New Year’s Eve is when festivities reach their zenith as people dance and celebrate the New Year. You can attend several carnivals and concerts already on the 30th December – see, Hungarians love to party so the earlier you start, the better. On the 31st December, a masked ball is held at the Opera House and there are lots of exciting parties and gala dinners held across the city. Even though Budapest is rather grey and cold in winter the end of December undoubtedly brings back all the colours and excitement to people’s lives.
Things to do before NY’s Eve in Budapest
The Christmas markets are still open
Christmas market by St Stephen’s Basilica
Set in the most stunning part of Budapest, St Stephen’s Basilica’s Christmas Market is the one not to miss. At half past 5 from Monday to Sunday 3D festive lights are projected on the walls of the Basilica with accompanying melodies. This year special 3D glasses with which you can view the animation are available on the market. (The show can be enjoyed without wearing 3D glasses.)
Enjoy a (unique) mug of mulled wine alongside with roasted chestnut and warm and hearty street foods (beyond sausages) and enjoy the lights and the flavours.
The market opens 23rd November and remains open until 1st January 2020.
Mon – Fri: 11:00 – 22:00,
Sat – Sun: 10:00 – 22:00,
December 24.: 10:00 – 14:00
December 31.: 10:00 – 22:00
Vörösmarty Square Christmas Market
The Vörösmarty Square Christmas market is the oldest and richest of all the Christmas markets in Budapest. The Crafts Market is open from 9th November all the way to 29th December after which the food stalls remain open until 1st January 2020. There are about 100 stalls waiting for you to visit them, set around the Christmas tree that is decorated with different colours each year. From gulash to grilled sausages there is an endless selection of local food you can enjoy. Not a surprise that the market puts a great emphasis on food and wine which is truly Hungarian way to celebrate the Festive season.
The market is free to visit, and it is open daily from 10 am to 8 pm.
Special opening hours apply on the following days:
Dec 24: 10:00 – 14:00
Dec 25: 10:00 – 18:00
Dec 26: 10:00 – 18:00
Dec 31: 10:00 – 22:00
Jan 1: 14:00 – 22:00
For more information about all the festive activities in Budapest, visit our previous article, Budapest Christmas Guide for a perfect holiday.
Visit top sights in the city
Hungary is geographically blessed with 4 seasons and winter is one of the most wonderful ones. Although December and January are the coldest months of the year, they are also the snowiest ones: snow up to 15 inches on a single day has occurred in the past. The famous city landscape gets a winter wonderland takeover with crisp snow covering the roofs over the city and the thin layers of ice mirroring the bridges on the frozen surface of the Danube. If you thought Charles Bridge in Prague was the real deal, forget it – we guarantee you won’t find a more picture-perfect place during December and January than the Hungarian capital.
City of 11 bridges
A unique proposition that the capital is split into two by Europe’s second longest river. To unite the capital Budapest has 11 bridges of which at least 4 of them will take your breath away. For a historical moment cross the city’s first ever stone bridge, the now renewed Chain Bridge. For a very special and stunning view, face Elisabeth Bridge on the Buda side.
Visit Buda castle
When you arrive at Buda Castle history will surround you immediately. Head to Fishermen’s Bastion first for the most breath-taking view in Europe (and the best view in Budapest) to enjoy that unbeatable feeling of being above the city. The Parliament Building stretches alongside the Danube on the opposite side which will absolutely blow your mind… especially at night time with both the Parliament and Buda Castle magically lit up and mirrored on the smooth surface of the river.
If you’d like to find the most beautiful places in the city, don’t go any further. We have listed them all for you here: The best itinerary for 3 days in Budapest
Until winter lasts Budapest is always a go to destination for ice-skaters. Wherever you stay in the city you’ll find a great ice rink nearby where you can slide, glide or perform your favourite stunts!
Müpa Ice Rink
The Müpa Ice Rink right by the Palace of Arts on the Pest side where you can do laps while listening to the two channels of Müpa Radio, Easy and Symphony. The onsite bar serves great mulled wine and hot chocolate to warm you up whilst a whole tent of cultural attractions awaits you after your skating session. The rink is open until 27th January 2020.
Csepel Ice Corridor
Csepel is a suburban area that is rarely visited by tourists as it’s outside of the city centre (Budapest’s 21st district to be exact which can be accessed by suburban train (HÉV) from Boráros tér). With the coolest ice rink in the city the Csepel Ice Corridor is well worth the travel for a fun winter experience. The rink welcomes all levels, whilst the ice corridor is suitable for racing and showing off your Tonya Harding skills. The onsite wooden huts serve hot drinks and cinnamon-scented nibbles. What a treat!
City Park Ice Rink
City Park Ice Rink has a unique proposition offering Europe’s largest outdoor ice rink to everyone who’s up for some skating fun. Located in Budapest’s City Park and enhanced by the beauty of Vajdahunyad Castle this place is a real gem. Skate in a historic setting on 15,000 square meters of artificial ice whilst admiring the surrounding historic monuments. You can rent skates on site together with Bobby the Seal to make sliding less of a hard work.
Top things to do on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day
Best parties on New Year’s Eve
Hungarian wine and champagne await you with all their qualities, after a nice dip in one of the city’s best thermal baths.
There are many types of parties you can choose from whatever your preferences are: an elegant gala dinner, a small group celebration in a cozy bistro or crowded parties in high end nightclubs? Budapest nightlife is famous for its diversity and New Year’s Eve brings no exceptions.
You usually must book well in advance, especially in popular places. If you have no reservation, go early and pray to get in. Most places serve a substantial dinner that includes special dishes with a glass of champagne that is often included in the price.
New Year’s Eve in Gellert Hotel
In addition to a culinary surprise dinner on New Year’s Eve 2019, Danubius Hotel Gellert will once again entertain its guests with great stars and a spectacular show at the country’s largest home party. At half past nine in the evening, we drop into a mega house party and sing, dance and party to the biggest hits of our star performers until dawn. At the historic hotel, with the recommendation of Gábor Müncz, the chef of the hotel, guests can choose from three different dinner options when purchasing tickets. Holiday, VIP and Super VIP dinners are a must-have for everyone.
Please book your table through: Wolner Bernadett, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: + 36 1 889 552, gellertszilveszter.com
New Year’s Eve in Astoria Hotel
The magnificent 105-year-old Danubius Hotel Astoria City Center awaits its guests with a sparkling show and a 6-course gala dinner. After the gourmet dinner, the stormy retro party begins, where DJ Polt Zoltán mixes the music until three in the morning.
Astoria Standard: 34.950 Ft +10% service charge
Astoria Deluxe: 40.950 Ft +10% service charge
New Year’s Eve in Episode Restaurant
Danubius Hotel Helia’s New Year’s Eve programs take place at the revamped Episode restaurant. Celebrating close to Danube River is the perfect choice if you want to start 2020 with a splash of live music, entertainment, star performers and a mouth-watering dinner. A laser show and an ice bar, popular performers and an elegant plate service dinner are on table for an unforgettable night.
New Year’s Eve Episode price: 41,900 Ft / person, which includes New Year’s Eve dinner, midnight buffet, beverage package, all taxes and 10% service charge.
Table reservations and ticket sales have already begun for the event: e-mail: email@example.com, telephone +36 30 663 6503.
New Year’s Eve in Hilton
For those who wish to say goodbye to the old year in spectacular surroundings of the Buda Castle Palace, Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion, we recommend Hilton Budapest‘s New Year’s Eve programs. The hotel thinks of everyone when organizing a New Year’s Eve party. For those who are looking forward to the arrival of 2020 in a gentle, exclusive environment, and for those who wish to dance until dawn. The LÁNG Bistro & Grill’s New Year’s Eve buffet dinner is for the former, and the Hilton Ballroom’s Dancing Queen Show is for the latter.
Book your table for any of them on Andrea.Kadar@hilton.com, m: +36 70 459 8843, between 9h-15h Mon to Fri.
New Year’s Eve in Gundel Restaurant
Looking for a peaceful, pleasant evening on New Year’s Eve? Would you like to be served in a stunning art deco setting? Talking to your partner and friends next to a menu with harmonious flavors? Gundel New Year’s Eve is for you!
The eight-course gala dinner is prepared by executive chef Zsolt Litauszki, and during the culinary evening Gundel‘s orchestra performs famous film music, musical tunes and unforgettable classical Gypsy music.
Eight-course menu with wine, welcome champagne, mineral water, coffee, midnight champagne: 72,500 Ft. (The price includes VAT and service charge.)
The menu has been created by Zsolt Litauszki executive chef, matching Hungarian wines selected by Kitti Koór sommelier.
Dinner starts at 7pm. Get in touch for more information: +36 1 889 8111, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner with Concert & Ballroom Party
Experience a New Year’s Eve to remember in Downtown Budapest and watch a gala concert of classical music at one of the city’s most distinguished theatres. Head to the Duna Palota on the Danube Promenade. The building was where the mayoralty of the 3 main parts of the city declared unity.
As a program starter, you are invited to the Gala Dinner at 6:30 PM. Enjoy a full-service dinner in the beautiful restaurant hall of the Danube Palace. The 5-course meal has been selected and prepared exclusively for the event. Feast on cold and warm appetizers, soup, a main course, and dessert. A different glass of premium wine will be served for each course from a carefully selected assortment.
Then, take your seats for the 2-hour Gala Concert at 10:00 PM. Greet the coming year with music from composers known worldwide. The Danube Symphony Orchestra will lead the grandiose concerto in cooperation with professional ballet dancers. Hear traditional Hungarian folk instruments and multiple solo performances.
Then, raise your glass after midnight at the midnight reception. Celebrate the arrival of the New Year with your friends and family in the ballroom atmosphere. Swap stories with fellow travellers. Sip unlimited champagne and multiple wine options from the open bar!
PRICES: Price of the Budapest NYE Gala Event is HUF 57,300 (€179).
You may book the event on the following site: RESERVATION of NYE Gala Event.
Try a “sparty” in one of our traditional thermal baths
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.
Book here for the best sparties in Budapest.
Watch the midnight fireworks
New Year’s Eve wouldn’t be real without stunning fireworks. As the Danube mirrors the colours on its surface the fireworks are just wonderful to look at both on the sky and on the water.
The best places to watch the fireworks is either close to the river (don’t forget to bring warm clothes) or on a river course, but Fisherman’s Bastion in the Castle District also provides an excellent panorama of the city.
Soak up in a thermal bath
Hungary is famous for its thermal water and spa culture that the country inherited from the times it was part of the Turkish (Ottoman) Empire. Thermal water is high in calcium, magnesium, and hydrogen carbonate and is best to ease joint pain and arthritis and improve blood circulation.
For a comprehensive overview of our thermal baths please read on here: The best thermal baths in Budapest.
What to eat on New Year’s Eve in Hungary?
Our food is full of tradition – especially on special occasions. Following the traditions, of course the NYE dinner also needs to tell a story.
Lentils – they symbolize the wealth and happiness in the new year. So, every Hungarian needs to eat at least a spoon of lentil soup, or pottage.
Pork – roasted pork brings fortune and luck. But you must eat from strange pork parts, like nose, knuckle, ears, tails. Moreover, from the weirdest Hungarian dish, called kocsonya, which is a jellied broth with pork parts.
Sausages, frankfurter – easy to cook and eat at a house party too with ketchup, mustard and white bread.
Deviled egg – hard-boiled eggs with yolk mixed with mayo and mustard. It’s an appetizer, a normal party food.
For the best restaurant in Budapest read on here: The ultimate list for the best restaurants in Budapest
Where to stay to be close to the Christmas attractions
Wishing to stay close to the beating heart of the city centre Radisson Blu Béke Hotel is an ideal choice for everyone who wants to explore the rich cultural life of the capital. The hotel is located just a few steps from the beautifully lit up Andrássy Avenue, and easily accessible by car or public transport. The theatres, museums, restaurants and cafés located nearby guarantee that those interested in high-end entertainment will not be bored for a moment.
Astoria City Center that opened in 1914 as one of the city’s most elegant hotels, and – over a century later – it stays true to that original character. Guests have always been attracted by its sublime fin-de-siècle architecture and comfortable rooms. The location of the hotel is perfect if you want to stay close to the city centre as it is only a 10-minute walk from prime attractions like the Hungarian National Museum, the Great Synagogue, the Danube promenade and the famous Váci Street.
Built in wonderful Art Nouveau-style and opened in 1918, the impressive Gellért hotel shares the building with the world-famous Gellért Spa, located on the Danube riverbanks, at the foot of Gellért Hill, which was named after Saint Gerard who was thrown to death from the hill. The hotel can be found in Gellért Square next to Liberty Bridge. Metro line M4 stops right next to the hotel, at Szent Gellért Tér, while the city centre is also reachable in a 10-minute walk.
In December Budapest is all dressed up in lights and traditions. From Christmas to New Year’s the city is your playground to explore, mingle, celebrate and make lots of memories whether it is a special meal, an unforgettable party, learning to say “cheers” in Hungarian or getting a gentle shiver after your first taste of Palinka. Hungary inspires and we promise: it will never be forgotten.