Festival of Choice: Sziget Festival
Location: Budapest, Hungary
When? 7 days in August
So you’re considering going to a festival abroad? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
I’m going to give you all my hints and tips on how to survive a festival abroad, from what to bring to where to stay.
Why go to a festival abroad?
I’ve been to a festival in Budapest called Sziget twice now. Since going to a festival abroad, I can safely say I probably would never go to a UK festival again. At Sziget, you can enjoy 7 days of music for approximately the same price as 3 days at Reading festival. You also get the bonus of hot weather, something England rarely experiences.
Going abroad also gives you the chance to explore a lot more culture. At Sziget I learnt how to play chess, whereas at Reading my friends and I were nearly removed from AWOLNATION for being too drunk at 10am. The latter is still optional at Sziget, but music doesn’t start until at least midday, with main acts beginning in the evening. This gives you the opportunity to explore the area, in my case Budapest, during the day. It also gives you far more time to recover from the previous night, which is a godsend if it was particularly booze-fuelled.
Another huge bonus of going to a festival abroad, is that it’s a holiday. You aren’t just at a festival, you are on holiday, which makes everything even more fun! Being from the UK, I can safely say I’d rather be exploring Budapest or Barcelona instead of Cheltenham or Leeds. You can stay in your country of choice longer than the festival if you wish to do more exploring. We decided to start our interrailing trip with the festival, so we saved money on flights as we didn’t go home and come back.
The only major downside to going to a festival abroad is cost, as obviously you need to get there somehow. But, with train tickets in the UK being so ridiculously expensive, it doesn’t make too much of a difference to take a flight!
Where to Stay?
As Sziget festival is 7 days long for the full festival, I was absolutely not going to do basic camping. Basic camping is included in your ticket cost if you get a 3, 5 or 7 day ticket, and includes access to toilets and showers but not necessarily ones that are close or clean. I was more than happy to upgrade my camping, not to VIP as I’m a cheapskate, but to a camp where they store bags for free, there’s wifi (an essential) and access to clean toilets and showers. If you like staying clean, then definitely upgrade your camping to get these extras, as its worth it!
If you’re someone who prefers more comfort, then with extra money you can splash out on a cabin or something extra, but honestly you’re better off staying in a hotel.
Something I really recommend, if possible, is ordering a pre-pitched tent. This way, all you have to do is rock up and your tent is up and ready for you to use. This is amazing if like me, you are awful at tent building. Although, believe it or not, I was in the Scouts for many years. Choosing this option also means you don’t need to buy a tent, or bring a tent – saving a LOT of space. This is very useful when going to a festival abroad, and even more so if you intend to travel around afterwards.
Hotels and hostels
If you’re going to a festival for more than 3 days, I would HIGHLY recommend you stay in a hotel or hostel. Camping in a tent, even with clean showers, is very uncomfortable and after 7 days I was dying for a proper bed. Obviously, this depends on your budget, but you can get some hostels for very cheap and if you enjoy your sleep, like I do, then a proper bed is a must.
Honestly, I’ve not done this option yet, but I will be doing it in future and I’ve been told it’s the best thing to do.
What to bring:
Whether you bring camping stuff or not is completely dependent on where you’re staying, so I’ll skip to the more interesting stuff.
Now I’m sure that you don’t want me to bore you with the basics, such as packing underwear and socks etc. but I will give you some advice I learnt the hard way. PACK FOR ALL WEATHER. I cannot stress this enough. The first time I went to a festival abroad, we packed for 30 degree heat. Whilst it was hot in the day, the evenings and nights were freezing. We did not sleep for the first 3 days because we were so cold, and we spent so much money buying blankets and warm clothes, that we ran out and had to borrow some. This was a huge mistake. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to pack for the extremes, but you’d rather be safe than sorry.
This year when I went to Sziget, I didn’t have to use any of my warm clothes as it was roasting hot all day and night, but at least I had the option and the clothes made good pillows.
My funky festival gear
Unlike the UK where wellies are an essential, they are absolutely not necessary abroad – unless you’re going somewhere really cold and wet. This does not mean that you should wear flip flops though.
My first time at Sziget, I bought sandals and wellies. This was an error. Over 100,000 people go to the festival per day, and when Tinie Tempah began a mosh pit with 50,000 people the sandals did me no favours. Honestly, my feet where a mess and I ended up with less toenails than I’d begun with. Yes, it was THAT awful.
I’d recommend bringing a comfortable pair of trainers, ones that you don’t mind getting dirty as it can still be muddy. Trainers are the way forward, trust me.
No festival packing list is complete without something funky though, so don’t forget glitter, gems or neon! It makes for brilliant pictures and it’s a lot of fun.
Gems can complete any festival look!
I hope I’ve convinced you to jump out of your comfort zone and go to a festival abroad. Hopefully, you’re also feeling a little more prepared too!
Enjoyed this? Check out other destinations in Europe I’ve visited here.