Sziget Festival visitors can choose from an array of different places to stay during one of the biggest musical weeks in Europe this summer, and for a supplementary fee you can camp on the island itself. Óbudai Sziget (Island), which hosts the huge pop music jamboree, has an extensive camp site. This year a festival ticket with camping costs HUF 63,000 or EUR 225 for the entire week, and for an additional EUR 130 you can even drive onto the island in a camper van or mobile home. Further still from the down-and-dirty festival ethos is the new VIP camp site laid on this year. VIP campers (that is, those prepared to stump up an addition EUR 120) will have access to lockers, wireless internet and a small shop.
Hotels have room
Camping is not the only option, however. With around 350,000 people expected to visit the festival during the week, several hostels and hotels in the area around Óbudai Sziget will be packed and festival organisers have sent out recommendations on where to stay. The Sziget Hostel is located within ten minutes of the festival grounds and accommodation in a three or four bed room will cost between EUR 16 and 24 per night. City Hostel Buda in the 11th district has also got the nod from the organisers and room rates start at EUR 23 per night during the Sziget week, compared to a usual price of around EUR 14.
August is high season for the Hungarian tourism industry, with revenue peaking during the early weeks of the month according to figures released by the Central Statistical Office. Nevertheless, with an average hotel occupancy rate of 60.4 per cent during this period in 2011, it should be far from impossible to find alternative sleeping arrangements in the capital.
Sziget struggling to stay afloat
Despite attracting around 380,000 visitors last year, the backers of the Sziget Festival are struggling to stay afloat in a tough financial climate, which they blame for a large increase in weekly festival pass prices for this year’s week-long music extravaganza, which kicks off on 6 August.
This year’s price increase came after the company reported several hundred million forints in losses last year, when ticket prices were held at the 2010 level in order to keep visitor numbers up. The full festival pass for both campers and those sleeping off-island or under a bush costs EUR 20 more this year, although the price of an individual day ticket remains unchanged. A full pass with camping will now cost visitors EUR 225.
Est Media is currently the minority stakeholder of festival organiser Sziget Kft, owning 49 per cent of the festival. During late July this year it was announced that they are struggling to repay two loans, amounting to HUF 650 million. These financial troubles are forcing Est Media to sell off its stake – which was intended to be the first step in a full takeover – just to repay their debts. An initial attempt to sell their stake fell through in mid-July and the company’s creditors have extended the repayment deadline to 6 August.
According to figures released by Est Media, its stake in the festival is worth HUF 677 million, a mere HUF 27 million above the overdue debts. The purchase of Sziget Kft by Est Media was announced in 2007 as part of a planned acquisition in four stages. However, the purchase contract contained a clause requiring Sziget Kft to achieve an annual profit before the full purchase could go through. Now Est Media, a subsidiary of Econet media group, is set to lose its share in the festival, but has yet to find a buyer.
Sziget Festival, III District, Óbuda Sziget, 6-12 August
Daily ticket: HUF 13,000
Ticket for “day -1”: HUF 6,900
Ticket for “day zero”: HUF 7,900
Full festival pass (non-camping): HUF 55,000
Full festival pass (camping included): HUF 63,000
Getting there: HÉV suburban trains depart from Batthyány tér (square) to Óbuda Sziget (the stop you want is called Filatorigát). During the days of the festival the trains will run on a more frequent schedule, and there will also be night trains. Info at bkv.hu.