Farsang is here! Where to celebrate carnival season in Budapest in 2023


  • Urbán Cintia

08/02/2023 5.23pm

It is time to dig up your princess gowns and scary masks and celebrate one of the most colourful periods of the year by dressing up. Farsang is the Hungarian equivalent of the carnival season, lasting from January 6 until February 21 this year. It is deeply rooted in folklore traditions, with the main idea of ushering in the spring and scaring off evil spirits. In reality, it results in celebrations, costume parades, masquerade balls, a UNESCO-recognised festival called 'Busójárás' and the eating of massive amounts of doughnuts. We have rounded up ways to celebrate farsang this year.

What is farsang?

The last day of Christmas on January 6th marks the start of a colourful festival period called farsang - like a 'carnival' in other parts of the world. Farsang is a combination of Christian traditions and old pagan rituals, and the celebration lasts until the start of the Christian Lenten fasting period. But farsang is also symbolic of saying goodbye to winter and looking forward to spring. The high point of farsang is its last three days, which changes dates each year depending on the dates of Easter. These last three days are called Farsang Farka ("the tail of farsang"), which lasts from February 19-21 in 2023. Read more on farsang here.

Farsang traditions

In Hungary, one of the largest farsang events is the Busójárás, held in the southern city of Mohács. The event is recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. The most recognisable feature is men in scary wooden masks with big teeth and horns, dressed in furry sheep's skin, who run around making loud noises and chasing women and playfully smacking them. You can visit the event between February 16-21.

Photo: Getty Images

But no need to go as far as Mohács to celebrate the carnival season. You will find plenty of places in Budapest with the promise of a big fiesta, ranging from artsy to acid house parties. Wearing costumes to attend such events is usually not obligatory but traditional and fun, and why would you mess with the tradition? Hungarians used to dress up even at the beginning of the 20th century, which you can read more about here.

Where to party

On February 10th, you can join an artsy carnival at LAVOR Collective's event (which is also the Finissage of its Art is our Lifestyle exhibition). They challenge you to dress up as one of the most remarkable figures in the history of art, from Picasso to the Yawning Apprentice. It is worth taking the task seriously as the winner will be rewarded with a unique piece of art. 

On the 11th, you can attend the Rooftop Masquerade Party at 360 Bar. You guessed it; the venue is a rooftop bar overlooking the city's stunning sights. It also comes with signature drinks, danceable beats, and a reward for the wearer of the most extreme mask. 

You can also join the Masquerade House Party at the bistro at Rudas Baths on the 17th. Make sure to come early and enjoy some pampering at the baths before all the dancing, including chilling in the jacuzzi on the rooftop. On the 18th, you can join a New Orleans-styled Mardi Gras carnival at the Monyo Taproom or a drag show at the Carnival Party at Alterego

On the 19th, you can attend the family rave party, called PomPom Acid Farsang at Akvárium Klub (enter with children only). On the 24th, you can pick between the Farsang at Mexican restaurant Tereza and the Masquerade Ball at downtown club Ötkert

Where to eat doughnut

No farsang should pass without doughnuts. They are an essential part of the Hungarian carnival traditions, meaning that you are not only allowed but encouraged to eat these sweet, syrup-glazed desserts if the carnival season finds you in Budapest. Head to The Box DonutLa DonuteriaCream DonutbarBadass Coffee & DonutBomboloni, or Joe&Fredo and treat yourself for the sake of the tradition.

Photo: Medgyesi Milán - We Love Budapest

Related content

Admin mode