I went to a festival in Hungary by myself and it wasn’t as scary as you’d think
Maybe it’s time to go solo
So, you’ve finished uni for the summer and you’re ready to make some overdraft-fuelled festival plans. However, you’ve returned home to a desolate wasteland. Your mates are either sunning-it-up with their other halves, working every day or slaving away at an unpaid internship and nobody has the time nor funds to entertain your festival dreams.
Some may shy away at the prospect of going to a festival alone, but if that’s your reality then fear not, for going solo may be the best summer plan you’ll make.
Indeed, that was my own reality when I ventured out to sunny Hungary for Balaton Sound Festival. I knew little about the festival before jumping on the plane. I knew it was the younger sibling of the widely known Sziget Festival and that it had largely positive reviews online, but other than that, nada. But once I found myself at the shores of the beautiful Lake Balaton I was so glad that I had jumped on the flight.
The lakeside EDM event was much larger than I had imagined and was buzzing with festival-goers, food stalls, crazy-circus performers and multiple colourful stages.
I found myself walking for what felt like miles across the festival grounds. It was then that it dawned on me that I had travelled hundreds of miles to another country on a whim, and that my needy-self would not cope for five days without human interaction. I had my task: I needed to make friends.
You can liken the task to the first night of Freshers' Week – you’re alone and everyone’s wasted – but unlike Freshers', everyone’s already with their friends and you’re in a massive field in 30'C heat.
However, the thing about Balaton Sound that surprised me was the relative ease of making friends and socialising. Though Balaton hosted a wide variety of nationalities, the vast majority of festival-goers that I encountered spoke excellent English, which was a definite advantage as, to be honest, we Brits are notoriously lacking in the foreign language skills department.
After a drink or two it was easy enough to get chatting. Many of the people I met were experiencing their second, third or even fourth time at Balaton Sound and it seemed to be a real favourite of those who prefer a bit of down-time during the day and then loud music accompanied by extravagant light shows and fireworks at night.
A real advantage to going solo at a festival is the complete freedom – you choose exactly what acts you want to catch and you’re not having to compromise on catching only half a set, because your mate wants to see another act or has had one-too-many cans of luke-warmed Fosters. You can always leave your new-found festival friends and explore on your own for a while.
Balaton Sound had a range of acts, from smaller intimate DJ sets to big-time crowd-drawing acts such as David Guetta, Rita Ora, Craig David and The Chainsmokers. Even if EDM and chart are not your usual cup of tea, the setting, circus performers, fashion and atmosphere of the festival provided enough to explore and enjoy, and if you were willing to splash the extra cash you could even go to an intimate DJ set on a boat, whilst watching the sun go down over the lake.
I'll admit that as a lone-traveller in a new environment, at times, I felt vulnerable and took extra precautions whilst holding my drinks and whilst walking back to my accommodation at night. However, Balaton Sound ensured there was a noticeable security presence at the festival site and surrounding area. They had plenty of Fast Guard Service Security Guards around. Additionally, once I'd gained my bearings and made pals with a rowdy bunch of Spaniards, Brits and Hungarians, I felt a lot safer and could fully enjoy the generally friendly, fun and at times plain whacky (in the best way) vibe of the festival.
So, why not venture out to Balaton Sound in 2019? You'll get all the acts you’d expect at a mainstream UK festival, whist also benefitting from the Hungarian sun and the beautiful surroundings of Lake Balaton – and if you're feeling adventurous, why not go solo?