City guide

2016 calendar of festivals and events in Hungary’s countryside

Photo : Krisztián Bódis/We Love Budapest
2016 calendar of festivals and events in Hungary’s countryside

Many fascinating happenings spice up life in the Hungarian countryside all year round, like folk-dance fairs, music festivals, wine expos, and so much more. This handy guide recommends major events and public gatherings going on across Hungary throughout 2016, including links for more information on every event. All of the communities that are hosting these events can be reached from Budapest within a few hours by car or public transportation, providing merry motivation to explore the diverse attractions awaiting across Hungary.

For detailed information about festivals and events happening throughout 2016 in Budapest, check out this article.
JANUARY
Photo: Picnic in Etyek
St. Vince Celebration 22-24 January, Pannonhalma  

Join a high-spirited guided tour within the sacred underground chambers of the Pannonhalma Archabbey to sample ecclesiastical wines and pálinka (Hungary’s traditional fruit-based brandy), along with regional gastronomical delights.
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Winter Picnic in Etyek 23 January, Etyek

The winter edition of the seasonal festival in the rustic wine region of Etyek – located just a 30-minute drive from Budapest – stars such wintertime activities as pork roasting and a mulled-wine-making contest, along with a crafts market, live music, and dancing. 
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From Cellar to Cellar – St. Vince’s Day 23 January, Villány and surrounding towns  

Oenophiles can hop from cellar to cellar to sip aromatic wines amid picturesque settings from Hungary’s sun-splashed vineyards and taste mouthwatering local meals, while navigating the southern wine region of Villány, a rural community graced by a mild climate all year round.
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Meat-Jelly Carnival 28-31 January, Miskolc  

Devour delicious varieties of aspic as vibrant Carnival traditions live on in the eastern Hungarian city of Miskolc, with concerts, a folk-art market, family programs, and other activities accompanying the festival’s edible highlight.  
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FEBRUARY
Photo: The Busó Festival of Mohács
The Busó Festival of Mohács 4-9 February, Mohács  

Amid dynamic drumbeats, a raucous procession of spine-chilling characters chases winter away with eerie masks and furry costumes at the Busó Festival in Mohács, in the south of Hungary, while a bonfire floats on the fast-flowing Danube in anticipation of springtime’s arrival.
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Sausage Festival 5-7 February, Fonyód (Sports Center)

The aromas of luscious local links mingle in the air at the southern shore of Balaton, where visitors can try Hungary’s classic sausages and salamis made of ordinary pork, Grey Cattle beef, or Mangalica (a native breed of pig), along with scrumptious treats like strudels and chimney cake.
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MARCH
Photo: holloko.hu
Pork and Pálinka Festival 11-15 March, Szeged (Széchenyi Square)  

Mountains of tongue-tickling treats and plenty of pálinka fills the tree-shaded central square of downtown Szeged, creating a vibrant village-style atmosphere through a long weekend , while the last day of the festivities marks the country’s national holiday commemorating the Hungarian Revolution of 1848.  
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Pig Feast Days 12-14 March, Hajdúszoboszló (Szent István Park)  

Explore the atmosphere of the country’s customary pig-slaughtering celebrations in the thermal-heated city of Hajdúszoboszló in the east of Hungary, bringing traditional cuisine and drinks into the spotlight.
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Lake Balaton Supermarathon 17-20 March, Siófok (start/finish: Hotel Magistern)  

Challenge yourself with a waterside competition running around the entire “Hungarian Sea”, pushing your limits through 195 kilometers and four days while admiring the stunning scenery of Lake Balaton during this annual supermarathon.
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International Bohém Ragtime and Jazz Festival 18-20 March, Kecskemét (Cultural Center)  

Joyful jazz and swing tunes, bohemian decorations, and overnight dance instructions take visitors to a melodic state of mind in the heart of Hungary’s sweeping Great Plains with intriguing international acts, including Catherine Russell from the USA, Mimi Blais from Canada, Hot Serenaders from Slovakia, and Hungary’s own Bohém Ragtime Jazz Band.
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Easter Festival 26-28 March, Hollókő  

Thousands flock to the historic World Heritage-listed village of Hollókő – a hillside community of old-fashioned homes, found just north of Budapest – for a weekend of special Hungarian Easter traditions, including elaborate folk costumes, music, crafts, and classic Easter celebrations involving poetry and splashing.
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APRIL
Photo: visitgyula.com
Spring picnic in Etyek 9-10 April, Etyek  

When the first buds of spring start to sprout, the stone wine cellars of Etyek open their doors to welcome visitors to enjoy their good libations amid pastoral settings, just a half-hour drive from central Budapest.
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Pálinka Festival 15-17 April, Gyula (Várkert)

Gyula’s majestic castle is home to this city’s intoxicating annual festival featuring numerous local pálinka producers serving many varieties of the country’s high-spirited potent potable. 
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Tokaj Spring 22-24 April, Tokaj

Take guided tours around the undulating hills of Hungary’s prestigious wine region and get glimpses into the winemakers’ daily life during this invigorating springtime festivity in the town of Tokaj northeast of Budapest. The highlight of the event is the Great Tokaj Wine Auction held on April 23, where 27 select libations offered by 19 of the region’s top producers go under the hammer, including an exclusive assortment of dry wines, delicate Aszú, late-harvest libations and honey-sweet Essencia, while the list of participating wineries presents brand names like Disznókő, Gróf Degenfeld, or Sauska Tokaj. A share of the proceeds benefits the Tokaj Wine Region, an area registered as being part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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MAY
Photo: Concours D’Elegance
Concours D’Elegance 13-15 May, Balatonfüred  

Take a time-transcending journey to the high-class lakeside city of Balatonfüred to find a collection of classic automobiles – like Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Aston Martin, or Citroen – all built before 1980. 
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Pentecost Pálinka Picnic 14-15 May, Tihany (Visszhang-hill) 

Laughter and cheer echo from Tihany’s majestic hill as visitors gather to sample some of Hungary’s most palatable pálinka varieties and specialties of local gastronomy, all before a head-swirling backdrop of Lake Balaton’s azure waters.
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ULTRABALATON 27-29 May, Balatonvilágos (Club Aliga)  

This active outing provides a jogging or cycling challenge for those who wish to pedal or run around the spectacular Lake Balaton, while immersing themselves in the beauty of the rural landscape. Participants can choose their preferred speed and time, while enjoying numerous refreshment points all along the route.
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St. Orbán’s Day Wine Feast (date to be announced), Hajós  

The vineyard-covered village of Hajós blossoms around St. Orbán’s Day, when wine-loving crowds flock to discover this hidden gem in southern Hungary to join the refreshing tours and celebrations around the region’s aromatic nectar.
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JUNE
Photo: VOLT Festival
Tokaj Wine Festival 3-5 June, Tokaj  

The hills of Hungary’s globally revered Tokaj wine region are crisscrossed with premier vineyards cultivated for centuries – this is the source of golden-sweet Aszú, long esteemed as one of the world’s most desirable libations, and now anyone can sample some of the varieties who visits the region’s summertime wine festival.  
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Summer Picnic in Etyek 4-5 June, Etyek  

Overflowing with oenophiles coming from Budapest and the nearby cities, the sun-kissed slopes of Etyek host a two-day alfresco get-together, where everything is centered around wine.
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Harley-Davidson Open Road Fest 8-12 June, Alsóörs (Európa Camping)  

The Harley is not just a motorcycle, but a way of life. It is freedom itself, a hint of revolt and a mighty roar. Visit Alsóörs in June and see it for yourself at this rocking annual biker rally.
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Fishing on Orfű 22-25 June, Orfű (Panorama Camping)  

Just a short drive away from the city of Pécs, surrounded by pristine nature, assorted bands provide a joyful jamboree showcasing all genres of Hungarian music on multiple stages, including pop, rock, hip-hop, and more.
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Balaton Fish and Wine Festival 23-26 June, Balatonfüred (Tagore Promenade)  

As an event rooted in the 19th century, this cheerful celebration on the north shore of Lake Balaton has evolved to become a sub-regional festival with various activities and wine tastings, while the main goal of the event is to promote local fish alongside the area’s wineries.
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Midsummer Night Bonfire 24 June, Vonyarcvashegy  

On Midsummer’s first day, a dancing bonfire is lit to chase evil spirits away. Join the heartwarming celebrations in Vonyarcvashegy, at the northern shore of Lake Balaton.  
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Lavender Festival 25-26 June, Tihany  

This fragrant festival on the Lake Balaton peninsula of Tihany aims to evoke the age-old traditions of lavender cultivation and processing with a folk-art fair and several workshops, introducing various usage of the purple-color plant, while the highlight of the event is the lavender harvest that anyone can join.  
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International Guitar Festival 25-30 June, Balatonfüred  

Enjoy a week-long series of concerts and romantic live guitar tunes at this far-reaching festival, honoring the world’s most popular stringed instrument in the historic city of Balatonfüred beside Lake Balaton.  
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VOLT Festival 29 June-2 July, Sopron  

For more than 20 years now, the VOLT Festival is one of Hungary’s greatest annual good-time gatherings, drawing world-famous musicians of diverse genres along with prominent local acts to fill a forested campground in the hills above Sopron. This year’s headliners include Iron Maiden and Wiz Khalifa.  
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JULY
Photo: Balaton Sound
Balaton Cross-Swimming 2 July, Révfülöp  

Cross Lake Balaton by human power alone, swimming 5.2 kilometers all the way from the northern shores at Révfülöp to the southern part of the lake at Balatonboglár. Participants can start swimming anytime between 8am and 2pm.  
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Balaton Sound 6-10 July, Zamárdi  

Happening on the sprawling lawns of a lakefront recreation area in Zamárdi on the southern shore of Lake Balaton near Siófok, this sun-splashed gig is one of the most popular electronic-music festivals in Central Europe, attracting herds of swimsuit-clad party people from around the world.
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Samsara Festival Europe 6-10 July, Siófok (Töreki Wood)

Yoga aficionados join dance and nature lovers amid psychedelic settings at the Samsara Festival, featuring high-spirited discussions with yoga instructors, therapists, doctors, and healers in the daytime, while the night brings thrilling trance tunes to Siófok’s sylvan slice.  
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Lakeside Weekend 7-10 July, Agárd (Park Camping)  

Booming music blasts at this waterside rock ’n’ roll festival that hosts various local and international names year after year in Agárd, including the Tin Cans from Germany at the upcoming festival, while additional performers are yet to be announced.
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Fish-Soup Festival 7-10 July, Baja  

Heaps of cauldrons are mounted side by side, all filled with crimson fish soup to provide a piquant alfresco scene on the main square of the riverside city of Baja. The best soup earns nationwide fame, while visitors can try hot bowlfuls from many of the cooking stations.  
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Rock Marathon 8-17 July, Dunaújváros (Szalki-sziget)  

In the peak of the summer months, several international punk, rock, and metal bands shake the fairgrounds of Dunaújváros (located 80 kilometers from Budapest) with acclaimed performers, like Amon Amarth from Sweden, Madball from New York, or Battle Beast from Finland.  
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EFOTT 12-17 July, Velence  

Stepping beyond its original aim of being “Hungary’s biggest student party”, this festival provides lively daytime activities besides the blasting concerts to Lake Velence, just 50 km southwest of Budapest.
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Veszprém Fest 13-16 July, Veszprém  

This music and cultural event in Veszprém strives to present the highest-quality performers in many different musical genres year after year, including coffeehouse swing and jazz, along with various world music styles at multiple locales. 
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Bánkitó Festival 14-16 July, Bánki Lake  

Raucous revelry stirs up life in northern Hungary as the shore of Bánki Lake, transformed into a head-swirling musical extravaganza. Apart from the pulsating tunes, assorted arts and cultural programs await festivalgoers during the three-day gig.  
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Blue Ribbon Sailing Competition 14-17 July, Balatonfüred  

A well-established regatta kicks off at the hip harbor of Balatonfüred, where nearly 500 boats line up to form a gigantic fleet to conquer the 160-kilometer distance through Balatonkenese, Tihany, and Keszthely before sailing back to Balatonfüred. Model-sailing competition, various programs, and wine tastings elevate the event even further.  
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Badacsony Wine Weeks 15-31 July, Badacsony  

The northern shores of Balaton are known for some of the country’s best wines, and now anyone can taste a variety of the aromatic nectars during the two-week festival on the volcanic slopes of Badacsony, surrounded by cultural programs, workshops, and folklore and music shows.  
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Solar United Natives Festival (S.U.N. Festival) 18-24 July, Bercel, Csobánkapuszta

This stunning sun-centered celebration in the undulating terrain of the Cserhát Mountains features an authentic Goa-style scene with eclectic electronica tunes, various workshops, organic food, and healing hotspots, all amid an airy atmosphere.  
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Street-Music Festival 20-23 July, Veszprém  

The streets of Veszprém transform into an ongoing festival scene, with inspirational musicians from dozens of countries performing all over the city’s lanes and thoroughfares from morning till the late-night hours. It’s a not-to-be-missed experience!
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Campus Festival 20-24 July, Debrecen (Nagyerdő)  

Local and international music bands, comedians, and actors congregate in Debrecen’s woodland swirling with thousands of tunes during this four-day extravaganza. The event also hosts movie screenings, gastronomy, and wine stalls in Hungary’s second-largest city.
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Babel Sound World Music Festival 20-24 July, Balatonboglár  

Relax and unwind at Balatonboglár’s interactive world-music festival, where fresh voices and tunes steal the show at multiple locales, creating a friendly gathering at a lakeside paradise.  
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Valley of Arts 22-31 July, Kapolcs  

The streets and courtyards of Kapolcs, alongside the surrounding villages, attract thousands with rows of craft stalls, live music, and traditional events for what is an increasingly popular yet down-to-earth event.
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Szeged Open-Air Festival July-August, Szeged   

Live theatrical performances of all genres provide breezy entertainment for culture aficionados at the temporary amphitheater on Szeged’s Dóm Square, throughout the warm summer nights.
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Bull’s Blood Festival (date to be announced), Eger  

Live music mixes with sunshine in the air at this festival honoring renowned Hungarian Bull’s Blood wine in Eger, located north of Hungary, and during the gluttonous gathering guests can sample regional gastronomical delights.  
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AUGUST
Photo: B My Lake
Ozora Festival 1-7 August, Ozora, Dádpuszta  

Take an awakening journey to Ozora, situated about 130 kilometers southwest of Budapest, to find yourself amid a spiritual tribal gathering, where festivalgoers unite to form free-flowing dance forms in a valley of peace and serenity.
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Ördögkatlan Festival 2-6 August, multiple locations in Baranya County  

Assorted art forms are represented across four villages in the southern county of Baranya, offering intellectual entertainment like stage performances, music, literature, fine arts, and much more to visitors from near and far.  
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FEZEN 3-6 August, Székesfehérvár  

Rock-infused revelry stirs up the scenes in Székesfehérvár – known as Hungary’s City of Kings, just 65 kilometers southwest of Budapest.  
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Balatonfüred Wine Weeks 8-30 August, Balatonfüred  

Try a wide array of Hungarian reds, whites, and rosés from the wine regions of Balatonfüred and nearby Csopak during most of the month of August. With a glass of local libation in hand, take an easy walk down to the spectacular Tagore Promenade in this historic city by Lake Balaton.  
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Summerfest International Folklore Festival 12-22 August, Százhalombatta, Ráckeve, Tököl  

Participants from 20 countries and five continents flock to the small towns of Százhalombatta, Tököl, and Ráckeve – just a short journey away from the Hungarian capital – to create a cosmopolitan atmosphere while entertaining visitors for ten days with folk dance, world-music concerts, local gastronomy specialties, and much more.
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International Folk-Dance Festival 17-20 August, Mohács  

Booming whooping mixes with sounds of stomping boots when the world of folk dance collides in Mohács with international acts from Germany, Romania, Croatia, Italy, Austria, Spain, or Portugal, while open dance instructions create unmatched scenes on the festival grounds.
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Flower Carnival 20 August, Debrecen  

Fascinating floral decorations play vibrant hues in all colors of the rainbow at this blooming festival held every year in Debrecen since 1966 on St. Stephen’s Day, celebrating Hungary’s foundation and the nation’s first king.
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B my Lake 24-27 August, Zamárdi  

Sweeping Lake Balaton views serve as the backdrop for about 100 DJs playing epic electronica amid the sprawling lawns of Zamárdi, a town with wonderful lakeside location and amazing panorama merely 110 kilometers away from Budapest, where swimsuit-clad crowds lounge between refreshing dips in the “Hungarian Sea”.  
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STRAND Festival 24-27 August, Zamárdi

Organized in Zamárdi at the same time as the B my Lake Festival, this waterside jamboree will again host a number of international and local headliners. The first main-stage name has already been announced: the HURTS from UK is surely going to be a blast.
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SZIN 24-28 August, Szeged  

This flashy music festival with the young generation in mind brings such performers on stage this year as Jasmine Thompson, 2 Unlimited, or the Foreign Beggars, and all this happens in Szeged near the Serbian and Romanian border of Hungary.  
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SEPTEMBER
Photo: Kalocsa Paprika Festival
Autumn Picnic in Etyek 3-4 September, Etyek  

In a rustic community in the Etyek wine region (30 kilometers west of downtown Budapest), hop from rustic stone cellar to cellar and sample delicious Hungarian wines accompanied by local culinary treats during this two-day open-air feast.  
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Bio Food and Wine Festival 9-11 September, Hajdúszoboszló  

It’s not only the healing thermal waters that make for a super-fit lifestyle in Hajdúszoboszló, known as the City of Spas – this organic food-and-wine festival is a unique gastronomical event for those who want to maintain a balanced diet, proffering nourishing natural foodstuffs and wines.
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Jameson CineFest International Film Festival 9-18 September, Miskolc  

Exclusive movie premieres, film screenings, exhibitions, and workshops await visitors at the Jameson CineFest International Film Festival, held in the historic city of Miskolc in northeastern Hungary.  
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Wine Square 14-18 September, Szeged (Dóm Square)  

A variety of local wines are on show and ready for sampling on Szeged’s dome-shadowed square during the harvest season, with expert oenophiles, special meals, melodic music, and more.  
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Romantic Reform Era 16-18 September, Balatonfüred  

Take a time-transcending journey to the 19th century to find yourself amid a real-time history class in Hungary’s most romantic era, as the spirit of the 1800s comes alive through folk and applied art forms alongside historic dishes, all to create a heritage parade in Balatonfüred on Lake Balaton’s north shore.
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Paprika Festival 16-17 September, Kalocsa  

A piquant festival spices up life in Kalocsa, a city of crimson paprika and finely embroidered folk-art 130 kilometers south of Budapest, where loads of paprika-infused meals, local farmers’ fairs, wine, and pálinka stalls provide a hearty day out.  
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Pumpkin Festival 23-25 September, Őrség region (Őriszentpéter, Szalafő, Magyarszombatfa, Nagyrákos)  

Every corner holds tons of traditions in the country’s often overlooked Őrség region in the west near the Austrian and Slovenian border to Hungary, situated a three-hour drive from Budapest. Pumpkins have a longstanding role in the area’s cuisine and culture, calling for an annual festival around the round-shaped produce, where visitors can taste all that can be made of this grand gourd.   
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Harvest Festival of Tokaj 30 September-2 October, Tokaj  

Celebrate harvest days in Tokaj, a historic winemaking town in the east of Hungary, where local vintners offer grape-scented libations along the city’s main square and inside musty subterranean chambers.
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OCTOBER
Photo: Sausage Festival
Day of Cabbage Meals 1 October, Demjén  

Meals made with cabbage star in this delicious event in Demjén, a small town located just a short drive away from the city of Eger, home of the famous Bull’s Blood wine.  
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Sausage Festival 28-31 October, Békéscsaba  

Appetizing bangers fill the large open spaces of this festival in Békéscsaba, in the southeast of Hungary, where visitors can savor succulent sausages made with age-old traditions and learn the steps of the Hungarian pig-slaughtering process.  
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NOVEMBER
Photo: Peter Csonka/Wild Geese Festival
St. Martin’s Day Feast 12 November, Egerszalók  

Every year around St. Martin’s Day, Egerszalók turns into a gastro-cultural space with crunchy goose bites, perfect wines, folk-music concerts, and dance sessions after the sun goes down.  
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Wild Geese Festival 26 November, Tata  

Look up at the sky and experience the unparalleled scenes of bird migration on the shores of Öreg Lake in Tata, about 70 kilometers west from Budapest. Don’t forget your binoculars!  
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Carpathian Basin Honey Festival 26-27 November, Zalaegerszeg

Visit this delightful festival in Zalaegerszeg that presents all that’s sweet for the eyes and taste buds, including pure honey and gooey sweets, along with other honey-based specialties.
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DECEMBER
Photo: Advent in Szeged
International Nativity Play Festival 17-18 December, Gencsapáti  

Every year during the last weekend before Christmas, in Gencsapáti near the Austrian border, Nativity plays come alive in the small square in front of the town’s church, where besides Hungary, numerous nations (including Austria, Slovakia, and Slovenia) showcase their own sacred Christmastime traditions.
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Advent in Szeged (date to be announced), Szeged (multiple locations)  

In the lead-up to Christmas, Szeged becomes an adorable Advent locale, with cozy wooden stalls filling many of the city’s public spaces, while the streets and squares are all shine bright under sparkling festive lights. Urban dwellers can warm their hearts and souls with aromatic mulled wine, while navigating Szeged’s cinnamon-scented fairs.  
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