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This weekend’s Dunapest Festival honors Budapest’s river culture

An impressive water-curtain art installation, thematic excursions, a boat-building workshop, cozy camping at Népsziget, open-air performances, and many other public events will be happening this weekend for the first-ever Dunapest Festival, held between June 16-19. The aim of this cultural jamboree is to draw attention to the Danube, and popularize the idea of better enjoying all of the promising possibilities of this central river dissecting the Magyar metropolis. The Danube is both the venue and the theme of the Dunapest Festival.


Festival participants can enjoy cozy camping at Népsziget, build their own boat, admire an art installation that forms words out of falling water streams, and see various concerts at the delightful Kopaszi Dam over the course of the new and niche-filling four-day-long Dunapest Festival, organized alongside the riverfront. The Danube plays a significant role in the everyday life of all the cities that it runs through, and we are very lucky to be in this magnificent metropolis that is divided by such a wide and wonderful river. It is often opined that we should better exploit all the possibilities the Danube has to hold; Dunapest evolves around the theme of the river, aiming at popularizing local culture by intermingling it with all aspects of the waterway.

The festival features mostly free programs of music, theater, film, fine art, literature, sports, and family activities at various venues by the Danube, organized jointly with the Municipality of Budapest. The organizers behind the festival aim to centralize the Danube’s cultural, functional, and communal role, and create cultural, artistic, and urban-centered programs. Most of the programs, held between June 16-19, are free, and they are all connected to the Danube in a certain way, either by theme, or by location. Altogether, 60 artistic and urban programs are organized during the four-day-long festival, at nine floating and riverside spots.


Urban-centered events

Visitors can join various thematic walks, such as a free guided tour featuring stories about the Újlipótváros district, departing from Jászai Mari Square on June 17th at 11am. Another walk led by literary guides takes strollers by the riverside, revealing where former bridges of the Danube once stood, and how people crossed the river when there were no bridges at all. Where and when did Budapest have its own lighthouse? What was life like at the famous riverfront baths and at the Danube Palace? How did the river ever become a stage, or even a battlefield in the Magyar metropolis? All of these questions will be answered during the walk. (Guide commentary is only available in Hungarian.)



Arts will also be thoroughly represented at the festival. Julius Popp’s truly spectacular waterfall installation will entice outside of the Palace of Arts. Bit.Fall is an impressive water curtain; the constantly falling drops of water form Hungarian words in precise configurations. This exhibit opens on June 16th at 6pm, and will be on view until July 31st at the square outside the Ludwig Museum.


Film, theater

In the colorful and acrobatic performances of Theatre Irrwisch, humor and fascinating physical moves intermingle. MUDJUMPING can be seen on Sunday, June 19th, at 10am at Kopaszi Dam, where besides many family and children’s programs, the Bori Rutkai Band will also perform. At Szkéné, found at the University of Technology and Economics, visitors can watch a contemporary dance performance, titled “Keep in Touching”, with the cooperation of Viktória Dányi and Nelson Reguara Perez. Films about the Danube will also be screened, such as Fresh Meat on The Danube, presenting a selection of short films by the young talents of the countries that the Danube flows through.



Popular musical performers – such as the Austrian Dorian Concept Trio, Mius, and Vera Jónás – will hold great concerts. A “festival in the festival”, the Budapest A Cappella Festival will be organized at Várkert Bazaar, with special guest Mamadou Diabaté; performers with a single guitar will take over a bit of the Danube, and Marge will also step on stage at A38 on June 17th, at 9pm.



Literature will be represented on the Danube, as a Literature Boat will depart from Jászai Mari Square. Attila Bartis, György Dragomán, and Filip Florian will discuss effects and traditions concerning the river on board. There will also be Slam Poetry, titled Sodrásban (In the current), with Bohan Piasecki (PL), Tamás Gábor Indiana, Kristóf Horváth, Zsófi Kemény, István Pion, and Márton Simon, as well as the

Amoeba Band.



A group run and a wine-biking picnic will also entice everyone, providing a perfect occasion for meeting old and new friends while eating, drinking, and also contributing to a happier and friendlier city. In the organization of the Contemporary Architecture Center, the mood of summer camps will come to life at Népsziget, and they also organize a thematic walk on Saturday, from 10am. If you crave a more intensive form of exercise than walking, you can do yoga for free at Olimpia Park on June 17th at 10am.



Between June 16-19 you can build a boat with your friends and family. At the recently renovated Hullám Boat House, the Technica 1 boat-building workshop is organized, where you can all build all of your own unique boats, and at the end of the program launch them on the river and sail them home. There will be kettle cooking and a party at the same spot, too, where sleeping over is optional. Now we have the chance to use the Danube, so let’s do it right!

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