City guide

Liberty Bridge to host more communal picnics this summer?

Photo : Krisztián Bódis / WLB

Couples sip wine under a velvet sky, kids play hopscotch between the tram tracks, friends share impromptu picnics and amateur musicians fill the air with acoustic tunes – for the last two summers, these bucolic scenes have taken place directly above the Danube on pretty Liberty Bridge. And now the nonprofit team of enthusiastic young Budapest residents, Valyo (City and River Association), is currently negotiating with the City to set aside four weekends this summer when the bridge would once more become a car-free public hangout, attracting cool crowds.

In the summer of 2016, one of Budapest’s most picturesque crossings, Liberty Bridge, was closed to car traffic for three months due to construction works. During this time, crowds gathered to create an impromptu picnic spot and the best hangout of the summer. All good things must come to an end, and towards the end of the season, cars were allowed back on the bridge, ending its time as a recreation space.

 

But a spark had been lit. The following year, Valyo successfully persuaded the authorities to turn the bridge into an official car-free recreation zone at certain times. And now these dynamic urbanists are in action again, trying to arrange four weekends between June and August this year when the bridge could once again be taken over by cool crowds.

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi / WLB

Valyo has issued a video of last year’s bridge picnics, capturing the atmosphere created by BBQs, hammocks, dogs, even a wedding, as well as showing the point of view of the Budapest authorities.

Although negotiations about bridge picnics are still ongoing, Valyo has already announced that a riverside hangout would definitely be launched for the summer. A vast neglected space near Budapest’s Rákóczi Bridge is being transformed into a summertime hotspot. By day, Valyo Kikötő will host art festivals, cultural events, workshops and community attractions, as well as family-friendly and sport events.

 

After dark, concerts, film screenings, theatre shows and other cool nocturnal attractions will entertain the crowds. This new community hub, a former dock area, will be able to accommodate 300-500 people at any one time. Summertime carousing here is set to start on May 1st, to run until September 30th, if all goes according to plan.

Photo: Valyo

With many ambitious ideas, this nonprofit organization of enthusiasts aims to integrate the river into the lives of locals and strives to improve access to the Danube embankment, highlighting underused stretches of urban waterfront. Go Valyo!