City guide

Everything you need to know about New Year’s Eve in Budapest

Photo : Steve - Flickr
Everything you need to know about New Year's Eve in Budapest

New Year’s Eve is called “Szilveszter” in Hungary and like many other places in the world there’s a massive celebration in Budapest to bring in the new year. As 2014 draws to a close and we await with anticipation the start of 2015 we take a look at Hungarian New Year’s traditions, plus check out the massive public street parties on in Budapest. Of course with thousands flocking to the inner-city we take a look at transport options and let you know what’s open on the New Year’s Day public holiday. Whatever you have planned, have a safe and happy new year!

Hungarian New Year’s Eve traditions
For Hungarians food is a very important part of most celebrations and New Year’s is no different. There’s also plenty of superstition and tradition around the end of one year and the start of the next, so there’s a suite of lucky meals you can eat including roasted pork, cold pork jelly (“kocsonya”), cabbage rolls and lentil stew. The lentils are eaten at New Year’s Eve because they signify wealth in the new year. The pork symbolises luck if eaten on New Year’s Day. Korhely soup (like a cabbage, sausage soup) is great for a hangover and is also a traditional meal eaten on New Year’s Day.

There are also a few other non-food related superstitions mainly about bringing luck, fortune and happiness in the coming year. For example, make lots of noise to scare off evils spirits on New Year’s Eve, and on the 1st don’t work or see the doctor to have good luck and good health in the new year. As a tradition, at midnight the national anthem is often sung. Finally after the countdown to midnight is over don’t forget to wish everyone a happy new year by saying ‘Boldog Új Évet Kívánok’ or BÚÉK (pronounced: boo-ehk) for short.

Public street parties in Budapest
As we’ve already written there are plenty of ways to bring in 2015 with many venues offering special NYE celebrations, but one particularly festive way to spend the night is with thousands of other party-goers, families and and people of all ages at one of the planned open-air street parties. There are three major outdoor street parties often held at Vörösmarty Square,  Nyugati Square (where the Railway Station is and where the 4 and 6 trams go) and at the Oktogon intersection (where Andrássy Avenue and the Grand Boulevard meet). Private fireworks displays are often held at these locations, as well as others throughout the city.
Public transport
On New Year’s Eve the usual day time public transport service will apply during the day, but at night there’ll be more frequent services on tram lines 4 and 6, which will run every 3 -5 minutes along the Grand Boulevard, plus many of the usual night buses will be running more frequently. The city will be packed full of people and taxis could be difficult to find – your best bet is public transport. 
On 1 January 2015 (Thursday) public holiday (Sunday) schedules apply on public transport services. Buses 38, 92, 138, 140B, 162, 204, 218, and 238 will not be serving the stops at the big shopping centres, as those will be closed.
What’s open on the 1st of January
There are normal opening hours on the 31st (although some shops might close a few hours earlier), but the 1st is a public holiday, so only some convenience stores and some restaurants/cafes/bars will be open.