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Budapest

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devils

The Mohács Busójárás is one of the highest anticipated Farsang events in Hungary. Mohács is a good three-hour drive from Mamaison Hotel Andrassy, and about two and a half hours from Mamaison Residence Izabella, but it is all worth the trip if you want to see authentic Hungarian traditions.

The program for the 2017 edition of the Busójárás festival has already been announced, as many visitors plan their trips to Hungary to see the event early. It is wise to book your hotel early too, to take advantage of the early bird offer with Mamaison.

The festival kicks off on February 23, in the morning, at 9:00 am, with preparations for the youth center, and a wealth of activities for children. The carnival procession on the route Táncsics utca – Szabadság utca – Széchenyi tér starts at 15:30. The day ends with traditional dances at Duna Irodaházban- Szabadság u.4-6.

The second day at the carnival starts at 13:00 and features contests, folk dance groups, live folk music, the „Busók és Jankelék” drawing competition, an exhibition of folk art objects at Kossuth Filmszínházban, followed by a concert (admission charge) featuring guitarist Szörényi Levente, and a concert by the Slavic dance orchestra at the same address mentioned above.

Saturday is full of exciting events, starting early, at 9:00. Among these, don’t miss the Serbian cultural gastronomy, folk dances in the Serbian Church yard; dances and presentations of Busós masks at Szechenyi Square; mask-carving demonstrations, carnival games, and chariot decorations at Síp utcában; wreath-laying at the statue of the three soldiers in Széchenyi Square; plus other events revolving around the Busós tradition.

The popular art and craft fair opens Sunday, February 26 at 9:00 am – this is the most interesting part for tourists who want to leave Hungary with something handmade, culturally representative, and valuable. The prices are competitive and attractive, as the purpose of the festival is to promote local heritage and values.

A note for foreign women attending the festival: traditionally, Busós dance kóló with the girls and the women, and make inappropriate jokes. Do not feel offended, though: this is not personal, it’s tradition.

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BelFeszt

June marks the beginning of the summer, and the festival season in Budapest, with the 10th edition of the Belvárosi Fesztivál – a celebration of music in all its forms. Visitors can attend free performances at three locations in the heart of the city: Szabadság tér, Erzsébet tér, and Zrínyi utca.

Belvárosi Fesztivál performers

The festival begins Friday, June 3, and lasts till Sunday, June 5, 2016. The program is rich and diverse, featuring a variety of indigenous bands and performers. To name but a few: Bognár Szabolcs, Esti Kornél, Intim Torna Illegál, Aradszky László, Korda György és Balázs Klári, Kovács Kati, Minimyst, Irie Maffia, Meglepetés Fellépő, Peller Anna és Kocsis Dénes, Dolly Roll, Palma Hills, and the list could go on. These cover a variety of music genres, ranging from jazz and rock, to pop, folk, alternative, disco, and alternative rhythms. Some of the performer, like Irie Maffia and Intim Torna Illegál, are returning to the festival almost every year, and are highly popular in Hungary – which is indicative of the quality of the lineup. Most of the program is only available on Facebook, on the festival’s official page, BelFeszt.

Irie Maffia

This is an event for the entire family, so you can also expect something for little guests at the festival: a petting zoo, design fairs, reading park, and even music for the young generation. Fashion shows, film screenings, and dance performances are also part of the program. The festival ends with the „Fölszállott a Páva” gala.

festival kids

Like every other year, the organizers will also offer a few surprises, like free museum entry options, and unconventional city tours. There will also be several food stalls selling local street food in the proximity of each stage. This is also a shopping opportunity: local designers and craftspeople sell their creations: jewelry, souvenirs, small art objects, and so on. Get ready to face the crowds – as a free event, the festival attracts many locals and tourists. The festival will also be celebrated by unofficial venues in Downtown Budapest. You will have a great end of the week if you are in Budapest at the very beginning of June.

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sweet

Budapest is a complex, multifaceted city, with a wealth of attractions to explore, with lively nightlife, and world-class restaurants. It is a city well known for its spas, for its green gardens, and magnificent, palatial architecture. What Budapest is not well-known for, is its love for sweets and treats, and it’s a pity, because there are countless candy shops, cafeterias and ice cream parlors with a lot to offer in Budapest.

To discover the sweet side of Budapest is to explore its main shopping streets, but also to adventure off the beaten path, for the original, authentic and unexpected. Among the must-see shops for sweets and treats, the following five stand out:

Sugar! reveals itself as a design confectionery and candy store, but it is really much more than you’d expect from an ordinary candy shop. It is a world of colors, and desserts in fascinating shapes and flavors. It has the stuff of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, and the appeal of an exotic garden. They have all kinds of treats, for all ages: jelly belly in all possible colors and flavors, sugar figurines, macarons, cotton candy, marshmallows, chocolates, lollies, designer cakes and way, way more. They also have accessories for parties of all kinds, and a great selection of gifts.

sugar

On to Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé, the mecca for chocolate addicts, this chocolate factory shop offers a wide variety of artisan sweets, including single origin chocolate tablets made with quality cocoa from Venezuela, bean-to-bar chocolates, Calabria bergamot rinds in chocolate, “rusty chocolate tools,” hot chocolate, delicious whole caramelised hazelnuts sprinkled with ginger and covered with Venezuelan chocolate, and much more.

Szamos

Szamos is a cultural icon in its own right. They even have their own Marzipan Museum, well worth it of a visit if you find the time. But drop in store for their signature chocolates and marzipan treats. They are also famous for their macarons, plus, if you are feeling peckish, they have a great range of breakfast, lunch and dinner specials. The experience here is truly gourmet.

And then, there’s always Cukorka, the main destination for handmade lollipops. This is a world of bright colors, the stuff of childhood dreams. Just entering their workshop is an experience worthy of Instagram moments. Everything they sell is handmade on site, in a traditional workshop. You can even observe the whole process of candy making if you want. They offer many different treats to taste before you buy. Can you think of a better stop to stock the kids’ stockings at Christmas, for example?

Cukorka

Last, but not least, Zangio is a family-owned chocolaterie, with a tiny workshop, which was founded in 2010. They offers handmade artisan chocolates and bonbons. They have a signature line, but may also offer seasonal specials for Easter, Valentines and Christmas. And, if you want to learn how to make your own chocolates, they do have classes and workshops. Check them out!

Zangio

And, as an added bonus, check out the Candy Store, which is another favorite of the locals for everything sweet and delicious. They have a good selection of indigenous sweets, but they count more on international items, like Marabou Swedish chocolates, Jelly Belly, Captain Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunchies, Hershey’s, Pop tarts, and so on.

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Budapest in winter

Farsang, the carnival season in Hungary, kicked off January 6, and will last till February 10, just before the Fat Thursday (Torkos Csütörtök). It is a special time for the locals, but also for tourists who can attend a variety of events that celebrate authentic local traditions. Among these, you shouldn’t miss the Busójárás in Mohács, which is well worth it the day trip from Budapest.

This end-of-winter festival takes place at the beginning of February, from the 4th till the 9th. The festival was added to UNESCO’s representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.

devils

The “devils” (Busós) take to the streets of Mohács: fantastic, pagan creatures, who play and dance. There’s music and dance, plus a great choice of local delicacies to tame your hunger, plus busópálinka for the daring ones. This is not only an occasion to party: it is believed that the Busós scare off the winter cold. There will be many interesting events, including pipers and Buso demonstrations, followed by a Busó boat crossing of the Danube. The main amphitheater is set in Széchenyi tér. This is where you can see folk dances, and live folk performances. Here is where the Busós come on horses and on carts, gathering to start the free carnival.

If you are a woman, this celebration may appear a bit strange for you, because one of the main occupations of the Busós is to tease women. The Busós also dance kóló with the girls and the women, and their jokes are not always “appropriate.” Do not feel offended, though: this is not personal, it’s tradition. Embrace the spirit of the party, and have fun. You will never know who is behind the mask of the Busó – it can be anyone. A true Busó never reveals his identity.

budapest

The lights are on, the city sparkles, and you feel it in the air: Christmas is near. At Vörösmarty tér the Christmas Market is already busy with shoppers from all over the world, and the cinnamon scent of mulled wine fills up the air. Little children, holding kürtöskalács, run about, from one toys stall to another. The ice rink beckons, promising lots of fun. This market sets the mood for Christmas magic in the city.

And it’s good, because Kézműves Magyar Ízek Vására (Flavors of Hungary Gastro Fair) follows on November 27 at Erzsébet tér, with almost a month of foodie treats for young and old. Hungarian and foreign food lovers will find a wide variety of festive dishes, as well as traditional Hungarian cheeses, meats, beer, mulled wine, sausages, salami, smoked fish, honey, handmade candies, handmade chocolates, and much more. 60 vendors will exhibit here. There’s also a children’s corner, with interesting activities designed just for them.

gastro fair

Szent István tér will get festive beginning November 27 too, when the Christmas Fair by the Basilica kicks off, surrounding the ice-rink with a variety of stalls selling Christmas decorations, toys, arts and crafts, and all the typical Christmas foods and drinks.

Speaking of drinks, don’t miss the New Wine and Cheese Festival, which only lasts two days, on November 28 and 29. To attend, go to the Vajdahunyad Castle, a winter fairy tale, with Christmas concerts, traditional handmade arts and crafts, a “Live Bethlehem” with living animals in the Christmas petting zoo, and many other fun things to do for young and old.

Vajdahunyad Castle

The WAMP Christmas Design Fair is quite worth it, too: it will take place for three weekends in a row, starting December 6th, at Millenáris Park. This year, the event will also include a gastro fair, offering a selection of a chocolates, truffles, cookies, jams, wines, spirits and more.

Last but not least, the Christmas Market at the Four Seasons Gresham Palace, at its second edition, promises to be as exciting as last year: an enchanting winter escape with heartwarming Christmas melodies, exclusive Nutcracker-inspired decoration and a collection of items that cannot be found anywhere else.

And, of course, there will be Christmas magic with your two Mamaison hotels in Budapest too: Hotel Andrassy and Residence Izabella. Come celebrate Christmas in Budapest: magnificent architecture gets dressed in a lace of shining lights; hundreds of Christmas trees sprout from nowhere lining up the imperial arteries, and even pedestrian alleys and markets; department-store window displays remind of the land of fairies and elves; and many other holiday attractions pop up around the city, spreading contagious cheer among locals and visitors.

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Amade

September is the month to be in Budapest, especially if you are a foodie. Yes, the city has several food and cuisine festivals every season, but no other month is so “cluttered” with gourmet opportunities. Plus, when you stay at Mamaison Hotel Andrassy Budapest you have the opportunity to dine at La Perle Noire Restaurant & Lounge, with its beautiful summer grill terrace overlooking Andrássy Avenue (Reservations at +36 1 555 1545).

The first food festival of September was suggestively called Septemberfest (SzeptEmber Feszt) and used to take place the first weekend of the month at Népliget for the past 15 years. Unfortunately, this year’s festival was cancelled, because of lack of funds. Foodies can still enjoy the first weekend of the month at the Foie Gras Festival (Libamáj Fesztivál), which is organized by the Hungarian Goose Association at Erzsébet tér. It is a gourmet event, however with very affordable treats. Even kids will enjoy it, as there are several programs designed for their entertainment.

foie gras

The event is followed by the Budapest Wine Festival, which begins September 9th, and lasts till September 13th, 2015, at Castle Hill. 200 wine cellars from 15 countries will participate, giving you the opportunity to enjoy more than just local wines. The cuisine is designed to pair well with this popular drink: cauldron-cooked stews, grilled meats and sausages, sandwiches, cheeses, and more can be found at various food stalls, at bargain prices. Over 60 different cultural events complete the program, including jazz performances, folk dances and music, a Harvest Parade with some 800 people, representing the folk and the Hungarian wine regions.

Last, but not least, who would want to miss the Sweet Days – Chocolate and Candy Festival?

praline

This takes place at the Buda Castle from September 18, till September 20. There are child-friendly programs, but also cooking classes and chocolate-making workshops for adults, tasting events, and live entertainment accompanied by fine liquors and fine artisan wines.

And, if you want an less ordinary gourmet experience, Fridays you can dine in the dark (Láthatatlan vacsora Budapest) at Millennium Népliget, building B, address 1024 Budapest II. kerület , Millenáris Park, Kis Rókus u. 16–20. (B épület).

And remember, La Perle Noire Restaurant is one of Budapest’s finest dining establishments, characteristic of the surroundings. Whether it’s a tangy barbecue in the comfortable garden that appeals to you, or a chef created culinary masterpiece, the restaurant is attuned to gastronomical pleasures.

Noted for its contrasting style, the restaurant beckons guests to partake of a burst of color and flavor against a black and white contemporary backdrop. The effect of fresh culinary creation, so delicately prepared, rising from those level and crisp design surfaces, mimics budding life itself. La Perle Noire Restaurant is a perfect canvas onto which life’s best dining experience is painted each day.

La Perle

Traditional Hungarian to gourmet French fare, if distinction, La Perle Noire’s chef and staff deliver on vibrant creativity, along with unforgettable service. Seasonal favorites are incorporated into a diverse menu, boasting wonderful staples of timeless tastefulness such as marinated foie gras with quince and boudin noir on toast. Venison and winter asparagus, down to the homemade breads and pastries countless guests have so enjoyed, our fine dining experience is second to none.

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Easter Eggs

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.

Néprajzi Múzeum

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.

Easter Eggs baskets

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.

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Cherry blossoms in Budapest

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.

Budapest fountain

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.

macaron

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.

gastro fair

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.

Budapest Spring Festival

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.

Hungary's oldest botanical garden

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.

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2015 - Happy New Year

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

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.

Fővárosi Nagycirkusz

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.

mangalica fesztival

We wish you a happy start in the new year, and thank you for choosing Mamaison Hotels and Residences, as individual as you!

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Mulled wine stall at the Christmas fair

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.

Vorosmarty

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.

St. Stephen's Basilica

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.

WAMP

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

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.