- Title: HUNGARY: Central Europe's largest music festival in full swing in Budapest
- Date: 12th August 2011
- Summary: FOLK GROUP DANCING WITH FESTIVAL VISITORS BY TENT OF HUNGARIAN SPECIALITIES VARIOUS OF FESTIVAL VISITORS DANCING WITH FOLK GROUP WOODEN FISH IN POND BOAT
- Embargoed: 27th August 2011 13:00
- Location: Hungary, Hungary
- Country: Hungary
- Topics: Arts
- Reuters ID: LVA52NQP2CTN2UQNKXWB00YS8DWS
- Story Text: Hundreds of thousands of visitors from across Europe are expected to attend the annual Sziget Festival, one of Europe's largest music events.
The festival is called Sziget (meaning "island"), as it is located on an island on the Danube north of the Budapest city centre stretching over 79 hectares.
This year one of the opening bands on the main stage was the Irish-US band "Flogging Molly" who fired up the dancing spirit of tens of thousands people in the afternoon sunshine on the first day. The headline acts will include British indie rock band Pulp, Motorhead, French group Ben L'oncle Soul, British pop singer Kate Nash, French ensemble the Gothan Project and Sziget regulars The Prodigy.
Most festival guests say they come for the music and the special atmosphere. The Sziget-feeling is largely a feeling of ease and freedom and that one can do anything they like, visitors say.
"I like the people, the energy because everybody is so positive around here. I don't know why, it's kind of weird, everybody is just so happy, everything is so cool. Usually, at bigger festivals there is some kind of incidents and so on, but in Sziget everybody is just so cool and everything is perfect here," Eva from Slovenia said.
"The atmosphere and the people are very nice, everybody is relaxed and there is good music and for everybody there is something they like, so what you wanna do you can do here," Anna from the Netherlands said.
Since it started 19 years ago the festival has grown every year. Last year, more than 380,000 attended the festival but based on the first two days ticket sales, organisers expect fewer numbers this year due to the effect of the financial crisis. Organisers say the festival has reached its growth capacity anyway and they now want to concentrate on improving its quality.
"The Sziget has basically become full, we cannot fit in anymore venues, and acts, and we are also nearing the maximum capacity in terms of people. Therefore in recent years our goal was not to grow further but to improve the quality of the services and programmes", said festival's chief organiser Karoly Gerendai.
Sziget used to be compared to Woodstock with its original hippy style bands and audience, but with each year it has become more and more commercialised with heavy emphasis on advertisers and sponsors. In the first few years, the audience consisted mainly of Hungarians but today the festival attracts most of its audience from abroad. The guests pay 54,000 forint (200 euros) for a week-long camping pass at the festival.
"I like the people and the great music. I think the great thing about Sziget is the quality of music because everyone comes here for the music", Viktor from Croatia said.
Visitors can also catch theatre performances, world music and local groups at the many different stages and tents dotted around the island. The festival closes on Monday, August 19, with the concert featuring major international stars.
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