Sziget is fast becoming one of the best and most anticipated music festivals in the world. Every year the festival grows in popularity and size as the lineup gets bigger and bigger. For seven days you can bask in the glowing sun and wander through the island exploring an endless variety of arts, theatre, gastronomy and of course music. The line up is always one of Sziget’s biggest selling points. Every year top artists and DJ’s gather on the island for one of the biggest and most varied music scenes available. Whether it’s Hungarian folk music, Reggae and Latin, Rock, Dance, Trance, Electro, Classical, Jazz, you name it, it’s there. 

 Here is my ultimate guide on everything you need to know before going to Sziget Festival this year. 

Sziget-Budapest CityPass

Buy it. You’ll thank me later. It’s your all-in-one public transport ticket for the duration of the festival. With it, you have unlimited access to all public transport including bus, tram, boat, metro and HÉV suburban rail systems. The ticket is actually a wristband, so no need to worry about losing your ticket. If you pre-order this pass you also get free access to the shuttle bus that runs from Liszt Ferenc airport to the festival area. Exploring the city of Budapest with your CityPass couldn’t be easier. The Filatorigát station (train service H5) is the closest HÉV station to Budapest and is the primary method of transport between the island and Budapest.

Wristbands instead of tickets makes everything easier

The CityPass wristband also gives you free and discounted entrance to the famous Budapest baths. With your city pass, you can get one free ticket to a bath or spa of your choice. I recommend you use it for the Széchenyi Thermal Bath and Swimming Pool. It is the largest and most impressive of the baths. As well as one free entry, ticket holders can also enjoy 20% discount on any additional trips to the baths.

Cashless money card

Cashless payment systems are the way forward for modern festivals, something that still hasn’t broken into the Irish market. The system is so simple. You pay a small initial deposit for the card, which is contactless. The card works like a debit card, topping up as needed. It is the ONLY way to make purchases on the grounds of the festival. With each purchase, your remaining balance flashes up on the till so you know exactly how much you’re spending.

The one downside to this system is that if your card goes missing or is stolen. The cards are not pin protected so anyone who finds your card can still use it. There is a number you can text which cancels your card, the details of which are available on the top-up desks.  My advice is to keep the credit balance relatively low and top up as needed. This means more trips to the top-up desks but at least if your card does go missing, your pocket doesn’t suffer.

At the end of the festival, return your card for a full refund on both your deposit and remaining credit. Awesome!

The Campsite

The age-old question of festivals, do I camp or stay in a local hostel? Personally, I think you should camp. You don’t get to experience the full potential of the festival unless you do. The campsites are great fun during the day and at night plus, the weather is great. That being said there are numerous pros and cons to camping versus staying in a nearby hostel in the city. If you are going to camp here is one and only piece of advice: camp in the shade! The sun rises very early in the morning and once it does, the heat inside any tent is unbearable. There are plenty of sheltered and covered areas among the forests on the island to camp.

Camping is great fun at the festival and is quite safe. We had no hassle with any of our belongings going missing and didn’t hear any stories of people having trouble on the campsites either. If you are conscious about your belongings, there are several safety deposit box facilities across the island you can pay for. Shower and toilet facilities are free to use and are quite clean by festival standards. Early morning queues for the showers are unavoidable unless you opt to go at a later time. There are plenty of water fountains across the island to fill up on fresh, clean drinking water.

Explore the Island

Considering it’s an island in the middle of the river, it’s pretty darn big and there are loads of things to see and do while you’re there. Definitely, spend time getting to know the island and where the different music tents are located. One of the highlights for me was definitely the Sziget beach bar. Tucked away in the corner of the island is a small bar with a beach on the banks of the Danube. During the day there are plenty of people lying out on the sand or even lying in the shallow river edge while music plays from the bar.  

Going for stroll amongst the many art installations

Sziget is more than just a music festival, there are hundreds of arts and crafts stalls and games and activities for you to try. Fun fair rides, art and design sculptures and displays, The Luminarium, beach tent, foam parties and even the Sziget circus to name a few! Sziget festival literally has something for everyone and if it doesn’t, try something new!

Everything else

Sziget is without a doubt my favourite festival (that I’ve been to so far) and with good reason. There is so much to see and do on such a small island. Every day there is something new to try or see. Some of the highlights to look out for include:

Sziget has everything! Including trampoline volleyball

– Sziget beach and chill zone –

 Chill out by the bar or on the beach during the day while music plays from the bar. We hit this up nearly every day we love it so much. It’s the perfect place to relax and unwind in the sun away from all the noise and crowds of the festival.

Sziget beach and chill zone

– The Luminarium –

Hard to describe but worth a visit. The Luminarium is essentially an enormous bubble-like tent consisting of various rooms and crevices. The rooms are lit using natural light which creates magnificent, brightly coloured displays which create a calming, tranquil environment within the tent. Hard to explain but very fun to explore.

– Ability Park – 

this park is next to the disability camping area and gives people an opportunity to experience life with different disabilities. Can you negotiate a maze blindfolded with a walking stick? How about wall climbing blindfolded? Or traversing a hilly obstacle course in a wheelchair? Well worth a visit.

– Before I Die wall –

It’s exactly what it says on the tin. A giant chalkboard wall where festival goers can write messages to each other on things they’d like to achieve/see/do before they die. Some people take it very serious leaving heartfelt messages and life goals whilst others leave funny comments and jokes. Either way, a good read.

Add your say to the wall

– Special Party at Main Stage – 

Every day at 7 pm the event organizers host a specially themed party at the main stage. These vary every day and are great fun to attend. On one day was a bubble party where thousands of bubble blowers were given out for people to use. Another day was a flag party, on another was a beach ball party and my favourite was the colour party where thousands of bags of dry powder paint were thrown into the air and at each other very similar to the Holi festival.

– Széchenyi Thermal Bath party –

OK so technically this isn’t to do with Sziget but if you want to do something different while you’re there, hit these baths at night. Parties take place regularly on Saturday nights during the summer so if you have time try to go either before or during the Sziget Festival.  I went on my second visit to Budapest and I cannot recommend it enough. Thermal springs, drinks, Live music, lights and partying. What’s not to like? Click here for more information on the parties, including times, prices and booking info.

The squad from my first Sziget trip

Thanks for reading,

Brian :o)

What are your Sziget tips? Have I missed anything important? Let me know in the comments below.