guest written by Sophie Shaw
While making the big trip around Europe, it had been drilled into me from friends all over the world that I could not miss a particular festival that seemed to have changed all their lives. Dramatic, I know, but I can officially confirm how accurate their allegations were, as the 7-day festival turned out do just that! Ladies and gents, I give you… SZIGET!
Picture an island. Add almost half a million people. Take away all normality. And buckle yourself in for the best week of your life.
To ensure optimum enjoyment levels are reached, I would like to guide you on the several things I will do differently as I return for round two. Last year I was a Sziget newbie; a tiny dot on the Island of Freedom, hoping to make it out the other side with new memories, friends, and experiences. I promise you there is no way you will not achieve this! So the way I see it.. it can get better, right?
Change #1: Get out and about more
As excited as I was to have a proper look at the many (and I mean MANY) attractions across the island, I visited a surprisingly small amount of them, and was certainly in no hurry to get around them all. My first rookie mistake. There are some incredible installations to see and whether you’re feeling fit to explore or a hungover mess, you will find something to entertain you! From the Artzone to the Sportzone, the Sziget cinema or the Sziget beach, there is a consistently relaxed and creative vibe across the island suitable for all interests and ages. Get out there early, get involved or just spectate, and fill your Sziget passport with stamps – you will not regret it!
Change #2: Attire
Cut your Converse’s some slack, and give your branded trainers a break.. it’s the $10 supermarket canvas shoes week to shine! Match this with a plastic rain poncho and have a warm hoodie at hand. This may sound dismal (and is weather dependant) but it does tend to cool down at night and it is much better to be prepared for the worst! If these accessories make it out the other side, consider it a bonus, but after potential mud and general wear and tear you’ll most likely be wanting them disposed of before stepping back into reality again. For the general public’s sake…
Change #3: Move in a day early
This was one thing we were advised to do and actually listened to. So, despite this not being something I need to change, I cannot explain how important and more enjoyable it was for us setting up our tents a day early. It meant we were in a great location, we were comfortable, we were with people we wanted to be with, and we weren’t crammed into the tight gaps at the last minute.
With the ability to pitch your tent anywhere you like on the island (yep, anywhere!), you want to look for shade, flat and open spaces, and generally (if you’re after even the smallest amount of sleep) not too close to any of the stages! We also made use of conveniently located trees as make shift clothes lines, gazebo stabilizers or a place to proudly hang our NZ flags.
Whether you sleep in your tents the night before the festival begins or not is entirely up to you, however it may not be a bad idea to spend your last night of sanity/full health in the city of Budapest before you delve into the Island of Freedom. Believe it or not.. 7 nights camping is much more do-able than 8!
Change #4: Things I wished I’d known to bring
- Toilet paper is essential and is not provided in the porta-loos! The whole experience is unpleasant enough, so save yourself the embarrassment of having to ask your neighbours and stock up on a few rolls before it’s too late.
- Have some light snacks handy. There’s nothing worse than waking up after a big night, unable to move and not having any food in sight..
- Keep your cellphone alive and save the endless queues by bringing 2 or 3 rechargeable battery packs with you. If you somehow manage to drain everything of it’s power, you’ll feel much better leaving one of these behind a counter charging than you will leaving your phone.
- Use your city pass! Budapest is truly beautiful and so many people miss out on its greatness. The Szechenyi Spa Baths are one of the biggest thermal baths in Europe and are a great way to spend a relaxing day when you feel like a short break from all the action.
- If you’re using a Festipay card, load your money as soon as you can, and ideally in one go. The lines for the top up stations get longer and more painful as the week goes on, so avoid these when possible!
Top all of these helpful tips off with the most eclectic range of music, food, people and vibes, and you have yourself a recipe for undeniable happiness. You’re welcome and good luck!