Jonathan Knott

Former British ambassador to Hungary, Budapest

Part of UK in Hungary

18th August 2014 Budapest, Hungary

Adventures on Sziget – Day 3 (and 4 and 5)

Guest blog by Ben Luckock, Head of Policy Team at the British Embassy in Budapest.

Having read Theresa’s account of her two days at Sziget (Day1 and Day2), it was with great enthusiasm that I headed down to the Island of Freedom on Friday afternoon. Much of the mud had dried up and the organisers were using a bulldozer to level out the main stage area and soak up some of the remaining puddles with sand. I was particularly keen to get to the Civil Village and meet some of the organisations that I work with day to day.

As with last year, most organisations were offering quizzes to test festival goers’ knowledge about the issues they were promoting. At the European Commission’s tent, I did pretty well on Europe, identifying five out of five European countries from pen picture descriptions (although two were Hungary and the UK, so it wasn’t too hard). I did slightly less well on the (tougher) Europe questions stuck to the bottom of floats I had first to fish from a basin. In a team effort, we were able to name all twelve anti-racism songs by their lyrics at the ZARE tent (Music Against Racism).


Sziget also proved surprisingly good for networking and I was able to talk to both a former opposition MEP and a newly appointed Government minister, both of whom were supporting Civil Village activities.


With the rain having dried up, we revisited Ability Park. The wheelchair obstacle course was proving to be a big draw. But I opted instead to scale a climbing wall blindfolded, which was hugely challenging. I had wondered whether being blindfolded might have helped me manage my vertigo. It didn’t.

Of course, Sziget is primarily about the music. And it was a GREAT reminder of just how popular UK music is, with UK acts headlining on the last two nights and many more at both the main stage and elsewhere throughout the week. Madness and The Prodigy drew huge crowds on Saturday, despite the fact that most of those singing or dancing along weren’t born when Baggy Trousers hit the UK charts or even when Keith Flint and friends started out on their long career in big beats. The highlight for many was Calvin Harris, one of Britain’s highest earning musicians, closing the festival on Sunday night to the back drop of a fantastic fireworks display.

Sziget also offered foreign visitors a good opportunity to learn about Hungary’s vibrant culture. The organisers actively encourage local musicians to perform, giving some the opportunity to play to huge crowds. And throughout the island, local artists have contributed to the amazing displays of the beautiful, curious and crazy. At a Hungarian Countryside tent, I completed (yet another) quiz on Hungaricums, the 41 cultural items most precious to Hungary and Hungarians. Many of these were available at the festival, from traditional dance through to the excellent Hungarian wine and local spirit, Pálinka. I also tried out some traditional Hungarian games, each of which called for more strength, dexterity or skill than I could manage.

Throughout the three days the British Embassy spent on Sziget, we have sought to show our support for several of the local Hungarian NGOs championing Human Rights and fighting against corruption and human trafficking, which we believe are still very pressing issues in today’s society.

We will be back next year – hope to see you there!

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the British government.

About Jonathan Knott

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take up his post. He left this post on April…

Jonathan Knott was appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to
Hungary in March 2011 and arrived in Budapest in February 2012 to take
up his post. He left this post on April 2015.
He has previously held a variety of diplomatic posts at home and
abroad, several with a particular focus on commercial and corporate
finance issues. Jonathan has served in a number of positions in the
British Diplomatic Service since joining in 1988:
Before his appointment was Deputy Head of Mission and Director for Trade and Investment in South Korea from 2008 to 2011.Between 2005 and 2008 he held the post of Deputy Finance Director in the FCO.From 2000 to 2005 he served as First Secretary (Trade, Corporate Affairs and Finance Negotiator) in UKDel OECD Paris.From 1996 to 2000 he was First Secretary (Head of Political/Economic/Aid Section) in Mexico.From 1995 to 1996 he worked in the FCO as Deputy European Correspondent at the EU Directorate.Between 1991 and 1995 he served as Third later Second Secretary (Political / Press and Public Affairs) in Havana.From 1990 to 1991 he was Desk Officer in the FCO’s First Gulf War Emergency Unit.Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as Desk Officer in the FCO in the Anti Drugs Cooperation Department.
Jonathan holds an MA in law from Oxford University, and he is a
member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. He speaks
English, French, Spanish and Hungarian. He is married to Angela Susan
Knott and has one daughter and two sons.

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