Budapest turns cultural capital for a week

02-08-2003

Budapest's Shipyard Island - in the Danube River - is dancing to the beat of one of Europe's largest open-air music events - the weeklong Sziget festival. In it's 11th year, the festival is entertaining well over a quarter of a million people with rock, dance, reggae, folk and World music. And plenty of big names from the region - as Petra Haydu found out.

The 11th Sziget Festival welcomed its guests with heavy rains on Wednesday but even that couldn't scare away the fans of the living legend, Benedek Uhrin, who had become a pop star in Hungary after he had long passed his 70th birthday. He was granted 20 minutes on the main stage, during which he sang 3 times the sziget anthem he wrote especially for the occasion.

On the world music stage after Nitin Sawhney, came Buena Vista Social Club and Ibrahim Ferrer for the lovers of Latino music. As you can hear from the following little chat with an islander, they attracted listeners even from faraway tents!

"I am from Lower Austria, and I've been coming here for three years. The people, especially the Hungarian people are so friendly."

As always, lots of religious groups are represented on the island with the most unexpected forms of expression like this Krishna heavy metal, for example. The greatest star on the main stage on Wednesday was Shaggy but unfortunately his concert was on exactly at the same time as the monumental dance performance of Carmina Burana which was also a massive success and a proof that not only pop and rock fans can have fun on the sziget.

"I come from Holland and this is my 3rd time at the festival. I love it, there are no boundaries. If you have a festival in Holland there are lots of rules and here there are no rules. So that's why a lot of Dutch people come here - at least 10 percent of the people here are from Holland. SO far everything is perfect - except for the weather!"

"There are many Hungarians and I like these people. They are all so friendly and there is so much music too."

After two days of rain, the islanders are hoping for less mud and the organisers for more visitors in the remaining time. If nothing else, names like Massive Attack or Morcheeba will surely help in selling more tickets, records and of course beer.

02-08-2003