As Christmastime approaches, several Budapest squares shimmer brilliantly under festive lights, awaiting visitors with stalls standing side by side to offer warm wintertime drinks, flavorful Magyar meals, and a wealth of treasured merchandise. The scent of spicy mulled wine, cinnamon, and chimney cake wafts in the air, while merry scenes and Hungarian handicrafts please the eyes amid a love-filled atmosphere. As Budapest presents an abundance of Christmas fairs around town every year, we joyfully provide this guide to discover the most jolly winter wonderlands of the Magyar metropolis.
In late November, local vendors set up their stands at Szent István Square, where the centerpiece is a towering illuminated Christmas tree surrounded by a free ice-skating rink open for children under 14. While the kids slide and glide on the ice, their parents can browse the wide selection of the stalls offering abundant Magyar merchandise, such as glass jewelry, ceramics, special honeys, clothes, graphics, beautiful scarves, leather products, and handmade toys, all while munching on hot and fragrant Magyar delicacies. The monumental façade of the Basilica shines bright under 3D light paintings every night, while artisanal workshops, folk-dance crash courses, flash mobs, concerts, and several surprise events entertain visitors at this eco-conscious fair, where only special biodegradable cups, plates, and cutlery will be used, and all waste will be collected for recycling.
Budapest Christmas Fair and Winter Festival at Vörösmarty Square
One of the ten prettiest Christmas fairs of the world is widely popular among Hungarians and foreigners alike, due to its downtown location, irresistible scents, and plentiful high-quality Hungarian handicrafts. At Budapest’s biggest holiday bazaar, all vendors are carefully picked to provide excellent-quality handmade merchandise, such as vibrantly glazed ceramics, handmade toys, woodwork, folk-music instruments, and metalwork. On the 1,200-square-meter gastro terrace, visitors can feast on such Hungarian specialties as multi-flavored chimney cakes, warm and spicy mulled wine, fish soup without bones, goulash soup, and sausage specialties. Besides culinary adventures, the Christmas Fair also holds several cultural and family-friendly programs, from spirited concerts through puppet shows to merry workshops.
Strolling on Budapest’s Andrássy Avenue at this time of the year feels like a wonderful journey into a winter wonderland, as vivid fairy lights adorn the boulevard along its entire length. This walk is best enhanced with a stop about halfway down the avenue at Jókai Square, where an enchanting Advent Fair awaits passersby with warm treats and merry merchandise at a high-spirited location just outside the Franz Liszt Academy of Music, in close proximity to theaters, cultural institutes, and a long line of tempting restaurants.
During the hustle and bustle of last-minute Christmas shopping, it is always nice to stop for a second and have a hot drink and a strudel while rushing through the long line of stores at Budapest’s prominent Fashion Street. The well-known wooden booths of the street are now piled up with Christmassy produce and festive Magyar meals, leading the way towards Vörösmarty Square, where even the last lost lamb can find a perfect present for someone special. Hungarian secret boxes, sausages, honeys, chimney cakes, and roasted chestnuts tempt everyone to take a break from the Christmas craze at Fashion Street.
With Christmas slowly approaching, Budapest’s ever-bustling hub of leisure and partying, Gozsdu Courtyard, turns into a jolly Yuletide fair for almost an entire month, awaiting visitors with a special artisanal fair featuring an alluring selection of fragrant and flavorsome Christmas treats, such as chimney cake and mulled wine, as well as high-quality handmade produce. The biggest surprise of this fair is that on December 3rd, Santa Claus himself makes an appearance with real reindeer, astounding children with exciting programs and heaps of special presents. Furthermore, visitors to this fair can also sip on some mulled wine while admiring the picturesque panorama of the city at a heated rooftop bar, the Gozsdu Sky Terrace, where the sights of beautifully illuminated Budapest lie at our feet.
A superstar of several prestigious lists, Budapest’s magnificent Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace hosts a lavish Christmas market amid its fairy tale-like Art Nouveau interior. A wide range of high-quality international and Hungarian products are lined wherever our eyes wander, such as the world-famous produce of the Magyar porcelain manufacturer, Herend Porcelain, as well as leather accessories and perfumes. This year’s design evolves around a “Winter Forest” theme, so visitors to this merry market can stroll hand-in-hand under the beautiful floral decoration provided by Fleurt Flower Décor.
Like several other neighborhoods in Budapest, District VIII – locally known as Józsefváros – also dresses up in a picturesque Christmas spirit, preparing for Yuletide with flavorful treats, special delicacies, festive programs, concerts, puppet shows, dance shows, and storytellers, as well as an ice rink and a petting zoo for the little ones. The Józsefváros fair will also have a huge Christmas tree set up in front of the Szent József Church on Horváth Mihály Square, where candles will be lit every Sunday until the most-anticipated celebration of the year finally arrives. In addition to the open-air activities of this Advent Fair, the significant cultural institutes and community centers of Józsefváros also join the celebration with unique and special programs.
Óbuda’s Fő Square will be filled with love, laughter, and life throughout the entire time of Advent. Outdoor ovens making chimney cake and lángos fried-dough treats will warm up the chilly air, while friendly vendors sell intoxicating mulled wine and high-quality handicrafts under illuminated festive lights. Visitors to Óbuda can enjoy folk-dance shows, various concerts, children’s programs, and an abundance of other fun-filled programs from morning to evening, as well as discounts at some of the neighborhood’s best bistros, restaurants, and confectioneries.
An Advent Bazaar awaits everyone at one of Budapest’s most elegant edifices, Várkert Bazaar, set on the side of the mesmerizing Castle Hill. Here guests can admire the breathtaking panorama of Budapest, looking down on the hustle and bustle of the city from the soothingly serene atmosphere of the Buda side, while sipping on spicy mulled wine and other winter concoctions amid a sophisticated ambience. Visitors to this venue can enjoy the performances of significant Magyar musicians and dance groups in the evenings, such as the Virtuózok Production, the Budapest Dance Group, and the Péter Sárik Trio, while interactive shows, a playhouse, and arts and crafts activities await children in the daytime. Furthermore, the gigantic festive candle installation of Hello Wood will be on display for the entire time of this special event.
Budapest’s biggest Christmas tree brings everyone together at Városháza Square this year, found only a few steps away from Deák Ferenc Square, as the handmade ornaments on the tree hide special wishes and messages made by children on the first Advent Weekend at the fair. Between November 26th and December 26th, the love-filled atmosphere of the square awaits families with an exciting Christmas craft fair, plenty of programs, charity events, and surprises. A charming Glass House is set up in the middle of the square, awaiting everyone with cultural and musical programs; on weeknights, amateur choirs, musical students, and theater troupes step on stage, while weekends are more focused on family-friendly programs, such as puppet shows, concerts, and handicraft workshops. Visitors to this Christmas fair can also admire an installation of schoolchildren, featuring nearly 100 small Christmas trees as the square’s centerpiece.