Festivals and Events in Budapest
Budapest has a full calendar of festivals throughout the year. Here you will find information and a description of the events, with links to their websites where available...
Budapest hosts a large number of events throughout the year suitable for every genre and interest. In the spring and summer period, there are numerous events held outdoors, many of which are free of charge. Many events are centred around four of Budapest's most important venues:
The largest venue for trade fairs, consumer shows and exhibitions is the HUNGEXPO Budapest Fair Centre, located in east Budapest, close to downtown. It hosts more than 20 exhibitions annually and other events such as music concerts and markets.
The Papp László Budapest Sport Aréna holds up to 12,500 people for both sports and cultural events. The website provides information of upcoming events and an online facility for ticket purchase.
In the same neighbourhood as the Sport Aréna is the Puskás Ferenc Stadium, which also hosts events and concerts. It provides space for up to 70,000 visitors.
The fourth main venue, mainly for music events, is the Pet?fi Csarnok (Pet?fi Hall), simply called Pecsa by the locals. In addition to the closed concert hall of 930m2 is an outdoor arena, which has space for up to 6,000 visitors.
Information about events can be found on the following websites:
Main Festivals in Budapest
It is a tradition to start the New Year with classical music concerts. New Year events in Budapest are held at the Opera, the Palace of Arts, the RAM Colosseum and the Budapest Congress Centre.
In Hungary the carnival season (Farsang) starts on Epiphany (6 January) and ends on Ash Wednesday. Highlights of the event include traditional folk music, masquerades, dancing and many fun festivities and parades that aim to scare off winter and welcome in the spring.
The Thursday after Ash Wednesday is Fat Thursday (Torkos Csütörtök) in Hungary, the last occasion to make the most of a gastronomic meal before fasting begins. The event was initiated by the Hungarian Tourism Office and provides the opportunity to wine and dine half price at participating restaurants in Budapest and Hungary on this day. A list of participating restaurants can be found on the Torkos Csutortok website, which also provides the possibility to book a table online.
Budapest International Circus Festival
The Budapest International Circus Festival is organised bi-annually (every even year), featuring world class artists and acrobats from around the globe. The Budapest International Circus Festival is, after the International Circus of Monte Carlo, the most important festival in its field and tickets are generally sold out several months before the event. In addition to the international artists there are also many Hungarian performers. A detailed programme and ticket ordering is available on the website of the Capital Grand Circus.
This gastronomic event held in February is dedicated to the curly-haired mangalica pig, a Hungarian heritage breed. Besides the slightly different taste compared to conventional pork, the meat and even the fatty parts are considered to be healthier. Highlights of the event include a cooking competition open to all (only certified mangalica meat is allowed), and tastings of a variety of products, such as sausages and salamis made from mangalica meat, and local Hungarian products such as marmalade, honey, cheese, spices, wine and Pálinka, a Hungarian spirit. During the day, there are also folk music programmes, comedy shows, culinary demonstrations and music concerts in the early afternoon.
The event takes place at Szabadság Square; entry is free of charge.
- For further information see the event's official website: Click here (in Hungarian)
Budapest Spring Festival
The Budapest Spring Festival is one of Hungary's largest cultural festivals, taking place over a two-week period at the end of March, beginning of April. There are approximately 200 events held in over 50 locations including classical and pop music concerts, theatre performances and film screenings.
- For information about the venues and programmes, see the Budapest Spring Festival website
Easter in Budapest
Easter (Húsvét in Hungarian) is celebrated with many traditional events. Egg painting is one of the oldest traditions and beside the traditionally painted eggs, there are hand painted, etched, bored and even shod eggs. Traditional Easter meals include boiled smoked ham, green onions, boiled eggs and horseradish.
Easter Sunday is marked by the Easter Bunny, who brings presents for children, mainly in the form of chocolate eggs and bunnies. Another Hungarian tradition is the sprinkling (locsolás) on Easter Monday, where boys visit girls, deliver a poem and sprinkle them with a bucket of water to ensure them healthy life and many children. In return the girls reward their visitors with Easter eggs, chocolate treats and drinks – generally wine or Pálinka. Nowadays, perfume is generally used to sprinkle on the women instead of water, but some still keep to the tradition.
There are also special markets dedicated to Easter; the most popular one is on Vörösmarty Square in the V District. Easter-themed arts and crafts, traditional Hungarian foods and drinks, smoked meat and other delicacies can be found here. This market generally lasts for two weeks, starting one week before Easter Sunday.
There is also an Easter Market held the Sunday before Easter at the Museum of Ethnography in the V District, with vendors offering Easter-themed arts and crafts, Easter egg painting, various children's programmes and handicraft workshops.
- Museum of Ethnography (in Hungarian)
At: 1055 Budapest, Kossuth Lajos Square 1
At Buda Castle, Easter Saturday and Easter Sunday are filled with activities including folk crafts, Easter egg painting, playgrounds for children, live folk music and dance performances.
Budapest Zoo and the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture also organise special programmes for Easter that are ideal for families with children.
Budapest 100 is an annual event in April celebrating buildings in the city that are over a 100 years old. The programme includes guided tours by architects, photo and art exhibitions, music concerts and gastronomic events. Pre-registration is required for guided tours as participation is limited, this can be done online on the Budapest 100 website.
Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Festival
An annual event in April with the Japanese Ambassador as patron and guest of honour. Visitors can enjoy exhibitions of Japanese art and culture, Japanese tea and many programmes organised for children. The event is held in April at the Füvészkert Botanical Gardens.
Budapest Dance Festival
The event is held annually at the end of April and lasts for ten days. It features a wide selection of dance styles from ballet and contemporary dance to folk dance. Performances take place at the National Dance Theatre.
Budapest Pálinka Festival
The Budapest Pálinka Festival is a unique gastronomic event, where visitors can taste several hundreds of different types of Pálinka, a distilled spirit made with fermented fruit(s). Major producers are present as well as smaller and family-run distilleries. At the event visitors can have dinner and lunch, and snacks such as sausages, cheese and chocolate are available during the event, all accompanied by plenty of live music. Held over four days in May on Erzsébet Square.
The annual Gourmet Festival features some of the top names in gastronomy, accompanied by live musical performances on two stages. Visitors can taste some of the best Hungarian products, from sparkling mineral waters, coffee and tea specialities to Hungarian fishermen soup and other delicacies. There are markets stalls, wine makers and Pálinka distillers. Held near the end of May, early June in Millenáris Park.
Budapest Summer Festival
The Budapest Summer Festival is one of the main cultural annual events in Budapest and is held during June, July and August. There are open-air theatre performances, musicals, dance shows, kids’ programmes and concerts. Events are held on Margaret Island and in Városmajor Park. Tickets can be purchased online.
Every June a selection of museums in Budapest are open to the public free of charge for one night, until 02:30. The event is an initiative of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The list of participating museums can be found on many websites, such as the Hungarian Tourist Programmes.
An annual LGBT cultural festival lasting for one week in July and featuring theatre performances, film screenings, concerts, parties, and more. The festival’s main attraction is the parade along one of Budapest’s main roads.
Vajdahunyadvár Summer Festival
The Vajdahunyadvár Summer Festival is a festival of classic and traditional Hungarian gypsy music. It is held each July in Vajdahunyad Castle. For a detailed programme see the Vajdahunyadvár Summer Music Festival website.
Sziget (Island) Festival
Sziget Festival is one of the largest music festivals in Europe with an average of 400,000 visitors each year. Hungarian and international musicians perform at over 60 venues, in addition to circus and theatre shows, and exhibitions. Concerts feature many genres including metal, folk, jazz, blues, alternative and classical. There are around 200 events daily during the festival, which is held in August at Shipyard Island (Hajógyári sziget).
Festival of Folk Arts
The Festival of Folk Arts (Mesterségek Ünnepe) introduces Hungarian craftsmen and their work to visitors. The event takes place in August at Buda Castle and features everything from folk dance and woodcarving, to childrens' playgrounds and gastronomy.
St. Stephen’s Day
20 August celebrates the founding of the Hungarian state, in December of 1000 by King Stephen I. Festivities start in the morning with the raising of the Hungarian flag in Kossuth Square, followed by an air show over the Danube, Holy Mass, and the Holy Right Hand procession around the Basilica. The event ends with a fireworks display over the Danube.
Budapest International Wine Festival
The Wine Festival in September offers a selection of excellent wines, food and music, and features over 250 wineries from 15 countries. The event takes place at Castle Hill.
Pálinka & Sausage?
The Budapest Pálinka and Sausage Festival provides visitors with the opportunity to taste different types of Hungarian Pálinka and other brandies. The event features distillers and a variety of sausages and other Hungarian delicacies. There is also a programme of live music and entertainment. Held in October over a four-day period at Castle Hill.
Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival
The Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival (formerly Budapest Autumn Festival) is one of the main art festivals in Hungary. It features progressive contemporary works, music, theatre and dance performances. The event takes place in October at various locations in Budapest.
Christmas in Budapest
From the end of November to the end of December, the downtown main square (Vörösmarty Square) is decorated for the annual Budapest Christmas Market. There are dozens of stands where visitors can buy Christmas-themed arts and crafts, hand-made gifts and a selection of toys and Hungarian specialities.
There is also a Christmas Fair on Szent István Square in front of the Basilica with an ice-rink in the middle, which is surrounded by a number of stands selling Christmas-themed arts and crafts.
It has become tradition for the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra to perform a gala concert on 30 December each year. The wide repertoire features the works of Liszt, Brahms and Strauss. At the Budapest Congress and World Trade Centre.
Hungarian Grand Prix
The Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix is held at the Hungaroring Grand Prix Circuit close to Mogyoród, a small town located in the eastern suburb area of Budapest. The circuit is accessible by bus, suburban railway and car, although the roads may become overcrowded and parking nearby is often difficult near the race dates.
Budapest International Half Marathon
The Budapest International Half Marathon takes place in September and attracts over 11,500 athletes each year. The course starts in the City Park passing Heroes Square, along the Andrássy Boulevard, crossing Chain Bridge to Gellért Square and back again.
National Gallop is an annual cultural event in September and the biggest Hungarian equestrian festival. The highlight of the event is a national horse race, but there is also the Little Hussar gallop, the Chariot Gallop Celebrity Race, the Cart Pushing Competition and the Celebrity Charity Race. During the event visitors have a choice of traditional Hungarian dishes and drinks. At Heroes Square in Budapest.