Sziget has come a long way to be one of the biggest cultural events in Europe nowadays. I’m writing cultural, because it goes way beyond than a simple showcase of the hippest live bands of the present year, but more of that later.
Poster for the first Sziget Festival in 1993 (credit: Szigetfest.de)
It was first held in 1993, organised by two business-savy students who felt that now the country has proper democracy and cultural freedom why not throw a huge-ass party in one of the biggest islands on the Danube river, inviting their favourite bands and having all the hipsters of the time gather together.
Well, hipsters didn’t exist at that time and probably wouldn’t have appreciated the raw beauty of contemporary Hungarian Alt-rock and punk music. But some wild party-goers loved it and it was consent the festival should be repeated each year, to eternity and beyond. In fact, it was going so well that 2 years later the organisers were not only able to afford their very first cheap outlet suits, but the festival’s fame had also spread out to foreign lands. People from mostly Western Europe started to get intrigued by the whole extravaganza and before we knew it most headliners and a lot of other non-headline bands were actual major acts of the pop and rock world.
At that time it was a weird sight to see the well-endowed Western youth mixing with the uber-poor indie kids, even poorer punks (the classic ones with those rainbow mohawks and questionable views on hygiene) and metalheads of unknown/varying financial backgrounds.
Nowadays, this mega-event hosts tens of thousands of people every single year and there’s always at least one day in recent years when the island was going on its full capacity. Nowadays, the Sziget Plc., still ran by the very same fella, Károly Gerendás (who still didn’t figure out how to lose his cringeworthy ponytail which would stop making him remind me of Steven Segal on donuts), is one of the most profitable businesses in the events-industry in Central-Europe, organising a number of festivals and other events in Hungary and one in Romania. Other
Károly Gerendàs (richpoi.com)
notable bashes include the award-winning electronic music festival Balaton Sound – held at the side of Lake Balaton which is super-awesome if you grew up visiting the place with your parents every summer -, Volt Festival and Félsziget in Romania. Funnily enough, the bloke still insists that Sziget Festival itself is not profitable which is rich coming from a guy who looks like he just shoveled down a plate of Swarovski-filled tenderloin with fried gold on the side. But then again, I won’t begrudge him of that. Afterall his work has given the people in this part of the world the summer-equivalen
So put on your jester hats and one of those colourful festival sunglasses, turn up the lights so you can actually see in those glasses, have yourself some cheap watered down, overpriced margharita, and read on.