Autumn, in Bratislava, is associated with excellent wines and matching foods, music festivals, and colors that take your breath away. This is one of the most charming times of the year to visit this part of the world, and to experience the city like a local. If Slovakia’s capital had a front door, it would come with a huge postcard of its most iconic landmark, the Bratislava Castle, a central eye-catcher for residents and tourists alike. This Slovakian gem dominates the views from your window at Mamaison Residence Sulekova Bratislava. Its colossal structure is mirrored in the art adorning the walls in rooms and lobbies, in contrast with the contemporary interiors designed by Jestico + Whiles. The residence ranks among the most popular in our beautiful city, for both location, and outstanding value.
Beyond the walls of the hotel, the world outside opens with countless possibilities for the curious traveler. Waves Bratislava comes first, with a line up of concerts, panel discussions and presentations, which will keep you entertained for the first four days of October, in 13 venues, all located around Namestie SNP square in central Bratislava. Acts like Bokka (PL), Pins (UK), Fallgrapp (SK), Katarzia (SK), Näo (FR), Joy Wellboy (BE) and Fismoll (PL) bring to the city music with international potential.
Beautiful Vineyard Landscape with road (Pezinok-©-TTstudio-Fotolia.com)
On the Small Carpathian Wine Route, at the beginning of November, on Deň otvorených pivníc, the cellars of the region open with top varietals; Veltlinske Zelene, Rizling Vlassky, Frankovka Modra, Rizling Rynsky and Modry Portugal, to name a few of the more famous. About 80 wineries participate in the event, and many other small cellars along the route open their doors to show their fine wine-making traditions. But, for first time partakers, the Malokarpatské múzeum Pezinok (Small Carpathian Museum Pezinok), 20 km northeast of Bratislava, is the best to take in the history of viticulture and winery under the Small Carpathians. The museum offers a tour of the cellar, a permanent collection of wine-press machines from Central Europe – the largest of its kind, as well as tastings of local wines. If you are in the region, don’t miss the cellars of the Pezinok Castle, a former moated fortress turned chateau, which are now home to the National Wine Salon (Národný salón vín Slovenskej republiky).
And who would want to miss the Bratislava Jazz Days or “Džezáky,” which take place at Incheba Bratislava from October 23rd to 25th, and at the Old Market hall on October 27th? This is one of the most important jazz festivals in Europe, and features jazz in all genres, as well as well known performers.
Come late November, the Christmas markets of Bratislava will open with worlds of tradition and cheer. Book our site to learn more about them, in a future article.
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.
The Budapest Spring Festival celebrates its 34th anniversary this year. It is the largest cultural festival in the city, and counts among the most prestigious in this part of Europe.
Held from 21st March to 6th April 2014, the festival invites visitors to enjoy excellent programmes, and show, by acclaimed Hungarian and international performers. Among the stellar performers of the festival, we’d like to count the Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hungarian Radio Symphonic Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, and many individual performers, like Leila Josefowicz, Piotr Sałajczyk, Alison Balsom, Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Andreas Scholl, to mention just a few.
The festival counts concerts, dance, folk music, and theater performances on its schedule, and employs over 50 venues, including the Palace of Arts – Béla Bartók National Concert Hall, the new Budapest Music Center, Centrál Theatre, Radnóti Theatre, the St. Francis Parish Church, the Palace of Arts – Festival Theatre, and many others.
Among the programmes for young audiences, the most interesting are offered on the World Puppetry Day, with many free performances at several spots in the city.
For lovers of art, there are several exhibitions during the Budapest Spring Festival:
- SPRING – Contemporary Arts Exhibition
Venue: Balassi Institute, Budapest Somlói út 51. district I., Tel: (+36 1) 381-5124
Date: 16th March – 30th April
- Muses on Theatre Square
The Pest German Theatre (1812-1849) was founded 200 years ago
Venue: Budapest History Museum, Buda Castle, Szent György tér 2., building “E”
Tel: (+36 1) 487-8800
- 30th Hungarian Exhibition of Press Photography
Venue: Hungarian National Museum, Múzeum krt. 14-16., district VIII.,
Tel: (+36 1) 327-7773
Date: 24th March – 6th May
- Art Deco and Modernism, Interior design in Hungary 1920–1940
Venue: Museum of Applied Arts, Üllői út 33-37. district IX:,
Tel: (+36 1) 456-5107
Date: 16th March – 30th September
There are two Mamaison hotels in Budapest, which offer excellent conditions for travellers visiting Budapest during the festival: Hotel Andrassy and Mamaison Residence Izabella.