Sziget is the Hungarian for island, but there’s nothing remote or isolated about this (friendly) monster of a festival, by far the biggest of its kind in Hungary but also one of the largest festivals in Europe. It’s now in its 25th year and over its 7-day duration attracts around 500,000 visitors. To put that into perspective, Glastonbury had around 175,000 this year.
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Aside from the obvious appeal of its picturesque setting on the Danube in Budapest – on Óbuda Island, also to referred to as the ‘Island of Freedom’ for the purposes of the festival – Sziget scores highly for extending way beyond the big-name headliners (which this year include P!nk, The Chainsmokers, Major Lazer and Kasabian) to a multitude of activities, performances, circus events, sport and film screenings, including a programme of local cinema.
You can look further down the programme too and find musical acts that are barely emerging in their own countries joining the international stars – as well as tribute acts to Rage Against The Machine and Metallica.
Here are a few of our musical picks from the line-up, from the internationally renowned to the relatively obscure.
Having recently released ‘The Camp’, her collaboration with Egyptian Ramy Essam addressing the refugee crisis, she’s a perfect fit for the ‘Island of Freedom’. She’s also of course a consistently, thrillingly dramatic live performer.
As a counterpoint, Brown’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’ - his first for Warp - was an at times forbidding but rewardingly labyrinthine trip into a place where vitality and abjection meet.
2016’s ‘The Mountain Will Fall’ was generally considered something of a return to form for the one-time golden boy of sampladelia, so hopefully the live shows will match the renewed sense of purpose.
Even while he continues to dissect (and perhaps, for some, over-analyse) his own success and status, the sounds on ‘Big Fish Theory’, even incorporating UK Garage/2-Step rhythms, are bold and inventive, and the nasal pulse of his delivery as distinctive as ever.
Gaye Su Akyol
Signed to Glitterbeat (home to Tamikrest, also playing), Akyol slips traditional music, politics, psychedelia, surf pop and dark glamour into a heady concoction that has put her at the forefront of a new generation of Turkish artists.
Charlotte & Magon
This Franco-Israeli duo have been discreetly releasing clever, colourful pop for many years now but recently they’ve blossomed into something that’s fruitier and packed with pleasingly off-centre hooks. It bodes well for a forthcoming album.
You’d have to at last sneak a peek at this one, wouldn’t you?