City guide

Hungarian culture and tradition at the Festival of Folk Arts

Photo : Festival of Folk Arts
Keleti pályaudvar

The Festival of Folk Arts is an annual summer tradition celebrating Hungarian folk art, dance, music, and folklore. The full array of Hungarian food, wine, beers, and spirits are also on offer, most of them made by local producers in traditional ways. There’s also a huge craft fair with stands selling everything from jewelry to musical instruments to leather goods. The colorful celebration is held throughout the grounds surrounding the Royal Palace atop Castle Hill, starting today and ending with the fireworks show held on August 20 to mark Hungary’s greatest national celebration.

This festival – one of Budapest’s most iconic events – is held high on Castle Hill, overlooking the whole city. Held this year for the 28th time, the Festival of Folk Arts attracts thousands of people and is popular with visitors of all ages, providing an opportunity for both locals and tourists to see Hungarian folk culture and hundreds of years of tradition up close.

Photo: Festival of Folk Arts
Discovering all of the attractions scattered across the sprawling Royal Palace grounds will be easier with this map. The event is open each day between 10am-11pm from August 16 to 20. Full-priced tickets are 2,000 HUF per day, although there are discounts for children, families, or weekly passes. There’s also a combination ticket providing access to the Hungarian National Gallery as well.
Photo: Festival of Folk Arts
Folk-art fair
The Festival of Folk Arts is famous for its folk market, which is open throughout the whole festival. Everything from handmade jewelery, musical instruments, bags, leather goods, and soaps are proffered here. There are also folk-costumes, shoes, intricate laces, hats, and scarves for those wanting to take home a folk-inspired memento.

Masters of the arts and crafts
This year there will be 800 different stands, each showing different aspects of Hungarian arts and crafts. Master craftsmen will display their traditional methods of creating items that are either decorative works of art or useful, everyday objects that were (and sometimes still are) crucial in village or town life. It will become obvious that for these craftspeople, the useful and the decorative often combine. Visitors will have a chance to try these time-honored tasks for themselves, including woodcarving, basketwork, pottery, or making gingerbread, lace, or candles.
Photo: Festival of Folk Arts
This year metalwork is highlighted, so blacksmiths, jewelrymakers, knife makers, coppersmiths, and toy-soldier makers will share their special knowledge.
Photo: Festival of Folk Arts
This year’s guest country is Turkey, so Turkish craftspeople will introduce their own traditional knowledge of making jewelry with pearls, glass, and amber. Turkish potters, shoemakers, and silk artisans are showing off their creations as well.
Photo: Festival of Folk Arts
For the littlest ones, the Hunyadi Courtyard will be the spot to find plenty of colorful entertainment, such as interactive folk games, making beading necklaces, and much more!

Photo: Festival of Folk Arts

This year, anyone arriving in traditional Hungarian folk dress will have the chance to win a special prize. A photograph will be taken of each entrant (which you can take home) and winners will get a voucher for the Mesterporta store. Meanwhile, if dressing up in a folk costume isn’t your thing, you can also check out the fashions from afar at the fashion parades at the Oroszlános Courtyard. These include showcasing clothing from Kalocsa, folk-inspired modern wear, hand-laced clothing, stylised aristocratic clothing, and beautiful hats and shawls.
Photo: Festival of Folk Arts
Folk dance and music
The five-day festival will also include Magyar folk dance and music performances. On two stages there’ll be performances from the “Felszállott a páva!” TV talent quest, as well as dance groups and bands from Hungary and Turkey. A full schedule of performances can be found here.

Photo: Festival of Folk Arts

Food
A festival celebrating Hungarian culture would not be complete without the delicious foods of the region. Of course festival favorites such as “kürtőskalács” (chimney cake) and “töki pompos” (a focaccia-style pizza) will be available, but there’ll also be grilled sausages, pork knuckles, and homemade pickles too. Beer, fröccs for wine lovers, and the Hungarian spirit pálinka will also be available in abundance. If you want to buy some delicacies to take home, there’ll be cheeses, honeys, jams, sausages, and more.

Photo: Festival of Folk Arts
Photo: Festival of Folk Arts

How to get up Castle Hill

There are a number of options for reaching the festival. The funicular from Ádám Clark Square takes you right up to the center of the festival action. It costs 1,100 HUF one way or 1,700 return per adult. If you’re on the Pest side you can get right to the sikló by walking across the very scenic Chain Bridge. If you have the energy to walk from Ádám Clark Square you can take the  Király lépcső (the “Royal Steps”), which is about a 30-minute climb to the Royal Palace. There’s also the number 16 bus from Deák Ferenc Square to the Dísz tér stop. Finally, at the Széll Kálmán tér M2 metro stop, a Castle minibus marked with the logo of the Castle or the term “Várbusz” drops you right at the Vienna Gate.

Those who need to park or who have disabilities can check for more details here.