The 1975 and Martin Garrix, among others. Apart from the big names, the line-up also includes many hidden gems, as well as theatre and circus acts.

For more information, visit our festival page or the official website.

General Manager at Festileaks. Born and raised in the Netherlands, but now spotted most often in London or Madrid. The team's resident game show presenter, Linkin Park impressionist, and Taylor Swift fanatic.

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