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Inside Sziget’s star-studded comeback

Sziget Festival CEO Tamás Kádár tells IQ the event enjoyed an uptick in six-day ticket sales as fans from more than 100 countries flocked to its comeback edition.

Held from 10-15 August in Budapest, Hungary, the 80,000-cap festival boasted a star-studded bill headlined by Arctic Monkeys, Dua Lipa, Calvin Harris, Justin Bieber, Kings of Leon and Tame Impala.

Organisers say a combined 450,000 people attended over the duration of the event, but Kádár notes that the increase in demand for full festival passes indicates Sziget’s appeal stretches far beyond its music offering.

“The best news for us was that more people were buying six-day passes,” he says. “Usually, I’m hearing people are buying day tickets on the basis of the line-up where they cherry pick their favourite act and then come on that given day, and that can cause a big difference [in attendance] between days. But if you have a lot of six-day tickets sold, that is levelled and that is what happened.

“I hope that it is because they want to have the full experience. Of course, we missed two seasons, so the drive to come back and have a great party was bigger than ever. But I really hope it is also a good sign for the future that people want the real Sziget vibe and atmosphere – and that takes more than one day, definitely.”

“People are always surprised the festival goes on until 5am or 6am”

Other artists included Lewis Capaldi, Bastille, Stromae, Anne-Marie, Steve Aoki and Caribou.

“If I wanted to be a bit ironic, I’d say we had a long time to put it together,” jokes Kádár of the line-up. “There were a lot of challenges in the almost three years since we last closed the festival gates, but we are very happy it came together like it did.

“A personal highlight is that it was packed everyday after midnight. People are always surprised the festival goes on until 5am or 6am and they party a lot. It was good to be back.”

Six-day passes cost 130,000 forint (€325), and Kádár says the breakdown between domestic and international visitors was roughly 50/50.

“I don’t have the final numbers in front of me but, based on pre-sales, Netherlands, the UK, Ireland, Germany, France and Italy were the biggest countries with the Hungarians, of course,” he says. “It was a bit more of an international crowd this year and they tend to buy full festival tickets, which I think is why we sold more six-day tickets and fewer dailies.”

“We made it through and we are very proud of that”

He continues: “We have quite a high inflation rate in Hungary and the forint is very weak against the euro, which was a very special challenge, which we faced in the last three or four months. And the Hungarian music industry didn’t get too much state support over the last two years so a lot of professionals have left the field and it was not easy to get everyone together.

“But we made it through and we are very proud of that. I also think it is a very good sign for the Hungarian industry as a whole.”

Promoters also took the opportunity to highlight the festivals ‘better world’ initiatives, Love Revolution and Green Sziget.

“We would like to emphasise to everyone that if they choose to come to Sziget, they should come for six days and experience the whole event”

“We try to reduce the footprint of the festival as much as we can,” explains Kádár. “There is an area on the island which is nature protected, so we work there together with the WWF and the Budapest municipality. We also made a big step up in F&B and we haven’t used plastic straws since 2018.

“The only issue we have is that Hungary has been very dry for the last two months, just like other European countries, so we had a lot of dust onsite. That is very hard to manage, so we re-used water from the Danube River to sprinkle water around the sides, which was quite a green solution.”

Early bird tickets for Sziget’s 30th anniversary, set for 9-14 August 2023, go on sale tomorrow for 48 hours.

“We would like to emphasise to everyone that if they choose to come to Sziget, they should come for six days and experience the whole event,” adds Kádár. “And to reach that, we know we have to further develop our onsite accommodation and camping options, and other facilities that people can use if they actually live six days or even seven days on the island.”


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