Christmas truly is the most wonderful time of the year – made even more magical by the chance to spend some quality time with the family. For those spending the Christmas season amidst the sparkling lights and festive cheer of the Hungarian capital, there are plenty of yuletide activities to enjoy. Whether you want to watch The Nutcracker at the Hungarian State Opera, catch Spejbl and Hurvínek (the Czech Punch & Judy) at the Budapest Puppet Theater, or simply go ice-skating on Budapest’s picturesque lakes, here’s how to spend the perfect family Christmas in Budapest.
How better to celebrate a family Christmas in Budapest than by watching a festive classic? Performed in the beautiful surrounds of Budapest’s historic Hungarian State Opera, this production of The Nutcracker offers up some contemporary twists on the classic performance. From the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy to the Clara’s battle with the Mouse King, the evening is sure to be a hit with the whole family.
If all that nutcracking somehow fails to instil some Christmas cheer, catch a show at the Budapest Puppet Theatre instead. Standing for more than half a century, the folks at the Puppet Theatre know how to keep the kids entertained, and with performances taking place throughout the week, there’s a good chance you can see more than one show during your visit – there’s even a puppet version of The Nutcracker!
There’s nothing quite like gliding across the ice on a snowy afternoon, so bundle the kids up in their mittens and bobble hats and head out to City Park Ice Rink. Not only is this the largest ice-skating rink in Europe but, found in front of Vajdahunyad Castle, it’s pretty picturesque, too. But if skating on a frozen lake doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other places to go ice-skating in Budapest, like the Ice Terrace at Jégterasz or the centrally located Eiffel Ice Rink.
From sugary delights like Hungarian Christmas candy, cinnamon pastries and honey cookies, to savoury fare such as freshly grilled sausages and hot potato dumplings, there are plenty of goodies to be found at the Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market. In fact, all kinds of seasonal treats can be found here, including the big man himself, good old St Nick. Head down with the kids on 6th December (during the Mikulás Day celebrations) for the chance to meet Santa and finalise that Christmas list.
Once you’ve eaten your way through the Vorosmarty Square Christmas Market, take to the streets with a special Christmas Tram ride. Lit up with tens of thousands of twinkling fairy lights, the trams look especially attractive at this time of year. Winding their way through the scenic streets of Buda and past the Danube River, the rides offer a magical way to enjoy Christmas in Budapest in full seasonal splendour.
If the weather obliges, don’t miss the opportunity to go sledding in the Buda Hills. Normafa Hill is one of the most popular spots for snow-loving locals, with sweeping city views and gentle slopes suitable for even the littlest sledders. To add even more family fun to this festive outing, take a trip on the Children’s Railway and hop out at the Normafa stop – keep an eye out for Santa, he’s known to ride on the train himself during December.