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Sights & culture Nightlife

Where to celebrate carnival season in Budapest in 2024

Farsang, the Hungarian equivalent of the carnival season, stretches from January 6th until February 14th this year. Rooted in folklore traditions, it aims to scare off evil spirits and usher in spring. In reality, farsang results in parties, family-friendly celebrations, masquerade balls, more masquerade balls, a UNESCO-recognised festival called 'Busójárás', and massive amounts of doughnuts.

What is farsang?

Farsang, which you might know as the carnival season, is the colourful festive period after Christmas, a time for merriment and revelry before Lent begins. It combines Christian traditions and old pagan rituals to bid farewell to winter and welcome spring. Though farsang officially starts on January 6th, the main celebrations happen around the end, which Hungarians call 'farsang farka' ('the tail of farsang'). This period, changing dates each year depending on the dates of Easter, now falls on February 12-14th. Read more on farsang here.

Farsang traditions

In Hungary, the main farsang event undoubtedly is the Busójárás, which UNESCO recognises as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. In the southern city of Mohács, men run around in scary wooden masks with big teeth and horns, dressed in furry sheep's skin, making loud noises to scare winter away. If you are curious to experience this unique tradition, you can hop on a direct bus ('Búsó-expressz') on February 10th or 11th, leaving from Népliget bus station at 7:05 am and 9:05 am. Plan your journey here.

Where to celebrate

'Farsang farka' might be between February 12th and 14th, but the weekend ahead of it is already jam-packed with lively fiestas and masquerade balls. For a family-friendly event, head to Hunyadi tér's pop-up farmers' market, where you can not only try seasonal doughnuts but enjoy a children's concert and sign up for face painting. You can also opt for a day at Budapest Garden, where kids can craft masks and see a puppet show.

If your inner foodie is keen to discover what locals feast on during this period, make your way to the top-notch food court Hello Buda, where delicacies will be in abundance. If you'd prefer a Latin 'carnaval' including Margaritas and cheesecake tacos, to Tereza it is!

If you are after a concert-filled celebration, try this tribute party at Dürer Kert. If you are equally into heavy metal, post-hardcore, rock, and pop-rock, don't miss A38's Hybrid Night. But if you'd take the classic route, attend a masquerade ball at rooftop bar 360 Bar or 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 DonuteriaBadass Coffee & Donut, or Bomboloni by Panificio il Basilicoi and treat yourself for the sake of the tradition.


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