Sziget CEO Tamás Kádár has spoken to IQ about the new and improved experience at this year’s festival.
The 30th-anniversary edition took place 10-15 August at the event’s longtime home of Óbudai-sziget, in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Headliners were Billie Eilish, Lorde, Florence + The Machine, Imagine Dragons, David Guetta, Macklemore and Mumford & Sons.
While 2023 ticket sales were slightly lower than the previous year, Kádár says this was expected due to pent-up demand and a high number of rollover tickets after the pandemic.
Sizing up the success of this year’s instalment, he says: “This year, we had two days which ran almost at full capacity, guests were coming from over 80 countries to Budapest, and Sziget was again one of the most international festivals in the world, providing a unique experience for young people from all over.”
“The entire look and feel of the festival was a huge step forward”
The fan experience at the festival was a major focus for the Sziget team, with major investments and improvements in decoration, catering, sustainability and amenities.
“Since the beginning, Sziget has been constantly improving and developing, with innovations in different areas every year,” explains Kádár. “However, last year, after a two-year interruption, we were happy that we managed to survive the difficulties which were overwhelming for many, and which were attacking us on several fronts. This year, however, we were back on the road to progress.
“The entire look and feel of the festival was a huge step forward, the new toilet blocks, the food courts, the decoration, the art all over the place made a great change to the experience of our visitors not to mention the spectacular venues like the TicketSwap Colosseum, the Samsung Party Arena, the Cirque du Sziget, which looked all really amazing.”
One of Sziget’s biggest considerations when designing the 2023 edition was the country’s monster inflation rate, which has lingered around 20% – the highest in Europe.
“The inflation rate is a huge problem for the entire country”
“The inflation rate is a huge problem for the entire country, especially the food inflation rate which was almost 50% throughout the last 12 months,” notes Kádár. “However, with the weaker Forint this inflation is not as high in Euro terms. The only impact we see for our customers is higher food prices on the festival but this price level is still lower than Western-European or UK prices.”
In response to the food inflation rate, each vendor in Sziget’s new food court was required to offer at least one so-called “budget food” with a maximum price of €6.50.
Catering was also the subject of increased sustainability, with a key aim to offer food prepared with a smaller carbon footprint.
Organisers launched a campaign among caterers that resulted in 80% of those partners offering at least two vegetarian main courses, and over 40% of partners not offering any red meat at all. The campaign also aimed to increase the proportion of Hungarian food used by caterers. A set of seven sustainability criteria was also introduced, of which at least two criteria must be met by all caterers.
“I hope this festival will maintain its leading place amongst the top European festivals in the next 30 years as well”
Elsewhere in the sustainability realm, the festival recycled 50% of the total waste – 8% more than last year. A special camping section was provided for those who wanted to spend time in a waste-free environment and made a commitment to this.
In addition, on a trial basis, a special carbon offsetting scheme was launched for those arriving at the festival by plane, and only electric or human-powered vehicles were used on the festival site.
“We are constantly improving and changing things to please our visitors and we already have great plans for 2024,” teases Kádár. “Sziget was founded 30 years ago in 1993. I hope this festival will maintain its leading place amongst the top European festivals in the next 30 years as well.”
A special feature celebrating Sziget’s 30th anniversary will be published in the next edition of IQ Magazine.
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