In the Óbuda district of Budapest, just off the main stretch of the river Danube, you will find a strange looking bridge with k-shaped trusses. Most days, “K Bridge”, as it’s known, serves as a one-way crossing for people going about their business, but come August, it gains entry to the “Island of Freedom”.
Officially known as Sziget Festival, the “Island of Freedom” welcomes hundreds of thousands of fevered “Szitizens” each summer, all of whom pass the K Bridge to see a variety of acts across 60 stages. Add to that the fact it has a beach on site, and you can see why it is celebrating its 30th birthday in 2023!
Among those who have performed in the past include David Bowie, Prince and Radiohead, and 2023 looks set to be another unforgettable year for the festival once dubbed “EuroWoodstock”. So, what’s going on this summer?
Be Amongst the Stars at the Main Stage
Following in the tradition of previous years, Sziget will include a host of world-renowned stars and established names, including some that have never been seen in Hungary before. Additionally, the festival will showcase plenty of fresh, exciting talents for people to discover.
As for the headliners, the main stage will feature seven huge stars over six days. Florence + the Machine will kick things off on the first day, and this will be followed by Imagine Dragons, David Guetta, and Mumford & Sons. Monday will also be an unforgettable day, with performances from Lorde and Macklemore. Then onto Tuesday, which includes none other than Billie Eilish, who is playing in Hungary for the first time.
Just in case that wasn’t enough major talent, the main stage programme will also feature Geordie songsmith Sam Fender, Foals, Yungblud, and Niall Horan. Attendees can also catch Caroline Polachek, who is fresh off the back of her stunning Glastonbury performance, and Mercury Prize winning singer-songwriter Arlo Parks.
Discover Future Headliners on the Europe Stage
The Europe Stage will feature acts that the organisers believe could make it to the festival’s bigger stages in the near future. Now in a larger location, the main aim of the Europe stage is to showcase talented artists that are not fully established.
This year, the Europe Stage will offer a diverse mix of performers. For fans of rap, Asa Masa, Mezzosangue and Shishi will be taking to the stage. For indie rock lovers, British band Amber Run will be performing as the they prepare to release their third album. There will also be performances from Italian metal band Stain the Canvas, Estonian electronic indie popper NOËP, Irish pub music act The Mary Wallopers, and homegrown heroes Sziámi and Friends.
Feel the Electricity at the Ticketswap Colosseum
The Ticketswap Colosseum brings together the best of alternative electronic music, and this year it will star more than 60 performers over six days. Among them will be renowned DJ and producer Scott Mills, three-time DJ Awards winner Sven Väth, and French techno producer I Hate Models.
What’s more, internationally renowned architecture firm Hello Wood has further enhanced the venue’s amphitheatre design, which returned last year with an updated aesthetic. Those attending will witness the visually arresting 9-metre-high structure, which is built from almost 5,000 pallets.
Let Loose at Party Arena and Higher Ground
Party Arena is the place to be for EDM enthusiasts again this year, with different party brands taking over every day. On day one, Q-Dance will offer some harder styles of electronic music, while Rampage will bring the “biggest drum & bass and dubstep party” to the party circuit. The Party Arena will also include two debut brands in Awakenings and Next Level. The Higher Ground venue also provides a place to experience party brands, including Born of Music Addiction, which was launched by Brazilian DJ and record producer Vintage Culture. Other acts involved in the six-day programme include Adam Beyer, Reinier Zonneveld, Diplo, Tale of Us, Maz, Ashibah and Mochakk.
Find Hip-Hop, Rap and Break at dropYard
A new addition to Sziget in 2022, the dropYard venue features some of the world’s most exciting artists from break, hip-hop, and rap. In the morning and early afternoon, the stage programme will feature dance and movement, while the evening and night will be packed with exciting musical performances. Like last year, the concert programme will feature a selection of performers who are largely unknown in Hungary. Among those performing are Bizzey, who is arguably the no.1 rapper in Holland; Ayrtn and Proph, both of whom are from the UK; and 47TER and Josman, who hail from France. Furthermore, the programme will include acts from the far east, such as Korean Balming Tiger, Japan’s Kazou & Taha, and China’s Alice Longyu Gao.
Explore World Music at the Global Village
Sziget Festival is a truly a global music festival, with acts coming from all over the world. This year, Sziget’s Global Village stage has once again invited music from far and wide, including the Balkans, South America, Mali, Korea, India and the Middle East. To give you an idea of the diversity on show, the Global Village will include American-French-Lebanese-Armenian collective Al-Qasar, German multicultural band Lakvar, Greek ethno ska-rock artist Koza Mostra, and joyous Belgian brass band Orchestre International de Vetex. There will also be a variety of African music on show, with performances from the likes of charismatic Malian diva Djely Tapa and Malawian roots duo Madalitso Band.
Stumble Upon Your New Favourite Band
With 60 stages, you’re never far from the music at Sviget, so attendees are encouraged to wander and discover artists they’re unfamiliar with. The chilled out LightStage, for example, features concerts by talented emerging and established musicians, such as young Madrid pop star África Adalia and Italian jazz and hip-hop sextet Studio Murena.
Over at FreeDome, Szitizens will find an eclectic mix of alternative music acts. These include English post-punk due Sleaford Mods, German electronic supergroup Moderat, American rapper/singer 070 Shake, and English pop singer-songwriter SG Lewis. Singer-songwriter fans will also enjoy a visit to the Music Box stage, which will be welcoming the UK’s critically acclaimed Charlie Cunningham. For those looking to experience Hungarian music, Music Box will also present a home-grown line-up, including a rare acoustic set from indie pop band Margaret Island.
Chill at Sziget Beach
Visitors looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the festival can escape to Sziget Beach. The tranquil ‘Everness Chill Garden’ setting will be a space for consciousness, recharging, enjoying the community, and discovering more unique performers.
International acts such as Brazilian Curwaka, France’s Cosmyte, and Swiss tribal etho-electronic band Organica Elemental will bring a chilled-out vibe to the beach. After their performances, the country’s best chill DJs – including Dynamic Illusion, Quantum Progress, El Poncho and Pangani – will play until dawn.
Discover More Than Music… Much More
Beyond the music, there is a world of entertainment at Sziget festival. From circus performances to movie screenings, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the most popular venues amongst the Szitizens is the 1000-seater ‘Cirque du Sziget’ tent, which will be filled with a succession of exciting performances again this year. Fans of this will also enjoy the Theatre-and-Dance Field, where contemporary dance acts will perform from noon until late every day.
For aesthetes, the ArtZone will showcase work from various prominent artists and offer interactive programmes for the duration of the festival. Additionally, those looking to relax and recharge after a night of fun can visit the Art Nouveau exhibitions at the Museum of Applied Arts. Szitizens can also get a good workout at the Sport Zone; celebrate love, enjoy entertainment, and learn more about the LGBTQ+ community at Magic Mirror; play games at the GameLandHub; and listen to globally relevant, thought-provoking speeches at Love Revolution.
The Island of Freedom Awaits!
It looks like those crossing the K-Bridge this August are in for an unforgettable time. For music lovers, it ticks all the boxes: there’s a chance to see a host of big-name stars, discover exciting new talent from around the world, and dance to DJ sets until the early hours.
For those who haven’t been before, the beautiful island setting will provide a unique experience that combines the best of both a festival and a holiday. Where else can you watch performances across 60 stages and have a drink on a beach?
Indeed, with so much going on, first-time visitors will see why they call it the “Island of Freedom”. And even when the party is over, they’re guaranteed to become Szitizens for life.