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Sziget Festival: Championing LGBTQIA+ rights for over two decades

In partnership with Sziget Festival

By Dale Fox

A performer on stage in a circus style tent surrounded by a crowd
The Magic Mirror venue at Sziget Festival (Image: Provided)

In the heart of Budapest, on an island in the middle of the Danube, a cultural phenomenon has been unfolding each summer for the past 30 years. Sziget Festival, which began as a modest gathering in 1993 with just 200 concerts on two stages, has evolved into a mammoth celebration of music, theatre, cabaret, comedy, and art, attracting nearly half a million attendees annually.

Sziget 2024 lineup poster
Sziget Festival 2024 lineup (Image: Provided)

Kylie Minogue has been announced as the final headline act for this year’s Sziget Festival, joining Sam Smith, Halsey and Liam Gallagher at the massive celebration on Budapest’s Óbuda Island. Also announced for the festival, held between 7-12 August, are Australian DJ Fisher, Janelle Monáe, Skillrez and RAYE.

But Sziget is more than just a festival – it’s a platform for promoting important societal values. From its inception, Sziget has been a vocal advocate for human rights, LGBTQIA+ rights, the rights of people with disabilities, sustainability, and the fight against racism. In a country like Hungary, where outdated views still persist, Sziget has consistently provided a welcoming and inclusive space for all.

The Magic Mirror: A haven for the LGBTQIA+ community

External view of The Magic Mirror Stage at Sziget at dusk
Sziget’s The Magic Mirror is a venue dedicated to the LGBTQIA+ community (Image: Provided)

In 2001, Sziget introduced The Magic Mirror, a dedicated venue for the LGBTQIA+ community. More than two decades later, this space continues to thrive, offering an immersive program of film screenings, panels, workshops, stand-up comedy, concerts, contemporary dance performances, and fabulous parties. The Magic Mirror not only celebrates the community but also sheds light on its challenges.

This year, The Magic Mirror boasts an impressive lineup of performers from around the world, including Danny Beard and Their Band (UK), Drags of Anarchy (NL), Pandora Nox (A), and many more.

Love Revolution manifesto: A call for unity and change

A performer on stage in a circus style tent surrounded by a crowd
(Image: Provided)

In addition to The Magic Mirror, Sziget’s main stage will feature the Love Revolution Special, a series of daily presentations and short speeches aimed at raising awareness about the social changes happening around us and our collective responsibility to address them. The Love Revolution manifesto, crafted by Sziget, encapsulates the festival’s core values:

“Sziget Festival was founded in 1993 to give young people in Hungary, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the opportunity to meet and feel the power of a free and open community. Although liberal democracy was still taking shape in Hungary at that time, the young people of Sziget created a ‘model republic’ where full respect for personal freedom, acceptance of diversity, peaceful cooperation and coexistence of different cultures and people were natural for everyone.” (Sziget Festival’s Love Revolution manifesto)

A festival-wide commitment to inclusion

People dancing in a circus style tent
The Magic Mirror is also a space where people can be educated on the challenges of the LGBTQIA+ community (Image: Provided)

Nearly every venue at Sziget features performers and productions that focus on LGBTQIA+-related topics, spanning circus, theatre, dance, and music.

“Sziget always stood up for LGBTQIA+ rights,” József Kardos, Sziget Festival’s program director, says.

“In 2001 when we started Magic Mirror we thought that the venue could help educate our audience and make them understand the specific challenges this community faces. Ever since then we strongly believe that it is worth making these efforts and unfortunately, our basic goals haven’t lost any of their importance more than twenty years later.

“In this part of Europe, where incitement and hatred against social minorities are often used in public discourse without consequences, where laws are passed that diminish the rights of minorities, we believe we must speak out and act against these tendencies.”

Experience Sziget Festival 2024 for yourself

Sziget Festival 2024 promises to be an unforgettable celebration of music, art, and unity. Don’t miss your chance to be part of this inspiring international community. Secure your Sziget Festival tickets today.