Festivals in Hungary embrace the contrasts of the country itself, from small village folk and religious celebrations dating back centuries to great international musical and cultural events featuring world-famous artists. Budapest has the most in the way of festivals, with Hungary’s spring and fall music festivals the most-loved.
Budapest International Circus Festival
Held biannually over five days from the end of January into February, this celebration of all things circus draws acts from all over the world to perform in the capital. Fire-eaters, clowns, dancers, acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists and more give 30 shows over the five-day event, ending in a gala performance featuring famous talents.
Hungarian Formula 1 Grand Prix
Early February sees the town and motor racing circuit of Mogyorod come alive for the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix race. Car enthusiasts from all over Hungary and Europe fill the hotels and spill over into Budapest some 12 miles (20 kms) away, and the streets are crowded with fans of the various drivers.
Budapest Spring Music Festival
This iconic musical event draws visitors from all over the world in March to its 200 concerts, many of which are set in the city’s glorious historic buildings. World-class artists in opera, classical, jazz, rock and folk perform in great buildings such as the Hungarian State Opera House and the National Gallery, as well as in basilicas, churches and less exalted venues.
Valley of Magic Festival
This much-loved summer festival kicks off in June and runs through July around Lake Balaton and its little towns of Oula, Kapoics, Ocs and Monostorapati. Over 50 venues in Hungary host over 800 individual events of all kinds, attracting local and international visitors to the beautiful setting.
The Danube Carnival
Multi-cultural, exciting, and full of music, the Danube Carnival takes place in Budapest’s Vorosmarty Square and other venues every June. Professional and amateur contemporary dancers, folk musicians and artists from across Hungary and Europe join for 10 days in performances, street entertainments, concerts and parties.
Koros Valley Folk Arts Festival
Hungarians are immensely proud of their folk heritage and do all they can to preserve its long history, especially in rural areas. This festival, held every July and August in the town of Gyula, is one of the best of its kind, featuring traditional music, dance, drama, and crafts.
Budapest National Gallop
Lovers of horses and riding won’t want to miss this September event, taking place annually over three full days and featuring the superb Hungarian horses. A celebration of the Hussar culture and its military traditions sees many diverse events culminating in the spectacular National Horse Race in Hero’s Square, with riders from villages, towns and cities all competing for the big prize.
Budapest Palinka and Sausage Festival
Foodies will love this event, held every October on Castle Hill. Featuring at least 20 different varieties of the Hungarian brandy, palinka, their distillers are on-hand to explain their intricacies along with the makers of the famous Hungarian sausages and their produce. Street entertainment, music, dance performances and general merriment are all part of the gastronomic fun.
Budapest Christmas Fair and Festival
Despite the cold weather, Budapest is a magic place to be in at Christmas, with carolers, pre-Christmas parties and the largest Christmas Fair in the country held in Vorosmarty Square. Loved equally by locals and visitors alike, you’ll find gifts, local artwork, paintings, crafts, Christmas decorations, traditional food and drink, mulled wine, and a Nativity scene.