Hungary’s Sziget cancels early summer music festivals

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Hungary’s Sziget, which organises some of the largest music festivals in Europe, said it would decide in the coming weeks whether to hold its main event in August in Budapest after it cancelled two other festivals due to the pandemic.

The company cancelled the VOLT Festival, an event in the Western corner of Hungary due in June, and July’s Balaton Sound at Lake Balaton and said these would next take place in 2022.

“We will see what we do about Sziget in a few weeks,” said spokeswoman Viktoria Veto.

The Sziget Festival routinely draws several hundred thousand visitors to an island in the river Danube in the Hungarian capital. All three events were cancelled in 2020.

The festivals staged by the company, in which U.S.-based private equity firm Providence Equity Partners bought a 70 percent stake in 2017, have been a huge tourist draw to Hungary, where the tourism industry accounts for more than a tenth of economic output.

Balaton Sound has hosted stars like Snoop Dogg, while VOLT has headlined Iron Maiden and Faith No More.

“VOLT is our earliest festival as we planned to open the gates in June,” said founder Norbert Lobenwein. “In the middle of the third wave we could not even see when we could start selling tickets.”

Zoltan Fulop, the director of Balaton Sound, said they would normally expect tens of thousands of guests from around Europe but international travel may or may not restart by mid-summer, making it impossible to plan.

Main Photo: Fans cheer during a concert at the Sziget (Island) Festival on Shipyard Island, Northern Budapest, Hungary, 13 August 2019. EPA-EFE/MARTON MONUS

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