Looking for tips for Sziget Festival?
I’ve written a few posts about my experience at Sziget, so anything you want to know, you’ll find it here. Consider my blog your official Sziget Festival guide in fact.
I spent a week at Sziget and had a brilliant time, despite the crazy weather the year I was there. We really didn’t know what to expect before I went so I wanted to put together this Sziget survival guide so you can prepare for all events, and know what to expect.
Genuinely, I was like Simba in the ravine on my first day at Sziget, there were people coming at me from everywhere. I couldn’t quite get my head around the Sziget payment system and I definitely hadn’t had as much to drink as some of the people I saw strewn around the site.
As I got to know the festival and people had obviously got over the excitement of arriving at Sziget, I got in the swing of things. I want to help you avoid that initial WTF? stage and get straight in there to the good vibes and great feelings I ended up getting from the festival.
If you’re looking for a Sziget Packing List, scroll to the end.
Your Sziget Survival Guide
1. Dress for warm, cold and rain
The temperature suddenly drops in the evening and you’re going to want something warm, no matter what the weather was like in the day. During the week I was at Sziget it rained (torrentially), was scorching hot, freezing cold and at time just ‘nice’. Pretty much like being in England actually.
Make sure you bring some spare clothes – a long sleeved top / tights – to keep you warm at night. Even if you’re not cold at the festival I can guarantee you’ll want it for walking home.
READ MORE: What to Wear to Festivals
When is Sziget Festival?
In 2019 Sziget Festival runs from Wednesday, 7 August to Tuesday, 13 August.
2. Don’t stress about money
Thanks to the exchange rate into Hungarian Forints the price of things is confusing at Sziget.
My advice would be just to hand your Sziget payment card over and be done with it. If you think too much into all those zeros you will literally blow your own mind. All the drinks are around the same price – cheap.
If you want super cheap go local (beer and unicum), and stick with pizza for the best satiation for your forint.
3. Take trainers or CAT boots
Even when it was raining it was too hot for wellies. I ended up wearing trainers every day, despite taking an array of planned flip flops for a few reasons:
- Too many people in an enclosed space is not good for your toes.
- Some areas were really muddy.
- You’re standing around a lot.
- It was cold at night.
- They’re comfy and protective.
I guess if you’re camping at Sziget Festival you can be a bit more relaxed with your footwear, as you can keep spares at the tent. If you’re staying in the city, like I did, then you’ll only want to bring one pair of shoes to the festival. I’d recommend hiking boots.
SAFETY FIRST: It’s always useful to have some knowledge of First Aid.
READ MORE: The Best Hotels for Sziget Festival
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4. You can smuggle in booze
Apart from the first day they seemed pretty chill on the door, although they did have a quick glance in my bag to show willing. You can definitely smuggle in a hipflask or two, or try one of my many other ways to smuggle booze into a festival. So long as you didn’t have crates of the stuff they didn’t seem to mind.
More on Sziget Festival
5. You can pre drink right up to the gate
The route from the tram to the entrance gate was littered with people knocking back drinks. Although from what I heard and what I suspect, not many Brits were involved. For us, the drink inside was so cheap it wasn’t worth it.
For the Hungarians however, the drinks were four-fold the prices they were used to.
This is just what I was told and to be honest, since I went the whole Brexit bollocks has kicked off so it’s probably all the more expensive now.
Either way, Sziget Festival alcohol will be cheaper than in England, but obviously it’s even cheaper to pre drink.
Where is Sziget Festival?
Sziget Festival location is: 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.
6. You don’t have to camp
Yes, camping is fun and you’re definitely deeper in on the festival action, but there’s so much cheap accommodation in Budapest you really don’t have to put yourself through this.
Trust me, I love camping, but I really don’t think I could’ve done the 8 nights at Sziget. With the whole spectrum of weather to deal with, the 415,000 people and the crammed in feral tents… no thanks.
If you do camp though make sure you pick somewhere in the shade with some cool neighbours. The people you meet at Sziget will make or break it!
Watch the official Sziget aftermovie from last year
Or, you could try VIP camping. It’s around 200 euros and you get a swimming pool, easy access to showers and toilets, apparently don’t have to queue for anything and the bar is private. You’ll get a wristband and need it to access the site.
Instead of camping at Sziget Festival, I got an apartment with my friend in Buda. It was £10 each per night and door to door from the festival it was 30-40 minutes. Public transport runs all night during Sziget Festival.
Some of our friends pitched a tent at the Sziget site, which they said was still 40 minutes from the main stage. The crafty fellas also got a cheapo apartment in town though, so depending on how their night went, they could choose where to sleep.
READ MORE: Beauty Tips for Festivals
7. The food is brilliant
You don’t have to worry about taking camping equipment to cook, or anything like that. The food at Sziget was plentiful and cheap, for Brits coming from the pound anyway. It might be nice to have a few cereal bars and dried fruit, but you can easily get into Budapest for cheap supplies. The nearest supermarket would be about 20 minutes on the tram, or there’s one on site too.
I can honestly say that the spread at Sziget Festival was the best I’ve ever seen. There were a range of prices too – you could get a slice of pizza for 500HUF (1.25) and a kebab for the same.
One of the best things I ate during the whole 11 days I spent in Budapest was one of these chicken kebabs from the food of Transylvania stall. There was definitely enough for two there and I did end up sharing with my friends. It also cost a tenner, but just look at all that juicy meat. That’s the kind of protein you need to make it through a festival.
The stalls were dotted around the site and there was also an International Food Village serving up the best cuisine from all over the place. You could get a plate absolutely stacked with paella, or my friend tried one of the Indian dishes complete with naan bread and rice.
You could also get pastas with different toppings, trays of fruit (never seen that at a festival before!), a range of local delights and a sweet crepe to top it all off. Jack Daniels had a whole area at Sziget and were cooking JD-inspired dishes, which sadly I never got to try.
And a bakery! I’ve genuinely always thought that’s what festival food in England lacks, a good old cheapo bakery.
Top tip: don’t try and eat between 6-8pm from the festival stalls, it all gets a bit crazy at feeding time. Tell your stomach it can wait another few hours.
Sziget food and drink prices: cheap!
8. Everyone is really friendly
As I said, at first I was overwhelmed by the people but I soon got to realise it was a really friendly festival. People are here from all over the world – usually with their patriotic flag across their back – and everyone just wants to have fun.
Chat to people, be nice, make friends, don’t get angry with pushing people at the main stage and you’ll have a great old time.
The key to this Sziget festival guide, as in any festival, is just don’t be a dick. We’re all here to have a good time so don’t spoil it for anyone!
9. Don’t just stay at the main stage
Around 75% of my Sziget was spent at the main stage but it was actually when we went about off-piste that we had the most fun. We wanted to see a lot of the headliners, that’s cool, but the main stage was just so, so busy you couldn’t enjoy being in with the crowd.
When we went to the Stonehenge Stage, the Irish Stage or the Village Stage we had a great time dancing around to whatever it was they were playing up there. I’d definitely recommend you get out more.
There are different workshop and dance / theatre / circus performances during the day and night. There are also random pop-up stages around the island as well, probably around 20-30 different types of program venues.
Tips for Sziget Fetsival
10. Take a look around in the day
This is something I would’ve liked to do more of, and I guess is one of the few benefits of camping. There’s a whole schedule of cool stuff going on in the day time. Unfortunately the earliest I ever managed to make it in was about 4pm for the bands. If I went again I’d definitely try to make the most out of this.
11. Time your visit to the Sky Bar well
The Sziget Sky Bar goes 50m above the ground, giving awesome views to be enjoyed with a cocktail of your choice. If you want to give it a go, you need to time it well. Thankfully for us we just caught the end of the Outkast set, but the people behind us would’ve gone up there to see, nothing.
Top Sziget Festival tip for you: make sure there’s going to be something to watch when you’re up there!
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12. Buy the Sziget-Budapest Citypass
With all the tram travel I did, and the Budapest activities during and after the festival I definitely would’ve saved money by getting this. You can buy the pass for 2 or 13 days and it covers all transport, discounted spa and beach entrance, free shuttles passes, free boat passes and other discounts throughout Budapest too. The Sziget-Budapest Citypass starts from 19 euros.
READ MORE: The Coolest Things to Do in Budapest
13. Learn some Hungarian
Just knowing a few words seemed to work wonders with the bar staff. They’ve got a tough job behind the bar trying to work out what all the different nationalities want from them. Showing some sort of effort to communicate in their language was appreciated, or at least the probable mispronunciation made them smile.
- Two beers – két sört
- Two wines – két bor
- Please – kérem
- Thank you – köszönöm
- Cheers – Egészségedre!
- Goodbye – búcsú
Packing list for Sziget Festival
A few people have asked me what they need to take to Sziget. Backpack space is tight for festivals, especially if you’re travelling abroad and your kit list for Sziget needs to be streamlined.
Of course the easiest plan is to wear the same thing all week, but I guess that’s not really practical. Let me help you with Sziget packing tips below.
Your ticket – there’s no way to get in without it! Also, bring ID.
Money and bank card – there are ATMs at Sziget Festival but make sure you have some on you to get by. You’ll be using the Sziget bank card while you’re there, and you can top this up with your card. So, make sure your card works before you leave your home country.
Light and nifty tent – try this light pop up tent from Amazon. Every year there’ll be a reminder to not bring too big a tent, but you need a decent one for the bad weather. Yes, bad weather. The year I went to Sziget Festival it absolutely chucked it down with rain. Make sure to buy a good tent for Sziget if you want any sort of comfort.
Cosy sleeping bag – this cosy Mummy sleeping bag is only £9.99 and has 4/5 stars from 75 people on Amazon. Bargain! Whether it’s raining or not, it’ll still be quite warm in Budapest so you don’t need an OTT expensive one.
Sziget festival packing list
Summer clothes – you need to pack for the August summer heat!
And winter clothes – you need to have nice, cosy jumpers for the evening and night. Sziget is a 24-hour festival and you don’t want to be the party pooper who goes home cold, do you? Tights and leggings are a great day to night warm up – so add that to your festival checklist ladies, and men, and non-binary…
Hiking boots – depending on how wet the ground is you might just be ok in trainers but if rain is predicted for Sziget then I’d definitely recommend taking hiking boots. With so many people walking on wet ground it’ll get churned up very quickly. There are loads of great priced hiking boots on Amazon to choose from.
Check out my post on the Best Footwear for Glastonbury – the tips are the same for Sziget!
Toothbrush and paste – one of the very few ways to stay fresh, and the easiest. There is a kind of ‘corner shop’ at Sziget, so you can pick up a few essentials, but it’s always best to take them with you, and bring home again.
Enamel mug – enamel mugs are great for festivals. You can use them to help clean your teeth, to drink out of, and to eat cereal and soup of too. Definitely stick one of them on your Sziget packing list. Take a look at the many, many enamel mug designs they have on Amazon.
Sun cream – even if it rains it’ll still be hot in Budapest in August so pack some sun cream and take it round with you.
Rain mac that fits in your bag – pick up a cheap rain mac from Amazon. These ones start at just £1.99 each from Amazon. Or, take a better quality one to keep you warm.
More essentials for Sziget Festival
Toilet roll – take some toilet roll or a little packet of tissues to Sziget, especially for the toilet situation.
– More on How to Avoid Those Festival Toilets
Driving license – take your driving license so you have some ID if ever you get challenged. You don’t want to be without a drink at Sziget now, do you?
Not so essential Sziget packing list
Lilo or blow up bed – be prepared with this this single blow up mattress for less than £10 from Amazon. It’ll be worth every penny, especially if it rains and the ground is cold and wet.
Groundsheet – this 6 x 4ft one from Amazon is just £2.49. Groundsheets are actually a great thing to pack in your day pack for Sziget as you can sit on them around the festival. Like a picnic blanket you don’t really care that much about.
Spare carrier bags – to keep all your rubbish in order, and to separate filthy clothes from not so filthy during the fest. Also, good for sitting on if the ground is a bit wet.
Torch – you need a torch if you’re planning on going anywhere near a toilet in the dark. I nearly had a horrible surprise at Reading Festival when I went in the cubicle – there was shit everywhere. If I hadn’t have had a torch I wouldn’t have seen it. Don’t waste your phone battery or risk your phone near the toilet, take a torch instead.
This head torch is less than £3. Could be the best £3 you’ve ever spent!
Sziget festival tips
most basic little mirror for just £2.40.
Reusable plastic cups – these pop up beer cups are a great idea, so you’re ready for action at a moment’s notice, and don’t damage the environment.
Things you might need at Sziget
Make up – you’ll probably sack it off after a while, but take a few bits anyway. Can cover a whole evening of sins.
Face cleaning stuff – get that Micellar water packed to get the dust and grime off!
A variety of sunglasses – sunglasses were made for festivals. Get yourself a good sunnies collection going on for Sziget!
Solar powered shower – group together with your friends and you can get this solar powered shower for just £6.53.
Glitter – oh you’ve got to have a bit of glitter at a festival, haven’t you? Save money by buying your own Sziget festival glitter to take with you.
Make sure to stick to the biodegradable types of glitter though.
Moisturiser – shine those pasty legs up for the sun!
Lip balm – pack yourself a good lip balm to keep your lips moist. Will help with chapped and dry lips after all that shouting and singing!
Vitamins – Sziget is a long week and your immune system will be under attack. Stay strong!
Paracetamol – obviously.
Pillow – you could just roll up your hoody to sleep on, or you could actually be comfortable and take a pillow to Sziget. Up to you! If you fancy somewhere in between – try a camping pillow.
Swimsuit – a swimsuit is a great idea for Sziget, or a bikini. If it’s hot you’ll want to strip off in the sun, and there are watersports things around too. Also, you might want to go over to the pool on the other island.
Portable phone charger – you definitely need a portable phone charger at Sziget. With all the selfies and stories and drunk messages, your phone battery will take a caning during Sziget. Don’t be one of those people who has to join the huge queue for a recharge.
Check out 11 Top Tips for Sleeping at Festivals
A specially bagged clean set of clothes to go home in – they will feel amazing. So fresh and so clean.
What to take to Sziget, in short
Toothbrush and paste
Lilo or blow up bed
Spare carrier bags
Reusable plastic cups
Face cleaning stuff
Solar powered shower
Bed sheet / blanket
Portable phone charger
Ear plugs and eye mask
Separate bag of clothes to go home in
You can buy pretty much all of this on Amazon. Click here to go through!