Approaching its 30th anniversary, the CAFe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival offers world-music picnics, radical dance shows and a demonstration of what can happen on stage when you combine Jean Cocteau with Philip Glass, one of several premieres. This multi-arts extravaganza, staged across Budapest, begins Friday, 9 October and runs until Sunday the 25th.
The left-field, eclectic answer to the more highbrow Budapest Spring Festival, CAFe Budapest – an acronym for Contemporary Arts FEstival – has long been showcasing a whole range of cultural performances and creations.
Non-mainstream music, dance and theatre are its strong points but by no means its limitations, with art and film also featured. Venues vary as much as the entertainment on offer.
Concessions have be made to the pandemic situation, of course – such as the lively Budapest Ritmo Piknik being moved outdoors – but this should not hinder anyone’s enjoyment of what’s on offer.
Budapest Ritmo Piknik
Over two days to start CAFe Budapest, 15 free concerts will be taking place at the Millenáris Park, on Rákóczi tér and Hunyadi tér, all part of Budapest Ritmo Picnic. The most exciting folk and world music performers on the Hungarian scene – including Mónika Lakatos and Mazsi Mihály Rostás, Sena Dagadu, Meszecsinka and Los Orangutanes – fill the agenda. And, thanks to the outdoor setting, safe distancing while you dance is a given.
These prime domestic exponents of various musical genres should attract cyclists, families and those just finishing their weekly shop at the market. If you’re doing home office, this is a chance for some fresh air with a little live music thrown in!
Hunyadi tér, Millenáris Park & Rákóczi tér
9 October from 5pm, 10 October 11am-8pm
Recirquel: Solus Amor
Under artistic director and company founder Bence Vági, Solus Amor is a monumental air dance performance in the pioneering language of cirque danse presented by Recirquel. A huge hit at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018, this acclaimed troupe marry new circus with classical and modern dance, showcased at a series of original productions of which this is the latest. Solus Amor evokes the energy that connects us all, spans time and space, draws its strength from the longing for nature and wonder.
Müpa, Festival Theatre
October 15-18, 7pm
Les Enfants Terribles
A special experience comes to us through the dance-opera Les Enfants Terribles, based on the Jean Cocteau trilogy, where singers and dancers take the stage to interpret his novel to the music of award-winning American minimalist composer Philip Glass. In the story, Paul and Lise are two children caught in a world of games in which they can no longer distinguish between fantasy and reality. The piece can also be seen as an imprint of Cocteau’s belief in the transcendent power of imagination and creativity.
Eiffel Műhelyház – Banffy Hall
16 October, 8pm
Manu Delago Ensemble
London-based Austrian musician Manu Delago has not only developed a unique sound but an instrument itself, a handpan, generating unearthly sounds with its percussive properties. His CV includes playing alongside such iconic artists as Björk, Ólafur Arnalds, the Cinematic Orchestra and Anoushka Shankar. In 2019, he showcased his latest album, Circadian, at the A38, and now he returns to Budapest’s favourite party boat to perform more songs from it with a group of incredible musicians around him.
21 October, 8pm
Gangaray Dance Company
This is the second part of the AGORA trilogy, in which music, space and the expressive power of movement take the viewer to new worlds. Free of narrative, József Hámor’s work evokes feeling through only the human form, and the diversity of the body. The centrepiece of AGORA II is the two-fold struggle between woman’s power and vulnerability, come to life through patristic physicality and dance.
National Dance Theatre – Large Hall
October 22, 7pm
Budapest Ritmo feat. WOMEX
What better way to end the festival than a gala concert by Mónika Lakatos, who will also collect her WOMEX 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award! The biggest name in world music, WOMEX is coming to Budapest for the second time this year. Although its events are largely virtual, they do involve live music. Lakatos was born into an Oláh Gypsy family in Budapest. As a singer, she has performed in many groups, including Romengo, based on the Gypsy tradition, and Gypsy Voices, which involves several family members. On her solo album, Romanimón, she sings heartbreakingly slow songs – the album hit the top 5 on the World Music charts Europe.
Müpa – Béla Bartók Concert Hall
October 24, 8pm