Budapest's Sziget festival kicks off with anti-racism Day Zero


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 11, 2009 at 1:11 PM EDT

Hungary's Sziget music festival, one of the biggest in Europe, kicked off unofficially Tuesday with a 10-hour concert denouncing racism one day before the start of the five-day event.

The bonus Day Zero, not included in the 39,000-forint (156-euro, 220-dollars) Sziget pass, featured mainly local performers celebrating diversity and denouncing racism in a country shocked by a recent wave of anti-Roma crime that has left six dead.

The 17th Sziget festival officially starts on Wednesday, with almost 200 international performers taking part, including such mainstream acts as Lily Allen, Fatboy Slim and Nouvelle Vague, or world music by Calexico and Khaled.

Last year, some 385,000 fans attended the event at Budapest's Hajogyari Island in the Danube river and organisers expect at least as many this year, festival spokeswoman Viktoria Veto told AFP.

Backpackers from all over Europe traditionally pitch their tents on the 76-hectare (187-acre) grounds and this year most of the non-Hungarian Sziget-dwellers are expected from Holland, while the second largest foreign contingent is coming from France, Veto said.

Sziget, which means "island" in Hungarian, also promises unusual experiences, including a Roma music tent and a show by the Catalan La Fura Dels Baus theatre with 60 performers suspended in mid-air.

This year's festival also features a 50-metre long graffiti wall to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and Hungary's switch to democracy.

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