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Report Sziget Festival 2013 vs. Tomorrowland 2013

zondag 01 september 2013


The title Best Major European Festival went to Sziget Festival in 2011. Last year, Tomorrowland won this award. Belgians biggest independent niche website Concertnews.be visited both European festivals this summer. A report - as school starts again on Sept 2 - about the festival experience by Bert Hertogs, editor-in-chief.







Decoration Main Stage



New at this edition



community feeling









payment/service food and drinks









Tomorrowland 2013
July 26-28 2013

number of visitors: 180.000
visitors: 214 different nationalities
number of journalists with accreditation: ????
press: ???? different nationalities
edition number 9
Tomorrowland was sold out in 8 minutes
Tomorrowland = 75 ha
DreamVille (camping) = 45 ha
load in: 400 people build Tomorrowland in 1 month (10th edition)
number of stages: 15
biggest construction: Main Stage 140 meters wide and 35 meters high // Garden of Madness: ???? m²
Number of dj’s: 473
More than 5000 crew working at Tomorrowland including ???? security guards
Number of toilets: ????

 [ Tomorrowland did not want to fill in the missing data. That’s why we have put question marks. Ed.]

Sziget Festival
August 5-12 2013

number of visitors: 362. 000
visitors: 69 different nationalities
number of journalists with accreditation: 2000
press: 40 different nationalities
edition number 20
Sziget Festival was not sold out
Sziget = 76 ha (camping and festival ground are 1)
load in: 7500 people build Sziget Festival in 3 weeks
number of stages: 54
biggest construction: A38 tent - 5000 m²
Number of artists: 600
Number of crew:  6000 including 1200 security guards
Number of toilets: 1750
(Hospital with 400 specialists)

[ Sziget did fill in our missing data. Ed.]


Tomorrowland 2013 = 9

It’s a piece of jewelry on its own, in leather (sent in a box to your home). The bracelet is a real souvenir. 

Sziget Festival = 7
A typical woven wristband you get at a lot of festivals.

Decoration Main Stage

Tomorrowland 2013 = 9

A waterfall, a volcano (with C02 jets, fontain, smoke, fireworks, flames, …) This is one of the main eye catchers of the festival.

Sziget Festival = 6
just a typical festival stage


Tomorrowland 2013 = 9

The Garden of Madness, a floating stage on a lake, decorated by flower designer Daniël Ost

Sziget Festival = 8
Sziget festival discovered after 19 editions they can use a beach, put a bar there, a dj, some long chairs. So it was the place to be to cool down in the Danube river when it was 38 degrees Celsius.

Community feeling at the festival:

Tomorrowland 2013 = 8

So many nationalities and everybody bringing his national flag at the Main Stage lead to 1 big patchwork during David Guetta vs Nicky Romero vs Afrojacks set. What makes visitors 1 is their love for the dance music genre. Nevertheless does the scenario for each day seems too similar (starting of the waterfall at 16:00, starting of laser show later, starting of fireworks, …). Tomorrowland also sometimes feels too much like an open air TV studio which feels artificial.

Sziget Festival = 9
Every day at 19:00 at the Main Stage there was a special party (10 000 colourful balloons in the air, 10 000 pinwheels, 1 000 big beach balls, a color party (comparable with the Holi festival). Camping on the same area makes you feel 1 of thousands Szitizens (playing with water pistols in front of the stage). To be honest, we felt more like a child again at Sziget this year compared to Tomorrowland. What makes visitors 1 is their love for culture in the broad meaning ..

Printed programme/map

Tomorrowland 2013 = 7

Comparable with the ones you get in an amusement park.

Sziget Festival = 9
Looks like an international passport, can be personalized in the immigration office (by making your own picture), encourages the public to discover all areas (stamps available at all areas).


Tomorrowland 2013 = 6

5,6 euros for half a liter (2x25cl bottles) of Coca Cola

Sziget Festival = 9
1,3 euros for half a liter (1x50cl bottle) of Coca Cola

Tomorrowland 2013 = 6

7 tickets (= 1 special glitter Tomorrowland bank note) costs 10 euros. As a lot of drinks/food are to be paid with an even number of tickets this means that many people visiting Tomorrowland leave the festival with a unused ticket for food/drinks (worth 1,4 euros). These tickets are not reimbursed.  Patience is needed at bars to get your drinks at the Main Stage when headliners are on stage.

Sziget Festival = 7
with a special Sziget bank card. (caution money: 500 HUF = 1,7 euros). At the end of the festival you get the caution money + the amount of money which is still on the bank card back. Patience is needed at bars to get your drinks at the Main Stage when headliners are on stage.

Tomorrowland 2013 = 6
There simply aren’t enough of them, esp. on the Main Stage there is only 1 big block on the left. In the press area they aren’t clean at all.

Sziget Festival = 7
Chemical toilets for the visitors. In the press and vip area there are containers with standard toilets. They are cleaned several times a day.  

General evaluation:


Both festival focus on the senses. Tomorrowland asks star chefs to cook for a limited number of festival visitors. Tomorrowland focuses on the story of a fairy tale which you don’t find everywhere at the festival ground. The festival tends to be(come) as posh as possible. Tomorrowland gets the best dj’s from all over the world at Boom which makes Tomorrowland trendsetter + the major dance festival in the world.

Challenges: public pissing at the festival area (at Sziget collaborators and security guards do actively forbid males to do it),  Belgian weather (Tomorrowland had to disturb some dj sets during Tomorrowland because of the booming sound of weather prevention), approve in the next 5 years it is more than one of the biggest hypes (both online, via social media channels and in real life) of the moment, public transport from Antwerp to Tomorrowland can be better, in fact it’s easier to travel via Mechelen, one day dance music becomes less popular, Tomorrowland focusing on this genre might feel turbulence, the Main Stage is the biggest attraction with big names of dj’s. Tomorrowland strengthens what’s already mainstream. Most people are there to see their favorite dj’s and are less interested in discovering new talent. 

Sziget festival:

Sziget festival offers festival food from almost all over the world + some nice à la carte restaurants. Very nice are the Christmas lights in a lot of trees and Chinese laterns at night. Sziget has also big sculptures in wood (a dog, a big rocking horse, …) + a construction of Architects of Air. Sziget is the European meeting point for experiencing each others culture with world music, headliners, modern dance, folk, street theatre, circus, even opera in the programme…

Challenges: keep tickets and food/drinks cheap for West European visitors so it’s still worth travelling to Budapest,  Party Youth Hostels communicate with stickers “Let’s Sziget fucked”. This is in great contrast with the values, the programme (offering a great variety of cultural experiences) and the atmosphere the festival wants to create. Headliners do ask a lot of money which makes it difficult for a lot of European festivals (including Sziget) to be able to pay the big sums (which increase every year) and keep an interesting line up with enough major artists. Sziget can pay a maximum of 3 or 4 big headliners, international music lovers (90% of the visitors) tend to buy tickets because of the headliners/the line up, but in fact Sziget wants to sell the complete experience “The island of freedom” and focus more on the new generation, new talent to discover .  Public transport from Budapest to Sziget is fast, rather cheap, good and comfortable (besides the old suburban railway trains from Batthyány tér till Filatorigât)  during the day and night. Almost in every metro station there are ticket controls. 

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