Once you find yourself nicely stranded on Óbudai Island on the outskirts of Budapest for the Sziget Festival, it rapidly becomes evident that there is something viciously different about this erratic kettle of fish, writes Jake O’Brien.
Comprising of five days of music, but preceded by five extra sunrises of weirdness, this festival contains the best of everything, and I do not say that lightly. It usually takes place within the first three weeks of August. However, no starting date is annually set in stone. Nonetheless, it is continuously reassuring that a camping ticket for 8 of the 10 potential days will only set you back €150.
These nauseating tidbits of bureaucracy aside we can safely venture to the heart of this floating monster. With over 390,000 people in attendance in 2009, Sziget is quickly becoming the largest outdoor festival in Europe and believe me, it shows. This is a relatively sedate crowd when compared to other festivals such as the vile Oxegen or the renowned Glastonbury. There are no drunken mules here, no fiends chanting The Fratellis over and over. No. These are fiends of a different variety. One must be aware that drugs of ALL shapes, sizes, colours and strangeness are in large supply. I write this as a warning as much as a promotion.
With as many alternative activities as there are live acts, there is literally no chance a visitor could become bored. Art installations, cultural oddities and left-wing political demonstrations abound in this nut-house, yet at the same time that is what draws us to it. The Sziget Festival is not just ten days for the lunatics to run the asylum; it is a hive of bubbling activism and music. It is a sharp reminder that this generation has still got the ability to come together, en masse, and air out our grievances amidst joyous revelry.
Thus, consider yourself warned: Sziget is pure fun and concentrated insanity. Guaranteed memories of the highest calibre.