Today is the last day at Sziget, the crowd has significantly weakened on the path in front of the tent and we don’t have as many visitors today. It has been expected, Sunday is the day for many people to go home and start the usual working week tomorrow. We will not finish today though, tomorrow morning the tent will have to be taken down, and our stuff needs to be delivered back to the Embassy. It is sad but on the other hand a relief, it has been a hard week and this evening is going to be a hard day’s night.:) Faith No More is playing, they still have lots of fans in Hungary. The tent is so quiet that we even had time to set the tv, to watch the Moto GP!
It is fun to see how happy people are when we tell them that they can take the stress balls, and other small gifts for free, without doing anything for it.
Today is the day of the big sale, we try to get rid of everything that’s left, so far with success.
Two girls have just walked in, one of them had her passport stolen last night. I just can’t understand why some people come to Sziget, probably pay for the ticket, just to make other people’s lives miserable. That could be a great objective for the Sziget organisors to stop theft at Sziget. :(
DAYS 4 AND 5 AT SZIGET: TIRED BUT STILL STANDING: BY GREG DOREY, BRITISH AMBASSADOR, BUDAPEST
Our Sziget team is tired, especially Terez who has been there every day so far, but they’re still standing, enthusiastic and ready to help British visitors to the Embassy tent. Saturday was definitely UK Day on the Main Stage, with The Subways, Editors, Klaxons, Manic Street Preachers and Placebo, one after the other.
For those of you staying on in the wonderful city of Budapest after the Festival:
- Remember to go on keeping your passport, money and travel tickets safe - there are people around who would like to relieve you of them.
- Don’t believe anyone who tells you that the Hungarian police are relaxed about drugs - they are not. Penalties for drug use are strict, and strictly enforced. We can’t get you out of prison.
- If it looks to good to be true, it probably is - be wary of bars recommended by taxi drivers and strangers. Always ask to see the price list before you order food or drink.
- Avoid hailing taxis in the street - some drivers will over-charge visitors. Get a recommendation for a reliable dial-a-cab company from your guidebook. All of them have English-speaking operators.
I won’t be at Sziget for Day 5 tomorrow - I’m patron of an U16 Football Tournament at which two British teams (Sheffield United Academy and Caversham AFC) are playing and I’ll be cheering them on to victory at the Vasus Sports Club ground. Who knows - some of those young players may be competitors at World Cup 2018, which will hopefully be in England.
For those of you at Day 5, enjoy! (Especially Maximo Park on the Main Stage.) And see you next year at Sziget!
I think that by now half of Sziget people are running around with Union Jack tattoos on! It has been quite successful so far, with lots of interesting people visiting us. One of my colleagues is playing cso-cso, table football with some guys, and a yound bloke is so desperate to have afternoon tea with us that he has been sitting here for nearly three-quarter of an hour now, reading a magazine, instead of having fun with friends. Tea time is at four o’clock, we have the finest selection of English tea to serve. Everyone is happy to complete today’s quiz, although some people seem surprised that it is in English…
All in all, it is a good day, and it is getting noisier as time goes on, a concert started nearby half an hour ago. A huge lorry arrived with beer kegs, time to go….
Hello Everyone! It is my second day at Sziget, but the first one in the British Embassy’s marquee. It is impressive, I can tell, even though I have to admit I haven’t much to do with it. I have never started Szigeting so early in the past 15 years. I have to start with my experiences on zero day. I just dopped in here, decided to come at the very last minute and suddenly found myself backstage, chatting with the most famous singers of Hungary! I can tell, I was enjoying myself. I have a tendency to show off and I love chatting up celebs, so I had a great time. Suddenly I was asked by Trenton, the main organisor of ZARE (Music Against Racism) if I could go to the main stage with them and interpret a few thoughts before the concert starts. I repeat: main stage!! Nagyszínpad! So I was there, being surrounded by the musicians, technicians, someone shoved a microfone in my hands and all I could see was the crowd in front of us. I wasn’t nervous at all, although my courage was helped by a few sips of beer as well. In the very last second, just before going on stage I was told that time was too short to translate, I just had to say a few words to introduce the cause, and the musicians. Then it all happened so quickly, I was talking to the microphone (the one in my hand didn’t work, this clearly showed how important my performance was) so I had to pick another one, and I could tell the audience was not interested in me, but still, I was there! It was all over quickly and we had ouf after party beer shortly. I went to a shop yesterday and found a T-shirt, which is really seems to have been made for me, it says at the front: Born to be a STAR! :))
Today is different, I am working, although it is early yet, not too many people came so far. This is how I have time to write. We have quizzes, tea, table football, everything you could ask for from a British tent. Let’s hope lots of people are coming later, and time will fly, and I can go to the concerts today. Before that I might just go and do a few rounds on the green bicycle….
DAY 3 AT SZIGET: DAMP BUT NOT DISHEARTENED: BY GREG DOREY, BRITISH AMBASSADOR, BUDAPEST
As you can see from my colleagues’ blogs, Friday was a wet morning at Sziget. But things improved in the afternoon and the weekend forecast is for sun. It will be hot, hot, hot - so if you’re visiting use sun screen and drink lots of water.
Visiting the temporary police post for a press conference with the foreign police in the morning was a reassuring reminder of how much hard work the Hungarians put into ensuring that the site is as crime-free as possible (and there has never been a serious violent crime here in 17 years). CCTV covers quite a lot of the site these days. Some 125 crimes had been reported since the start of this year’s festival and of those only about 7 or 8 involved UK citizens. Cutting slits in tents and lifting valuables (even with the owners asleep inside) is a favourite trick. It really does sound as if most British visitors are taking all the right precautions.
Media coverage of what we are doing here has been excellent this week - almost universally positive - and interest in “Music Against Racism” (ZARE) continues (I did a 15 minute interview on the subject on radio earlier). Copious informal feedback from Embassy contacts congratulating us is encouraging. There is an impressive number of ZARE tee-shirts, badges and wrist bands around the site.
I didn’t stay for the music today - Primal Scream and Prodigy are more my children’s taste than mine. But it’s evidence that there is something for everyone here - no less than 13 stages running simultaneously for most of the day, including the Main Stage (on which every single band is British tomorrow afternoon and evening!).
As usual, in our experience, a shower or two fails to dampen the festival spirit so everyone continues to enjoy the diverse nature of the event. This morning the local press descended on the police post and we were able to pass on our thanks for the help we have received from our Hungarian colleagues. During the first 3 days we should report on the good behaviour of the Brits. It’s good to see each day that the number of British victims of crime is very low - only seven to date.
But remember to look after your valuables but most importantly look after yourself and your friends. Come and say hello if you see us on patrol and continue to have a great festival.
It’s a little muddy around the the tent this morning, as it’s rained most of the morning. But the puddle in front of the tent hasn’t put people off from playing table football, and visiting us. Our French visitors seemed to be well impressed with our UK flags - the fact that they’re upsidedown doesn’t seem to be a problem for them! The quiz is going well, although no-one has yet been able to get all the questions correct - the cricket questions are seem to be the most difficult - even for those of us that know the answers! Levente from the Climate Office has been busy carrying out Carbon Footprint Measurring for our visitors, and Terez has been running a side-line in tattooing the Union Jack on mens’ chests!
DAY 2 AT SZIGET: GETTING INTO ITS STRIDE: BY GREG DOREY, BRITISH AMBASSADOR, BUDAPEST
Some more great performances by British artists yesterday - the Ting Tings, Bloc Party and Fatboy Slim were all on the Main Stage.
Visits to the Embassy tent peaked and troughed, but at times we were very busy. Interest in ZARE continues (including from the media) and lots of visitors were keen to try our Green Quiz (many valuable prizes to be won!).
Our police (two Tims, from Somerset and Avon). were very visible yesterday and were the most photographed of all police present - those helmets are a major selling point. “Are you a real policeman” is No 1 question. Reported crime against Britons sounds on the low side - the odd stolen phone, credit card etc. The police say the UK visitors seem much better informed than other nationals about the risks.
There was plenty of opportunity too for engaging civil organisations here. We are sandwiched between the US Embassy tent and a yoga society, with the Hungarian Equal Opportunities Organisation and Ministry of Foreign Affairs opposite. The latter are running a casino, which gives us some serious competition.
Today the team was Terez (Consular Section), Melinda (Management Section) and Erzsi (UKTI). It has been another busy day. Our most popular attraction has been the Table Football, a small reminder that the sport was invented in England! There has also been lots of interest in Music Against Racism (ZARE) with many people signing up to support the campaign in return for a badge or a very trendy wristband. We have had a visit from the visiting members of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary who have been attracting lots of attention as they patrol a beat around the festival site. They commented that the atmosphere here is very friendly, even late at night when the mood of other festivals that they have experienced sometimes turns a bit unfriendly. The policemen stopped by for a cup of tea at tea-time and then proceeded on their way, chatting to lots of people and handing out our consular leaflets to British visitors. We have dealt with a few straightforward consular enquiries (lost passports) but were unable to assist an Australian lady who was in search of contraceptive pills. We were able to offer her a UKTI mint and a stress ball which might come in handy but is hardly a substitute. The rest of the mints and stress balls were quickly snapped up, ensuring that at least some of the festival goers are unstressed and minty fresh.
If you are reading this from the Sziget itself, please carry on having a good time and take care - especially of your valuables (the police have reported a few cases of robbery from tents). And come and have a cup of tea tomorrow at 4pm (there will be biscuits).
DAY 1: THE SZIGET SHOW GOES ON: GREG DOREY, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO BUDAPEST
One of the local broadsheets here suggested yesterday that the British bands are taking over the Main Stage at Sziget this week. And it’s true! Following the amazing performance by the UK All-Stars Love Music Hate Racism group on Tuesday, we saw great performances last night by Snow Patrol (a personal favourite) and Lily Allen. Spending a week here is a powerful reminder of how dominant British groups are in the modern music business.
Aside from the music, there is a plenty going on here - many cultural and civil organisations have a presence of one sort or another. We are running a series of quizzes this week, with prizes for top scores, which are attracting lots of visitors to our tent. I wrote yesterday’s music quiz and today’s is on foreign affairs. Afternoon tea, with an appearance from our two Somerset and Avon police who are patrolling with their Hungarian counterparts was also popular. We are only aware of one UK consular case so far - a lost credit card. But we’re passing out lots of good advice on basic precautions visitors can take to make their Sziget experience a good one.
This week is a great media opportunity for us. There is not much Embassy competition at Sziget and the print, radio and TV are insatiable in their appetite for interviews from me on our anti-racism campaign and other aspects of our programme. Yesterday I found myself conducting a videoed interview with some British tourists on behalf of a Hungarian online news agency. Went well. Perhaps there is a job for me after diplomacy….
Day 1 at UK@Sziget by Georgina Szilagyi, Head of Public Diplomacy
After a hard day’s night of Day Zero the ZARE day (Music Against Racism) we opened the British Embassy tent today on “Civil Sziget”. This is the part of the Sziget Festival where non profit organisations are represented. The main aim of our presence here is to give consular advice to British nationals visiting the Festival.We were pleased to hear that many of those Brits visiting our tent had travel insurance. We distributed beermats to bars placed around the main stage reinforcing different consular messages. It was also an opportunity to highlight various projects and activities the Embassy is involved in such as Human rights, Environment issues and the UN Millennium Development Goals. A steady flow of visitors through the day enjoyed the various activities and quizzes that were provided to draw attention to these issues.
The Ambassador came out at around 3pm to engage with our vistiors and the media. We served tea and biscuits in the afternoon, which was greatly appreciated by some festival goers as a break from the usual beer consumtion associated with these events.
As I’m writing this post two British police officers arrive at our tent. Their arrival in their uniform did unnerve a certain UK based member of staff. He almost dropped his tea cup.The police officers were invited by the Budapest Police and they will be at the festival for the rest of the event.
DAY ZERO AT THE SZIGET FESTIVAL: MUSIC AGAINST RACISM: BY GREG DOREY, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO BUDAPEST
I’m recovering today from what was a very successful launch of our “Zene a Rasszizmus Ellen” (ZARE) initiative at Hungary’s superb Sziget Festival. Colleagues from the British Embassy (with help from the US Embassy and the newly-appointed ZARE National Coordinator, Szubjektiv Ertekek Alapitvany) ran a tent next to the Main Stage for most of the day, trading ZARE branded prizes for successful answers to a quiz about racism. At times we were almost overwhelmed and several hundred Hungarians signed up in support of ZARE.
In the afternoon I went on the Main Stage to explain briefly, in English and Hungarian, what we were up to. This was a bit nerve-wracking - rock fans aren’t my usual audience - but I got an amazingly warm response (and only shocked one or two by pointing out that “racism sucks”). The highlight of the day though was the set by a UK All Stars Love Music Hate Racism band at the end of the day. By this time the crowd was huge - maybe 3O,OOO I was told, and the response was rapturous - not just to the music itself but to the anti-racist messages. They were certainly left wanting more. At the end, Embassy staff present were dragged on stage with the band. (In case you see the TV coverage and wonder who the bloke in the Australian hat is, it’s me again).
So why am I recovering today, sitting in the British Embassy tent? I expect it was the hot weather rather than the beer. I’ll ask one of my colleagues to tell you what we’re up to today….
Small group of volunteers arrives at Sziget Island. The concert goers are drifting in and setting up their tents. The whole place is a building site - so much activity. We are no different. We find our site and put up the Embassy’s tent. Then we unload a lorry load of equipment, posters, leaflets, etc. It’s nice for us pen-pushing types to do something practical and physical for a change. Our team of helpers comes from various sections of the Embassy - which is also very enjoyable. In the end we have laid the foundations for an excellent presence which will allow us to show of Britain in a positive, modern and fun way.
We relax with a well-earned beer before locking the tent and leaving it.
You can find us at the Civil Sziget where we will set up an Embassy Tent named “UK@Sziget” providing consular advice and showcasing the British Embassy’s priority areas such as climate change, human rights, development policy and activities of the British Council with interesting games, quizzes and films, etc.
We will also be launching our new anti-racism campaign Zene a Rasszizmus Ellen on 11 August the Zero Day of the Festival. You can follow the events of UK@Sziget on a daily basis through live feed from colleageues working in the Embassy tent.
Our programme will include:
- Consular advice
- Carbon footprint measuring
- Tea with special guests
- Quizzes for great prizes
- Interactive games
If you are at the Sziget Festival and want to experience the UK@Sziget come and visit our tent at the Civil Sziget.