Sziget, Balaton Sound and Kolorádó – Hungary’s three major music festivals are back loud and proud after enforced absences. Alongside, the wonderful WONDEREST moves from Transylvania to Őrség, and an entirely new festival, Reflektor, will be bringing big names to a site within the city of Budapest. From June to August, here is our run-down of the best fests to let your freak flag fly this summer.
Zebegény’s boutique festival is being held at Szőnyi Camp this year, between 23-26 June. It’s very much a tight-knit community, the founders naming their event after the nursery school they attended way back when, and projecting the same sense of friendship since the first Waldorfeszt in 2010. In addition to music, theatre, fine arts and film, handicrafts are part of the schedule. Performers are Hungarians – award-winning singer Дeva, acclaimed alt-rockers Csaknekedkislány and the Kollár-Klemencz Chamber Orchestra of underground allure. Day tickets are 7,500-10,500 in advance, 23,900 for the four days, increasing by 3,000-4,000 forints on-site. The nearest train station is Zebegény, with an hourly service from Budapest Nyugati (50mins). From there, it's about 2km up Márianosztrai út alongside Medresz stream.
Balaton Sound/B my Lake
electronic music festival Balaton Sound comes roaring back in
2022 with a line-up of 24 star acts between 29 June and 2 July. Big-name DJs include Paul Kalkbrenner, Martin Garrix and Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike,
along with masked spinner Marshmello, Australian musician Timmy Trumpet and Sweden’s Alesso. Alongside, literally, B my
Lake dovetails with Balaton Sound at stages set up
on the same site at Zamárdi, just past Siófok on the south shore, 90 minutes from
Budapest by train. Almost 50 international DJs have
been confirmed, including Richie Hawtin and Sven Väth. A four-day pass is currently
€225, three-day €200. Tickets already purchased pre-pandemic
for either festival will be valid.
The prime bash promoting an alternative lifestyle and music, Kolorádó takes place between 29 June and 2 July, “at the border between Budapest and nature”, ie Adyliget just past the city limits. While the programme can be easily divided between musical (UK techno DJ Ben Sims, London rockers Black Midi, Brooklyn house DJ Octo Octa) and non- (theatre, dance, yoga and an escape room), everyone’s here for the sounds and the Sziget-like-it-used-to-be vibe. Shuttle buses run from Hűvösvölgy tram terminal or the nearer Adyliget bus stop on the 63 route, a 15-minute walk away. The exact location is the Sztrilich Pál Cserkészpark, a scout camp. See here for transport details. Four-day festival passes are currently 29,900 forints, with day tickets available soon.
With a new location at Ispánk, in the Őrség
National Park close to the Slovenian border, the wonderful WONDEREST also has a new structure, artists
granted a four-day residency for the duration of the festival, 7-10 July. As at
previous events in Transylvania, organisers aim to create a communal
experience promoting sustainability, slow living and innovation, with hikes,
workshops and film screenings as integral to the agenda as the performances. Pre-sale
passes (HUF 29,900 until 7 May) are available here – day tickets range from 9,999-17,900 forints, camping 3,000 forints. The nearest
train station is Őriszentpéter, 4hrs from
but you’ll need to organise a ride from there. See transport details here.
This year’s student-friendly EFOTT takes place between 13-17 July in Sukoró, on the shores of Lake Velence, a
short bus ride from Velence train station. Given the audience, young Hungarians
keen to let loose, most the acts are domestic, with the odd international
performer thrown in. In this case, it’s Yorkshire’s own John Newman, whose tune
Love Me Again dominated the airwaves in 2013. Tickets are sold for a week (HUF 37,900), the weekend (HUF 32,900) and for each day (HUF
The picturesque lakeside Bánkitó Fesztivál brings many up from Budapest to Nógrád County, less than an hour by car, an hour by bus, from the capital. The latest act to be announced is neo-psych band Middlemist Red, who join pop-rockers Carson Coma, literary alt-rock combo Platon Karataev and underground favourites Ricsárdgír, along with Tuareg world-music exponents from Niger, Mdou Moctar. More performers due to be announced. Given the waterfront location, the event is traditionally family-friendly, with many daytime activities for kids. All takes place 13-16 July at the Bánki vízi színpad. Day tickets range from 8,000 forints to 15,000, festival passes 28,500 forints. More details here.
As we reported recently, Budapest’s latest festival is Reflektor, being held at a former truck wash at Terebesi erdő, few minutes from the M2 metro terminus at Örs vezér tere. Reflektor runs over three days between 14-16 July, defining itself as a small festival. Trying to find its place in the narrow gap between the mainstream and the underground, it’s built primarily on international performers such as Son Lux, Temples and Seafret, big draws at festivals abroad, rarely, if ever, seen in Hungary. Domestic acts have been handpicked, namely iamyank, Black Bartók and The Anahit. Currently, only early-bird passes are available (€70). No on-site accommodation will be available.
Tárnok, just outside Budapest, is an electronic music festival for serious technoheads,
held in a quarry on Újhegyi út between 14-17 July. Just announced, Berlin DJ,
label owner and techno producer Wallis fills out an impressive line-up also
including heavy-duty names such as the duo 999999999, Paris-based DJ/VJ Cassie
Raptor, Iași DJ Cosmjn and French DJ Nico Moreno, who got 5,000 moving
to his beats in Bogotá, Colombia at the start of his current world tour. Advance
passes for the festival are available
from 14,990 forints, rising to 18,990 forints nearer the time.
The mother of all festivals has survived the two-year hiatus, so from Wednesday 10 August until Monday the 15th, the Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys, Fontaines D.C. and Dua Lipa entertain the masses, with Justin Bieber due to take the stage on the Friday night. As always, Sziget is far more than just a few marquee names – it’s 60 (!) stages, boat parties, a beach and half a million people who become Szitizens the moment they cross over the bridge (or alight from the boat) to lose themselves on an island (sziget) of love and lunacy. Such abandon doesn’t come cheap these days – the lowest-priced six-day passes are now €315, three-day €215, day tickets around €85. Basic camping is free with your ticket if you bring your own tent, a pre-pitched one starts at €7 per person/night if there’s four of you staying the six days, or the pair of you can go superstar for €850/week and plot up in a fancy cabin with soft beds and a clothes rack. All of this a far cry from the debut summer of ’93 when a handful Hungarian acts from Budapest’s pre-’89 underground scene convened, or Sziget ’97 when you could have seen Bowie for a fiver. For all the expense, sponsors and superstars (Prince!), Sziget will always be Sziget – the island of messy partying, three beers from Budapest by boat.