In Australia, music festivals are the go-to events, and to honest before I moved to Europe they were the only ones I knew about. Last year I got introduced to Balaton Sound, an annual festival held in Hungary, which many consider being amongst the coolest festivals in Europe!
This festival is held on Lake Balaton, around 100km outside of Budapest in a town called Zamardi. I think the coolest thing about this Balaton Sound is that you can swim in the lake during the day, to the sound of some of your favourite DJ’s on the main stage. Unlike Sziget, Balaton Sound is a smaller festival, less crowded with huge grounds meaning that you can walk from one side to the other without getting stuck in the crowds, For me smaller festivals are always the way to go, you get a much more personal show with the artists and you get to spend the days with your friends, not worrying about huge crowds and if you’ll ever see anyone on stage. I was a bit of a rookie last year going to festivals in Europe but after attending a few, I picked up some little hacks that could save you loads of time and worry! Here are the top ones that I felt lucky knowing!
Travel and Transport
There are trains from central Budapest down to Zamardi where the Balaton Sound Festival is held. You can jump on a train at Budapest-Keleti Railway Terminal which costs around 10 Euros. They take about 2 hours and are probably the best way for you to get there. If you are staying at one of the towns further along from Zamardi, like Siofok there are buses going back and forth from the festival all day to drop you off.
There are two options when going to a music festival. Brave it and camp out or get an apartment or hotel room with your friends close by. Both can be super fun to do!
If you are camping prepare yourself for a 24/7 party for 5 days, they don’t stop and won’t stop. This usually is the cheaper option, you’re camping right next to the festival grounds, you have basic amenities, usually a party area, food that you can purchase and of course your tent. It may not be the most glamorous way but it sure is fun and I bet you’ll meet some pretty cool people.
Staying at a hotel or apartment near the festival can actually work out better sometimes if you’re with friends. If everyone is chipping into the cost of accommodation, groceries etc you might be better off than camping and you’ll only have to share the bathroom with your friends! Yay! I did this last year and I had a blast, being with our friends was so much fun and we were only a 10-minute bus ride away from the festival or two stop train ride.
Collecting your festival passes
If you’re one of the lucky people to have a ticket for the whole week my advice would be to collect the ticket early in the morning on the first day, even if you don’t plan on going until the later in the day. You’ll avoid huge queues and breeze through the security line no problem. Again if you have a pass for single days or just the weekend get the tickets as early as you can because you can bet that everyone else who has that day off will be getting their tickets before the main performers at night too. Remember to bring your ID!
What to wear
Now for a lot of people festivals are an excuse to dress up in the craziest outfits and go all out! I love seeing how far people go with what they wear. I prefer to be comfy if I know I’ll be dancing, drinking and running between stages all night. I don’t want to be worried about something I’m wearing when I could just be casual and have a good time. Basically, wear anything that makes you feel comfortable and confident and you’ll love your night, instead of heading to first aid to get bandaids because you wore silly shoes or using safety pins to hold the straps on your top from breaking. Been there, done that and did not enjoy it.
Last year I wore a different dress for each day with some cheap trainers that I picked up so I didn’t care if they got trashed which is a very likely outcome, so I wouldn’t recommend wearing shoes that you actually like. Your white trainers will be leaving brown. Other days I wore simple shorts and tee shirt combo with the same trainers and I was happy as larry for the 5 days I was there.
Don’t Forget You’re ID
The number of people I saw last year forget to bring ID when they were picking up their wristbands was crazy. You only need it to pick up your pass and then you don’t need to have ID on you again. The pass shows your name and age to the people scanning it.
Pay Pass Card
Your wristband doubles as your money while you’re at the festival. You can top it up at various ATM points around the grounds. The festival is completely cashless and you can either pay with a contactless card or with your topped up wristband.
A Packet of Tissues
a bit of a weird one but a totally necessary thing to bring if you care about going to the bathroom! Most of the toilet paper is gone within in the first couple of hours of the gates opening and I don’t think you’ll want to go without! You never know when it could come in handy.
I didn’t know this before the festival but I think it’s worth knowing if you’re a keen photographer and you have the big gear they’re pretty strict about what they let in. Pretty much I don’t think they want people to be taking better photos than their hired photographers. Of course, you can bring your smaller pocket sized cameras though!
Balaton Sound App
This was such an awesome thing to have last year! My partner and I downloaded the app a couple of days before the festival and checked out the artists we wanted to see. You can set up your own list and get a reminder on the day 30 minutes before their concert so you don’t miss anything. Honestly, it was so good to have this and made finding stages so much easier.
This one might sound a bit cheesy but it’s true! If you’re going solo and loving life you’re more likely to make friends that you can hang out with all week. You never know whom you’ll meet or bump into. Last year I made some friends that I still talk to today and travel with! Last year I spent most of the time in The Jaeger arena which was all about underground rap, grime and upcoming underground artists. They were insane performers! I also loved the main stage my top performers were Chainsmokers, they really put on a great show visually and of course vocally and to end the whole festival DJ Snake who was out of this world with his performance! He blended some many genres together and ended Balaton Sound 2018 with a bang!
Festivals are about stepping outside of your comfort zone and sharing a crazy experience with thousands of people all at the same time. Enjoy your time there as much as you can and make the most of it. I would highly recommend checking out this festival even for a day. You can swim, eat, drink and listen to some of the best artists in the world. It’s definitely one to put on the list! Hope to see you there!
Jordan is our from Budapest local insiders, she’s been exploring the city to uncover the unique spots and stories. So stay tuned for some more amazing content on the way.