The Sziget Festival (pronounced ['sigɛt], similar to see'-get) is one of the largest music and cultural festivals in Europe, and more recently, in the world. The festival is held annually in August in Budapest, Hungary and takes place on Óbudai-sziget ("Old-Buda Island"), a landscaped island on the Danube, thus Sziget stands for Island. Currently it boasts more than 1000 performances each year.

The week-long festival has grown from a relatively low-profile, gap-filling 1993 student event to become one of the definitive European rock festivals by the late 1990s, with about half of all visitors coming from outside Hungary, including the Anglosphere and France (11 000 French visitors in 2007). Attendancy rates surpassed the 250 000 mark in 1997 and the 350 000 mark in 2001. The all-time peak year was 2005 with 385 000 visitors (also attained in 2006 and 2008). 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").


Following the end of the communist era 1989, there were no longer organised camps for musicians to meet up and play, and hence a music festival was proposed as a way to bridge this gap. The festival was started in 1993, originally called Diáksziget (Students' Island). This first event was organised by enthusiastic 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 Festival ("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 Germany. Many also come from the UK, France, Italy and The Netherlands.

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, due to the tricky nature of the fast-flowing Danube river.


In 2008, Sziget Festival will be from the 11th to the 18th of August. The festival, instead of 7+1 days as in 2007, will be 5+2 days long, with a "zero day" where the audience can watch one big concert (Iron Maiden) and a special "minus one day" called "Hungarian Song Day" where several classic Hungarian bands (including LGT, Beatrice and others) play gigs during the day. As well as Iron Maiden, R.E.M., Babyshambles, Sex Pistols, Jamiroquai, Anti-Flag, Flogging Molly, Alanis Morissette, The Killers, The Kooks, Kaiser Chiefs, The Cribs, Pendulum 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.


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.

Previous Years

  • 1993 (Diáksziget '93)

43 000 visitors. (Only Hungarian artists).

  • 1994 (Diáksziget '94 (Eurowoodstock))

143 000 visitors. Main artists: Jethro Tull, Ten Years After, Grandmothers of Invention (Frank Zappa's band), Jefferson Starship, Birds, Blood Sweat and Tears, Eric Burdon

  • 1995 (Diáksziget '95)

173 000 visitors. Main artists: Stranglers, Jeff Healey, Clawfinger, John Cale, Kava Kava (band)

  • 1996 (Pepsi Sziget 1996)

206 000 visitors. Main artists: Slash, Iggy Pop, Therapy?, The Prodigy, The Bates, The Stone Roses, The Levellers, Sonic Youth

  • 1997 (Pepsi Sziget 1997)

260 000 visitors. Main artists: David Bowie, Motörhead, Rollins Band, Faith No More, Chumbawamba, Foo Fighters, New Model Army, the Cardigans, dEUS, Toy Dolls

  • 1998 (Pepsi Sziget 1998)

268 000 visitors. Main artists: Rammstein, Coolio, Chumbawamba, Boney M, Green Day, Mory Kante, Shane MacGowan and the Popes, Goldie, Patti Smith, Paradise Lost, Therapy?

  • 1999 (Pepsi Sziget 1999)

297 000 visitors. Main artists: Guano Apes, Liquido, Asian Dub Foundation, Paradise Lost, Apocalyptica, Faithless, Suede, Rachid Taha, Baaba Maal, Boney Nem, Brand New Heavies, Kool and the Gang.

  • 2000 (Pepsi Sziget 2000)

324 000 visitors. Main artists: Oasis, Guano Apes, Apollo 440, Chumbawamba, Suzanne Vega, HIM, Bad Religion, Baaba Maal, Clawfinger, Lou Reed, Bloodhound Gang, Die Ärzte, Therapy?, K2R Riddim.

  • 2001 (Pepsi Sziget 2001)

365 000 visitors. Main artists: Ash, Bomfunk MCs, Jimmy Bosch, Eagle Eye Cherry, Faithless, Freestylers, Guano Apes, HIM, Ignite, Khaled, Moonspell, Morcheeba, Nightwish, Noir Desir, Omara Portuondo, Placebo, Varttina.

  • 2002 (Sziget 2002)

355 000 visitors. Main artists: The Cure, Iggy Pop, Muse, Pulp, Stereo MCs, Transglobal Underground, HIM, The 69 Eyes, Nightwish, The Gathering, Die Toten Hosen, Jovanotti, Amorphis, Tito and Tarantula, Mission, Kosheen, The Klezmatics, Baaba Maal, Mory Kante, U.K. Subs, Natacha Atlas.

  • 2003 (Sziget 2003)

361 000 visitors. Main artists: Fun Lovin' Criminals, Massive Attack, Morcheeba, Shaggy, Seeed, Apocalyptica, DJ Rush, Slayer.

  • 2004 (Sziget 2004)

369 000 visitors. Main artists: Faithless, Sugababes, The Rasmus, The Pet Shop Boys, Fun Lovin' Criminals, The Bloodhound Gang, Junkie XL, Paul Oakenfold, Basement Jaxx, Children of Bodom, Scissor Sisters, Freestylers, Tito and Tarantula, The Gathering, Amorphis, Addictive TV, In Flames, Ash.

  • 2005 (Sziget 2005)

385 000 visitors. Main artists: Franz Ferdinand, Good Charlotte, Underworld, Nick Cave, Sean Paul, Buena Vista Social Club, Paul van Dyk, KoЯn, Natalie Imbruglia, Basement Jaxx, Wickeda

  • 2006 (Sziget 2006)

385,000 visitors. Main artists: Therapy? (UK), Living Colour (USA),Ministry, Franz Ferdinand, Jovanotti, Scissor Sisters, Radiohead (UK), The Rasmus, Robert Plant, Placebo, The Prodigy (UK),

Other bands of the 2006 festival
Craig (USA), Addictive TV (UK), Cradle of Filth (UK), Evergrey (S), Fear Factory (USA), maNga (TR), Natacha Atlas, Sick of It All (USA), The Skinny Bohemians (UK/CA/HU), Wir sind Helden (D), Kispál és a Borz (H), Hadag Nahash (IL), Leningrad (RU), Gogol Bordello (USA), .

  • 2007 (Sziget Festival 2007)

371,000 visitors. Main artists: Manu Chao (F), The Good, the Bad and the Queen (UK),The Chemical Brothers (UK), Gogol Bordello (USA), Laurent Garnier (F), Pink (USA), Madness (UK), The Rakes (UK), The Hives (S), Nine Inch Nails (USA), Razorlight (UK), Sinéad O'Connor (IRL), Faithless (UK), Tool (USA), Fusedmarc (LT), Eagles Of Death Metal (USA), The Killers (USA), Quimby (H), Alpha Blondy (CIV), Tankcsapda (H), Kispál és a Borz (H) and Ennio Marchetto (IT)

  • 2008 (Sziget Festival 2008)

385,000 visitors. Main artists: Iron Maiden (UK), The Kooks (UK), Jamiroquai (UK), Sex Pistols (UK), R.E.M. (USA), The Killers (USA), Babyshambles (UK), Lauren Harris (UK), Alanis Morissette (CAN/USA), Kaiser Chiefs (UK), Die Ärzte (D), Serj Tankian (USA), Anti-Flag (USA), The Presidents of the United States of America (USA), Ziggi & The Renaissance Band (NL), Pannonia Allstars Ska Orchestra (H), The Wombats (UK), MGMT (USA), Millencolin (S), The Cribs (UK), Mademoiselle K (F), Justice (F), Flogging Molly (USA), Kispál és a Borz (H), URH (H), Róisín Murphy (IRL), Tankcsapda (H)

Other activities

In addition to music, the festival offers a plethora of other activities including cinema, dance, theatre, tattooing, Internet access, volleyball, tennis, football, 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.


External links

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