Budapest Weekend Guide for 15-17 March
Our regular round-up for the upcoming weekend offers plenty of suggestions for where to go, what to do and who should not be missed during the next three days. There are always so many happenings to choose from in Budapest – exhibitions, parties, live music, festivals and more – but here is our pick of the bunch:
9am-6pm: March 15th celebrations citywide
March 15th marks Hungary’s national holiday, commemorating the Magyars’ 1848 Revolution against the Habsburg regime. On Friday, ceremonial events take place on Kossuth tér, around the National Museum and Buda Castle, and are all available for anyone to join for free. On Saturday, complimentary Hungarian-language guided tours are offered around Parliament. Learn more about the events here.
Every March 15th, Hungarians across the country don a red, white and green cockade over their hearts, just like the ribbons worn by poet Sándor Petőfi, a leading figure of the 1848 Revolution, and his brothers in arms. To add a modern-day twist to this tradition, you can now build your own tricolour rosette using LEGO bricks. Participation is free.
Valyo Beach (Valyo Kikötő), a star destination launched last summer, opens for one day only this year on 15 March. As the area is to become a construction site and the venue can no longer operate there, the Valyo team bids farewell to this ephemeral events site with a campfire party, open for anyone to join.
A free walking tour takes visitors around Budapest, revealing secrets of the city’s era under a Soviet-backed regime. This tip-based guided expedition touches key locations of the 1956 Uprising and presents little-known facts about this era of oppression. The tour starts at 6pm from central Blaha Lujza tér and lasts about 90 minutes. Booking is not required, just show up at the meeting point and look for the guides holding a yellow umbrella.
Friday night is alternative night at the A38 Ship, playing host to two of the most notorious names in the underground scene of the last 25 years or more. Fronted by artist/showman Dr Béla Máriás, Tudósok (‘The Scientists’) are rhythmic satirists whose danceable tunes mock modern-day life in Budapest. Joining them will be St Petersburg’s legendary N.O.M., who sprang from Leningrad’s alternate milieu of 1987 to gain a considerable live reputation abroad – few who were there will forget their Sziget appearance way back when. A more recent reunion sparked this current flurry of activity.
Let your hair down to old-school Magyar tunes at Beat On the Brat, a party vortex underground club, marking the March 15 celebrations in their own wild way. Spanning three decades from the ‘60s to the ‘80s, the musical repertoire will embrace those usually played at Hungarian wedding parties and retro dance festivals. Most tunes are played from vinyl. Admission is free.
From award-winning director Phil Grabsky, this film is a fresh look at life of one of the world’s favourite artists. Telling his story through his own words, using letters and other private writings I, Claude Monet lets viewers glimpse into the world of an artist who brought Impressionism to the fore and was perhaps the most influential and successful painter of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Set amid the otherworldly design of ruin pub Szimpla Kert, a designers’ market presents stylish satchels, pretty purses, totes and fashionable backpacks, all works by renowned Hungarian designers. The event is dog-friendly and admission is free.
Focused on female artists from diverse artistic disciplines, the collective exhibition What About Them? addresses a subject with contradictory elements: the visibility and invisibility of women in history. The photos used for inspiration for this project are from the local Fortepan website, a massive online source of archive images. Saturday evening is the opening event, then the exhibition is on view until 29 March.
Directed by David Fincher and based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club features Edward Norton as a depressed young man, who feels like he became a small cog in the machine of modern times. He doesn’t like his work and gets no sense of reward from it, attempting to drown his sorrows by furnishing his perfect apartment from IKEA catalogues. One day on a business flight, he meets Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt), who believes that you learn through pain, misfortune and chaos.
One of Sweden’s most successful music groups, Peter Bjorn and John hit Budapest’s floating concert boat on tour with their recently released album Darker Days, a melancholic record with folk-infused indie pop. The band is best known for their 2006 single Young Folks that hit the top 20 in the UK and was used for the soundtrack of hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother. See here for ticket information.
Saturday night, cinema-and-nightclub fusion Toldi hosts London-based DJ Akito, whose percussion-heavy electronica propels his upfront style across the UK and the international club scene. Akito’s mixing prowess has earned him a residency on British NTS radio, and guest slots at the BBC and Seoul Community Radio. He is joined by Hungarian DJ Sirmo, known for his hard basslines.
On 17 March, anyone in Budapest can join in to celebrate Ireland’s national holiday. The event starts at Szabadság tér, with folk music, then turns into a parade. The night continues with live music and DJs at party complex Fogasház. All attractions have free admission.
With five studio albums, several world tours and 13 years of music under their belts, Canadian metal-punk band Cancer Bats have gained great popularity among hardcore fans. The ensemble now hits Budapest showcasing songs from latest release The Spark That Moves.
In this Oscar-nominated Hitchcock blockbuster, a wheelchair-bound photographer Jeff (Jimmy Stewart) observes his neighbours from his apartment window. One day he sees something suspicious, which leads to a flurry of investigation involving his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and the local police.
The Trafó House for contemporary culture hosts a double dance performance Sunday night. Slovakian choreographer of contemporary dance Anton Lachký and his company make dreamlike scenes pulsate onstage. Meanwhile, the Hungarian Insoundout reveals what a dancer does when there is no dance.
Open-mic nights are a regular after-hours attraction in Budapest, when any performer is welcome to take the stage for a few minutes, regardless of their experience or skill level. Whether you are a travelling musician, an aspiring amateur or an experimenting pro, you sign up, or just show up and play in front of a random audience. And if you are the audience, you are sure in for a diverse night of music. This Sunday, the show is at Lámpás.