How to survive a festival

Sziget festival guide

Every year around August, the Óbuda Island in Budapest turns into an enormous festival, trying to express the value of freedom to all of its visitors.

Even though we have never been to this festival ourselves, we have experienced other festivals in our home countries and beyond. Therefore, we would like to share with you our personal guide to surviving a festival. This article is based on the experiences of people that actually went to the Sziget festival and took the time to tell us about it. Here are all the ins and outs of visiting and experiencing a festival to the fullest, according to us. Enjoy!

Packing list

There are two types of people when it comes to packing: the ones who start making lists three weeks in advance and the ones who start throwing stuff in their backpacks or suitcases two hours prior to departure. If you happen to be a person that belongs to the second group of people, don’t worry. We’ve got it covered for you. Here’s a list with the things you shouldn’t forget to bring to a festival:

Ticket
The most important thing is your festival ticket (or voucher with QR code). It may sound stupid but there are people who actually forgot to bring their ticket and trust us, you don’t want to see your friends entering the festival while you have to search desperately for somebody who is selling a last-minute ticket at the entrance.
And don’t forget to bring a valid ID.

Money
This is also pretty obvious but don’t forget to bring money to the festival. Some festivals accept cash only, some accept credit cards and for some festivals you have to exchange your money into some other kind of ficticious festival currency like tokens. In the past years the festival guests at Sziget were able to either pay by PayPass or with a Festipay festival card. This year however, the Sziget Group confirmed that they’ll be using Festipay wristbands. Every visitor receives a wristband with a chip that includes all the information about entering the event, the camping site and it also includes the payment function. Money can be transferred in advance which might prevent people from standing in lines for a long time but there’s still an option to pay by PayPass. However, you should bring some cash, just in case you want to take a trip to the city and explore Budapest.

Practical (rain-proof) clothing
Don’t ever underestimate the unpredictability of the weather. Even though the festival happens in August there might be some rainy or stormy days (and nights). Bring at least a rain-proof jacket or a poncho and waterproof shoes. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Be prepared and pack clothes for all seasons. It can be really hot during the day but keep in mind that it might cool down at night, especially if you decide to camp at the festival. And you might as well want to bring swimwear and flip flops since there’s a beach on the island.

Sunscreen, sunglasses, hat
It would be a shame if you had to stay in your tent for the rest of the festival because you got a sunburn on the very first day or because you got a sunstroke. Try to avoid this by being smart and applying sunscreen.

Portable charger
Charging your phone at a festival is always difficult. A lot of festivals have charging stations but the lines are enormously long. If you don’t want to miss your favorite act because you have to stand in line to charge your phone bring a portable charger or a power bank. And make sure that this one is charged as well!

Plastic bottles
You’re not allowed to bring glass bottles or jars to the festival or to the camping site. Some festivals only accept beverage cartons like Tetra Paks but at Sziget you’re allowed to bring a 2,5 litre PET bottle to the festival. Keep in mind that alcohol is prohibited at the festival (but allowed at the camping site).

These are definitely the most important things but there are some other things that might be useful when you’re camping at a festival like

towels, flashlight, hand sanitizer (!), water, canned food or snacks, duct tape, toilet paper, lighter, bug spray, ear plugs, first aid kit, garbage bags …

Survival Kit1(source: summerxskin.com)

Accommodation

The accommodation at a festival can be a real struggle: no matter if you decide to camp with your friends close to the festival ground or to have more comfort and stay in a hostel or AirBNB. To help you make this decision, we will give you the pro’s and con’s of the places to stay.

Starting with camping on the camping site of sziget – the price of the camping is included in your festival ticket. Of course, the biggest advantage is being so close to the festival and not having to worry about finding your way home at night (while being drunk). The supermarket is within walking distance and has everything you need. Also, camping might just be the only way you can experience the true festival vibe, while being close to the tents of all of your fellow ‘szitizens’. However, the camping site will be packed within hours, so finding a good spot can be a real struggle. To avoid this, we would recommend you to buy a ‘move-in pass’, which allows you to get into the camp site 3 days before the festival and place your tent in the best (and most shady) place. This brings us to another topic: the weather. If you are unlucky and don’t find a shady spot for your tent, be ready to get up very early in the morning, since the heat of the sun on your tent will be unbearable. You could try to avoid these struggles and choose the more luxurious camping option by upgrading your ticket to a glamping ticket, to make use of a tent or caravan that has already been set up for you.

The second option for accommodation would be to rent an AirBNB with your friends or stay at a hostel. By doing this, you can avoid the problems you would have with camping. And you could also enjoy the luxury of having your own space and especially your own bathroom. But be aware that the prices will increase during the time of the festival. Also, you will probably have to use public transport to get to the Sziget festival and get back home every night. This might keep you from experiencing the daytime activities organized at the island. It could however make you experience more of the city itself, which is beautiful, too.

Survival Kit2(source: backpacknstuff.wordpress.com, photo by Sándor Csudai)

What are the insider tips/spots at the festival?

There are lots of things to do at the Sziget festival, but there are some insider tips and spots you probably didn’t know before. Check out these things and places for a great festival time:

  • Try to avoid going to the food corner between 6 and 8 pm. This is the time when everybody is standing in line at the food trucks and want to eat, so you’ll have to wait for a long time.
  • Try out the Sziget sky bar and enjoy a cocktail 50 meters above the ground. It gives you an incredible view over the whole festival ground!
  • Visit the Sziget Beach! This is a hidden treasure on the island, where you can smoke shisha, sleep on pillows or enjoy a free yoga class.

Survival Kit3(source: theplanetd.com)

  • Go to the labyrinth – you can visit the place with a question on your mind and you are asked to perform some activities and answer a few questions to exit the labyrinth with an answer to the question on your mind.
  • The main stage is always the fullest! You should also check the stonehenge stage, the village stage and the Irish stage.
  • Marry the love of your life (or just your best friend) in the wedding tent!
  • Visit the travelling fun fair and play games like hat throwing, walnut smashing and ring tossing! There is also a tent with a fortune teller where you can find out all the things you always wanted to know.
  • Tired of dancing and just need silence for two hours? Relax in the cinema Hungary tent and watch a Hungarian movie with English subtitles.

The last tip is to just have fun end enjoy your festival time! Meet new people, discover the whole festival area and do all the things you want to do 🙂

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