Sziget Festival in Budapest: 19 Reasons You Can’t Miss It!

If you haven’t heard of Sziget Festival (pronounced Zi-get) buckle up, because this is one festival you definitely don’t want to miss. Sziget music festival, held every August in Budapest, is one of the largest music festivals in all of Europe. And that’s saying something, because Europe is home to some pretty big festivals.

For non-Europeans, it’s a little hard to comprehend exactly how outrageous European music festivals are. I thought Coachella was big, but that’s nothing compared to Sziget festival. This week long festival held on a island in the middle of the Danube river is jam packed with some of today’s hottest bands. And if the Sziget lineup isn’t enough to convince you, there is so much more to do, see and experience at Sziget music festival than you can imagine.

For a little more inspiration, here are 19 reasons you can’t miss Sziget Music Festival!

The Music

Because what is a music festival without music?

1. Sziget Festival 2019 Lineup

This is really the number one reason you should go to the festival this year: the 2019 Sziget lineup. The headliners for Sziget festival 2019 are Foo Fighters, Ed Sheeran, Florence and the Machine, Post Malone, Macklemore, 21 Pilots and the 1975! Just listing the headliners makes me want to buy tickets to Budapest from the States right now. Not to mention other artists like The National, Martin Garrix, Chvrches, Franz Ferdinand, Tove Lo and more acts from around the world. Here is a (mostly) complete list of the Sziget festival lineup 2019.

2. The Range of Genres

The thing about a week long festival is that there is just SO much music. From rock to hip hop to EDM, there’s pretty much something for everyone. Sure, the mainstage is going to be pretty mainstream, but there’s plenty of smaller acts to please more eclectic palates. Sziget festival has, get this, 23 different stages and performing areas packed full of musical and entertaining acts throughout the week.

The Vibe

3. The Island of Freedom

Sziget’s nickname is “the island of freedom” and it’s not hard to see why. The minute you enter the festival gates you feel like you’ve been transported to another universe. With so many people in costumes, music in the air and art everywhere, you have a feeling of complete acceptance. You can truly be anything or anyone you want here!

Sziget is it’s own little world. The organizers have dubbed attendees as “szitizens” and you can even get a Sziget festival passport. Take your passport to all the different parts of the festival and have them stamp your Sziget passport. More than half of the festival guests come from outside of Hungary, so this is perfect for all the travelers!


4. The Love Revolution

The theme for Sziget Festival 2018 was The Love Revolution and they’re bringing the revolution back to Sizget Festival 2019! The Love Revolution is all about bringing people together despite differences in nationality, language, faith, skin color, sexually identity, etc. The founders of Sziget say that the idea of the festival was to create a “‘dream nation’, celebrating and sharing the best from cultures and people across the globe.’’ The Love Revolution is all about bringing people from all walks of life together for one incredible week.  There’s something pretty amazing about almost half a million visitors from over 100 countries coming together for a week of music and art.

5. Sziget Camping

One of the reasons Sziget has such a great vibe is that it’s a completely self-contained festival. You can camp on the festival grounds, meaning you can spend the entire week at Sziget without leaving! This really gives the venue a feeling of community. The best part is that a basic camping pass comes free with your festival pass! You can also upgrade to VIP camping, caravan camping, family camping or a variety of other outdoor accommodation options! Jump to the accommodation section for details on each camping area.

6. The Organizing

If you’ve ever been to a poorly organized music festival, you know how important it is that they are managed correctly! The Sziget organizers absolutely knock their’s out of the park. They’ve seriously thought of everything. From “party train” services that transport festival goers from all over Europe, to Festival “credit cards” that you can add money to and avoid carrying around cash, they’ve thought of everything!

7. The People

You could argue that you find amazing people at every music festival, but Sziget just seems to be different. Maybe it’s because people come from all over the world to attend, but everyone is just so stoked to be there. It really feels like one big community where you’ll be making new friends all week.


Sziget Festival Parties

Cause every music festival needs a couple of good parties!

8. Theme Parties

Every evening at the main stage there is a “theme” party. Organizers pass out certain items depending on the theme night. At the “color party” guests received colored powder to throw in the air, at the “flag” party guests were invited to wave their country’s flag proudly in the air and the confetti party had guests throw colorful confetti into the crowd. It may not sound like the most elaborate theme party, but watching tens of thousands of people collected at the main stage throwing every color of the rainbow into the air is pretty spectacular.

9. After Parties

The music at the main stages go pretty late, at least compared to American festivals, but the party really never stops. After the headlines finish there’s plenty of DJs playing on smaller stages and after parties erupting throughout the campground. You could spend the entire week partying without a minute of sleep (although we don’t recommend it!)


10. The Foam Pit

If you have a break between bands you want to see (not likely with the killer lineup, but you never know!) and still want a party, head over to the foam pit. Spitting out old school hip hop beats and tons of foam, the foam pit is the place to party during the day! Plus it gives you an excuse to strip down to your bikini and get some relief from the heat!

Sziget Festival Activities

You may be at Sziget for the music, but there’s SO much else going on that you could literally not see any music and still have an amazing day full of activities. The activity schedule for Sziget festival 2018 is chock full of workshops, from Dance Therapy to Hatha Flow Yoga to Hip Hop, they’ll keep you moving all day long!

11. Sports

Love playing sports? Sziget’s got you covered. They have literally every sport under the sun. Want to play a game of pickup bball? No problem. Want to try your hand at wheelchair volleyball?! What about playing soccer while bouncing around in giant inflatable balls? Sziget’s got every sport you’ve heard and even a few that you haven’t.

12. Something for the Adrenaline Junkies

If you’re riding the festival high and feeling invincible, Sziget’s got plenty of activities to push your comfort zone. They literally have a bungee jump at the festival. Swinging out across a crowd of people in the warm Budapest air might just be the best way to finish the festival.



13. Green Sziget

 What’s better than a summer music festival? A green summer music festival! In 2019 Sziget festival is stepping up their commitment to being environmentally friendly like this festival has never seen! Drinks will be served in reusable cups to cut down on waste, reusable straws will provided upon request and there will be water bottle refill stations around the fest. The new “Green Sziget Center” will have workshops throughout the week to discuss climate change and other important environmental topics. There will also be speakers and performances around the festival, including Dr. Jane Goodall (YES! That Jane Goodall!) speaking on the mainstage on August 8th. You don’t want to miss her!

Sziget Festival Art

Art and music mix together like peanut butter and jelly (or if you’re Hungarian, palinka and goulash).

14. Installations

Art installations seem to be a staple at music festivals now and Sziget has some pretty rad ones. Anyone can apply to have their art displayed at the festival. From light up sculptures to interactive pieces, there’s so much to see during the week.

15. Arts and Crafts

Getting inspired by all the art? You can make some yourself! There’s plenty of arts and crafts booths where you can get creative and take home a DIY souvenir! This year Sziget festival has a ceramics studio, a build your own board game workshop and more.

16. Performance Art

Not all of the art at Sziget festival is made from paint and canvas. There is a ton of performance art taking place throughout the week, including amazing displays of acro-yoga and circus acts. The Cirque de Sziget stage has some incredible performers and groups who will leave you wondering how they did that with their bodies! The Theater and Dance tent will have some groovy dance performances and quirky shows. 


Credit: @RockstarPhotographers

Sziget Festival Location

Location, location, location! This festival has it all! Not only is it located in an awesome European city, it’s also on it’s very own island! How bad ass is that?!

17. Budapest

One of the great things about Sziget is that you can buy single day tickets to the week long festival. That means that you can skip a day to explore Budapest (which we highly recommend you doing!). The city (technically cities, Budapest is made up of Buda and Pest) is a wonder in itself. From the gorgeous Belle Époque pre-communist architecture to the retro ruin bar scene, Budapest is well worth skipping a day at the festival. Check out Sziget Festival’s City Pass, which gets you discounts to cool spots around the city and free access to public transportation!

Want to spend a day exploring the historical side of the city? We recommend checking out some of the tours on offer around Budapest. Check out our article about the best history tours in Budapest.

18. The Baths

Yes, the famous spas and baths are a part of Budapest, but they deserve their own special mention. Believe me, you’ll want to take a break from the hot, dusty island of Sziget to cross the Danube river and visit one of these magical baths. Enjoy a refreshing dip in one of the cool outside baths, or soak your weary feet inside in one of the heated baths. We personally recommend Gellert Spa or the famous Széchenyi baths.

19. River Island

There are some pretty cool music festival venues out there, but an island in the middle of the Danube river? Only Sziget can claim that. Even though you’re only a stone’s throw from busy Budapest, the island is isolated enough to make it feel like you’re out in the middle of the ocean.


Sziget Music Festival: Additional Information

Here is a list of useful information to help you best prepare for Sziget Festival this year!

Sziget Festival Camping

If you don’t mind sleeping on the ground, camping at Sziget is definitely the easiest and most convenient form of accommodation for the festival. There are a plethora of camping options. A basic camping pass comes free with your festival pass, which is awesome!

The designated camping zones are scattered throughout the festival, sometimes right in the mix. This can be fun, but also a bummer when you’re trying to sleep and people are literally stepping over your tent to get to the exit. If you’d like something a little fancier, you can upgrade to a nicer camping package. Here are your other options:

VIP Camping

This camping package includes extra services like free wifi, luggage rooms, cell phone charging stations, VIP toilets and showers and, drum roll please, a swimming pool! Trust us, you’ll love being able to go for a dip after a sweaty day of dancing.

Alternativa Camping

This Italian themed camping is known for its “Dolce Vita” vibes. Not as many amenities as VIP, but there are Italian and English speaking hosts, as well as Italian food available!


Credit: @RockstarPhotographers

Apero Camping

This French themed camping spot has French and English speaking hosts, games and endless French hospitality!

Caravan Camping

This is more of a traditional camping set up where you can roll in with your own RV/ van/ automobile camping set up to DIY. They also have private shower and toilet facilities designated for this camping.

Eco Camping

Sziget works hard to stay sustainable so why not camp sustainability too? The eco camping are has solar powered showers, water efficient toilets, green energy power outlets and eco laundry.


Credit: @RockstarPhotographers

Family Camping

Family camping is (you guessed it!) for guests looking for a more family-friendly environment. Free for children under the age of 14! This camping site has a playhouse, nap areas, as well as extra toilets and showers. There are also on site staff who love kids to ensure the campsite is just as fun as the rest of the festival!

Siesta Camping

This campsite has the basics plus free wifi, luggage rooms, snack bar and extra toilets.

*There are also some glamping options, in which the festival will set up premium glamping tents with mattresses and your own private area.


Sziget Festival Off-Site Accommodation

There is plenty of off-site accommodation if you want to be able to leave the festival behind every night to get some actual rest. But with over 450,000 visitors expected at Sziget 2019, you can bet that Budapest is going to be packed. Definitely plan ahead if you’re looking to secure a hotel or AirBnB.

We’ve heard of people pitching a tent in the basic camping area on site, as well as booking a hostel or hotel room in the city so they could decide spur of the moment whether they wanted a good night sleep or to just pass out at the festival.

Here are some great options for where to stay for Sziget music festival:

Sziget Festival Hotels

Danubius Grand Hotel Margitsziget – Located on Margaret Island in the Danube River, this upscale hotel has 2 pools, a fine dining restaurant on site and a spa. Worth the splurge if you want some luxury TLC during the festival.  

Ibis Styles Budapest City – A great city hotel with funky style and impeccable cleanliness.

Cosmo City Hotel – A good mid-range hotel choice in a prime location for exploring Budapest.



Credit: @RockstarPhotographers


Sziget Festival Hostels

Sziget Hostel – This hostel is only 10 minutes from the festival entrance and dorm beds are only 19 euro/ night with a festival ticket. You can also get a private room for 57 euros for 2 people, which may be preferable if you actually want some sleep. Great place to make friends for the festival!

Meander Hostel – Located in downtown Budapest, this is a great choice if you want to visit the festival, as well as explore the city. Dorm beds are a bit more expensive, starting at 28 euro.



Sziget Festival Apartments

Kodaly Apartment – A cute studio apartment with kitchen, washing machine and of course your own bathroom which is a simple pleasure you won’t get in the festival!

Budapest Downtown Apartments – A selection of apartments for a range of guests. Rent a place with your group to keep costs down and have an after-party house!

Blue Box Apartment – A one bedroom apartment perfect for couples looking for some privacy after the fest.


Sziget Festival What To Wear

  • Comfortable walking shoes – Sziget is a HUGE festival. There’s so much to see and do. The last thing you want is to cut your day short because your feet are killing you. Take comfort over fashion and invest in some comfy kicks. Who’s looking at your shoes anyway?!
  • Bandana – The grounds of the festival are mostly made of dirt. With almost half a million people walking through during the week, you can bet there’s gonna be a TON of dust kicked up. A bandana will save you from inhaling ridiculous amounts of gross festival dirt. We recommend something like a Buff, they’re cheap, easy and super versatile.
  • Costumes – If you love a good festival costume, Sziget festival is definitely the place to break it out! From onesies to sequins to barely there bikinis, you’ll pretty much see everything at Sziget.
  • Rain jacket – Even though it gets pretty hot during the day, there’s still a possibility of rain. Having a light rain jacket can keep you from getting soaking wet and ruining your night.
  • Remember, between the dust and the color bombs things are bound to get a little messy. Don’t wear or bring anything you don’t mind getting a little dirty.


Women’s Sziget Packing List

  • Bodysuits – There’s no more classic festival look than a bodysuit with denim shorts. Just remember to get a bodysuit that has snaps in the crotch area so you don’t have to take the whole damn thing off every time you need to use the bathroom!
  • Everlane Mini Wrap dress – The fabric on this dress is so soft and comfortable. Plus wrap dresses are super easy to slip on and off.
  • Everlane Cotton Shirt Dress – Standing in the sun alllll day means some seriously burnt arms and shoulders. Cover up with this adorable yellow cotton dress perfect for summer.
  • Alternative Apparel Rayon Challis Shorts – Soft, lightweight fabrics shorts, because sometimes a girl just needs a break from denim! These are the kind of shorts you could roll up into a ball, toss in the back of your tent and throw them back on and they’d still look good.
  • Band shirt – Rep your favorite artists with some throwback band t-shirts. Just make sure you actually listen to them, otherwise it could make for some awkward conversation with fellow “fans!”
  • Felt hat – Not only is a hat a great festival accessory, but it will keep the sun off your face while everyone else is squinting at the stage.
  • Soft hoodie – The year we went there was a huge fashion trend of wearing a leather jacket tied around your waist. Taking a leather jacket (faux or otherwise) to a music festival seems a bit odd to me, and even more uncomfortable wrapped around your waist. I would recommend a soft hoodie that can double up as a pillow during warm nights in your tent.


Credit: @RockstarPhotographers


Men’s Sziget Packing List

  • Everlane Air Tee – Jules is obsessed with these shirts. Light, comfortable and perfect for a hot festival day.
  • Swim trunks – There’s nothing better than being able to move from the festival to the foam pit to the pool without having to change your clothes. Being able to stay in the same shorts will just make your festival life easier. Plus, these come in some rad patterns.
  • Alternative Apparel Basic Eco-Jersey Zip Hoodie – Even though it stays pretty hot during the day, the temperature can drop at night. A basic hoodie should keep you warm.


What to Bring to Sziget Music Festival

  • Sunscreen – Unless you get terrible weather, chances are there’s going to be plenty of sun. Be prepared!
  • Toilet paper/ tissues – You never know if the porta potties will run out!
  • Snacks – Unlike some festivals which will literally throw away an apple if you try to bring it in (ahem, Coachella), Sziget is fine with you bringing in outside food. Not a bad way to save a couple bucks and keep your energy levels up while you’re stacking out your place at the main stage.
  • Water bottle – Bring a reusable water bottle to fill up at refill stations around the festival. Because nobody likes one use plastic! Our favorite water bottles are Vapur, because one they’re empty you can fold them up and put them in your pocket!

If you still need convincing to attend Sziget music festival 2019, this should push you over the edge:

Best History Tours in Budapest: Why a Tour Makes a Difference

Budapest is a city of contrast. Formally part of the Eastern Bloc, the city is caught between its Western future and Eastern past. When we arrived in the city for the first time we were surprised to see just how metropolitan it was. Filled with cafes and restaurants, so trendy they would even make Melbournians jealous. But a sharp contrast to the hip, future-forward vibe is the city’s rich history that always surrounds you. The architecture itself is history lesson come to life. On one side you may have the classic pre-World War II incredibly ornate buildings, and just across the street a grey, life-less box of a structure from the cold Communist era.

Best History Tours in Budapest

While Budapest’s history visually manifests itself all around the city, it’s difficult to pick up on these interesting details if you’re unfamiliar with the context of Hungarian history. That’s why we decided to gain a greater insight to history of Budapest and Hungary by attending two city tours with Context Travel. Having had such an excellent experience with responsible tourism and Context in Colombia, we knew that the small group tours led by local historians would be perfect. We booked the Jewish history tour and the Communism in Budapest tour, looking to get a taste of different perspectives on the World War II and post-war history.

Jewish History of Budapest Tour

Our first tour was the Jewish Quarter Budapest tour and we met our guide Szonja in Budapest’s historically Jewish neighborhood. Context Travel tours are purposefully kept small to maximize your opportunity to speak with the guide, so the only other attendees on our tour were a middle age Jewish couple from New York. Beside one Jewish history class in college, Jules and I are pretty unfamiliar with Jewish religious history and culture, so we were definitely the newbies in the group. But that’s the thing about Context tours. Even if you don’t have any background knowledge on the subject, they are an amazing crash course into whatever topic your tour covers.

Expert Guides Who Know Their Stuff!

If you are familiar with the subject matter, even better. The tour will allow you to delve deeper and learn more than you ever could spending hours researching behind a computer screen. That’s because the tour guides are so damn knowledgeable. Take Szonja, not only does she have her Masters in Jewish Studies, but she also teaches at the Department of Assyriology and Hebrew at the ELTE University in Budapest. I don’t think there’s any question we could have thrown at her she wouldn’t have been able to answer.

We began our tour at the Dohany Synagogue of Budapest. Szonja gave us a brief background into the Jewish history in Hungary. She expanded on Hungary’s involvement during the Holocaust. Hungary was one of the first countries to send Hungarian Jews to Nazi concentration camps before World War II. During the war, however, the Hungarian government cooperated with Hitler to avoid a Nazi occupation. Allegedly the government tried to play both sides of the fence between Hitler and Stalin. Hungary became a sort of island in the middle of Europe, not quite making allies with any of its neighbors. Szonja explained that because of this isolation, the Hungarian culture and language remained relatively uninfluenced by neighboring countries.

It’s interesting to think of this historical context when experiencing present day Budapest. The city now feels incredibly cosmopolitan, with thousands of international tourists shuffling through every day. It’s hard to imagine this place so closed off to the rest of the world. Then again, during our time in Hungary we read that the country had only recently put up a wall on its border with Serbia and Croatia to keep out immigrants. It makes you wonder how much has changed.

Budapest’s Past and Present

Learning about the atrocities of the holocaust is always a heavy subject and certain parts of the tour left us in quiet contemplation, wondering what I assume many people think about the holocaust, “how could this happen?” Especially difficult to witness was the mass grave outside the Dohany Synagogue, holding more than 2,000 bodies of Hungarian Jews. Outside the Synagogue is a sculpture depicting a weeping willow tree, with leaves dripping down from its branches. On each leaf is a name and number of someone who died or disappeared during the occupation.

After the Dohany Synagogue, Szonja took us through the Jewish Quarter. Due to its history as a Jewish slum, the neighborhood was run down and derelict until recently. Szonja describes it as the area of town her parents wouldn’t let her walk through as a kid. Like many sketchy neighborhoods around the world however, the Jewish Quarter of Budapest is an up and coming area that hipsters, Hungarian and international alike, are flocking too in hordes.

Cafes serving fair trade coffee and bars offering local craft beers are popping up all around the area. But Jewish history of the area has not been forgotten however, as the neighborhood still has many synagogues and it is common to see traditionally dressed orthodox Jews.

Despite the heaviness of the subject, Jules and I left the tour feeling much more aware of the city’s past, and reminded of how important it is to learn the history, both good and bad, of the places we visit. Although the tour was specific to the area’s Jewish history, we felt that it was a good primer for understanding the greater historical context of Budapest and Hungary.

Communism in Budapest Tour

Learning from this tour also gave us a useful background for the Communist Budapest walking tour. This tour was focused more on Budapest’s history after World War II. As Jules and I were the only ones on the tour, our guide, Kata was very happy to customize the walk to our interest and prior knowledge. She took us through a comprehensive tour of Budapest from Gellert Hill to Felvonulasi Square.

While Kata was extremely knowledgeable about the city, we really loved having her as a tour guide because she was very honest and open about her opinion of the city. Romanian by heritage, she shared with us the tension between Romania and Hungary. Romania was once part of Hungary and there is a small, but passionate, group of Hungarians living in Romania that still don’t identify as Romanians. In fact, the Hungarian government has vowed to reclaim the land of Romania as Hungarian land.

Kata gave us a descriptive background of the Soviet occupation following World War II. Using the local architecture as a visual history book, Kata also explained the oppression that followed after the war, right up until communism formally ended in Hungary in 1989. Perhaps most interesting was Kata’s first hand accounts of growing up with an oppressive communist government. She recalled the fear of speaking out against the government because it wasn’t uncommon to hear of people “disappearing.”

Kata pointed out fascinating details along our route through the city, including the Postal Savings Bank designed by the famous architect Odon Lechner. Lechner was the epitome of an aristocratic snob, choosing to make the most beautiful design of the building on the roof because he believed only the birds were worthy of seeing it.

Another interesting building was the Ministry of Agriculture and UN Headquarters building, where a group of students led an anti-communist protest in 1956. The story goes that the students had received a promise of support from the US government, but when the protest happened, US forces did not show up and the students were massacred by the Soviets. From the outside of the building you can see bullet holes still intact from the tragedy.

What We Never Would Have Learned Without a Tour

One of the most interesting parts of the tour was the controversial German occupation memorial in Szabadsag Square. The memorial depicts a bronze eagle, representing Germany, with a tag on its talon that says “1944,” the year of the Nazi occupation in Hungary. Beneath the eagle is the Archangel Gabriel standing proudly, representing Hungary. The monument represents Hungary’s freedom from the repressive Nazi occupation. However, the statue is controversial given Hungary’s early involvement in sending Jews to concentration camps and the government’s cooperation with German forces.

A counter-memorial has been set up in protest of the Hungarian government’s denial of their participation during the war. The pubic has set up signs of protest including papers with information detailing the truth of Hungary’s involvement in World War II. They also have items and keepsakes from victims and survivors of the war. However, with more information from our guide, we were able to get a better understanding the dialogue and frustration on behalf of the public at the Hungarian governments refusal to acknowledge their cooperation with German forces.

Kata told us that everyday people come to the memorial around 6pm to protest about the false representation of the statue. Upon first glance it seems that the monument and counter-protest may be a part of one demonstration, a memorial to the victims of WWII. This deeper level of understanding the local history through expert guides like Kata is why we love taking Context Travel tours all over the world: we always leave feeling enlightened and with a greater connection to the destination.

Both Budapest history tours, the Jewish history tour and Communism in Budapest were perfect primers for our time in Budapest. It shed a new light on the city through a greater understanding of the tumultuous past and present tension between the people and the Hungarian government. If you’re thinking about visiting Budapest for a holiday, or if you’re planning on living in Hungary, these tours will set you up with a deeper understanding on the country and allow you to appreciate it a lot more.

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