Summer in Budapest is beautiful, but the city in winter is especially picturesque. Often covered with a sprinkling of snow in the colder months, the Hungarian capital embraces the season with a busy schedule of celebrations. From the festive Budapest Christmas Market to the traditional Farsang carnival and Jewish Hanukkah celebrations, make the most of a winter trip to Hungary and take part in these must-see Budapest events.
The Christmas Market on Vörösmarty Square is the oldest and grandest winter market in Budapest. An essential stop on the itinerary for all Christmas lovers, it’s full of arts and craft stands where visitors can shop for gifts and locally-handmade souvenirs, sample deliciously warming Hungarian delicacies, try sweet treats such as cinnamon pastries, and enjoy a mulled wine. Adding to the festive atmosphere are the frequent carol concerts by local choirs.
Taking over the square by St Stephen’s Basilica for the festive season is a charming Advent market, known as Advent Feast at the Basilica. Crafts stands are set up outside the impressive church and food truck vendors present a wide variety of fare for visitors to enjoy. There’s also an ice skating rink and entertainment such as folk dance performances and a laser show against the backdrop of the historic building.
Hanukkah is an important event the Jewish calendar, and takes place over eight days each winter. In Budapest, the festival is celebrated with a series of concerts, theatre shows, culinary fairs and candle lighting ceremonies. A fascinating insight into Jewish culture, heritage and religion, events are organised by the Quarter6Quarter7 Festival.
New Year’s Eve in Hungary (Szilveszter in Hungarian) is definitely worth travelling for. From street parties and horse races to fireworks and concerts, myriad memorable and exciting celebrations take place across Budapest. During the day, catch annual equestrian events at Kincsem Park, before heading to your choice of New Year’s Eve party. Don’t miss the enormous fireworks display, which lights up the sky when the clock strikes midnight.
New Year’s Day concerts are an enduring tradition in Budapest. While many cities around the world spend the first day of the year recovering from the night before, Budapest keeps the party going with musical performances at many leading concert halls around the capital. A highlight for many music enthusiasts is the annual New Year’s show by the iconic Hungarian State Opera.
Farsang (meaning carnival) is one of the most important annual events in Budapest. Beginning on Epiphany, the occasion is celebrated with noisy parades to scare off winter, colourful masquerade and costume balls, and rituals such as scarecrow burning. Food is also a big part of the festival, as it’s considered the last chance to indulge before the start of Lent.