Too Many Foreigners?

Although Sziget Festival smashed its attendance record by pulling 385,000 people across six days, some locals are reportedly unhappy because too many tickets were sold to music fans from outside of Hungary.

The main complaint seems to be that the ticket price is higher than the country’s other festivals and the event is no longer a “Hungarian festival.”

“I read the stories but, if you examine the arguments, they don’t really add up,” said festival press chief Gergo Salamon. “In Hungary people wait until the week before the festival to buy tickets, but most of the six-day tickets have gone by then.

“I think nearly 70 percent of those tickets are sold outside Hungary, but in other countries people are more used to buying tickets in advance,” Salamon added.

Ten years ago, when the average Sziget crowd totaled about 35,000 per day, about 40 percent of the six-day tickets were sold outside Hungary.

As for the prices, Salamon acknowledged that Sziget is higher than the other Hungarian festivals, but said “you can’t get a three-course meal for the price of a sandwich.”

“We’ve created an international event that attracts tens of thousands of people to Budapest, which is good for the city and the economy,” he added.

This year, “earlybird” tickets for the whole week including camping were euro 120 ($176), later rising to euro 150 ($220). Day tickets were euro 32 ($44).

Acts on this year’s Aug. 12-17 bill included Iron Maiden, R.E.M, The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Jamiroquai, Die Ärzte, Sex Pistols and Alanis Morissette.