The popular festivals and events taking place in Budapest show the city’s rich cultural heritage and the importance of folk tradition in Hungary. There are classical music festivals, Danube Carnival, food festivals, folk music and dance performances… Budapest’s calendar is packed with all kinds of events for families, groups of friends and couples.
Major events in Budapest
- January – New Year’s Concert in Budapest: The Opera House, the Palace of Arts, the Congress Centre… From 1 to 4 January they are all special venues putting on some of the best classical music shows in Europe. A good way to start the year off right.
- 6 January – Farsang: Hungary’s traditional carnival begins in January and goes on until Ash Wednesday, in mid-February or early March. The joyful, colourful celebrations include traditional masks and lively parades saying goodbye to winter and welcoming spring. The end of the carnival season is marked by the celebration of Busójárás, a deeply-rooted traditional festival in Hungary.
- February – Budapest International Circus Festival: Held every two years, Budapest’s Circus Festival draws the world’s best circus artists and acrobats. For a whole week, the town circus tent is filled with colour and exciting shows, to the delight of children and grown-ups alike.
- 15 March – Hungarian National Holiday: 15 March is the anniversary of the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, which grew into a war for independence from the Austrian Empire. There are ceremonies, events and folk shows across the country, especially in the capital, Budapest.
- March/April –Spring Festivals: There are two particularly interesting Spring Festivals in Hungary. One is held in Debrecen: about 50 shows including classical music, pop, theatre plays, art exhibitions. The other is in Budapest and takes two weeks: about 200 events on the streets, in churches, at the Opera House…
- June – Danube Carnival: Budapest’s Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube, gets all dressed up to celebrate the joy of dance every year in June. For eight days, the streets and venues in the city play host to the shows put up by renowned artists from different countries.
- June/August – Budapest Summer Festival: Heat in Budapest comes with a full programme of outdoor activities and shows: plays, performances, concerts, traditional folk music, modern dance, children’s games and workshops. The two main stages are on Margaret Island and in Városmajor Park.
- August – Sziget Festival: Another of the Danube’s island, Óbuda Island, holds the Sziget Festival every year in August – one of the largest young music and culture festivals in Europe. Music, art, fun, the most popular rock and pop bands, DJs that are all the rage… Thousands of youngsters get together round the main stage on the island, which thus gets filled with joy and colour night and day.
- 17-20 August – Festival of Folk Arts: In the historic environment of Buda Castle, the best craftsmen representing towns and villages from all over Hungary get together for four days. They spend their time with visitors in the spirit of Hungarian folk traditions. At the festival you can hear the sounds of folk music, smell pálinka (a traditional Hungarian spirit) and taste delightful homemade pies.
- 20 August – Saint Stephen’s Day: The feast day of Saint Stephen is a public holiday in Hungary, commemorating the foundation of the State. In Budapest there are several activities during the day, crowned by a powerful firework show over the Danube.
- 3-8 September – Budapest Short Film Festival: Also known as BuSho, this festival screens almost 100 short films from 30 different countries. The films are selected from about 2,000 entries. Most screenings take place at the Vörösmarty Cinema; all films have English subtitles.
- 7-11 September – Budapest International Wine Festival: Culture and wine come together in this traditional festival held in Buda Castle, on the bank of the Danube. Wines from all over Hungary are on show, and there are all kinds of traditional performances to watch.
- 8-17 October – Budapest Autumn Festival: The ten-day Autumn Festival in Budapest (or Café Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival) offers lovers of contemporary art a full programme of activities, with exhibitions, performances and shows in all the artistic disciplines. With a 20-year-long history, this is one of the oldest, most important cultural events in the capital of Hungary.
- 23 October – Hungary Republic Day: This national holiday commemorates the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, a spontaneous nationwide revolt against the government of the People’s Republic of Hungary and its Soviet-imposed policies. It was also the day of the proclamation of the Third Hungarian Republic (since 1989). On 23 October, admission to the Hungarian Parliament is free.