Tuesday 30 September 2014

A review of Sziget 2014, by Rainy Day Penguin

On August 11th 2014, myself, Bicky and Rainy Day Penguin set off on our second trip to the week-long Sziget festival in Budapest, Hungary (we had previously visited in 2010). 

Here's Rainy Day Penguin's view on our week away...

Arriving at around 11pm Monday night (we would have like to have gotten there earlier but the flights from Ireland this year were insane -no direct flights at all!) we could immediately tell that the festival had indeed sold out -something they had mentioned on their Facebook page, and to my knowledge this is the first year ever that the massive island had reached full capacity.

For those of who may have only been to Irish festivals, let me point out a couple of differences here, apart from the festival lasting a whole week- 1.) You can basically camp where you like on the Sziget island. There are, kind of, designated camping areas, but that are simply defined by a) where ever anyone else sets up camp, and more continue to camp around them, and b) Tape bordering off pathways. 2.) The place is giant. Forget Electric Picnic -This place is like a town. So with that in mind, and the place being packed to the brim, finding a camp spot took FOREVER. Made feel even longer for my humans as they were carrying large bags.

Eventually we found a suitable camp spot, set up camp and hoped our 'neighbours' wouldn't mind the intrusion. At this stage, after travelling all day and sore from walking across the island, my humans were of course in dire need of some alcohol. Approaching the first bar they seen, they were informed that no money is accepted anywhere on Island, and that you must purchase a Sziget card. These cards are available at kiosks all over the island and work like a visa card -every time you need a top-up or want to check your balance, you can go to any of these kiosks. Now, my humans had read about these on the Sziget Facebook page, but had no idea they were compulsory -They hadn't even existed at the 2010 festival. Slightly annoyed, they went to get a card and eventually got their first drink, and I had a tiny tipple myself. All and all though, we realise the cards are a great idea -No need to carry around money, which of course is a benefit.

The next day, with our cards topped up, my humans then needed to find the locker areas to store their wallets/ money and valuables. They had booked one on-line prior to arriving for around €20 for the whole week. A great idea of course -that is, if you
can find the lockers. Asking at several information points, none of the festival workers had a clue what the humans were even talking about -in fact, we found that at any time we needed to know any thing during the week, the 'information' desk hadn't a notion. For anyone going next year and buying a locker -They are behind the house/ area where you can charge your phone, near the entrance. On that note also -You can charge your phone for a small fee, but be sure to bring a plug adapter, as they do not supply them.

Getting back to the place being super packed -When they said sold out, they really meant it! In fact, in my little penguin opinion, I do believe they sold far too many tickets, as at times the pathways were so blocked with people, it was imply unsafe. I spent most of those times in my humans backpack -It was no place for a little penguin to be. It was only for the amazing people who seem to attend the festival that kept it from turning into a riot... Apart from one incidence when a little troll like man pulled on Bicky's hair and threw him to the ground :( before scampering away -all because the fatty chubs chubs was getting crushed in the crowds (like everyone else was).

...The people though... The people who go to Sziget really make the week amazing. From all around Europe, America, Canada, and everywhere, they are simply the weirdest, most wonderful characters you could meet. Both in 2010 and 2014, we have met some brilliant folk, who in general make the festival a lovely and safe environment.... It really wasn't all doom and gloom like I might make it out -I'm just a grumpy little penguin who doesn't like crowds. And even though the workers at the information desks knew very little about the festival, they were still a happy, lovely bunch.

Another plus side is the prices of drink and food. Super cheap. Even cheaper if you go up the road to the supermarket. Remember though -no drink is allowed to be brought onto the island from outside; and they do check your bag and enforce this. Not a other though as many drink their purchases down at the shopping centre. And boy, are the supermarket's workers accommodating! You think they would mind youngsters knacker drinking (as we say in Ireland) outside, and inside their premises but they don't at all. If fact, they even erected a giant tent outside for the festival goers, in case it rained! :) definitely worth the wee walk down to the place, even just for the craic.

Toilets on the island:
Pretty clean, it has to said. Really puts Irish people and Irish festivals to shame... Or maybe in Ireland and the UK we are just disgusting pigs, who can't use a toilet properly. They even have a few proper toilets, and not just portable-loos scattered around the island. 

Drink available on the island: 
Beer, spirits, wine (buy a bottle for handiness -they'll place it in a plastic bottle for you to carry around) and cocktails -Including big ones in buckets!

Lots of variety -Hungarian, pasta, chips/ fries, popcorn, pizzas, burgers, falafel, fruit stalls... all the usual things. My vegan owner eventually found two vegan places... Not alot for such a big island, but you'll find some vegan stuff in regular food places too.

Try get there early on the Monday the festival starts, to get a good spot (especially if it's as packed as 2014)... As I said, the island is huge, so you could be walking for a bit. Other camping options are available -Camping in VIP section, posh camping in wooden house things... all that info is on their website and costs extra on top of your ticket. They also have disability camping too.
For normal tent camping, get to know your neighbours and be friendly -advice for going to any festival, really. Remember, they are less likely to steal from you if you are sound! Although robbery doesn't seem to a huge issue on the island. Which brings me back to the peoples...

The festival heads:
Again, puts Irish people to shame. Nearly everyone you meet is just so, so nice. None of this beating the crap outa everyone, like at Oxygen. If your hurt yourself, loose something or get lost, you can be sure that within a minute you'll have a heap loada people helping you out.

Things to do on the island, other than see bands: 
Bungee jump (off a crane -Bicky did this in 2010, here's the video of it), get a tattoo (maybe wait to end of week... who wants to nurse a tattoo at a festival?), the Sziget eye (to get a good view of the island), The Sziget 'beach' (small, man-made beach at the waters edge... the water being the river that the island is in. This wasn't here in 2010, so our first time seeing it. Unfortunately the water part was closed most of the time as the water was too high/ unsafe, but the area is still a nice place to chill out), art installations (scattered all around the place), museum, The Luminarium (looks amazing on the photos on-line, but every day the queue was ridiculous, so unfortunately we didn't get a chance to go inside).

Lost and found area, baggage drop off (for an extra fee, leave your bags in -book on-line before you go), locker units (small storage units for valuables, for an extra fee -book on-line before you go), information desks (har har), phone charging service (again, for small fee -bring your charger), ATM's, Cigarette kiosks (no matter what age you look, YOU NEED ID! So bring your passport to buy ciggs. They have a bouncer at the doors checking -yes, a bouncer. Only three people are allowed into the make-shift shop at a time, and as I said, ID is a must -I witnessed a man in his 40's being turned away as he had no ID on him... Clearly he was over 18, but it must be a really strict law over there. Buying alcohol without age ID is fine). 

Oh and a final thing to mention: Each evening of the festival, they had a small event taking place on the main stage -I particularly love the balloon release (photos below) and another evening, the colour party. 

* See my video of the colour party by clicking here *

....So, my final penguin thoughts? Loved it. Just as magical as 2010, and great weather to boot! -Irish folk -pack the factor 50 sunscreen, my little pale and freckled human friends! It's far too warm for Irish people, and penguins alike :) But well worth a visit... I just hope organisers take note of the health and safety risks, and maybe reduce the amount of tickets on sale in future years.

And of course, wouldn't be a European festival, with the presence of the famous 'festival guy' (I can't remember what his real name is, or even real title, but got chatting to him in 2010 also and Googled him at the time and found articles about him... Can anyone help me a penguin out in remembering?)...

One of my favourite festivals (after Vantastival, of course), I give it a rating of 4/5 beaks! 

Won't be making 2015 myself, but definitely be there for 2016 

-See you there, Szitizens! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Rainy Day Penguin! Thanks for the great summary of Sziget! We are glad that you yourself and your humans had a great time! The feedback regarding our services was also very useful, so we will definitely use your comments! Sziget loves penguins and its Szitizens, so we would love to see you all in 2015 as well! ;)