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Hegyalja Festival (Tokaj)

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Tokaj, Hungary.

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      03.07.2008 13:20
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      Definitely worth visiting

      Hegyalja Festival is a hard-rock, metal festival in Tokaj in Hungary. The Hungarians historically had the most liberal music scene during the communist years and with the formation of bands like Illés, Metró, Beatrice and Omega in the 60's, Locomotiv GT, Edda Muvek and Panta Rhei in the 70's and punk/new wave bands like Bikini and CPg and heavy metal bands like Ossian in the 80's, the Hungarians are very proud of their rock n roll history.

      Since democracy, more bands have emerged like Ektomorf that keep the genre alive. Sziget Festival in Budapest sees hundreds of bands from all over the world take to the stage on the island in the middle of the river but the prices are high by Hungarian standards and this sees a lot of students head for Hegyalja Festival instead in the Tokaj region of Hungary.

      The Tokaj region is a world known wine growing region and is located in the North East of the country towards the Slovak and Ukrainian borders. The festival tends to have a mixture of Hungarian stalwarts from the rock and heavy metal scene and some foreign bands, the year I visited (2006), Motorhead were playing and tickets were quite affordable. The weather during the summer in Hungary is just about always very hot, so there's no need to worry about it raining. Several bars in the town of Tokaj use the festival to maximise their income and are open 24 hours, whatever the hour there are always some people milling around or sleeping on tables outside bars.

      Beer was very affordable, table football very cheap and wine also readily available at good prices (there seemed to be some game involving filling a waiter's tray with wine and who ever could drink it without spilling it would be given a bottle of wine, not easy but well worth the attempt considering it's free wine!

      I had never had a great deal of fun in Hungary prior to this, not being a fan of Budapest and thought they were a serious lot in comparison with their fun loving neighbours the Ukrainians, Slovaks and Romanians. However, I grew to like a lot of them at this festival and they were open and friendly and not to mention incredibly wasted (although far better behaved than your average night out in Sunderland)

      People swim in the river under the bridge which seperates Tokaj and it's lively nightlife from the camping zone which in turn is next to the stages.

      This year the line-up includes over 100 Hungarian bands and Juliette & The Licks (USA), The 69 Eyes (Finland), Phil Hartnoll (UK), Future Prophecies (Norway), N.O.H.A (Germany), Katatonia (Sweden) throughout 6 stages as well as numerous dancehall, reggae and dj acts in 2 other tents. Some of the Hungarian bands include legends like The Hobo Blues Band and Ossian are playing and this is a great insight into Hungarian rock n roll.

      This year it takes place between the 9-13 July.

      Ticket prices:

      Season ticket in advance Hegyalja Festival (4 days)
      12.500 HUF (50 EUR)

      Season ticket in advance Valid for 3 festivals (3X4days)
      26.500 HUF (105 EUR)

      Season ticket in advance Valid for 2 festivals (Hegyalja+Balatone or SZIN)
      19.500 HUF (76 EUR)

      Season ticket at the gate Hegyalja Festival (4 days)
      15.000 HUF (60 EUR)

      Day ticket in advance Hegyalja Festival (one day)
      5.200 HUF (21 EUR)

      Day ticket at the gate Hegyalja Festival Wednesday
      3.000 HUF (12 EUR)

      Day ticket at the gate Hegyalja Festival (other days)
      6.000 HUF (24 EUR)

      Hegyalja Festival Camping tickets:

      Since the limited size of the campsite, you have to buy a camping ticket if you want to stand your tent in case that you have bought a day ticket. It costs 800 HUF (3,5 EUR). If you have a season ticket then its price contains the possibility tu stand the tent and use all the facilities within the territory.
      The subsidiary campsite is free for everyone!

      There is also a free left luggage section, if you are afraid of leaving things in the tent. Keep your wristband on, do not take animals there and don't call the ambulance, they have a first aid team on sight who can decide whether someone needs an ambulance or not.

      Getting to Tokaj:

      is easy, by car you just take the M3 from Budapest to Miskolc and then the 37 to Tokaj. The roads are well surfaced. If you are coming from the north then the roads are smaller but still in good condition, there's also a road from Nyierghaza. If you are without a car, take one of the trains packed full of people heading towards the festival, there are direct connections from Budapest Deli and Keleti and Miskolc. If you are hitchhiking it should also be easy, though leaving there will probably be a lot of drink-drivers, so make sure you wear a seat belt.

      Website: http://www.hegyaljafestival.hu (some of the site in English, German and Slovak, mostly in Hungarian though)

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