The Pearl of the Danube is the perfect place for a wide variety of festivals, both in style and theme, and the fact that Hungarians can put on a show helps a lot as well. We are sure that everyone can find a festival throughout the year that matches their interest.
To help you find what you might like the best, CNN created a list for you to take a look at.
Budapest Christmas markets
We recently featured articles about the Christmas markets in Hungary including the two biggest ones in Budapest as well. I have to agree with the statement of CNN: “The Christmas market on St. Stephen’s Square is one of Budapest’s top draws in winter.”
This market takes place in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica and is probably one of the most charming Christmas markets in the whole country. This Advent fair is held annually starting from late November and ending in early January. The square is filled with small market stalls selling many things, from toys to clothes, and many products and trinkets are hand-crafted. Oh, and do not forget about some of the most delicious street foods Hungary has to offer, like the famous chimney cakes and lángos, and if you would like to warm your body up, there is also a wide variety of mulled wines and other drinks. The icing on the cake (no pun intended) is that there is a small ice rink in the centre, adding a further dollop of festive magic.
St. Stephen’s Basilica Christmas market, Budapest, Saint Stephen Square 1, 1051. Date: November 23, 2018, to Jan 1, 2019.
Although, in my opinion, it is not as beautiful, the main Christmas market is at Vörösmarty Square where there are even more treats. There are over 100 stalls selling gifts and food. All stalls have been personally vetted by a jury, ensuring the highest quality.
Vörösmarty Square Christmas market, Budapest Vörösmarty Square, 1051. Date: November 9, 2018, to Jan 1, 2019.
Budapest Fish Festival
It is a place where the splashy traditional Hungarian cuisine meets international creations.
Hungarians spend the winter months keeping warm with the famous dish called halászlé. It is a red-hot fisherman’s soup brimming with paprika and usually carp. When March comes round, many people head to the Budapest Fish Festival to try some of the best fish soups from around the country. But there is a wide selection of dishes the aquarium has to offer apart from halászlé, so everyone who likes fish should attend this festival. They organise cooking contests on Heroes’ Square, but there is more to look forward to. There are also wine tastings, folklore music and fun for the kids.
Budapest Fish Festival, Heroes’ Square, Budapest, 1146. Date: March 2-4, 2019
Budapest Spring Festival
This festival features live music, dance and theatre shows which are held in venues across the city. Budapest’s cultural calendar in itself is busy enough, but the Budapest Spring Festival in April is a city-wide celebration of music and the arts. This 17-day festival features countless classical and many other genres of concerts in venues around the city. Visitors can also show their appreciation of visual arts during the Budapest Art Week which is held simultaneously. Workshops and film screenings, as well as exhibitions, can be visited in almost 70 locations.
Date: April 5 to 22, 2019
Thought out by the organisers of September’s wine festival, it is the only event in Hungary that is dedicated to celebrating rosé wines, champagnes, and sparkling wines. Each year, the Rosalia Festival connects Spring and Summer in a refreshing and stylistic way. This three-day festival features a Rosé Garden, wine and champagne tastings, jazz concerts, Hungarian food stalls – because what Hungarian festival would it be without delicious foods – and special events for children so that families can also visit it easily.
Rosalia Festival, Budapest, City Park, 1146 Hungary; +36 1 203 8507. Date: May 31 to June 2, 2019
Budapest Summer Festival
Held throughout the summer, this festival definitely brings some of the world’s top classical musicians as well as ballet dancers to one of the most beautiful places of Budapest, to Margaret Island. The programme has a variety of genres, from opera and classical music to pop and even jazz. There are also ballet performances. All of this takes place on the Open-Air stage of Margaret Island.
Budapest Summer Festivals, Open-Air Theatre, 1122 Budapest, Városmajor; +36 1 375-5922. Date: June to September
It is one of the biggest music festivals in the whole of Europe, which takes place every August. For more than 25 years, the week-long Sziget Festival has been taking over the Danube river island of Óbudai Island every August, showcasing more than 1,000 performers and drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world. Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran are just some of the headliners of the 2019 Sziget Festival.
It is not about the music only; the organisers dedicate a lot of effort to making the ambience of the event a truly unique experience. The performances are nothing to underestimate though, and if you cannot take the summer heat anymore, you can dip your toes into the Danube on the sandy beach of Óbudai Island.
Sziget Festival, Hajógyári Island, Budapest, Hungary. Date: Aug 1 to 13, 2019
Next to Sziget, Volt Festival is also among the most famous events in Hungary, and it is well-known in Europe as well. You can check out the headliners of the 2019 festival HERE.
Festival of Folk Arts
The Festival of Folk Arts brings top Hungarian craftspeople to Buda Castle for three days every August in order to sell their hand-crafted products; crafts made in the country for hundreds of years. Visitors can watch the professionals make their products by weaving, carving, painting or spinning, and the most adventurous people can try techniques that have been handed down over the generations in several workshops. Naturally, among the performers of the festival are folk dancers, and food stalls cannot be left out. These offer delectable traditional dishes and drinks as well. As the event falls during the festivities that mark St. Stephen’s Day on August 20, which include food stalls along the Danube Promenade, concerts and spectacular fireworks, those in town during this period will have the opportunity to experience both.
Festival of Folk Arts, Budapest, Szent György Square 2, 1014 Hungary. Date: August 18 to 21, 2019
Budapest Wine Festival
Every September, Buda Castle becomes the home of one of the most sophisticated festivals of Hungary. Wine producers bring their best creations to show them off. Buy a glass, and you can go around the stalls of wineries tasting all kinds of delicious wines. Also, it would not be a true Hungarian festival if there were no snacks to sink your teeth into. There is also a Harvest Parade around Buda Castle celebrating with folk music and dance.
Budapest Wine Festival, Budapest, Szent György Square 2, 1014. Date: September 5 to 8, 2019
Pálinka and Sausage Festival
One of Budapest’s best gastronomical festivals, it brings together two of the most famous Hungarian items, the sausages and our world-famous drink, the Pálinka. As the weather gets colder, we need something to keep ourselves warm, and Pálinka is the best for it, although it is basically good for anything. The festival takes place on Castle Hill, and several distillers come here from around the country to show off their distilling skills while the region’s sausage makers are on hand with the perfect snacks to soak up all that delicious alcohol.
Palinka and Sausage Festival, Castle Hill, Budapest. Date: October 2 to 4, 2019
The Margaret Island Open-Air Stage and a host of other open-air venues around the Danube become colourful from the several different folk dancing teams from around the world. Several hundreds of international dancers go and present their own performances for visitors using their own cultural music and dances alongside traditional Hungarian styles. The main attraction of the festival is the Carnival Parade that goes along the Danube Promenade to Vörösmarty Square. This annual festival is usually organised in June, but the exact date has yet to be confirmed.
Danube Carnival, +36-20-314-2062. Date: TBC
Downtown Beer Festival
Visitors can try the latest Hungarian beer specialities during this summer event. While Hungarian wine and Pálinka are world-famous, beer was pushed to the side, but this is different with this festival. Beer gets all the attention now because a quiet beer revolution has been brewing in the country. Over 60 microbreweries from around Hungary set up shop in City Park for three days in June, and show off their latest creations. Visitors can even taste beers from guest breweries from Bavaria and the Czech Republic, and try the food on offer from the street food fair.
Downtown Beer Festival, City Park, Budapest, Kós Károly Way., 1146 Hungary. Date: TBC
If you are a bookworm, you might still be interested in THIS article about the 2019 International Book Festival.
Featured image: aborfesztival.hu/cikk/galeria//8/206