City guide

Red Bull Air Race moves to Zamárdi at Lake Balaton

Photo : Predrag Vuckovic / Red Bull Content Pool

Zamárdi on the south shore of Lake Balaton will host the popular Red Bull Air Race this July. The event, staged in Budapest from 2003, failed to receive the necessary permit from the city mayor István Tarlós, and so had to be relocated. The decision represents a major coup for Zamárdi, which will also host several key music festivals this summer, including Balaton Sound and STRAND.

Instigated by star Hungarian pilot Péter Besenyei, the Red Bull Air Race has been a huge crowd-pleaser since first hosted in Budapest in 2003. Of all the 40-plus prestigious cities to stage this annual global series – New York, London, Rio – the Hungarian capital always put on the best show. The thrill of seeing planes zoom under Chain Bridge attracted an estimated 135,000 spectators in 2018.

Photo: Joerg Mitter / Red Bull Content Pool

But in the immediate aftermath of June’s activities, Budapest mayor István Tarlós went on TV to apologise to local residents for the disturbance, and to vow that planes would not race here again. Despite this, tickets were sold for another Budapest event in 2019 while sites were sought elsewhere, Lake Balaton the obvious candidate. Keszthely and Fonyód were also in the frame as potential hosts, but Zamárdi’s track record in staging major gatherings got it over the line.

Photo: Major Kata / Rockstar Photographers - Balaton Sound

The Red Bull Air Race 2019 will now take place on 13 and 14 July. According to Red Bull, all tickets for the cancelled Budapest event will be fully refunded by the original vendors, while new sales channels for the Zamárdi weekend will be announced soon.


The Red Bull Air Race will come only a week after Balaton Sound, which brings the likes of Armin van Buuren, Jess Glynne and The Chainsmokers to Zamárdi.

Photo: Baéaton Sound Festival

The weekend of August 20 will also be a busy one, as the STRAND Festival and both take place on its public beach then. Previously announced top acts include John Newman, Bastille and Anne-Marie.


Zamárdi is a 90-minute train journey from Budapest Déli and Kelenföld stations. With Szantód and its ferry service to Tihany so close, visitors can stay on either shore and still be within easy reach of events and attractions in Zamárdi.


For more information about events and festivals around Lake Balaton visit our sister website,