Christmas time in Budapest is all about fairy lights, mulled wine, outdoor ice rinks, illuminated avenues, and a wide variety of Christmas fairs. To help you navigate in the labyrinth of the heaps of urban winter fun provided by Hungary”s capital, we”ve collected a trio of must-dos and a duo of mustn”t dos.
Nothing compares to diving into the outdoor pool of Széchenyi Bath in a snowfall then relaxing in the pleasantly warm water while clouds of steam linger in the air. Since Széchenyi, which happens to be the largest thermal bath in Budapest, is open all year long, you can experience the characteristics of all four seasons while relaxing in soothing thermal water. You can also play chess with the regulars, get various medical treatments, sweat it out in the sauna, and even purchase healing water capable of improving your skeletal and respiratory systems, while also curing stomach and kidney problems. Széchenyi has something to offer for party people by giving home to the cooler-than-a-Slash-solo-on-the-North-Pole events of Cinetrip.
Although spotting Santa’s sleigh cruising above the Danube Promenade or around the seven towers of Fisherman’s Bastion might be out of the picture, you can still come across spectacles only seen in children’s books – such as the trams decorated with fairy lights. From 9 December 2012 until 6 January 2013, three tram lines – 2A, operating between Jászai Mari tér and Boráros tér, no.19, running between Batthyány tér and Kelenföldi Railway Station, and no. 47, connectingDeák Ferenc tér and Móricz Zsigmond körtér – will illuminate cold winter nights and will warm your heart like a mug of mulled wine warms your palms. Check out our article for the detailed departure schedule!
This year’s AT Xmas (Gift Terminal), the annual Christmas fair of Design Terminal, has three goals. First and foremost, it aims to popularize the works of Hungarian designers. Secondly, it tries to pull paserssby into the parallel reality of contemporary arts, this time around with Christmas goodies. And, last not least, it looks to serve as a peaceful nook where you can slow down and tune out the gift shopping pogo of Váci Street and downtown Budapest. Between 8 December 2012 and 23 December 2012, Design Terminal morphs into a spectacular winter time showroom, where a hundred Hungarian designers will exhibit their creations, and a one-of-a-kind selection of jewellery, pieces of furniture, clothes, articles for personal use, and children’s goodies will also be available. The latter category seems to be the spearhead of AT Xmas (Gift Terminal) with heaps of plush toys, fairy tale books, tiny stools usable as treasure chests, clothes, and other unique bric-a-bracs.
Mulled wine at Vörösmarty tér’s Christmas Fair
If you’ve had the fortune to scan through real estate advertisments, you surely are familiar with an overused term that goes “in the heart of the city”. Most of the time, it’s an exaggerating sales tool, but in the case of downtown Budapest’s Vörösmarty tér (Vörösmarty Square), it’s more than valid. Deák Ferenc téris just around the corner,Váci utca (Váci Street), the Danube Promenade, Gerbeaud Confectionery, and (Chain Bridge) are well within sight, and chic clubs such as Trafiq and are as close as Rudolph is to starring in a nasal spray TV spot. Vörösmarty Square’s Christmas Fair is characterized by wooden stands, mouth-watering scents, Hungarian dishes and spirits, a giant Advent crown, charity donations, a magical realm and a playhouse with arts and crafts for children, concerts every single day between 5 pm and 8 pm, and, of course, mulled wine. It’s all dandy and fine, but the fair is extremely overcrowded and a tad too touristy, so if you’re only hunting for a mug of mulled wine with a hint of holiday spirit, follow the lead of our article discussing the best sources of everyone’s favourite winter beverage.
(City Park) is the second biggest park in Budapest filled with promenaders, street footballers, skaters, dogs, toddlers, and ducks. It’s well within the vicinity of , , the , the , and . As for winter time fun, the Ice Rink, the recently renovated and modernized neighbour of Heroes’ Square, is something you shouldn’t miss out on. With a vast space of 12,000 square-meters, it’s the biggest outdoor ice rink in Europe sauced with an architecturally pleasing building and with a wonderful view on . Ice skating is not only good for your health, it’s also a not-so-dime-a-dozen way of socializing regardless of your skills, so you have no reason to worry even if you’re stumbling and fumbling like a puppy on freshly waxed parquet.