Sziget Festival

Sziget Festival
Sziget Festival
Sziget Magyar Dal.jpg
Location(s) Budapest, Hungary
Years active 1993 – present
Founded by Müller Péter Sziámi, Károly Gerendai and others
Date(s) Seven days, usually starting on the first week of August. Next edition = 08/08/2011 to 14/08/2011
Genre Rock, Alternative rock, Psychedelic Rock, Punk rock, Heavy metal, Pop, Synthpop, Reggae, Hip hop, Indie, World music, Electronic music

The Sziget Festival (pronounced [ˈsiɡɛt]) in Budapest, Hungary is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. It is held every August on the Northern Budapest Óbudai-sziget ("Old Buda Island"), a leafy island of 108 hectares (266 acres) on the Danube. Sziget stands for Island. Currently it holds more than 1000 performances each year.

The week-long festival has grown from a relatively low-profile 1993 student event to become one of the definitive European rock festivals by the late 1990s, with about half of all visitors coming from outside Hungary, most notably the UK and France (11 000 French visitors in 2007[1]). It also has a dedicated "party train" service (with resident DJ's) that transports festivalgoers from Western Europe.[2] The second event (1994), labeled Eurowoodstock, was headlined by performers from the original festival 25 years after. In 1997, Sziget attendancy rates surpassed the 250 000 mark, and in 2001, the 350 000 mark. The all-time peak year was 2009 with 390 000 visitors.[3] It is now being increasingly labeled as a European alternative to the Burning Man festival due to its unique features ("an electronically amplified, warped amusement park that has nothing to do with reality").[4]

In 2011, Sziget was ranked one of the 5 best festivals in Europe by The Independent, and one of the 10 best by the European Festival Awards.[5]

In 2002, Sziget branched out to Transylvania when its organizers co-created a new annual festival there titled Félsziget Fesztivál (Romanian: Festivalul Peninsula) that soon became the largest of its kind in Romania.[6] In 2007, the organizers co-created Balaton Sound, an electronic music festival that quickly gained popularity.



Sziget 2003

Following the end of the Communist era in 1989, the formerly lively summer festival scene in Budapest faced a crisis due to a sudden loss of governmental funding. A group of artists and rock enthusiasts proposed the Sziget event as a way to bridge this gap. The festival was started in 1993, originally called Diáksziget (Students' Island). This first event was organised by music fans in their spare time and ran well over budget, taking until 1997 to repay the losses. From 1996 to 2001 it was sponsored by Pepsi and renamed Pepsi Sziget. It has been called Sziget Fesztivál ("island festival") since 2002.

A comprehensive survey was done and published on the risktaking behaviour and mood of Sziget visitors (2007) by the National Institute for Health Promotion (OEI). The survey revealed amongst others that the last sexual encounter of 9.4% of its participants was unprotected. [1]

Sziget Festival Now

Sziget 2003 Main Stage

Sziget Festival is notable in that it contains acts from many different genres. 2006 saw, among others, a blues stage, a jazz tent, a world music stage, alongside the main stage with more typical popular rock acts.

The festival is popular with west Europeans. Around 50% of visitors come from outside Hungary, with the largest group coming from France. Many also come from the UK, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Ireland.

Being located on an island, some festival goers have tried to enter by swimming across the Danube or by paddling across in an inflatable raft. The organisers very much discourage these attempts claiming that it has never worked and that it is dangerous due to the tricky nature of the fast-flowing Danube river.


In 2008, Sziget Festival lasted from 11 to 18 August. The festival, instead of 7+1 days as in 2007, was 5+2 days long, with a "zeroeth day" that featured one major gig (Iron Maiden)[7] and a special "minus first day" called "Day of Hungarian Songs" that headlined a number of popular Hungarian rock bands (including LGT and Beatrice). As well as Iron Maiden, R.E.M.,[8] Babyshambles, Sex Pistols, Jamiroquai, Anti-Flag, Flogging Molly, Alanis Morissette, The Killers, The Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs, The Cribs and many other were also confirmed, the day of their performance is available at the Sziget website. The length of the festival was reduced so that the residents living in the neighbourhoods nearby would have less trouble because of the noise. The organisers plan to take further steps to reduce noise: the metal stage will be open until 11 pm only and noise filtering walls will be built near the noisiest stages.[9]


Sziget 2009 was 10–17 August 2009. The festival had a 5+2 day schedule again. The "zeroeth day" had a Rock Against Racism concert, featuring mostly Hungarian bands. The "minus first day" had one major gig again, this time the 20th anniversary concert of Hungarian rock band Tankcsapda.

The Lineup:

Main Stage

IAMX, Nouvelle Vague, Ska-P, Snow Patrol, Lily Allen, Miss Platnum, The Ting Tings, Die Toten Hosen, Bloc Party, Fatboy Slim, Haydamaky, Jet, Primal Scream, Pendulum, The Prodigy, The Subways, Editors, Klaxons, Manic Street Preachers, Placebo, Disco Ensemble, Danko Jones, Maxïmo Park, The Offspring, Faith No More

World Music Main Stage

So Kalmery, Napra, Oi Va Voi, Calexico, 08001, Orquesta Buena Vista Social Club Figli Di Madre Ignota, Zamballarana, Amadou & Mariam Speed Caravan, Woven Hand & Muzsikás, N&SK, Khaled Vieux Farka Touré, Tiken Jah Fakoly, Broterhood of Brass: Boban Markovi? Orkestar + Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars

A38-WAN2 Stage:

Blasted Mechanism, De Staat, La Troba Kung-Fú, Matatu, Miloopa, Muchachito Bombo Infierno, Squarepusher, Tricky, White Lies, Babylon Circus

  • White Lies' performance of "The Power and the Glory" from Sziget Festival was later used as the music video for the song.

Rock Stage:

Backyard Babies, Brujeria, Deathstars, Donots, Expatriate, Life of Agony, Satyricon, Turbonegro, Turisas

Party Arena:

Armin van Buuren, Birdy Nam Nam, Coldcut, Dillinja, Eric Prydz, Grooverider, Jose Padilla, Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong, 808 State

Line Up 2011


Prince, 30 Seconds to Mars, The Prodigy, Pulp, Chemical Brothers, White Lies, Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers, Dizzee Rascal, Interpol, Flogging Molly, Kate Nash, British Sea Power, Skunk Anansie, Gogol Bordello, La Roux, Rise Against, The National, Hadouken!, Good Charlotte.

Worldmusic Stage

AfroCubism, Rotfront, Ojos de Brujo, Gotan Project, Eliades Ochoa, Hurlements d’Leo, Debout Sur Le Zinc, Goran Bregovic Wedding & Funeral Band and Shtetl Super Stars.

Party Arena

Crystal Castles, 2 Many DJ's, Empire of the Sun, Goose and Zombie Nation.

Europe Stage

Söhne Mannheims, Verdena, Go Back to the Zoo and Triggerfinger.

A38/Wan2 Stage

De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig, Baskerville, DeWolff, Kees van Hondt, Selah Sue, Marina and the Diamonds, Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 and Hurts.

Metal Mainstage

Deftones, Lostprophets, Within Temptation, Sonata Arctica, Judas Priest and Motörhead.


Sziget 2003 Chill out tent

Dr. Tamas Derce, the mayor of Újpest, the 4th district of Budapest has sued Sziget Festival, claiming that the event is so loud the locals cannot sleep at night. The mayor wants to force the organisers by court decision to cease every program between 6 pm and 10 am - which virtually means closing down the festival. The mayor already lost a similar case against Sziget at court in 2002.[10] The organizers of the 2008 festival promised local officials that the main stage will shut down at 11 pm and no music on that stage will be played after that. For this reason the Iron Maiden concert was taken from its original starting time of 9:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Previous years

Year Name Number of visitors (all days combined) Main artists
1993 Diáksziget '93 43,000 Hungarian artists only
1994 Diáksziget '94 - Eurowoodstock 143,000
1995 Diáksziget '95 173,000
1996 Pepsi Sziget 1996 206,000
1997 Pepsi Sziget 1997 260,000
1998 Pepsi Sziget 1998 268,000
1999 Pepsi Sziget 1999 297,000
2000 Pepsi Sziget 2000 324,000
2001 Pepsi Sziget 2001 365,000
2002 Sziget 2002 355,000
2003 Sziget 2003 361,000
2004 Sziget 2004 369,000
2005 Sziget 2005 385,000
2006 Sziget 2006 385,000
2007 Sziget Festival 2007 371,000
2008 Sziget Festival 2008 385,000
2009 Sziget Festival 2009 390,000
2010 Sziget Festival 2010 382,000
2011 Sziget Festival 2011 385,000

Other activities

In addition to music, the festival offers a plethora of other activities including cinema, dance, theatre, tattooing, Internet access, volleyball, tennis, football, indoor rowing, rock climbing, bungee jumping and a life-sized foosball.

The island is conveniently located in the city of Budapest allowing trips to the city centre during the day.

See also

  • Woodstock


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ from the Sziget website
  8. ^ from the Sziget website
  9. ^ News from the Sziget website
  10. ^ Zárjon be a Sziget este 10-kor?! (Should Sziget close down at 10 pm?)

External links

Coordinates: 47°33′14″N 19°03′18″E / 47.55389°N 19.055°E / 47.55389; 19.055

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