The mother of all festivals

Trip Start Jul 25, 2007
Trip End Sep 01, 2007

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

I now feel like I have been properly inducted into the world of big music festivals.  Simon being a bit of an old hand was in his element, but seeing as I've never even been to Glastonbury I didn't know quite what to expect from one of the largest and longest music and arts festivals in Europe.

We arrived at the Sziget site on day 0, before the main event gets started properly.  Luckily we managed to find ourselves a nice shady spot not too far from all the action.  Looking back now, the week seems a blur of amazing music of all kinds, acrobatic displays, drunken lairy Germans and Irish people, sex starved Dutch girls, Rabbi discos, Hare Krishna people rocking out, food fields intent on stuffing the people with meat and some more fab music.  

The festival site is immense and is on an island in the middle of Danube just outside of the centre of Budapest.  There were stages for every kind of music imaginable.  One of the things we both loved about the week was being able to just wander around from stage to stage picking things at random to stop and listen to.  Highlights have got to be dancing like a fool to Madness, the Gypsy Queen Esma Redzepova and her band showing us what gypsy music is really about, the Hives showing other bands how to work an audience and almost everything on the World music stage just blew us away with their talent.  My obsession with wanting to learn the accordion has been further fuelled after seeing Motion Trio, an accordion trio from Krakow proving that the accordion rocks! Oh, and I can't write this entry without mentioning the amazing Croatian band Bilk.  We stumbled across them on the Bahia stage (focussing on East European music) and they totally blew us away.  An incredibly talented band that are able to perform drum and bass drum beats live!  Check out their myspace page if you're at all interested.

Yes, as the Tess says, I've been to a few festivals in my time (not sure about the 'old' though), but this one really takes the cake. 7 full nights of music and madness is surely enough for anyone. The island is a great site for it and the whole place is packed with stuff - from the big main stages to smaller ones showing all kinds of music, countless bars and places to relax, Moroccan shisha places, theatre, dance, classical music, enormous crazy french street theatre and all manner of crazyness (like the MTV Goulash party or the chocolate wrestling). Highlights for me included the crazy Gogol Bordello, the always-stunning Chemical Brothers, Sargent Garcia, amazing Esma Redzepova, Devotchka and loads more. I really enjoyed the international nature of the whole thing - there are acts and campers from all over and the whole thing really makes the most of Hungary's location right in the centre or Europe and a meeting point of cultures. It was great to discover loads of fascinating new music rather than the same old indie favourites the festivals at home serve up. Great cheap food and drink too.

We managed to escape the island for one day and visit some of Budapest, to soak our filthy bodies in the amazing Gellert baths, walk the streets and eat delicious Goulash, but other than that I agree - the whole thing was a week long blur of great music and great fun.
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