Hungary’s cities, towns and villages host many enticing events all year round. Joining celebrations of local customs, drinking at laid-back wine festivals and rocking out at loud music gatherings are all reason enough to head out to the countryside in 2018. This handy guide covers many of the major events to discover outside of Budapest this year, including links for more information on every one. All of the communities that are hosting these happenings can be reached from Budapest within two or three hours by car or public transport, making it easy to start exploring all the diverse attractions Hungary has to offer.
For detailed information about festivals and events happening throughout 2018 in Budapest, check this article.
St. Vincent Celebration 19-21 January, Pannonhalma
Medieval Pannonhalma Archabbey towers above undulating vineyards, where the annual St. Vincent Celebration draws oenophiles to cellars open for visitors to sample ecclesiastical wines and pálinka, Hungary’s traditional fruit-based brandy. In addition to tasty tipples, regional culinary delights are served at the underground chambers of the Benedictine abbey during the festival.
Winter Picnic in Etyek 20 January, Etyek
Found just 30 kilometers from Budapest, the Etyek wine region springs to life during seasonal picnic events, this rustic community filling with a bibulous crowd, coming here to drink fine reds and whites, and feast on Hungarian hams and spicy sausages. These gatherings are hosted alfresco and inside the cellars, while mulled wine, music and dance help to heat up the atmosphere.
From Cellar to Cellar – Day of St. Vincent 20 January, Villány and surrounding towns
Found some 200 kilometers south of Budapest, major wine-growing area of Villány invites oenophiles to join cellar-hopping tours in honor of St. Vincent, the patron saint of winemakers. This intoxicating day out concludes with grand dining events hosted at designated cellars.
Sausage Festival 2-4 February, Fonyód (Sports Center)
While Lake Balaton is generally not on the agenda for many travelers during the colder months, this waterside destination has ever-more events to offer outside its peak summer season. One is the Sausage Festival taking place in Fonyód on the southern shore. Join this carnivorous gathering to taste locally made bangers and mangalica-based dishes, made from a particular breed of domestic pig. The event also presents select wines from the Balaton region.
Meat-Jelly Carnival 2-4 February, Miskolc
The north-eastern Hungarian city of Miskolc celebrates cheerful Hungarians carnival traditions with a masquerade parade, folk-art market, family events and plenty of aspic dishes. Legendary Hungarian rock bands provide musical entertainment during the colorful cavalcade.
The Busó Festival of Mohács 8-13 February, Mohács
Spine-chilling characters don eerie masks and furry costumes to chase winter away with a raucous procession at the Busó Festival in Mohács, a highlight of Hungary’s carnival season. Visitors from all across the country and beyond flock to this southern Hungarian town to be part of this peculiar parade, listed as a UNESCO cultural heritage event.
Pork and Pálinka Festival 8-11 March, Szeged (Széchenyi Square)
A hungry gathering congregates on the central square of downtown Szeged for helpings of local pork dishes and potent pálinka spirits. To enjoy an authentic pig-slaughtering feast amid urban settings, make your way to this southern town on the Serbian border between March 8th and 11th, or visit Kecskemét two weekends later, or Székesfehérvár between April 13th and 15th, the next destinations for this roving event.
Pig Feast Days 15-17 March, Hajdúszoboszló (Szent István Park)
Hajdúszoboszló is a popular destination for tourists due to the abundance of thermal waters circulating under the city. While plenty of prime resorts were built to exploit this healing asset, this Hungarian settlement in eastern Hungary is dedicated to preserving country traditions with annual events such as this pig-slaughtering festival, turning the spotlight onto traditional local cuisine and drinks.
Lake Balaton Supermarathon 22-25 March, Siófok (start/finish: Hotel Magistern)
Thousands of runners take up the challenge to join this annual lakeside competition and run around Balaton, covering 196 kilometers during four days. The course follows bike paths and small roads over the long distance. The contest is open to both individual participants and relay teams.
27th Bohém Festival 23-25 March, Kecskemét (Cultural Center)
From ragtime opera to a boogie-woogie show to hot jazz and swing, a variety of genres brings good vibes to the heart of Hungary’s expansive Great Plain. Prominent international and local performers ensure exuberant entertainment over a long weekend, including the Bohém Ragtime Jazz Band, who share the stage with Ben Cummings from the UK.
Open Cellar Days 24 March, Hajós
Hungary’s winding Hajós wine region is dotted with authentic cellars that are closed to visitors for most of the year. During spring, the public is invited to these stone caverns for tasting fragrant Cserszegi Fűszeres, crimson Kadarka and aromatic Cabernet Sauvignon wines. This day-long event also presents traditional Hungarian eats.
Easter Festival in Hollókő March 30-April 2, Hollókő
This bucolic hillside community of old-fashioned homes backdrops the country’s most classic Easter celebrations, taking place in the historic World Heritage-listed village of Hollókő, found north of Budapest. Spanning the Easter weekend, the celebrations involve, poetry, traditional Palóc gastronomy characteristic of Hungary’s north-eastern region, folk-dance performances and plenty of splashing, a Magyar holiday tradition.
Easter Festival in Szentendre April 1-2, Skanzen Hungarian Open Air Museum
Found just north of Budapest in the town of Szentendre, a meticulously recreated Magyar village highlights Hungary’s old-time Easter customs. Cottages and settings lining the Skanzen Museum host folklore events such as egg-painting workshops, dance performances in traditional costume, and boys splashing girls with buckets of water.
Spring Picnic in Etyek 14-15 April, Etyek
At the onset of spring, the stone wine cellars of Etyek open their doors to welcome the public to enjoy decent reds and whites in a pastoral setting, a half-hour drive from Budapest. Local food, a handicraft fair, concerts and dances bring the atmosphere to life.
Tokaj Spring – Great Tokaj Wine Auction 21 April, Tokaj
Select labels by several of the region’s top producers go under the hammer, including an exclusive assortment of dry wines, golden Aszú, late-harvest libations and honey-sweet Essencia, all from the Tokaj wine region, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors to this busy auction are invited to wine tastings, gala dinners and discussions with connoisseurs.
Pálinka Festival 27-30 April, Gyula (Várkert)
A medieval castle in the south-east corner of Hungary transforms into modern-day festival grounds, where local pálinka producers from all over the country set up stalls to offer a wide array of the country’s intoxicating spirit.
Concours D’Elegance 4-6 May, Balatonfüred
The charming Tagore Promenade in Balatonfüred becomes a showcase over the course of a weekend for classic cars, all built before 1980. Vintage models of Mercedes, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, Citroën and other makes will be exhibited during the event.
ULTRABALATON 11-13 May, Balatonvilágos (Club Aliga)
A major jogging and cycling challenge is set up at spectacular Lake Balaton, where participants can choose their preferred speed and time. Numerous refreshment points are installed all along the route that covers 220 kilometers within three days.
St. Orbán’s Day Wine Feast 26-27 May, Hajós
Around St. Orbán’s Day, oenophiles head here to discover the vine-draped village of Hajós in southern Hungary for refreshing tours and celebrations centered around the region’s intoxicating tipples.
Harley-Davidson Open Road Fest 6-10 June, Alsóörs (Európa Camping)
Hungary’s biggest biker festival brings rip-roaring sounds to Alsóörs on Balaton’s north, where a freedom-seeking community congregates to celebrate its vagabond lifestyle. Concerts by international and local performers fill the five days, along with lakes of beer.
Fishing on Orfű 20-23 June, Orfű (Panorama Camping)
Various genres of Hungarian music feature on multiple stages at this alfresco extravaganza held amid unspoiled nature a short drive from the city of Pécs. This year’s performers have not been announced yet – check out the event website closer to the date to find out more.
VOLT Festival 26-30 June, Sopron
Depeche Mode, Iron Maiden, Limp Bizkit, Hurts and Rudimental are all among the names who will be taking the stage at the 2018 VOLT Festival, set in a forested campground in the hills above Sopron. Revelers at this buoyant bash can retreat to plenty of open-air pubs set up for the vibrant festival crowd.
Lavender Festival 29 June-1 July, Tihany
The Lake Balaton peninsula of Tihany is draped in purple for this fragrant festival highlighting lavender cultivation and processing. The main attraction of the event is the lavender harvest that anyone can join, while workshops introduce the plant’s various usages.
Balaton Cross-Swimming 30 June, Révfülöp
Swim the five-plus kilometers across Lake Balaton, from the northern shore at Révfülöp, all the way to Platán Beach in Balatonboglár to the south. Participants can plunge into the contest after registration and medical examination processes required to qualify for the competition.
Pentecost Pálinka Picnic date to be announced, Tihany (Visszhang Hill)
Tihany’s panoramic hilltop throngs with visitors gathered to taste some of Hungary’s special pálinka varieties and local gastronomic treats, all set before the scenic backdrop of Lake Balaton’s azure waters.
Summer Picnic in Etyek date to be announced, Etyek
The sun-kissed slopes of Etyek become a major meeting spot for oenophiles coming from Budapest and surrounding communities to enjoy this two-day outdoor gathering, with wine in the spotlight.
Szeged Open-Air Festival June-August, Szeged
The temporary summertime amphitheater on Szeged’s Dóm Square stages live theatrical performances, all set in front of the soaring backdrop of the city’s majestic dome. 2018 shows include Rigoletto in June, The Hunchback of Notre Dame in July and Sister Act in August.
Balaton Sound 4-8 July, Zamárdi
The southern shore of Lake Balaton is the place to be for electronica aficionados in early July, all happening on the sprawling lawns of a waterfront recreation area in Zamárdi. The 2018 edition of the five-day multi-stage beach party is headlined by stars such as The Chain Smokers, David Guetta, Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike and Jonas Blue.
Lakeside Rock & Roll and US Car Weekend 5-8 July, Agárd (Park Camping)
Old-school good-time music blasts out from the south shore of Balaton in early July, where local and international artists take the stage for a rock’n’roll jamboree. During the day, revelers lounge by the water and meander around classic American cars lined up here to jazz up the event.
Rock Marathon 9-14 July, Dunaújváros (Szalki-sziget)
Fans of punk, rock and metal music gather at the fairgrounds of Dunaújváros (80 kilometers from Budapest) to go bananas in the height of summer. Bands this year include Cannibal Corpse, Alestorm, Iced Earth, Powerwolf, Over Kill, with many other ground-shaking acts to be confirmed.
EFOTT 10-16 July, Velence
While the first names to perform at EFOTT 2018 are yet to be revealed, Hungary’s biggest student party once more conquers Lake Velence to provide lively daytime activities and cool concerts for an entire week – and all just 50 kilometers south-west of Budapest.
Bánkitó Festival 11-14 July, Bánki Lake
Enlightening cultural attractions, thought-provoking discussions and interactive theater shows make Bánkitó Festival a unique community gathering, where stimulating daytime activities turn into pulsating parties at night. Every year, the festival’s theme is centered around an important message, this year’s event running under the banner of The Future.
Veszprém Fest 11-15 July, Veszprém
The city’s Baroque-style castle building provides a statuesque backdrop for Veszprém Fest, featuring top performers in jazz, swing, pop and World Music styles. The celebration culminates in a wine festival, featuring Hungarian Riesling and rosé varieties.
Bull’s Blood Festival 12-15 July, Eger
This free festival in Eger gathers the region’s winemakers and their aromatic assortment of libations, while the city’s top restaurants offer flavorsome food to pair with them, including famed Hungarian Bull’s Blood. Local ensembles and DJs provide the entertainment on stage.
Fish-Soup Festival 12-15 July , Baja
Hundreds of fire-heated cauldrons are set up across the main square at the riverside city of Baja with chefs on a quest to compete for earning nationwide fame for the best fish soup. Those who are there to follow them in action can sample hot bowlfuls from the many cooking stations.
Badacsony Wine Weeks 13-29 July, Badacsony
Some of the country’s best wines come from the volcanic slopes on the northern shores of Balaton, where a two-week festival brings together the many varieties produced here. Folklore and music shows complete the event.
Babel Sound World Music Festival 16-22 July, Balatonboglár
A multi-disciplinary festival brings musical gems and thrilling theatrical performances to the lakeside getaway of Balatonboglár, a laidback event over several days where you can kick off your shoes and take in the golden sunsets.
Street-Music Festival 18-21 July, Veszprém
The cobblestoned lanes of historic Veszprém transform into a big festival venue, with inspirational musicians from multiple countries performing all over the city’s streets from morning till the late-night hours.
Campus Festival 18-22 July, Debrecen (Nagyerdő)
This woodland festival attracts local and international bands, comedians and actors to provide entertainment in the sylvan settings of Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city. The multi-day event also hosts movie screenings and gastronomy gatherings.
Solar United Natives Festival (S.U.N. Festival) 19-22 July, Bercel, Csobánkapuszta
Get closer to nature and join the sunlit celebration in the scenic green valley of the Cserhát Mountains located in northern Hungary. The festival features eclectic electronica tunes, inspiring workshops, organic food and numerous healing havens, all set amid a convivial atmosphere.
Valley of Arts 20-29 July, Kapolcs
Handicraft stalls pop up across the tiny settlement of Kapolcs north of Lake Balaton and surrounding villages, promoting Hungarian art, while private homes open their courtyards to host live music and traditional activities.
FEZEN 25-28 July, Székesfehérvár
A wide array of rock tunes are heard across Székesfehérvár – known as Hungary’s City of Kings, 65 kilometers south-west of Budapest – during this rowdy revelry.
Blue Ribbon Sailing Competition 26-28 July, Balatonfüred
Hundreds of boats participate every year at this long-established regatta, known as one of the oldest round-the-lake sailing competitions in Europe. Kicking off at the harbor of Balatonfüred, the fleet covers a 160-kilometer distance through Balatonkenese, Tihany and Keszthely before sailing back to the starting line.
Ozora Festival 30 July-5 August, Ozora, Dádpuszta
About 130 kilometers south-west of Budapest, Ozora stages a psychedelic tribal gathering, inviting festivalgoers to form free-flowing dance formations in a valley of peace and serenity.
Ördögkatlan Festival 31 July-4 August, multiple locations in Baranya County
With a ten-year history of providing intellectual entertainment with theater, music, literature and fine-art events, the show still goes on for the Ördögkatlan Festival, a multi-cultural event spanning four small villages in the southern county of Baranya.
Jazz Capital 2-5 August, Kecskemét
A recent addition to Hungary’s colourful festival scene invites jazz aficionados to spend balmy summer days and nights in Kecskemét, a charming town located on Hungary’s Great Plain. This four-day multi-stage spectacular is considered one of Europe’s biggest outdoor jazz festivals, presenting renowned international and local acts, all set around the city’s lakeside location.
Samsara Festival Europe 6-12 August, Siófok (Töreki Wood)
In August, the world’s contemporary tribes relocate to Siófok’s forested fields to practise psychedelic yoga during the day and to connect with each other to thrilling trance tunes during the night. Plenty of meditation and guided healing sessions set this international fiesta apart.
Balatonfüred Wine Weeks 10 August-2 September, Balatonfüred
For several weeks, some of the best wines from the surrounding terroirs are available for tasting along the Tagore Promenade in Balatonfüred, prompting visitors from near and far to stroll along this elegant lakeside walkway with a glass of fine red in hand.
Summerfest International Folklore Festival 12-22 August, Százhalombatta, Ráckeve, Tököl
Participants from multiple countries and continents gather in the small towns of Százhalombatta, Tököl and Ráckeve – just a short journey from the Hungarian capital – to create an international atmosphere while entertaining visitors for ten days with folk dance, World Music concerts, local gastronomic specialties and much more. The festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
International Folk-Dance Festival 17-20 August, Mohács
Mohács transforms into a gargantuan dance floor, where talented troupes whirl and twirl over four days. Besides Hungarian exponents of folk dance, lively formations come from abroad to showcase their traditional techniques. In the evenings, open dance instructions invite everyone to join in the fun.
Flower Carnival August 20, Debrecen
Every August 20th, Debrecen marks Hungary’s founding king St. Stephen with a national celebration and a fragrant flower festival that festoons the city’s historic surroundings with vibrant colors.
STRAND Festival 22-25 August, Zamárdi
Robin Schulz and British DJ Sigala are among the many music masters who come to turn Lake Balaton upside down by spinning tunes at the STRAND Festival, running concurrently with the nearby B my Lake event (see below).
B my Lake 22-26 August, Keszthely
About 100 DJs play in front of sweeping vistas on the southern shore of Lake Balaton, where swimsuit-clad party people gather to let loose to electronica sounds.
SZIN 22-26 August, Szeged
Organized for the young generation in mind, this riverside gig in Szeged hosts mostly Hungarian bands. Headliners in 2018 include modern-day exponent of Magyar folk music Csík Zenekar, locally based Irish punk rock band Paddy and the Rats, and Paso, who fuse Jamaican-style reggae with jazz and Hungarian folk tunes.
Autumn Picnic in Etyek 1-2 September, Etyek
Around the Hungarian harvest season, Etyek hosts its last picnic of the year with open cellars attracting people from Budapest and beyond to experience a real village-style ceremony while enjoying a weekend with flowing wines and delicious dishes.
Paprika Festival 14-15 September, Kalocsa
This piquant festival adds spice to life in Kalocsa, a city of crimson paprika and finely embroidered folk art 130 kilometers south of Budapest. Paprika-infused meals, local farmers’ fairs, and glassfuls of wine and pálinka ensure a hearty day out.
Bio Food and Wine Festival 14-16 September, Hajdúszoboszló
Besides diving into rejuvenating thermal waters, visitors to Hajdúszoboszló can taste all things organic during the Bio Food and Wine Festival, which proffers nourishing natural foodstuffs from vegetarian dishes to meaty treats and wines.
Jameson CineFest International Film Festival 14-23 September, Miskolc
Movie screenings, including exclusive premieres, roundtable discussions and lively parties lure film fanatics to the historic city of Miskolc in north-eastern Hungary.
Romantic Reform Era 20-23 September, Balatonfüred
The spirit of the 19th century is evoked through period costumes, applied art forms and traditional dishes of the era, all coming together as a heritage parade on the north shore of Lake Balaton.
Pumpkin Festival 28-30 September, Őrség region (Őriszentpéter, Szalafő, Magyarszombatfa, Nagyrákos)
Pumpkins are an important element of the country’s Őrség region, a heritage settlement of traditional homes, located in the west of Hungary near the Austrian and Slovenian borders, about a three-hour drive from Budapest. An annual festival has been dedicated to this autumn staple, visitors able to sample all that can be made from this colorful favorite. A cheerful jack-o’-lantern parade adds to the fun.
Harvest Festival of Tokaj 5-7 October, Tokaj
The hills of Hungary’s acclaimed Tokaj wine region are crisscrossed with premier vineyards which have been cultivated for centuries. The home of sweet Aszú celebrates autumn with a harvest procession, cooking competitions, stage shows, barrels of local wines and gastronomic delights, all centered along the city’s main square and inside its cellars.
Day of Cabbage Meals 6 October, Demjén
Cabbage-based dishes are served across this delightful event in Demjén, a small town located a short drive from the city of Eger, home of the famous Bull’s Blood wine.
Festival of the Goose and New Wine 10-11 November, Szentendre (Skanzen Hungarian Open Air Museum)
Providing an authentic backdrop for honouring local traditions, Szentendre’s recreated hamlet of village-style homes hosts St. Martin’s Day festivities with a whirlwind of hootenanny. During the event, goose dishes are served in abundance.
St. Martin’s Day Feast 11 November, Egerszalók
Just a short ride out of Eger, you can enjoy a day feasting on hearty goose dishes and imbibing aromatic wines during this celebration honoring St. Martin of Tours, one of Hungary’s patron saints and associated with geese.
Wild Geese Festival 24 November, Tata
Admire an unparalleled phenomenon of bird migration on the shores of Öreg Lake in Tata, located about 70 kilometers west from Budapest.
Advent Festivals and Christmas Fairs through December, multiple locations
Through December, the festive spirit shines in many of Hungary’s major cities and smaller communities, all providing sparkling addition to the country’s Yuletide atmosphere. Jolly Christmas fairs enhance Szeged, Debrecen, Győr, Pécs, Esztergom, Gödöllő, Szentendre and many other towns nationwide.