I don't usually 'review' events but this summer I attending two music festivals - Barclaycards BST Festival at Hyde Park on Sunday 6th July & SZIGET Festival in Budapest on Saturday 16th August.
Obviously it goes without saying these are two quite different festivals; firstly BST is held in the UK and is a collection of one day events run across July, Sziget is a 7 day party held in Budapest, Hungary! The line-up is quite different as Sziget has 16 different stages to BST 6's *of which I only found 3*, also their audiences are very very different - BST has a different headliner who gets to pick the 3 acts who play the main stage before them - therefore the target audience member tends to be a fan of all the performers. Sziget has such a diverse number of stages appealing to the pop acts, seen at BST, through to full on heavy metal bands!
Now before I continue I should clarify that the music at both events was brilliant; I saw McBusted, Backstreet Boys and The Vamps play at BST & Bombay Bicycle Club, Madness and The Prodigy play at Sziget. The real comparison is from my experience of each event in terms of event management - this is not a post discussing the event but instead of how the event was organised.
Website: Pre & Post event
The site is simple to navigate but only answers the basic questions that festival goers might have, cannot find any information about why the event takes place, how long it has been going on for or who the organisers are. There are quite a few aspects that I think could be improved to make it a much more interesting website, which should build up the excitement for the event.
1. View the line-up by each day rather than venue.
2. Change the layout of the Event Info sections so that they are all on one page.
3. Include a FAQ section.
4. Make sure you can easily click the contact us section from the Home Page.
5. Post Event; Put up the dates for next years events
6. Post Event; Focus on showing the highlights from this years festival. *also the photographs from the 2014 events are of a very poor quality & look they were taken from audience members*
This is an incredibly easy website to navigate, as an event which attracts international attendees you can easily change the language at the top of the site. The thing I noticed the first time I visited was the vast amount of information they give you, every single question you could EVER have was answered & they did so with a great amount of humour!
Post event they re-vamp the whole site to focus on the highlights from the festival - with videos edited of each day, backstage videos and pictures. When you click the tickets for 2015 it tells you the date they will be released and all the info is focused towards everyone who has just attended.
In all honest there isn't anything I would change about the site as they really focus on engaging with the festival goers before and after the event!
BST: Public transport was really easy as per usual in London, although there was no advertising or much signs once you arrived at the nearest tube stations. Getting into the event was difficult, to start with everyone arrives to get in at the same time* & you have to use the gate printed on your ticket - which for most was the main entrance. I had to pick up my ticket from the box office, which wasn't signed posted and it took us a while to find a steward to direct us. The box office was on the other side of Hype Park from the main entrance and we then had to head back on ourselves to enter through the right gate.
The two things I noticed the most was the lack of signs & stewards, it wasn't a nice environment to arrive too and didn't start the event off in the best way.
*You could only get into the event from 1.30pm
SZIGET: Everyone in Budapest knows the event is going on & from my hotel I only had to take one Tram and train. The tram announced which stop you needed to get off to head to Sziget, and at the station there was a section of staff who were just there to direct festival goers & sell train tickets to the site. Although myself and a large group got off at the wrong station *due to there being no signs*, it was very easy to walk down to the festival and then the entrance was very very easy and seamless, there were enough people handing out tickets and checking wristbands & more than enough security staff dealing with bag checks!
I arrived a good 2 hours before the music started so didn't have to deal with any queues, but the staff were really friendly and also quick with getting people through. They split the entrance so some were for people collecting tickets and others for just checking wristbands.
BST: Apparently research has shown that there were 6 stages but when I got there I was only aware of 3. Of the 3, The Theatre was closed & I never found the Village Hall, even after walking around the site 3 times. I spent moat of the day sat enjoying the MainStage music, which was really lovely when the sun was out & close to all the food stalls and various bars.
*The Theatre was closed the day before & they made the decision to keep it closed on the Saturday prior to the event starting.
Sziget: There is a crazy number of stages as this festival & the site is massive - even with my handy passport map I got lost! I stayed mostly at the Main Stage as well, cause why would you miss Madness!? The main stage is in a really great location, right by a lot of bars and food stalls & you can see it from almost every spot.
I also went and had a look at some of the other stages & the thing I noticed the most was that even though they were all quite small, what this did is make it fell nice and busy even with quite a small number. The worst thing is having a very big stage but hardly anyone in front enjoying the music.
They had a massive variety of music and stages to keep you occupied all day & all 7 days the event is running. What I thought was fantastic is that all the stages listed when people were on all the different stages in between the performances.
Food and Drink
BST: Now I am used to London prices, therefore the £5 a pint was not a shock for me. The food was pretty reasonable, I only spent £5.50 on my dinner & wasn't starving afterwards. There were a few stands that were on the more expensive side which I grow to expect at all festival or live events.
It is sad that you not only have to spend a large amount to get in but a considerable amount when there as well, however it was no different from any other festival in the UK.
Sziget: In comparison to BST this place was so so so so so so so cheap! The exchange rate works in favour for international travellers & it only cost me £1.60 a pint. If you are a beer drinker it was amazing, spirits cost a fair bit more but still cheaper than UK events - however there was little choice of what mixers you could have with it all seeming to be coke or orange juice!
In regards to food I have never seen so many choices dotted around the site. There were places by all the campsites and in between all the venues & again it was a fantastic price, although obviously more expensive than in the rest of Budapest!
Would I go back again? Probably not, unless there was a headliner 'I just have to see' at £55 a ticket I think it is a very expensive way to spend a Saturday.
Sziget: Incredible! I spoke to so many people who said they would be back next year & just in the one day I spent there I had a really amazing time. The music was really great & there were enough places to go that you don't have be partying 'hard' every night!
Would I go back again? Hand down YES!
If you are looking for a nice day event during the summer to take family or friends then BST is a good option, it is a lot cheaper than a weekend festival ticket and you don't have to camp! *always a plus!* However I would say that other festivals such as End of the Road or In the Woods are a better experience. I also think there were vital areas that were missed, such as advertising on the fencing around the site, lack of signs and most importantly lack of stewards.
This was the better of the two day events, however in all honesty when you have a festival where the sun is out the WHOLE time then of course I shall prefer that! The only issue is that the event is out in Budapest, Hungary so when booking tickets you need to include transport there and back. Yet considering you get a 7 day event with performers from around the world, compared to a 4 day festival in the UK with rain and mud, it is worth it!
Did you go to either of these events?
Are there other festivals that you would recommend?
Let me know in the comments below or via twitter!