Budapest Sziget music festival outfit! Emma O Clothing crochet dress, designer Hotel Continental Zara.
Putting aside expectations and stepping outside your usual zone — these can be the most rewarding things you can do.
Still, why not give it a shot? So I put on a white dress (albeit with a dark twist) and rode the tram to one of the largest music festivals in Europe. Read on to see what my film team and I discovered.
What I wore to an outdoor music festival: this striking handmade crochet, off-shoulder dress sent by Sweden-based Emma O Clothing.
Emma’s designs include an array of crochet dresses, swimsuits and cover-ups in delicate colors. She ships worldwide and gives 60% of all sales to charity in Zimbabwe. You can support my friend via her online store, Instagram and Facebook.
When we checked into Hotel Continental Zara (Address: 42 Dohány St) — we noticed Dizzee Rascal and Skunk Anansie standing next to us! Apparently, all the Sziget festival headliners chose to stay here.
And for good reason: the Art Deco meets modern suites have won numerous awards. Hard to believe that the designer hotel used to be a 180 year old Jewish bathhouse.
On the top floor, there’s a swimming pool and garden with a soaring view of Budapest’s red roofs.
Hotel Continental Zara is located in the hipster seventh district that I previously blogged about. One of the many pluses of staying here: you can easily stumble back after a night of ruin pub hopping!
I was a fan of the hotel breakfast, which included cappuccino machines and my beloved dark European grain breads.
We also had excellent barbecue at the adjoining Araz Restaurant, featuring a retro mural.
After walking around outside in the heat, it was nice to come back, drink fresh lemonade and relax in the air-conditioned lobby.
The courtyard’s black apple is very Evil Queen, no? (I love how you can layer Emma O Clothing in a variety of ways.)
Since it was so hot, we waited until the late afternoon before heading to Sziget Festival, held on a small island in the Danube River. Every year, about 400,000 people come to this week-long celebration of music and culture.
After the Communist era, a group of students founded Sziget to revitalize the summer concert scene. Today, it’s one of the biggest and best-regarded music festivals in Europe.
Sziget is sometimes compared to Burning Man because of the sense of isolation (only people with passes can enter the island) and trippy art sculptures everywhere.
Everywhere you turned, there was something bizarre to behold. A security guard stood next to this sign, preventing climbers from toppling over the letters.
Like Coachella, this festival has a Ferris wheel. After Skunk Anansie’s set on the main stage, everyone let their balloons go…
… up, up and away. Like rainbow sprinkles in the sky.
There was an endless list of things to do and see, including a beach, yoga, world music, and techno parties. Tip: in order to buy food or drinks, you must first purchase a special debit card.
One of the grooviest attractions was the Luminarium. We took off our shoes and went inside this blow-up tent, not knowing what to expect. Our guide told us we had 15 minutes to explore.
And what a mind-trip! Inspired by Eastern religions, the Luminarium glows with light. We wandered the tunnels, and meditated in the little caves. (Photography in this post by Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann).
The festival brought together some of the top indie acts. Among the performances we enjoyed: Bat for Lashes, Nick Cave, Chase & Status, and this Steampunk automotive show.
It’s hard to convey the sense of wonder I felt at Sziget through photos. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit Budapest and see what it’s all about.
On the taxi ride back, we got this King Midas view of Hungarian Parliament over the water. (Tip: research Budapest taxi companies and take reputable ones like City. Ask your hotel or a tourist office to call one for you. Don’t get ripped off by no-names.)
Have you been to a music festival? What was your experience like, and what did you wear?
More Eurail-Vision coverage is on the way. If you’re keen to do a train trip like ours, check out Eurail.com’s student packages and other affordable options. Thanks to everyone for making our travels possible.