The Sziget Festival (Sziget, pronounced Template:IPA-hu, is the Hungarian for "Island") is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe. It is held every August in northern Budapest, Hungary, on Óbudai-sziget ("Old Buda Island"), a leafy 108-hectare (266-acre) island on the Danube. More than 1,000 performances take place each year.
The week-long festival has grown from a relatively low-profile student event in 1993 to become one of the prominent European rock festivals, with about half of all visitors coming from outside Hungary, especially from Western Europe. It also has a dedicated "party train" service (with resident DJs) that transports festivalgoers from all over Europe. The second event (1994), labeled Eurowoodstock, was headlined by performers from the original Woodstock festival. By 1997 total attendance surpassed the 250,000 mark, reaching an all-time peak in 2009 with 390,000 visitors (the full 70,000 capacity being reached on one day). 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").
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.
The 2011 festival won the European Festivals Award in the category Best Major European Festival in early 2012.<ref name="award">Gewinner des Jahres 2011 - eu.festivalawards.com (engl.)</ref>
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. In 2007, the organizers co-created Balaton Sound, an electronic music festival that quickly gained popularity.
In 2014, Sziget will also branch out to Kiev: "Sziget Kiev" will be held on Trukhaniv Island.
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. 
Sziget Festival Now
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 the Netherlands. Many also come from the UK, Germany, Italy, France 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) 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., Mass Hysteria, 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.
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.
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
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.
Backyard Babies, Brujeria, Deathstars, Donots, Expatriate, Life of Agony, Satyricon, Turbonegro, Turisas
Armin van Buuren, Birdy Nam Nam, Coldcut, Dillinja, Eric Prydz, Grooverider, Jose Padilla, Paul Oakenfold, Pete Tong, 808 State
Prince, Thirty 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, Batucada Sound Machine.
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.
Crystal Castles, 2 Many DJ's, Empire of the Sun, Goose and Zombie Nation.
Söhne Mannheims, Verdena, Go Back to the Zoo and Triggerfinger.
De Jeugd Van Tegenwoordig, Baskerville, DeWolff, Kees van Hondt, Selah Sue, Marina and the Diamonds, Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77 and Hurts.
Deftones, Lostprophets, Within Temptation, Sonata Arctica, Judas Priest and Motörhead.
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. 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.
|Year||Name||Number of visitors (all days combined)||Main artists|
|1993||Diáksziget '93||43,000||Hungarian artists only|
|1994||Diáksziget '94 - Eurowoodstock||143,000||
|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||
|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||
|2012||Sziget Festival 2012||379,000||
|2013||Sziget Festival 2013||362,000||
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.
- An "artistic reply" to this festival is "Magyar Sziget" (Hungarian Island) at Ver?ce (Hungary), focusing on Hungarian rather than international music. It is held every year in July.
- Official website in 12 languages: English, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Ukrainian, Finnish, Slovakian, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese and Hungarian
- Official website for the Netherlands
- Official website for Spain
- Official website for the U.K.
- Official website for Turkey
- Sziget Ticketing
- Sziget 2007 Foto Group
- Latest news on Sziget - unofficial news site
- Sziget News - independent news site and fan community
- OnlineFM - Sziget Festival Radio Channel
- Budapest All in One Guide