There’s always something happening in Budapest. The city hosts a vibrant mix of events year-round, including top music festivals, flavoursome food fairs, inspiring art shows, sporting activities and celebratory national holidays. We’ve packed this guide with the most popular attractions taking place in Hungary’s capital during 2019, so you’ll know where the cool crowd congregates.
Winterfest Beer Festival 18-19 January, Duna Palota (District V. Zrínyi utca 5)
Ale aficionados will be gathering for a two-day celebration of beer at this event showcasing local and international brews. Gastronomic delights, workshops and concerts also feature. Open: Friday 18th 4pm-1am, Saturday 19th noon-1am. Buy your ticket in advance here.
Ennio Morricone 23 January, Papp László Sportaréna
Arguably the world’s most influential creator of cinema scores – The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West – celebrates his 90th birthday by presenting his music in person to audiences in Moscow, Dublin, Oslo and… Budapest. How does he do it?
Wedding Fair and Exhibition 26-27 January, Papp László Sportaréna
For those who want to tie the knot in Budapest, the annual Wedding Exhibition provides the perfect opportunity to plan the occasion. Creative wedding cakes, stunning gowns, party decorations, flowers, alongside trendy make-up and hair-styling, will all be on show.
Budapest International Documentary Festival 29 January-3 February, Cinema City Aréna
Creative documentaries from around the world, including Hungarian film Ghetto Balboa, screen over several days, each presenting diverse topics to the audience. Most features show with English or Hungarian subtitles.
Grand Chinese New Year Concert 31 January, Palace of Arts
Classical musical traditions of the East meet those of the West at this annual concert taking place at the Palace of Arts (Müpa), Budapest’s contemporary cultural centre. To set the lucky tone for the year of the pig, the Suzhou Chinese Orchestra play Asian instruments during their performance.
Tom Odell 8 February, Barba Negra Music Klub
Discovered by Lily Allen, this Ivor Novello-winning pianist-singer-songwriter has been compared to Elton John and Coldplay. Latest platter Jubilee Road will be showcased, alongside hits such as Another Love and Real Love.
Mangalica Festival 8-10 February, Szabadság tér
Every year, a carnivorous crowd gathers in celebration of a particular Hungarian breed of domestic pig, mangalica. Savour countryside flavours, including sausages and hot dishes created from mangalica meat, then wash down the hefty fare with Hungarian wines and pálinka spirits.
Indoor Beer Festival 15-17 February, Gellért Hotel
Showcasing more than 100 kinds of local and international craft beers, this festival at Budapest’s legendary waterfront hotel allows guests to help themselves to unlimited tasting from 4pm on the Friday and Saturday, and noon on the Sunday. Head chef Gábor Müntz prepares the dishes to accompany the ales.
Budapest Fish Festival 16-17 February, ELTE Lágymányosi Campus
For fine piscine cuisine, concocted from creatures caught in Hungarian lakes and rivers, head to the Buda side of Petőfi Bridge for the 2019 edition of the Budapest Fish Festival. International dishes complement local favourites, all served in heated tents.
Neneh Cherry 25 February, A38
Everyone’s favourite singer-rapper from the early 1990s revived her career with the much-lauded and jazzier The Cherry Thing and now treads the boards with the Four-Tet produced trip-hop release Broken Politics.
Nicki Minaj, Juice WRLD 25 February, Papp László Sportaréna
The controversial Grammy-nominated rapper takes new album Queen on the road, teaming up with Juice WRLD whose Goodbye & Good Riddance debut went gold, in an unmissable double-header.
Budapest Photo Festival 28 February-20 April, multiple locations
An exhibition by cult American filmmaker David Lynch opens the Budapest Photo Festival, embracing the contemporary and classic pictorial heritage of Hungary and the international photography scene.
Budapest Architecture Film Days, 7-10 March, Toldi Cinema
Organised every year by the Hungarian Contemporary Architecture Center, this motion-picture event presents and examines the correlation between the movie industry and architecture. Last year, Film Days highlighted one of Budapest’s key challenges, its housing crisis – the main theme and agenda of the 2019 festival are yet to be announced.
International Women’s Day 8 March, honoured nationally
On 8 March, with the coming of spring, Budapest is in bloom as men express gratitude for the ladies in their lives by giving them beautiful bouquets and delightful gifts in honour of International Women’s Day. While this global celebration draws attention to the paramount role of women worldwide, for historical reasons, here in Hungary it is observed with remarkable enthusiasm.
Public Holiday – observance of the 1848 Hungarian Revolution 15 March, honoured nationally
On the occasion of this national holiday, historic Budapest sites welcome the public to honour Hungary’s 1848 Revolution against its Austrian overlords. The ceremony includes political speeches, military processions, free tours around the Hungarian Parliament and complimentary entrance to many museums.
St Patrick’s Day Parade 17 March, Szabadság tér
Anyone is free to join the crowd of Irish revellers marching through central Budapest locations wearing green and drinking Guinness to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, held on or close to 17 March. The joyful jamboree invariably concludes in a pub, where the party goes on until the wee hours.
Hungarian Dance House Festival and Fair 5-7 April, Papp László Sportaréna
Musicians and dancers from the Carpathian Basin whirl and twirl on stage at one of Hungary’s biggest dance house festivals, featuring diverse performances. Visitors can also join workshops and browse the traditional folk-art merchandise.
Budapest Spring Fair 5-28 April, Vörösmarty tér
Local artisans offer hundreds of handcrafted Magyar products at stalls set up on focal Vörösmarty tér, which also hosts modern folk-art displays and an open-air kitchen offering Hungarian flavours.
Budapest Art Week 9-14 April, multiple locations
A special wristband grants access to many of the city’s museums and art galleries, featuring some 100 exhibitions and cool cultural events for Budapest Art Week. Meet the artists, join gallery tours and see newly installed displays over this enlightening series spanning six days.
BANFF Mountain Film Festival 10-12 April, Corvin Cinema
Some of the most exciting adrenaline-fuelled adventures play on-screen during the Budapest leg of the annual BANFF Mountain Film Festival. The show features documentaries of daredevils conquering the world’s highest rock formations, fast-flowing rivers and snow-capped mountains.
Hyperspace Electronic Music Festival 13 April, Hungexpo Budapest Fair Center
For this one night, the Hungexpo site is transformed into a giant club, where globally renowned DJs spin dance tunes and revellers let loose on the dance floor amid imaginative visuals. This year’s line-up will be announced closer to the date.
34th Telekom Vivicittà Spring Half Marathon 13-14 April, Margaret Island
Margaret Island is the starting line for this two-day jogging event, calling on runners to challenge themselves over diverse distances, including the ten-kilometre Vivicittà and the 21-kilometre half marathon, both taking place on the Sunday. On the Saturday, you can sign up to join less onerous races.
Rhoda Scott 14 April, Papp László Sportaréna
This Paris-based jazz organist returns to Budapest with the Lady Quartet for a concert to celebrate her 80th birthday.
International Book Festival Budapest 25-28 April, Millenáris Park
Every April, renowned writers from around the world gather at the Millenáris Park in Buda to celebrate literature, and present bestsellers and recently published editions to book lovers. Roundtable discussions, concerts and book-signing sessions all feature at the event. Prominent Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård, known for autobiographical novels My Struggle, appears as guest of honour at the 2019 festival.
Promoting cycling in town, popular mass-cycling event I Bike Budapest prompts thousands to hop on a two-wheeler and pedal through the city centre with a like-minded crowd. For the event, roads covered by the itinerary are closed to car traffic.
Food Truck Show Budapest 3-5 May, Kincsem Park
Budapest’s food trucks are on a roll and this alfresco attraction gathers the best of them at the Kincsem Park racecourse. Come here to feast on juicy burgers, succulent sausages, zesty barbecue treats and all kinds of innovative handheld delights. Given the location, traditional horse and greyhound racing also feature.
Budapest100 4-5 May, multiple locations
Over the weekend, Budapest’s historic buildings are open to anyone who would like to take a tour inside for a closer view of their distinctive architecture and design. This year, Budapest100 unveils lesser-known details of the city’s Bauhaus buildings, constructed according to the architectural style founded in Germany 100 years ago.
Gourmet Festival 16-19 May, Millenáris Park
The Gourmet Festival is an annual alfresco extravaganza, celebrating prime food created by top restaurants in Hungary and beyond. This deluxe picnic event will also feature fine-quality meat, creative sweets by renowned confectioners and top wines.
Total Dance Festival Cabrio 18 May, Budapest Park
Vengaboys, Dr Alban and Cascada are among the most prominent acts headlining the 2019 Total Dance Festival, a yearly showcase for revered formations to perform old tunes. This year, the event is focused on bands from the 1990s and the early 2000s.
Budapest Beer Week 20-26 May, multiple locations
While the main events around this hop-fuelled festival will take place between 24-26 May, beer aficionados can expect tap takeovers, meet-the-brewer events and live music shows for a whole week at multiple hangouts citywide.
Muse 28 May, Papp László Sportaréna
Winners of multiple music awards, including two Grammys, British rock icons Muse touch down in Budapest as part their Simulation Theory world tour. The performers of Supermassive Black Hole and Uprising remain the same essential three-piece as the one that started out back in 1994.
Brain Bar Budapest 30-31 May, Corvinus University of Budapest
Are we getting addicted to information? Will our diet destroy the planet? Will dinosaurs roam the Earth again? Brain Bar 2019 will investigate the answers to all of these questions, and more. Speakers at this future-focused festival includes accomplished marketing guru Frank Cooper, palaeontologist and Jurassic Park advisor Jack Horner, and Sherin Khankan, one of Europe’s first female imams.
Rosalia – Rosé and Champagne Festival 31 May-2 June, Városliget (City Park)
Linger around the sprawling City Park and sip refreshing rosé wines, sparkling tipples and fizzy champagnes during the annual Rosalia Festival. Diverse street-food treats accompany the intoxicating drinks, with live tunes to jazz up the scene.
Night of Art Cinemas, date and location to be announced
You just need to secure a wristband to gain access to several Budapest art cinemas for this one night, screening comedy, drama and sci-fi, animation and much more until sunrise. Many of the movies play in original language with Hungarian or English subtitles. More information about this year’s event and agenda will appear closer to the date.
Children’s Island 1-23 June, Óbuda Island
Budapest’s Óbuda Island turns into a grand open-air playground for kids on June weekends between 10am and 6pm. In previous years, attractions have included a mini-motorcycle course, trampolines, video games, a climbing wall, sports activities and playful music performances.
Budapest Summer Festival 7 June-23 August, multiple locations
From a Puccini opera to a Georgian ballet show, diverse live acts brighten the summer days around the city’s parks, including Margaret Island and Városmajor.
Danube Carnival, 8-16 June, multiple locations
This annual multicultural festival presents folk, symphonic and World Music shows, alongside contemporary and traditional dance performances. Expect 1,000 or so performers from Hungary and beyond, creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Slayer 11 June, Papp László Sportaréna
Thrash metal legends Slayer have recently announced their farewell world tour after nearly 40 years in the business. Twice Grammy winners, the Californian band have released 12 studio albums and embarked on 37 tours. Now, after four decades, they are hanging up their plectrums.
Kolorádó Festival 19-22 June, Adyliget, Nagykovácsi
A forested area on the outskirts of Budapest hosts a four-day open-air jamboree, the Kolorádó Festival, an up-and-coming musical extravaganza with a strong line-up of local and international acts. Come here to chill by day, get your groove on to pulsating dance tunes by night, before retreating to your tent under starry skies – and repeat.
Night of the Museums 22 June, multiple locations
Most of Budapest’s exhibition venues can be visited until late at night by anyone holding the all-inclusive wristband. Besides perusing permanent and temporary museum displays, culture aficionados can join the special cultural activities set up for the occasion across participating locations.
Tom Jones 22 June, Papp László Sportaréna
The prolific career of this living legend spans diverse eras and genres, including pop, R&B, dance and gospel. The voice responsible for It’s Not Unusual, Delilah and Sex Bomb should wow Budapest again this summer.
Backstreet Boys 25 June, Papp László Sportaréna
Following their new album release DNA on 25 January, top boy band of the ’90s land in Budapest as part of their world tour. Besides tunes from the new record, the group’s biggest hits are sure to get an airing.
Sting 2 July, Papp László Sportaréna
The former Police frontman brings his My Songs tour to Budapest, where he will be taking the stage with his own band. From Englishman In New York to Every Breath You Take, the set should include Sting’s biggest hits.
Thirty Seconds To Mars 23 July, Budapest Park
American band Thirty Seconds to Mars experimented with numerous genres on their five LPs from progressive rock through indie to electronica. The group led by the Leto brothers, Jared and Shannon, have gained a huge audience thanks to their philosophical lyrics and dark yet catchy tunes. They now play Budapest Park in the height of summer.
Vajdahunyad Castle Summer Music Festival date to be announced, Vajdahunyad Castle
The fairy-tale castle in the City Park serves as an enchanting backdrop for this month-long music festival, presenting symphonic concerts, Gypsy music, jazz performance and much more.
Picnic on Liberty Bridge date to be announced, Liberty Bridge
Last year, Liberty Bridge was closed to car traffic over four consecutive weekends to become the city’s post panoramic picnic spot. This historic crossing hosted concerts by local bands, flamenco, salsa, Zumba, yoga, even impromptu events. Hopefully the good vibes return to the bridge again this year.
Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix 2-4 August, Hungaroring
The world’s top drivers zoom into Hungary for Budapest’s biggest sports event, held every summer at the Hungaroring racetrack. Since 1986, this rip-roaring race has been a unique stop on the global F1 circus, its course occasionally producing unpredictable results.
Sziget Festival 7-13 August, Óbuda Island
One of Europe’s biggest summer extravaganzas draws thousands of revellers to the Hungarian capital to spread good vibes accompanied by a cornucopia of live music and any number of attractions alongside, all taking place on an island north of Budapest. Headliners for 2019 include Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Twenty One Pilots, Florence and the Machine, and The 1975.
Festival of Folk Arts 17-20 August, Buda Castle
Numerous wooden stalls offer Hungarian handicrafts around cobblestoned Buda Castle at the country’s most scenic festival of folk arts. Come here to find unique fashion accessories, wooden toys, ornate pottery, fine fabrics and handcrafted furniture. Visitors can also learn how some of this local merchandise is made.
Public Holiday – observance of Saint Stephen’s Day and the Foundation of Hungary 20 August, honoured nationally
Colourful fireworks create a cascade of sparkle above the Danube as Hungary honours its founding king St Stephen with a spectacular national holiday. In Budapest, military processions, open-air concerts, handicraft fairs, the cutting ceremony of Hungary’s birthday cake and free museum entry accompany the fiesta. Learn more about St Stephen here.
Budapest Urban Games 31 August, multiple locations
Bringing sports competitions to public places around the city, this one-day event features one particular main attraction every year, the Danube cross-swimming contest. For this competition, brave bathers plunge into the river on the Pest side and battle the currents all the way to the opposite bank on the Buda side. Last year, a running contest, five-a-side football and streetball championships also featured.
Budapest Short International Film Festival, date and location to be announced
Designed to introduce talented young filmmakers working in the audiovisual field in Eastern and Central Europe, the annual BuSho Festival shows select short movies in original language with English subtitles. In addition to film screenings, thematic workshops engage festival guests.
Dunapest Festival, date and location to be announced
Budapest bids farewell to the summer months as major riverside landmarks host jazz, pop and rock ’n’ roll for the Dunapest Festival that also features theatre, literature, even gastronomy. Among the locations are landmark cultural institutions and hip hangouts.
Jewish Cultural Festival 1-8 September, multiple locations
Concerts, theatre shows and cabaret performances highlight Jewish culture and traditions at this annual festival. Events organised by and for Budapest’s Jewish community take place across prominent locations, including the impressive Great Synagogue on Dohány utca.
Budapest Wine Festival 5-8 September, Buda Castle
Tour Hungary’s wine regions without leaving the city limits of Budapest, sampling excellent varieties from an impressive assortment of labels at this scenic wine festival at Buda Castle. Local culinary treats served on-site pair well with intoxicating reds, whites and rosés.
34th Wizz Air Budapest Half Marathon 8 September, Városliget (City Park)
Central Budapest lanes are cleared of car traffic to give way to thousands of athletes running along Andrássy út, the Chain Bridge and the Danube bank during the biggest half marathon event in Central Europe. Tackle the 21-kilometre distance individually or with your friends in a team of two or three.
National Gallop 13-15 September, Heroes’ Square
Hungary’s young jockeys gallop around Heroes’ Square, transformed into a one-of-a-kind racecourse for the weekend. Horses and riders zoom around the iconic Budapest monument to compete for the grand prize and national glory.
34th Spar Budapest Marathon 28-29 September, Heroes’ Square
Runners pass the city’s iconic sites, including Heroes’ Square and Andrássy út, on their way to the finish line during this two-day athletic event, distances ranging from 400 metres to 42 kilometres.
Sweet Days Chocolate and Sweets Festival date to be announced, Szent István tér
Indulge in creamy chocolates, scrumptious cakes and refreshing ice creams at this high-carb outdoor gathering. Music, food and wine balance out the sugary treats.
Oktoberfest Budapest date to be announced, Kincsem Park
The world’s biggest beer festival comes to Budapest, where ale aficionados can get a taste of the atmosphere of Bavaria’s alcohol-fuelled fiesta.
Budapest Food Truck Show date to be announced, Kincsem Park
The second leg of this biannual Budapest attraction takes place every September, when dozens of food trucks make a stopover at the Kincsem Park racecourse. The event is also a competition to earn the title of the most creative kitchen.
Art Market Budapest 3-6 October, Millenáris Cultural Center
Set up across a maze of viewing spaces, a vast collection of contemporary paintings, sculptures, installations and photos entices art aficionados to browse, buy or just view pieces displayed by prominent local and international galleries.
Pig Slaughter and Sausage Festival 11-13 October, Hungarian Railway History Park
This peculiar Hungarian countryside tradition encourages a carnivorous urban crowd to make a pilgrimage to District XIV. While observing the tradition of pig-slaughtering, festival visitors can sample many varieties of pork-based dishes, including sausages and smoked hams. Varieties of Hungarian fruit spirit pálinka should help digest hefty meals.
Titanic International Film Festival 21-27 October, multiple locations
Balancing arthouse and mainstream, this annual festival presents select motion pictures that are not distributed in Hungary or will not be available in the country for a fair while. The films screen with original audio and in most cases Hungarian subtitles.
Public Holiday – observance of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 23 October, honoured nationally
Every October 23rd, historic Budapest sites welcome the public with events to honour the heroic insurrection by Hungarians against the oppressive Soviet regime in 1956. From a solemn flag-raising ceremony on Kossuth tér to free tours around Parliament, as well as complimentary entry to museums, diverse attractions evoke Hungarian history. See here for a chronicle of the revolution.
Eros Ramazzotti 24 October, Papp László Sportaréna
To promote his latest album of the same title, the Vita Ce N’é tour takes Italian pop star Eros Ramazzotti around the world in 2019. Known for his romantic duets with the likes of Tina Turner, Anastacia and Nicole Scherzinger, the singer of Un’emozione per sempre hits the Budapest stage in October.
Budapest Design Week, date and location to be announced
Budapest Design Week transforms Hungary’s capital into a massive showcase for modern fashion, furniture and art with numerous venues hosting a mix of events, workshops, exhibitions and creative gatherings.
CAFe Budapest Contemporary Arts Festival, date and location to be announced
From classical to pop music, and from opera to contemporary-circus shows, invigorating art performances pop up at various locations citywide. In addition to the on-stage attractions, visual art exhibitions complete the agenda.
Chimney Cake Festival, date and location to be announced
While the Hungarian kürtőskalács (chimney cake) has been enjoying a creative renaissance in recent years, this annual fair aims to bring traditional versions back into the limelight. The Chimney Cake Festival presents and preserves age-old baking and preparation methods of this cylindrical treat. Those who head here can look forward to enjoying the real deal.
All Saints’ Day, 1 November, honoured nationally
On 1 November, Hungarian families pay a visit to the cemeteries where their loved ones are buried to adorn their gravesites with flowers and commemorative candles. As darkness descends upon the day, these gardens of remembrance fill with candlelight and solemnity all over the country. More about All Saints’ Day here.
St Martin’s Day Festival 11 November, countrywide
Every November 11th, Hungarians raise a glass to St Martin of Tours, one of the country’s patron saints. Celebrations include sampling gourmet goose dishes and sipping new wine at festivals and restaurants nationwide. See this article for more details.
Verzio International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival, date and location to be announced
Selective documentaries highlight war crimes, political oppression, press freedom, racism and sexual diversity alongside other human-rights issues at this thought-provoking film event. The best example in the genre is presented with an award. Verzio is a bilingual event with Hungarian and English translations.
Budapest Jewish Film Festival, date and location to be announced
A selection of recent motion pictures from around the world screens across multiple Budapest art-house cinemas to showcase contemporary Jewish culture and heritage.
Reel Rock Film Tour date to be announced, Corvin Cinema
Known for their heroic acts on the most impossible mountain sides, legendary names from the world of climbing are presented on the big screen in Budapest. The annual Reel Rock Film Tour for mountaineering movies highlights arduous ascents before some of the most breathtaking backdrops on Earth.
Mikulás 6 December, countrywide
On 6 December, Santa Claus pays an early visit to Budapest to deliver presents to Hungarian children, who shine their boots the night before and place one on the windowsill in the hope that they’ll awaken to find it filled with sweets and chocolates courtesy of Santa himself, Mikulás. Several Budapest events accompany Santa Claus Day, and usually the Finnish Joulupukki appears from Lapland. Learn about Hungary’s customary Yuletide rituals here.
Christmas markets throughout December, multiple dates and locations
As the merriest season of the year approaches, main squares are dressed in festive lights and vendors set up stalls to offer Hungarian handmade items, warm wintertime drinks and local dishes at the city’s Yuletide bazaars. Go to see Budapest’s biggest holiday-season fair at Vörösmarty tér or watch special light shows projected onto the façade of St Stephen’s Basilica at the Advent Feast on Szent István tér.
Santa Speedo Run date to be announced, Gozsdu Udvar
Every December, an intrepid team of underdressed Santas take the streets to run along central streets wearing a swimsuit, sneakers, a Santa hat and little else. This surreal jog usually ends at the Széchenyi Baths, where runners melt away their aches and pains. Participation is subject to an entry fee, but all revenues benefit Hungarian charities and children in need.
Ice skating, throughout December, multiple dates and locations
Several ice rinks entice skaters for scenic glides citywide. Considered one of Europe’s most magical, the one in City Park backdropped by fabled Vajdahunyad Castle is the biggest in town. Several Christmas markets also set up ice rinks for the holiday season.
New Year’s Eve celebrations, multiple locations
Considered one of the world’s best cities for celebrating New Year’s Eve, Budapest pulls out all the stops on the last night of the year. From wild parties to grand gala dinners and sparkling public gatherings, merrymaking breaks out citywide. See here for Hungary’s historic New Year’s traditions.