Why Are The Irish So Obsessed With Sziget Festival?

Year on year, a pilgrimage to Budapest’s Sziget Festival seems to be on the cards for more and more Irish music enthusiasts . Hundreds of thousands of people descend on Hungary’s capital to witness over one thousand shows, on 60 stages, over six days. Within the first hour of stepping into the event’s atmosphere, you can cross most county GAA jerseys off your bingo card, so why are we as a nation so obsessed with Sziget?


Delve Into Variety

We all love small festivals and fostering a mini community amongst the fields and stages. However, when it comes to carving your own experience out of a festival, larger billings are where it’s at. Because of the sheer size of Sziget, the diversity of acts and atmospheres gives you the choice between being a headliner junkie or discovering your new favourite band in a secret setting.

A festival abroad exposes your eyes and ears to music from all over the world. Stay at home with Fontaines D.C.’s signature gloomy sound, take a trip across the Irish Sea for Nia Archives jungle resurgence or immerse yourself in sounds that have blossomed out of Germany, Slovenia, Australia and all over the world.

We already gave our picks for who not to miss at Sziget 2024, with the lineup containing some District favourites from all corners of music. Some of the mainstays in our rotation such as Overmono, Four Tet and Nia Archives are exporting their UK sounds to Hungary over the six-day festival. Alongside that, Yves Tumor, Teezo Touchdown and Nova Twins have the alt-rock side locked down, once again showing no neglection towards those with a more unorthodox music palette.

This is without even mentioning acts such as Fred Again.., Stormzy, Skrillex and so many more headliners who have had stellar years. Fred Again..’s live shows have become synonymous with energy. As he acts as a conductor to the audience whilst erratically applying pressure to the drum pads, he’s cemented himself as one of the most in-demand artists in the world. Stormzy has been known for his live performances for some time, such as his Glastonbury performance which has now gone down in the festival’s history as one of the most resonating live shows of the last decade. Also, the electronic pedigree runs strong through Sizget with sounds from Skrillex, Martin Garrix and MØ, who had electronic music in a chokehold in the 2010s.

There is also no shortage of selectors, imported from Berlin, London, Paris and further afield to play after the sun has become a distant memory. To suit such a calibre of curators, most of these electronic acts will call “The Colosseum” their home for the duration of their sets. Built entirely from pallets, this 360-degree stage hosts electronic music from 12:00 until 05:00 every day, surrounding the audience in sound.

The Irish invasion doesn’t stop with the audience, this year Fontaines D.C., Rebuke and God is an Astronaut are representing Ireland in the lineup, with none other than Kojaque being announced just a few days ago.


A City Turned Into A Stage

Being one of the biggest festivals in the world, over 420,000 people are expected to create a city of its own amongst the parameters of Budapest. As you can expect, the capital of Hungary is set to be swarmed by non-natives, which is where Sziget’s city takeovers begins.

As part of Sziget’s dedication to the DJ, the festival is taking over the historic Fisherman’s Bastion castle, one of the most important monuments in Budapest. With a panoramic experience of the city, the ancient walls are absorbed by the festival ethos and turned into a unique corner of Sziget for those in the know. Where else can you experience back to back sets inside 300-year-old walls?

Sziget positions itself on the leafy island, Óbudai-sziget, centred on the Danube river within Budapest. So in order to reach the island, visitors have the option to take a boat. With no stone left unturned, the festival can start from as soon as you leave the shore. A boat party can always seem like uncharted territory. Too many people, not enough land. But with an opportunity to have a catered transit with a view of the city and unlimited drinks, this might seem like a viable option to circumvent the chaos of entering.


Ecosystems of Sziget

The Irish invasion of Sziget creates a home-from-home atmosphere. You can go full GAA jersey or you can escape to a corner of one of the 60 stages and never have to bump into anyone you did your confirmation with. We all know that acts can only take you so far at a festival. The most important part of a festival is cultivating that feeling of sanctuary. With a smaller festival, it seems to flow freely and with one of the biggest festivals in the world, it feels equally as organic.

Sziget encourages its attendees to explore the city and appreciate the cultural surroundings that the island is situated in. In recent years, Budapest and Sziget have been the convenient finish line for young people who have travelled throughout Europe, usually by interrailing. The festival is that utopian ending to a month or two of travel, giving an air of liberation from train carriages and a final escape from reality before returning home.

The many idiosyncrasies displayed over six days, transport an attendee from a bag-addled, weary-footed traveller to being ready for the final sprint. Music combined with some stunning art exhibitions depends the cultural value of the festival It also just gives you some time out if you want to nourish the mind.

How many festivals do you know with a fully functional circus, their own beach and a funfair? Exactly. Sziget has settings so elaborate, they’re basically forming their own ecosystems. Magic Mirror harbours a space for LGBTQ+ discussion, stand-up comedy and dance performances. Cirque Du Sziget sees a classic circus performance under a big top tent. Sizget Beach provides Tai Chi by day and techno by night, on the banks of the Danube. Being a tent dweller here is nothing short of criminal.