Whether you’re soaking it up in the famous thermal spas around the city, bar crawling through the ever-popular ruins pubs or admiring the city from above – no one could deny that Budapest is a city everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.
This is especially true for fun seekers and party lovers as summer festivals in Budapest are definitely bucket-list worthy. During the hot summer months, the city is filled with amazing music festivals, summer festivals, cultural and art events that will keep just about everyone happy. Let’s whizz through the upcoming events to see what’s Budapest Summer Festivals holding for you in 2019.
Summer weather in Budapest
Summer in Budapest lasts for about 3.5 months. The climatic conditions during summer resemble those of the Mediterranean environment which makes the country a great tourist destination. The city sees lots of daylight averaging 9 to 11 hours every day with temperatures hovering around 25°C.
Summer (May, June, July, and August) is a favourite time to tour the city. Though it may sometimes get considerably hot during the day, the city gets crowded as most tourists come to see the brimming World Heritage Sites and enjoy summer festivals. Weather conditions are pleasant for more fun due to longer days and night walking in the warm evenings.
Sziget Festival – 7-13th August
Venue: Budapest, Óbudai-sziget
The famous Sziget Festival, Hungary’s most popular summer music festival to date is held every August in Northern Budapest on Óbudai-sziget (“Old Buda Island”), a leafy 108-hectare (266-acre) island on the Danube.
The week-long festival has grown from a relatively low-profile student event in 1993 to one of the prominent European rock festivals, with about half of all visitors coming from outside Hungary, especially from Western Europe. It also has a dedicated “party train” service with resident DJs that transports festival-goers from all over Europe. By 1997, total attendance surpassed the 250,000 mark, reaching an all-time peak in 2016 with 496,000 visitors from 95 countries (the daily capacity having been raised to 90,000).
It is now being increasingly labelled as a European alternative to the Burning Man festival due to its unique features (“an electronically amplified, warped amusement park that has nothing to do with reality”).
In 2011, Sziget was ranked one of the 5 best festivals in Europe by The Independent. The festival is a two-time winner at the European Festivals Awards in the category Best Major European Festival, in 2011 and 2014.
In addition to music, the festival offers a plethora of other activities including cinema, dance, theatre, tattooing, Internet access, volleyball, tennis, football, indoor rowing, rock climbing, bungee jumping and a life-sized foosball.
The island is located in the city of Budapest allowing trips to the city centre during the day.
You can choose from endless choices of daily tickets and passes from simple tickets (€75) to Citizen (€289) and Moving-in passes.
Summer Bath Parties – 7-13th August
Venue: Szechenyi Bath
While California dreaming comes with pool parties, Budapest nightlife takes this to another level: taking advantage of its natural features the city turns the thermal baths into the best party venues. Whilst reforming our thousand years old bathing culture, the aim with the combination of Hungarian bathing and party-culture is to create a unique musical and visual world that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Szechenyi bath parties are held in the hot summer months, late at night after the official closing hours from 10:30pm to 3:00am.
What should you wear? A stylish fashion show piece with stiletto, a dancing queen dress, or should you just be bare naked?
No, all you have to bring along is nice swimwear, whatever that may be: bikini is just as good as a one piece, besides speedos, long trunks, surf style swim shorts are all welcome. A towel would be very useful, too.
Beers, wines, cocktails, juices and more can be bought on site with your special waterproof party card: there is no cash payment, but you can top up your Party Card with cash or card. The Party Card has a string attached so you can keep it safe with you in the water (around the neck or arm).
On top of the regular Sparties, the spectacular Cinetrip Pool Party is on twice a year: the first one is in August, around the Sziget Festival date, (the other one is normally on 30th December pre-NYE Party). These parties are awesome. No wonder Cinetrip editions are always the greatest hits of the summer season, as they are even more spectacular than the regular weekly bath parties with their own fireworks show.
Buying your party tickets online includes a locker (or a private cabin in the bonus tickets), too.
Cultural and Art Festivals
St Stephen’s Day
Venue: All around Budapest and the country
August 20th is the greatest national holiday for Hungarians, celebrated with day-long festivities followed by spectacular fireworks throughout the country. August 20th commemorates the foundation of the Hungarian state, it’s like Hungary’s 4th of July. Also called St. Stephen’s Day, remembering Stephen I, the first king of Hungary and founder of the Kingdom of Hungary, who was canonised on August 20th, 1083 by Pope Gregory VII.
Festivities usually start already on 18th August with the spectacular fireworks closing the holiday on 20th.
A series of state ceremonies launch the holiday programs in the morning on 20th August to commemorate the Foundation of the Hungarian State.
The main venues of the state programs are held in Kossuth Square in front of the Hungarian Parliament, and in Heroes’ Square.
Besides the state celebrations, a wide range of other programs welcome visitors both in the morning and in the afternoon ensuring a wonderful time for the whole family.
The celebration starts with the raising of the Hungarian flag on Kossuth Square in the morning.
Street of Hungarian Flavours
A Gastro Promenade on the Danube Bank in Buda, between Várkert Bazaar – a beautiful, refurbished series of buildings built at the end of the 19th century – and Döbrentei Square in Buda (north of Chain Bridge). Visit the Street of Hungarian Flavours (Magyar Ízek Utcája) to taste traditional Hungarian food and drinks as part of the St Stephen’s Day celebration series.
Cake of the Country
Each year a special cake is prepared to celebrate our country’s foundation. Prior to St Stephen’s Day the National Guild of Hungarian Confectioners selects the best recipe submitted by confectioners from all over Hungary which is then announced during the celebration.
You can first taste it – along with the healthy version torte during these couple of days celebrating St Stephen’s Day.
Following the event all major confectioneries all over the country will offer the cake for a full year.
The 20th August Fireworks and family events in Budapest is a great experience for everyone who’s after a fun day.
Festival of Folk Arts – 17-20th August
Venue: Buda Castle
Every year, the Festival of Folk Arts workshops – where masters present special craft tricks and practices – draw a great deal of interest during the St Stephen’s Day celebration series. Visitors are able to observe unique knowledge rooted in centuries of generational experience, immense humility and love. During the event, tradesmen move their workshops to the Buda Castle so that whoever would like to can try their hands at the many crafts. These four days are indeed a celebration of masters and crafts, a borderless event that is the most significant meeting place for masters living in Hungary and abroad. It is truly a festival of crafts!
Jewish Summer Festival
The Jewish Summer Festival started 17 years ago with the purpose of introducing the Jewish culture and heritage. Over the years it grew bigger and bigger, now people come here from all over the World to experience the traditions and the unique vibe of the Jewish Quarter.
One of the three main event sites is the Dohány Street Synagogue where the biggest concerts are held. Among the performers you can find the Budapest Klezmer Band – a world famous group of musicians that plays traditional Jewish music, The Dohány Symphonic Orchestra, The Franz Liszt Chamber Orchestra and so on. The second one is the Rumbach Street Synagogue that is hosting modern jazz, blues-rock jazz concerts and the Independent Theatre, performing Caligula’s Eparch.
The third venue is Goldmark Hall, where the Independent Theatre also performs the Fourth Gate and the Dohány Street Sheriff amongst others. These plays are strongly connected to the Jewish traditions and destiny.
This festival offers a great insight to this vast culture and community, it introduces wonderful artists, actors with almost thirty different programmes and performances, in the beautiful centre of Budapest.
The Night of the Museums – 23rd June 2019, 2020
Have a sleepover with history; spend the night in Budapest’s museums and find out if museums really do come to life after hours. Museums open their doors to visitors until 2:30 am for this annual event.
Participating museums include famous museums and galleries, like the Hungarian National Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Budapest History Museum, the House of Terror Museum, the Hungarian National Gallery, the Museum of Applied Arts and the Hungarian Natural History Museum.
Unique museums with quirky collections are also on the list, such as the Hospital in the Rock Museum, the Underground Railway Museum, the Museum of Electrotechnics, the Postal Museum and the Museum of Transport.
There are more than 1,000 programs offered, all of which can be visited with one single ticket; including bus transfer between main venues.
Admission: Armbands cost HUF 1,500 (cca. €5) for adults and HUF 600 (cca. €2) for children (ages 6-18, free entry for kids under 6) and are valid from 6:00 pm until 2 am on the dedicated days each year. Armband includes free transfer between venues on the ‘Museum Bus’, as well as usage of the public transport system from 6:00 pm to 2:00 am. Get your armband at the museum of your choice and explore some of the collections at over 100 museums and galleries in Budapest. For more info and a complete list of participating museums visit the official website.
Budapest PRIDE – 3-12th July
Budapest Pride is the biggest annual LGBT event in Hungary. Smaller than most Western Prides, the main Budapest Pride march is more of a political demonstration. You can also celebrate the month of Pride with film festivals, exhibitions, picnics, concerts and parties, all in this beautiful and romantic city. The entire Budapest Pride Festival lasts over a month, so plan your schedule accordingly and don’t miss out on all the fun.
The march of Budapest Pride proceeds though the main street of Andrássy Avenue (between the City Park and Elizabeth Square). Following the colourful parade people can enjoy an alfresco Rainbow Party in the eclectic Budapest Park.
Hosted by Funhouse, the extravagant Rainbow Party welcomes top DJs and live performers, creating a truly fun and enjoyable ambiance. All of this is wrapped up with an impressive fireworks show.
While Budapest may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of Pride destinations in Europe, its annual celebrations certainly puts on a lively show which enables the local LGBTQ community to embrace their pride in significant proportions.
Vajdahunyad Castle Summer Festival – 2nd July – 3rd August
Venue: City Park – Vajdahunyad Castle
The Vajdahunyadvár Summer Festival is a festival of classical music, swing, klezmer as well as traditional Hungarian gypsy music. The courtyard of Vajdahunyad Castle, built in Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, provides a beautiful and romantic background for this annual event.
Performances are usually scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays and start at 8:30 pm.
Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix
Venue: Hungaroring, Mogyorod
The Hungaroring Circuit was built in 1985, located a few kilometres north-east of the Hungarian capital. Under the impetus of Bernie Ecclestone, who wanted an Eastern European venue for the F1 Championship, the construction took only 8 months. The track is in a huge 110 hectare natural valley making the views as spectacular as the racing.
With the exceptional natural advantage of being situated in a natural amphitheatre, almost 70 percent of the racetrack is visible from any point and this makes the circuit a fan favourite.
The constantly improving circuit, with its excellent infrastructure, meets the strictest requirements for F1 racing. It is praised by the FOM and FIA and it is a popular venue for testing, with the summer F1 testing taking place here.
The Hungaroring Circuit meets the highest technical requirements and is regarded to be one of the safest race tracks in the world, while still playing host to exciting racing.
A favourite with the drivers and teams for the excellent facilities, the circuit has also cemented itself as a fan favourite too. Located so close to a major city, there is no shortage of accommodation, restaurants, entertainment and tourist attractions.
Whatever sets your soul on fire this summer, Budapest will get you covered. From dancing in the moonlight on a hot summer night to getting your heart rate up with speedy race cars, Hungary has the best of the best summer can offer.