On July 14th, a gala on the Danube opens the FINA World Championships in Budapest, with a spectacular ceremony happening on an enormous floating stage installed near the Chain Bridge. After fireworks light up the sky over the city, urban dwellers can dive into exciting competitions and events across Hungary’s capital through July 30th, when a closing ceremony concludes the main water-sports extravaganza – but anyone in Budapest next month can plunge into other aquatic attractions for the FINA Masters tournaments during August 7-20th. We present key FINA events citywide, and how to join them.
Spectators can follow this grand extravaganza from Pest’s Danube bank, while the event will be broadcast live on multiple screens citywide, and the fascinating fiesta concludes with a blasting fireworks show; an entry ticket is not required to attend the ceremony. The illuminated scenes can be best enjoyed from the Danube banks on both sides of town and from the Elizabeth Bridge, while these temporary viewing places will be closed to traffic to accommodate the audience.
Read more information about the opening ceremony on the official FINA website.
Competition venues and events
A newly built swimming complex will be inaugurated for the FINA World Championships as the main venue for the tournament, with diving contests scheduled for July 14-22, and swimming competitions of various styles happening during July 23-30 here. Construction works on this contemporary District XIII sports stadium were finished during spring, and the building now awaits visitors near the Árpád Bridge with two Olympic-size pools and spacious stands that accommodate 15,000 spectators at once. Even though the location might seem out of the way from downtown Budapest, it’s easily accessible by taking the M3 metro line to the Forgách Street stop, from which point the pool complex entrance is a ten-minute walk away.
Located on the city’s sprawling Margaret Island parkland, one of Budapest’s key water-sports arenas and public pool complexes is named after its architect Alfréd Hajós, who was also a Hungarian champion of the first modern Olympics in Athens, earning gold medals in both the 100-meter freestyle and 1,200-meter freestyle competition during the 1896 games. Boasting both covered and open-air facilities, this primary venue for the 2017 FINA Championships is home to the water polo competitions scheduled during July 16-29 – visitors can reach the facilities by taking tram line 4-6 and getting off at the streetcar’s Margaret Island stop, from which point a ten-minute walk takes us to the building.
Watch aquatic athletes perform stupendous aerial stunts in front of scenic landmarks by Buda’s Batthyány Square, where a temporary riverside pool serves as a plunge site during the high diving competitions happening during July 28-30. During the contest, sports aficionados are rewarded not only with artfully completed plunges from up to 27 meters high, but also with sublime views over Parliament and immerse into far-reaching Danube scenery. The M2 metro line offers a direct transfer to Batthyány Square during the championships.
Pest’s expansive City Park – a main venue for Hungary’s 1896 millennial celebrations, a huge jamboree to commemorate the thousandth anniversary of the Magyars’ arrival in Hungary – will be transformed into a competition site for synchronized swimmers, where a pair of temporary pools are built atop Városliget Lake, found just a short walk away from Budapest’s historic Heroes’ Square. From free solo to technical team contests, swimming competitions of varied styles are happening here from July 14th through July 22nd, and visitors can access the site in a unique manner by taking the M1 metro line – the continent’s oldest underground, built for the Millennial Jubilee – to either the Hősök tere or Széchenyi fürdő stops.
An ideal location for open water swimmers, Lake Balaton is a well-tested venue for major aquatic events. The course is located by Balatonfüred’s main promenade, which offers a brilliant view of the race and the Tihany peninsula. Lake Balaton, Central Europe’s largest freshwater lake, is a comfortably warm and safe environment for participants competing during July 15-16 and on July 18-21, tackling diverse distances including 5 km team races and men’s and women’s 5km, 10km, and 25km individual races. Direct rail service is offered multiple times daily from Buda’s Déli Railway Station to Balatonfüred for those who want to get there by public transport (see this article for specific travel tips) – for more information about the events happening at Lake Balaton, log onto welovebalaton.hu.
Meanwhile, tickets to most of the competitions are still available on the official FINA website, which provides more details about available passes.
Public viewing areas
FINA Market Street Dagály
Just outside of the Danube Arena, colorful cultural programs, family events, and gastronomy gatherings enhance the live broadcasts, while within the Dagály Bath, the Museum of FINA introduces the history and milestones of aquatic sports, with the tournament’s official merchandise being proffered within the same pavilion. Opening hours of the fair will vary depending on the Danube Arena competition schedule.
FINA Market Street Margaret Island
Similarly to the Dagály location, traditional Hungarian customs come alive at a main stage placed near Margaret Island’s recently upgraded musical fountain, while we can watch swim meets as they happen at the same location. This alfresco fair is open to visitors every day from 11am to 10pm, but if you want to read more information about the FINA Market Street locations, check out the event’s official website.
This popular downtown-Pest outdoor hangout becomes an unofficial cheer zone during the FINA contests, where fans can follow live broadcasts on a big screen, while joining many of the fine activities organized at this scenic riverfront site. For more details, check out the official Terasz Budapest Facebook page.
FINA World Championships closing ceremony
FINA World Masters Championships
Both the opening and the closing ceremonies of the FINA Masters will be happening at the FINA Market Street on Margaret Island. For more news about the events, check out the official website of FINA Masters.