Gladiatorial dance arenas and world-class DJ: what Sziget has in store for electronic music lovers

Budapest's Sziget festival on its passion for electronic music

In partnership with Sziget Festival

Whilst it showcases a plethora of genres, Sziget is especially keen to highlight the importance of electronic music to the festival. Its first dedicated electronic music venue, called the Night Zone Party Arena, arrived at the millennial corner in 2000. “The line-up included Seb Fontaine, Paul van Dyk, Darren Emerson and Nick Warren,” Sziget CEO Tamás Kádár informs NME. “Since then, electronic music has been strongly represented at Sziget every year.”

2023 is no exception. As well as David Guetta shaking up the main stage with his turbocharged EDM, Sziget hosts the TicketSwap Colosseum, which resembles an ancient amphitheatre and boasts a visually-arresting DJ booth in the shape of a gladiator’s helmet. However, you won’t witness oiled-up warriors getting fed to ravenous lions here (unless..y’know,  Australian dance maven Mall Grab has something particularly recherché planned for his stagecraft this year), but rather the hottest DJs from around the globe taking the party to the max (imus) from noon to 5am. “It’s a spectacular one-of-a-kind design,” beams Kádár, proudly of the unique location constructed entirely out of wooden pallets. “Fans of techno in particular can find the best acts in the world here.”


This year, among those world-class acts poised to ask “Are you entertained?!” Russell Crowe-style, are Berlin queer collective Herrensauna XXL, Polish-born London-based DJ VTSS, the aforementioned Mall Grab bringing his late-night London vibes, as well as French producer I Hate Models, Italian electronic-music-monger DJ Tennis, and three-time DJ Awards winner Sven Väth and fast-rising Kobosil unleashing his techno tremors on the Island of Freedom, as well as many more.

The Colosseum venue at Sziget, 2022 (Picture: Press)

A short walk through the Island of Freedom sees you arrive at the dance-haven that is the Samsung Party Arena, a tent that raucously lives up to its name. Headliners this year include good-times juggernaut Diplo, Italian music production and DJ duo Tale of Us, Swedish techno don Adam Beyer, along with Macky Gee, Mochakk, Reinier Zonneveld, TroyBoi and Vintage Culture. Of course, partying is hardwired into Sziget’s DNA: they even lay on a ‘party train’ service from across Europe, complete with on-board DJs.

Over at the FreeDome presented by Mastercard, meanwhile, which offers more alternative-leaning thrills than the Main Stage and is open until 4am, there will be no-doubt rapturously-received sets from deep house maverick Ben Böhmer, and festival stalwart Jamie xx, and German electronic supergroup Moderat, one-man disco SG Lewis, and French soundscapers M83.

Based on an island in the centre of Budapest (Sziget means “island” in Hungarian, Duolingo fans), over its 30-year history Sziget has established itself as hosting one of the most reliably impressive line-ups around. NME once lauded it as “Europe’s answer to Glastonbury”. Previous headliners have included David Bowie, Prince and Radiohead, and this year, the likes of Billie Eilish, Lorde and Florence + The Machine are set to follow in their iconic footsteps, yet it’s clear that electronic music remains particularly close to the festival’s heart.

“I believe that electronic music needs to be an essential part of the program of all multi-genre festivals nowadays,” concludes Virág Csiszár, international booking manager at Sziget Cultural Management.  “At Sziget, it’s an important mission for us to create a diverse electronic music line-up that includes various types of show set-ups, from live bands to DJ sets in many different genres, so we offer something for every taste.”


“Sziget has two dedicated electronic music venues, TicketSwap Colosseum, and Samsung Party Arena; however, almost all the other stages of the festival present programs for electronic music lovers.”

Sziget takes place from 10 to 15 August on the Óbuda Island in Budapest in Hungary, with tickets available here.

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