7 major Budapest venues offering cheap (or free) tickets
Photo : Krisztian Bodis/We Love Budapest
23/3/2015, 1:11 AM●4-minute article
From classic opera productions to experimental DJ sets, enjoy diverse entertainment for 1,000 forints or less at any of these hotspots across Hungary’s capital. True, such bargain-priced passes may be for the back row of the highest balcony, or to see as-yet-unknown performers, but when a stimulating show is less expensive than the price of a cocktail, audience members are almost certain to get more than their money’s worth – especially when entry costs nothing at all.
Once declared as the world’s best bar by Lonely Planet, this huge pleasure boat welcomes everyone with frequent events that don’t cost a cent, including live concerts by alternative Hungarian bands in the main hall or in the waterfront exhibition space. During warmer months, catch great gigs on the panoramic rooftop terrace for just a few hundred forints, and the ongoing “Random Trip” series presents unpredictable pairings of diversely prominent Magyar musicians every Tuesday night for only 800 forints per person.
Downtown Pest’s most central nightclub draws a huge number of people every evening to hang out in the surrounding park and enjoy the escaping sounds, but oftentimes it costs just a few coins to get inside this cavernous venue, where intriguing DJs and bands from near and far perform in the club’s Volt Music Bar for as little as 500 forints – and sometimes even for free. Meanwhile, main-hall acts can occasionally be seen for 1,000 forints if tickets are purchased in advance, but naturally, these shows sell out fast.
Globally renowned jazz geniuses play in this dimly lit den when visiting Budapest amid their European tours, and while those performances aren’t cheap, everyone is welcome to hear live bands jamming for free here every Monday and Wednesday at 10pm and every Friday and Saturday at 10:30pm, although seats within sight of the musicians can be scarce well before the show begins. What’s more, students can attend concerts by top Magyar jazz maestros with special discounts that often drop the price to 800 or 1,000 forints.
Diverse bands from Hungary and far beyond perform in a colorfully sleek setting amid this contemporary venue with excellent acoustics, showcasing musical styles that encompass everything from classical chamber orchestras to avant-garde jazz groups. Shows are held for free here quite often, especially in the facility’s funky Opus Jazz Club – but for these performances, it’s wise to book a table in advance; drinks are priced rather reasonably, so this is becoming a popular spot for lively nights out on a tight budget.
Considering that Budapest’s most beautiful venue is a historic opera institution adorned with innumerable artworks, it’s amazing that almost every performance can be attended for less than the price of a kebab – seats in the side sections of the upper balcony usually cost between 300 and 600 forints. Audience members in these areas can’t expect to enjoy the hall’s optimal acoustics or view of the stage, but just having the opportunity to see the venue’s incredible interior is well worth the pocket-change ticket price.
This freshly refurbished Art Nouveau masterpiece is Hungary’s top educational establishment for young Magyar musicians, and when the highly trained students are performing their “final exam” live on stage – including aspiring singers, pianists, and even conductors with full orchestras – members of the public are welcome to join the professors in the audience for no charge. Beyond the concerts, visitors can enjoy the building’s ornate mosaics, statues, and stained-glass windows, especially impressive in the Grand Hall.
Hungary’s leading performing-arts center is a modern architectural marvel that contains multiple venues, including the gigantic Béla Bartók National Concert Hall. Events and shows are frequently staged for free here – including the wide-ranging “Colour Concert” series presenting up-and-coming jazz, classical, and folk musicians – while many festivals and special occasions present opportunities to see high-caliber performances for 1,000 forints or less, like contemporary-circus shows and edgy modern-dance displays.