There are two signs of the coming Christmas holiday in Budapest: shopping malls start to play the all-time-favourite Christmas carols in the beginning of November to remind the customers of buying presents for the oncoming holiday, and of course, more and more wooden Christmas cottages appear on public squares in the capital. Index.hu reports that most Hungarians believe that Christmas markets are fairly expensive and not really for the Hungarian budget. From this article, you can figure what makes Christmas fairs so expensive in the capital.
These days, it seems that during the Advent season, all possible public squares give home to Christmas markets in the capital. However, it is still the market on Vörösmarty Square that pops into the mind of most of us when it comes to Christmas fairs. In fact, in recent years, the market in front of the Basilica, chosen the 4th best market in Europe this year, has become a great rival of this market. In addition to this, other districts also hold their own markets, like the 3rd and the 12th districts.
The market on Vörösmarty Square is organised by the Budapest Festival and Tourism Centre Ltd. that is a non-profit organisation. Therefore, the revenu goes to city, while other Advent markets are organised by for-profit organisations which rent the public squares from the local governments.
The prices of products in the Christmas fairs depend upon many things. The biggest expenditure for craftsmen and caterers is undoubtedly the lease. This, similarly to the real estate prices in Budapest, is heavily increasing. At Vörösmarty Square, the wooden cottage prices are the following this year:
– the gross price of a 2×2 m cottage is 980,000 Ft (3,267 euros) for the duration of the Christmas fair (10 November-29 December)
– cottages providing foods and beverages cost more – a chestnut roasting cart is 1.5 million Ft (5,000 euros)
– a cottage for lángos and chimney cake selling is around 6 million forint (20,000 euros)
– in the middle of the square, caterers offering food can even pay 25 million forint (83,333 euros)
Prices are closely similar in front of the Basilica as well, but the organisor AVB Ltd. did not wish to reveal the exact prices.
Compared to these, the rental prices are more acceptable in the suburb of Budapest.
There, leases vary from 400,000 Ft (1,333 euros) to 200,000 Ft (667 euros), although these prices are for 23 days and not for 50 days as in the center. For these prices, the security of the cottages is guaranteed, just like the usage of restrooms for the employees and in some cases electricity as well.
It is clear that the prices of the purchasable products in the markets correlate with the leases.
– 1 dl mulled wine is 300 Ft (1 euro) in the center, while in Buda, it is around 200-250 Ft (0.7-1 euro)
– a fried sausage at Vörösmarty Square or in front of the Basilica is 1,800-1,950 Ft (6-6.5 euros) compared to the one at Szentlélek Square that costs 1,300 Ft (4.3 euros)
– a chimney cake in the center is 1,700-2,000 Ft (5.7-6.7 euros) while in Óbuda, it is 1,000 Ft (3.3 euros)
Another factor influencing the prices is the clientele of the market.
At Vörösmarty Square, 70% of the customers are foreigners and that is why the markets in the city center aim to be quality tourist destinations. However, smaller markets attract more Hungarians because the public places where they are organised are less noteworthy for foreigners. Therefore, they should meet the budget of Hungarian families.
Although this year, prices did not increase significantly, in the following year, this would be inevitable due to the more expensive workforce. Because of labour shortage problems, it is more difficult to find employees for the vacant positions. Furthermore, the job of Christmas market caterers is not easy at all, as during the peak hours, 10-12 people should work together at the counter in the cold weather.
Compared to this, the price of arts and crafts products is less determined by their clientele, but more by the fact, that craftsmen produce their own unique and quality products the expenditure of which is higher than the production of goods in larger companies.
They report, however, that good craftsmen can earn a little less than the half of their annual revenu at Christmas markets.
All in all, caterers and proprietors also believe that the Christmas period is a good business that can be fruitful for everyone with a little luck and much work .