All about Budapest
Guests at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy and Mamaison Residence Izabella who book accommodation for the summer season in our Budapest hotels, as well as visitors to the city who did not find availability in our hotels for the period of their stays, will enjoy this update on the most exciting event coming up to Budapest in the very near future.
From all events scheduled for the summer, the Danube Carnival is, perhaps, the most popular. This is the 20th anniversary of this prestigious events, and you can expect it to be spectacular.
It takes place at several locations around the city: : Vörösmarty Square, Castle Yard Bazaar, Margaret Island Open Air Theatre, Erkel Theatre, Pesti Vigadó, Duna Palace, Heritage House, Mátyásföld – Erzsébetliget Theatre, Óbuda – Békásmegyer, Budafok – Wine City, Yunus Emre Turkish Culture Centre. The carnival will be featuring a Carnival Parade between the Danube Promenade and Vörösmarty tér, international dance competitions and a spectacular gala event. The parade can be witnessed, free of charge, on Sunday, June 14, at 15:00, when more than 1000 people will march the streets from Vigadó tér through Váci utca to Vörösmarty tér.
For dance, head over to the Kobuci Garden the next day, at 20:00 local time. You can watch the professional dancers (many from international groups), and even join them in a borders-free celebration of dance and tradition.
There’s also a photo exhibition on June 15, with photos by Béla Kanyó and Tamás Végh, evoking the history of the carnival. It will open at midnight, at the Duna Palace. Next day, the Záborszky Cellar will host international dance and music shows, starting at 15:00.
More dance, this time in a prestigious international competition, takes place June 18 at the Erzsébetliget Theatre, beginning with 18:00 local time. The Chain Bridge International Folk Dance Competition in Mátyásföld promotes intercultural dialogue, creativity and innovation, and promises to be an unforgettable event.
A must see is also the European Dance Caravan, a unique full-night dance theatre co-production, at Erkel Theatre, on Friday, June 19th, beginning at 20:00 local time. Participants from nine European countries will take place. Hungarian, Transylvanian, Greek, Italian, Polish, Bulgarian, Finnish, Turkish and Spanish art companies joined the international troupe lead by the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble and the Duna Art Ensemble.
The Gala of the Carnival takes place at the Margaret Island Open Air Stage, featuring nearly 400 Hungarian and international dancers and musicians, on Saturday, June 20, at 20:00.
Budapest is an exciting place to be in May: many food, culture, and art festivals attract both residents and foreign tourists to some landmark venues, but also to lesser known locations. Although it started April 27, the Budapest Dance Festival still keeps its doors open till May 3rd: enough time for you to enjoy outstanding performances at the MOM Kulturális, Palace of Arts, Központ, and the Royal Garden Pavilion. Tomorrow you can see the passionate Rojas&Rodriguez in Titanium (pictured below): a show in which flamenco and hip hop meet and fuse, at the Palace of Arts − Festival Theatre.
After May 1st, when the world celebrates May Day (or Labor Day), the locals look forward to the popular Budapest Pálinka Festival 2015 in Városháza Park: same like the previous years, the festival will bring together family-run distilleries from all over the country, with a display of over 300 different types of pálinka, the national Hungarian spirit. This is your chance to taste the best apple pálinkas of the country, as well as several apple related foods, especially selected to pair well with the fine pálinkas. The festival and the concerts are free of charge, food and drinks, however are charged individually by each vendor. The dates of the festival: May 7-10, 2015.
Another interesting festival dedicated to a popular drink is Rosalia, the Rosé Festival: Hungary’s only festival dedicated to rosé wines, sparkling wines and champagnes takes place May 8-10 at Gesztenyés kert.
Mayfest at the Opera House begins May 15 and lasts till the 1st of June. This year, the festival coincides with the Faust225 Festival, therefore, the programme will feature five splendid works based on the theme of Faust, including the premier of Gounod’s opera and the Hungarian premiere of Busoni’s work, with the Budapest Philharmonic Orchestra giving a concert of rarities to close this gem of a series.
Budapest’s Belgian Beer Festival kicks off May 17, too last till May 19, 2015: the venue is Bálna, a new commercial, cultural, entertaining and service center, which also hosts Korzó, the weekly fair where you can find handpicked antiques as well as products of Hungarian designers.
Floralia, the yearly Roman spring festival, so beloved by the locals, takes May 16 and 17, at the Aquincum Museum. At its 26th edition, the festival features flower arrangements inspired by the Roman past, as well as presentations reviving the Roman lifestyle and handicrafts. Roman soldiers, gladiators, and Celtic warriors will display their art of war and scenes from their daily life.
More than 100 museums come together this May 16 and 17 for the prestigious Festival of Museums held inside the garden of the Hungarian National Museum: art displays will be accompanied by live music, theater and dance shows. Free admission.
The gastro festival Budai Gourmet at Millenáris, which this year lasts from May 21 to 24, is organized by the same team behind the Sziget Festival in collaboration with Costes Restaurant. The festival aims to bring together excellent wine makers, pálinka distillers, restaurants and confectioners along with producers who will sell homemade cheese, ham, sausage, jam, honey, chocolate and other delicacies at the festival market.
Of course, there are many other festivals programmed for this month. Keep up with us on Facebook and we will let you know. Book early your room at your favorite Mamaison Hotel in Budapest, as the season can get pretty busy.
Budapest celebrates Easter with passion: a wide range of events are organize to showcase local traditions, folklore, and cuisine. Many venues around the city prepare special programmes, which include special entertainment, fit for the occasion. The Easter Market on Vörösmarty tér, officially the Spring Fair on Vörösmarty Square, opened March 27, and will remain open till April 26, 2015, giving you enough time to buy gifts and souvenirs, and to sample traditional Hungarian delicacies, like chimney cakes, lángos, sausages, and other specialty produce.
There’s also an annual market at the Museum of Ethnography. It is a great place to bring your kids, for workshops and special events designed to educate and entertain, but it is also a good place to go shopping, knowing that the arts and crafts on display are 100% authentic, by Hungarian artisans. If you are interested in learning about the Hungarian Jewry rural culture, there’s a special event on April 7, celebrating the Jewish Easter, with tours of the museum, presentation of the long holiday preparations, traditions and rituals, and more. At 17:00 a lecture on the topic will be held at the museum.
If you visit the Budapest City Park, don’t miss the Easter celebrations at the Budapest Zoo, with folklore dances, a Hungarian wooden folklore playground, and plenty of little bunnies to pet.
Remain in the City Park for a visit at the Museum of Hungarian Agriculture, where in the Castle of Vajdahunyad on the Széchenyi-island. Their annual Easter Exhibit and Spring Celebrations are well organized, and excellent for families with kids.
Perhaps the most interesting Easter celebration will be held at the Buda Castle: Budavári Húsvéti Sokadalom, with sights, concerts, dance shows, foods like milkbread, Easter hams, eggs, and more, as well as many kid friendly games. The festival is a perfect program for those who are on an Easter holiday in Budapest, Hungary. With the festival ticket you are also entitled to visit the two major attractions inside the Buda Castle buildings: the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum.
If you want to escape Budapest, to enjoy Easter celebration in rural areas, we recommend The Valley of the Beautiful Women, Szépasszony-völgy, in Eger, where you can visit the local folk art fair, or you can learn how to decorate Easter eggs according to Hungarian traditions, or taste the famous regional Bull’s Blood wines. The Easter festival takes place Sunday, April 5. Bring your kids along: there will be sheep and bunny petting, a wooden carousel, peasant comedy, and much more.
Remember that accommodation is 20% off at any Mamaison hotel in this period, with our Easter Egg Hunt special offer. Finally, dine at La Perle Noire, for a special Easter menu.
Staring down at the ebony ribbon of water, seemingly endless to the horizon, two lovers stand entranced by ten thousand dancing lights. Transfixed as statues, looking out over the ever present Danube, the sight of couples on the Chain Bridge in the evening reveals just why Budapest is for lovers, and for falling in love.
Understanding just why Budapest is so attractive for romance is not really difficult. This is a dual city, after all, with “Buda” on the west bank of the Danube, and “Pest” to the east. The two opposing styles an essential symbol of the masculine and the feminine, linked inextricably by the Széchenyi Lánchíd suspension bridge. At once ancient and modern, refined and earthy as well, the distinct cultural and architectural differences here can really be taken to heart. If Andrássy Avenue is the symbol of “Pest’s” modernity, then Castle Hill rises to symbolize “Buda’s” medieval character. For our visiting couples though, Mamaison Hotel Andrassy and Mamaison Residence Izabella, being set in the midst of this grandiose affair, perfect any fantasy interlude. But beyond spectacular boudoirs and stunning dinners for two, Budapest is entreating otherwise.
Hand in hand, strolling in and out of time
Walking along in this UNESCO wonder, the historic and natural beauty of Budapest stirs the spirit, conjures emotions, titillates the imagination, and calms simultaneously for the twain that can be one. Strolling down the sidewalks and alleyways of Budapest, no thing or place could be more illusory, or more real. Day or night, this city stirs with excitement, and solitude too.
From the cafes and bars along the promenade, to out of the way nooks and crannies, and finally amidst the rollicking nightlife of the notorious 7th District, couples are entreated to love this city, and each other’s company. Be alone and one with nature amid the greenery and floral majesty of Margaret Island, window shop along the northern part of the pedestrian avenue Váci utca, or like those two lovers you saw in your mind’s eye, stare together into the handsome rivlet of dancing lights on the Danube. Wherever you want to go, or whatever you want to do in Budapest, you’ll never forget the moments.
Wrapped up together, in the arms of the Danube
No mental image with your significant other in Budapest could ever be without the panorama of Buda Castle passing in the night, astern of a river barge or boat, beneath you. The city from the water, declares the real romantic heart of Hungary, and the essence of what we all dream in togetherness. For a dinner cruise, sightseeing, a floating wine tasting event, or even an opera afloat, the river is a quintessential part of all that the city has to offer.
Whether you envision a party boat all night extravaganza, or a private charter with immutable personal niceties, the Danube is the center of everything. The August fireworks display above the Parliament leads into numerous fall festivities, and culminates at New Year’s Eve, where old acquaintances may be forgotten and tossed into the river. But you feel the idea, we know. Share being in the midst, for once in both your lives, and cruise this magical waterway. Share it wrapped in one another’s arms too.
Savour Budapest, at a table for two
What could be more perfect, than two hands touching meaningfully across a crisp, white-linen tablecloth? Only the deep red of the rose completes and accentuates this vision. Well, and the lights, smells, and sounds of the “Pearl of the Danube” in the background. Romantic dining here are the rule.
Whether your getaway is the first visit to the city, an anniversary, or a special occasion such as Valentine’s Day, there’s a culinary adventure around every corner. You can dine where Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do, at Arany Kaviár, if Russian and caviar are your taste.
Or maybe the upstairs gallery at cozy and intimate Borssó, and French-Hungarian flavors seem more appealing?
And what about our own La Perle Noire Restaurant, with the most beautiful urban terrace in Budapest, for traditional local favorites?
Breakfast, brunch, or lunch at the world famous New York Cafe, or at any of two dozen coffee houses like the Book Cafe, appeal just as nicely for locals and visitors in love. You see, morning in Budapest is as enchanting as the evening, when the city stirs back to life, after a long day’s night.
All the way from the Castle District to the City park and District XIV, romance is awakened with those same two hands knitted together lovingly across paired classics like Kávé tejszínhabbal (Espresso with whipped cream). Dining in daylight-like mated bookends, this is part of the novella of the city too.
A warm, romantic ending
Sightseeing in a city like Budapest is a foregone conclusion. Dining? The city is all but made out of gastronomical wonders like some fairy tale children’s fantasy. Cliché, or unique and awe inspiring, everyone who comes here falls in love, one way or another. But what really powers the “Heart of Europe” is the water flowing through, in, and around this ancient city. And the warmth affairs of the heart always thrive on, this can be felt literally at Budapest’s much celebrated thermal spas.
If you’ve never shared the healing properties of a Turkish bath, the regenerative powers mineral waters, then you and your mate have a sensual inundation to experience. Being initially sapped of energy, then elevated to a higher plane of acute sensitivity, this is how some describe the transitive effects of places like the Gellert Baths, so embellished in the Art Nouveau style of the turn of the last century.
Gellért Bath (Image © Horváth Botond – Fotolia.com)
Then there’s the collective immensity of world famous Széchenyi Baths, the largest in all Europe. Imagine sharing beneath the octagon roof of Király fürdő, a more intimate submerging in eternal waters. Remarkable architecturally, Rudas Baths and some of the more obscure ones, they offer visual and soul cleansing qualities. Dating back to Roman times, the thermal spas of this part of Hungary are perhaps the area’s most famous attractions overall. And for loving couples, a foremost romantic possibility.
With so much to experience, it is easy to see how Budapest has earned its nickname, “Paris of the east,” and has earned it romantically.
March 15th is a national holiday in Hungary, commemorating the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. The holiday is celebrated all over the country, with the profession of the Hussars from the Hungarian National Museum to the Buda Castle, dance and music programs, and other interesting events. This is the date when you can visit free of charge the Budapest History Museum, the National Gallery, the National Archive and the Military History Museum, and, if you want to see the Hungarian Holy Crown and the Crown Jewels, they will be on display, for everyone to see (yes, free of charge) at the Hungarian Parliament.
Although not a Hungarian tradition per se, the Hungarian Macaron Day has been received with a lot of interest by the residents of Budapest. The festival was inspired by the French Jour du Macaron, which will also be held March 20, in Paris. The Macaron Day this year takes place at the Akvárium Klub (Erzsébet tér 12). Entrance is free, but you will have to pay to sample the delicious treats. The programme includes plenty activities for kids, a Macaron Fare, competitions, and even cooking classes.
Another tradition borrowed from abroad is the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade. Budapest celebrates this event only since 2011, but the parade attracts more and more enthusiasts every year. Some of the venues where you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 with the locals include the Guinness House, Caledonia, and the Irish Cat Pub. The parade, organized by the Irish Hungarian Business Circle, will he held March 22, at 14:00. The parade starts at Szabadság tér and it will finish at Instant.
Don’t miss Kézműves Magyar Ízek Vására on March 27, the Flavors of Hungary Gastro Fair, for good cuisine, typical foods, homegrown Hungarian produce, and traditional Hungarian recipes. Over 150 different vendors from all historic regions of Hungary will exhibit at Erzsébet tér, offering the best of Hungarian food and flavors. There will also be a kid’s corner, arts and crafts workshops, and other entertaining events.
Another important event of the spring is the Budapest Spring Festival (Budapesti Tavaszi Fesztivál), which begins April 10, and will last till April 26, 2015. It is a cultural festival, featuring musical performances, theater, and art exhibitions. Several venues across Budapest will participate, with more than 50 events to choose from, including the premier of Aida at the Budapest Opera. Don’t miss the Hungarian Wedding Feast at the Papp László Sport Arena on April 24.
Another interesting celebration is Budapest 100, which celebrates and highlights the 100-year old buildings in the city. Residential houses, schools, museums, and other landmarks, which are usually closed to the public, open their doors this year, to mark their centenary. The Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Centre offers free, guided tours in every district that’s part of the event: book in advance on the official website of the event.
Finally, the Cherry Blossom Festival (Sakura Festival) in Budapest promises to be as spectacular this year, as always. The Fűvészkert Botanical Garden, Hungary’s oldest botanical garden, marks the event the second weekend of April. Guests of the festival will enjoy authentic Japanese teas, origami and calligraphy exhibitions, programs for kids, and more.
There will be many other interesting things to do and see in Budapest this year. Follow us on Facebook, and we will keep you up to date.
A Gem of Budapest: La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge
A new world opened as our mystery guest stepped onto the patio of La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge, which is, according to local media and residents, one of the most beautiful terraces in Budapest. And they are not wrong. Time stands still here, in a silent intensity, you find yourself captivated, under the magic spell of a relaxing urban garden. For you are the mystery guest. Welcome to a different hospitality experience. Prepare to enjoy the finest local dishes, the freshest local, and organic, ingredients, and the friendliest atmosphere in this magic city.
We’ve got it: you are a foodie. But, you are, probably, not alone. You are here to share the time of your life with someone special, and we will do anything we can to make your time with us as memorable as you imagined it. This is, after all, award-winning Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest.
It could still be summer: the patio is green and cheerful. Guests come, and go, but you can linger for hours, in candlelight, under the stars, savoring signature dishes inspired by both Hungarian and French traditions.
But then, the weather may not always be on your side, so La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge is a haven of sorts, even when the elements are hostile. If you arrive too early, that “hear-a-pin-drop” silence may put you off, but patience, dear mystery guest: the energetic staff will appear in no time, with just the right culinary suggestions to take away your blues.
Imagine indulging in a Barbary duck breast with Rougié duck liver, chili Beluga lens ragout and gingery green apple, arriving at your table looking pretty much as sensual as a Charles Willmott painting. Now, that’s perfection, as some celebrity chef somewhere would say in front of the cameras. But, maybe, just maybe, you want something with local flavors? A “Chef menu,” one of the two you can choose from, paired with the right sommelier recommendations, will do the trick. In other words, precious mystery guest, no matter the season, we will overindulge you, for sure.
Moscow’s Darling for Lovers: MEAT & MORE Restaurant
So, dear mystery guest, you are now in Moscow, probably staying at Mamaison All-Suites Spa Hotel Pokrovka. Good for you! Did you know that this fine luxury establishment hosts the 11th Spa by Algotherm in existence? Yes, the hotel redefines pampering in all its forms. You can expect the same treatment from MEAT & MORE Restaurant, the jewel in our crown.
MEAT & MORE is the perfect setting for a date, for a wedding, and, why not, even for a psychedelic evening. Just look around you: the interior is so fresh, innovative, and unexpected, that it can transfigure into any theme you may choose. A wedding? We are a favorite partner of the Wedding Magazine, and many couples pick MEAT & MORE for a lively party, after they tie the knot.
The cuisine is refined and sophisticated, just like the interior decor by Anton Gorlanov. This is the only restaurant in the Mamaison collection to welcome you 24 hours a day, every day. When hunger strikes, just step inside the restaurant, and the staff will make you feel like a VIP, every time.
If your question is “How happy can a steak make a man?” then the answer from MEAT & MORE is “elated.” Steaks pass as simple meals, but not when they are prepared with the best meat cuts available on the market, and refined with signature gravies, and sides that put the world’s most famous restaurants to shame.
Not a “meat” fan? Well, there’s always the “more,” which stands for creative chef dishes, melt-in-your-mouth desserts, soups, salads, and internationally-inspired mains that change seasonally.
Timeless Elegance, and Cuisine by Paweł Oszczyk: La Rotisserie Restaurant, Warsaw
This imperial space is the reason why many local residents visit Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw time after time, every week. Everything you see, touch, or eat in this urban eatery is the best. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to indulge in the finest gourmet creations available in Warsaw.
The “grand” experience is open to all foodies, always changing, innovative, and fresh. The restaurant is as romantic, as it is family friendly. It is as suitable for business lunches, as it is for exclusive parties. And the terrace: is a sanctuary.
This is where you will find Chef Paweł Oszczyk, recently designated the Polish Chef de l’Avenir 2014, a prestigious award by the International Academy of Gastronomy, which recognizes culinary excellence. No wonder that the local food bloggers rave about the cuisine, and if you consider that the wines are hand-picked by Andrew Strzelczyk, the Polish Champion Sommelier in both 2012 and 2013, you’ll soon be convinced that only a few other selected restaurants in Warsaw come close to what La Rotisserie has to offer.
In other words, if you are looking for the ideal place to satisfy your passion for gourmet foods, this is it. Every other dish is more of a treat than the first, and every glass of wine is godliness.
2014 was an amazing year, a year of joy for the Mamaison family, which is now part of the CPI Hotels group, one of the major hotel groups in the Czech Republic. We’ve received tremendous accolades from travelers just like you, and from the media, we had unique events to celebrate our guests in Mamaison hotels in six European destinations (Prague, Ostrava, Budapest, Bratislava, Warsaw and Moscow). We also launched this special blog, to bring you travel news from Mamaison destinations.
In this spirit, we are now recommending things to do in Budapest in the first days of 2015. We will follow up with news from all our destinations, to help you plan a great start in the new year.
Budapest enters in the new year with style and class, first celebrating with music, in a variety of venues all around the city. Check out the schedules at the Budapest Palace of Arts (Béla Bartók National Concert Hall), the Hungarian State Opera, the Budapest Congress Center or at the Papp László Sport Arena. New Year’s concerts are also held in churches and basilicas. The programmes are varied, satisfying a variety of musical preferences: you can listen to classical music, choir, opera and more.
The Carnival Season in Hungary, called Farsang, kicks of January 6, and lasts till March 5, 2015. As every year, several venues around the country, and in Budapest, will organize events to celebrate this important religious festival. Among the most interesting events to attend during these days, mark in your calendar the Budapest International Circus Festival (January 9-13);a retro-themed carnival celebration called Symbál, on February 8; a Baroque costume party at the Museum of Fine Arts on February 15 (tickets include a late night visit of the “Caravaggio to Canaletto”); the carnival at Vajdahunyad Castle on March 1st; and the Fat Thursday, featuring great food at low prices, in over 500 fine dining venues around Budapest, including the best of all, our own La Perle Noire Restaurant and Lounge, at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy.
Speaking of good food, do not miss the Mangalica Festival, taking place February 6-8; an event that pays homage to the pure Hungarian heritage breed of pig “mangalica.” Traditional dishes prepared with mangalica pork meat include sausages and salami. After this festival, Budapest celebrates gastronomy with another fun festival: the Budapest Fish Festival (February 13-16). Here, taste the local fishermen’s soup, made with freshwater fish, or try the local wine and pálinka.
We wish you a happy start in the new year, and thank you for choosing Mamaison Hotels and Residences, as individual as you!
Mulled wine stall at the Christmas fair in Budapest, Hungary (Image © Annto - Fotolia.com)
Budapest loves its Christmas traditions, and its festive fairs are as popular as any similar activity in the neighboring countries. In places like Vienna, Prague, Leipzig, Dresden, Basel, and so on, Christmas markets attract thousands of tourists. This is the case for the Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square in the heart of Budapest, a traditional event since 1998. But this is not the only fair to enjoy the Christmas spirit in town.
Like everywhere else in Europe, Budapest opens its Christkindlmarkts four weeks before Christmas, and just like everywhere else, they bring in front of the public a wealth of local traditions, arts and crafts, music and carols, and, of course, sweet and savory treats specific to the season.
The Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square, as already mentioned, is the most popular of all. Here is where all the tourists mingle, and it is hard to spot a local in the crowds. It is a picture-pretty setting, with spectacular lights, and scent of mulled wine in the air, a place to party, as well as a place to find handmade gifts and artisan Christmas art, all authentic, and made in Hungary. If you let your imagination free, you’ll feel like a fairy tale character in front of the beautiful Café Gerbeaud, watching the light painting shows, and listening to the choirs.
Right in front of the beautiful St Stephen’s Basilica you will find Budapest’s second most popular Christmas Market. This is a young tradition, dating only from 2011, but equally interesting for travelers, due to its location. For those who are looking for high quality traditional crafts, this is perhaps a better destination than the Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square, because members of the National Association of Folk Artists are selling their creations here. It shall be easy for you to visit both Christmas fairs, as they are located within walking distance from each other.
WAMP is a monthly design market in Budapest, which changes locations, to make accessible to the public in different districts of the city works by Hungarian designers. Most Autumn-Winter fairs are usually taking place at Millenáris Park (Kis Rókus utca 16-20), but it is better to check their website for concrete schedule and locations.
The Design Terminal (Erzsébet tér 13) has a Christmas Market too. Almost one hundred Hungarian designers participate, with unique art objects, clothes, jewelry, and more. Don’t miss it.
In front of the postcard-pretty Vajdahunyad Castle you will find another fairy-tale-like setting for a Christmas market, not far from the ice rink. You can listen to live concerts, performed on the open stage at the Gothic building, you can sip mulled wine, and sure, you can also buy artisan goods created by local craftsmen and contemporary artists. If you are not in the mood for a Christmas fair, you can always just drop by to skate.
Skating Rink by Vajdahunyad Castle (Image via Wikipedia)
A lesser known market is the Advent Fair in Obuda (Old Buda – Fő tér). It is scenic and small, and perfect for travelers who like to enjoy the city off the beaten path. This is where many locals like to shop, chat, and linger with a cup of mulled wine. The market is equally entertaining for kids, who can enjoy petting animals in a small petting stable, or skate on the artificial ice rink. Entertainment is rich and varied for such a small fair: puppet theater, live concerts, dance shows, and more.
Last, but not least, the Bakats Square Christmas Market is as non-touristy as the Advent Fair in Obuda. It is only 10 minutes from the city center, in the 9th district of Budapest, Ferencváros. One of the main attractions at this fair is The Parish Church of St. Francis of Assisi, which was built by Miklós Ybl in French Roman style. This is where the locals come to attend the Advent mass, or just to hear the choirs singing. The Bakats Square Christmas Market is a must for its authentic spirit, and small town atmosphere.
Staring down at the ebony ribbon of water, seemingly endless to the horizon, two lovers stand entranced by ten thousand dancing lights. Transfixed as statues, looking out over the ever present Danube, the sight of couples on the Chain Bridge in the evening reveals just why Budapest is for lovers, and for magic moments, especially at Christmas, when the city shines even brighter, under the spell of the stars.
Budapest in winter. (Image © Horváth Botond – on Fotolia.com)
More than a city blessed by the stars, Budapest is a city that knows how to celebrate light. This year Christmas will be cheerier than ever, with a wealth of activities all over the town, Christmas fairs and festivals that last from late November, till January next year.
Mulled wine stall at the Christmas fair in Budapest, Hungary (Image © Annto – Fotolia.com)
The Budapest Christmas Market at Vörösmarty tér is the most popular among the Christmas fairs in the city. Like most events this season, it kicks off November 28, 2014, and lasts till January 5, 2015. There are over 100 stands selling seasonal arts and crafts, souvenirs, toys, and Christmas culinary delights: lángos, kürtöskalács, töki pompos, and mulled wine. On the facade of the landmark Gerbeaud building the city exhibits a giant Advent calendar, which adds to the cheery atmosphere, as every day from December 1st and 23rd the calendar opens a new window, revealing the surprise hidden behind, with a spectacular show of lights and sound. While adults enjoy wine and chit-chat, kids can join in activities designed just for them: artisan hands-on classes, puppet shows, children’s concerts, and more.
Opening on the same date as the Budapest Christmas Market at Vörösmarty tér, the Christmas Fair by the Basilica is an equally enticing event that attracts thousands of tourists to the Hungarian capital. The ice rink at the heart of the Szent István tér is surrounded by arts and crafts stands, but also by food and drink vendors. You can come ice skating, or just come to buy something authentic to take a bit of Hungary back home with you. Don’t miss the seasonal culinary treats. The fair closes January 1, 2015.
A newer festival, the Advent in Budapest takes place in Városháza Park between November 28, 2014 – January 5, 2015. Its purpose is well served: given the popularity of the two aforementioned fairs, this event aims to add a plus of cheer with cultural programmes for all ages. Live entertainment, including theater, concerts, workshops and Christmas-themed performances are scheduled daily.
Last, but not least, don’t miss the WAMP Christmas Design and Gastro Fair on December 7, 2014, at Millenáris (Building B). This is a place to buy one-of-a-kind designer Christmas gifts, clothes and accessories, as well as fine Christmas treats: chocolates, truffles, cookies, jams, wines, spirits, and much more.
From the cafes and bars along the promenade, to out of the way nooks and crannies, and finally amidst the rollicking nightlife of the notorious 7th District, Budapest will be dressed in light, to entice you to celebrate with the locals. Forget your worries for a while, and enjoy the power of the season: Christmas brings out the best in people.
Budapest is one of the best places to be this summer. The city is a blend of ravishing scenery and parties that attract visitors from all over the world. If June was marked by rivers of beer, the rest of the summer opens the stage for music and art.
Czech Beer Festival in Budapest, the 7th edition.
The annual Czech Beer Festival (Cseh Sörnapok) stretches from June 17 to July 13, enough time to bring hundreds of beer-lovers at the Városháza Park, not only to enjoy a selection of beers from over 25 Czech breweries, but also to savor specific culinary treats, to watch the FIFA World Cup in the VIP tent, and to participate in many other entertainment events.
At the end of the month, beginning June 27, and lasting all through the first week of July, visitors to Budapest can attend the 19th edition of Budapest Pride, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender film and cultural event with a feminist and anti-racist approach. The festival offers discussions, concerts, parties, and more. There will also be a parade on Saturday, July 5, 2014 on the route City Park – Heroes’ Square – Andrássy Avenue – Bajcsy-Zsilinsky út – Alkotmány utca – Kossuth Square.
Keeping up with the cultural trend of the summer, don’t miss WAMP, Budapest’s monthly design market, on June 29, which, on this occasion, will be open from 11 am to 10 pm. In July, WAMP will be held on the 6th, a Sunday, and finally, your last summer chance to buy creations by contemporary Hungarian designers, including art, clothes and accessories, will be August 3. WAMP takes place at Erzsébet tér.
Celebrated in 14 countries connected through the Danube river system, Danube Day is an homage to the river, and to its wildlife. There will be several events for all ages, at multiple locations on the banks of the river. Mark June 29 in your calendar, and don’t miss the events, which have a strong local note.
Vajdahunyadvár Summer Festival
Another must-see event of the summer, the Vajdahunyadvár Summer Festival, takes place in the courtyard of Vajdahunyad Castle from July 10 to August 7, 2014. Vajdahunyad Castle (Vajdahunyad vára), is a castle in City Park, built between 1896 and 1908, and designed by Ignác Alpár after the Vajdahunyad castle in Transylvania, Romania. The festival features classical music, swing, klezmer as well as traditional Hungarian gypsy music. Don’t miss the closing concert, on August 7, performed by the 100-Member Gypsy Orchestra.
More music, this time accompanied by dance, will take place, like every summer, at the Carmelite Courtyard on Castle Hill. The event, titled An Evening of Dance in the Carmelite Courtyard, takes place between July 30 and August 14, and features folk dance, flamenco, tango and modern dance. The event is organized by the National Dance Theatre, Nemzeti Táncszínház.
And what would your Budapest summer be without the Sziget Festival, which attracts over 400,000 people every August? This year, guests staying at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest and Mamaison Residence Izabella Budapest can attend the festival at the Shipyard Island (Hajógyári sziget) from August 11, till August 18.
End your summer in style, on St. Stephen’s Day, celebrating with the locals Stephen I, the first king of Hungary and founder of the Kingdom of Hungary. The event, held on August 20, is not exclusive to Budapest, but takes place all over Hungary, with day-long festivities (concerts, dance, arts and crafts, beer, cuisine, and more) followed by spectacular fireworks.
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