Budapest Travel Guide
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EVENTS

March

Budapest Spring Festival.
For 2 weeks, performances of everything from opera to ballet, from classical music to drama, are held at all the major halls and theaters of Budapest. Simultaneously, temporary exhibitions open in many of Budapest's museums. V. 1081 Rákóczi út 65 (tel. 1/486-3300; Red line: Blaha Lujza tér).

Hollóko's Easter Festival.
During Easter in this charming small town in northeastern Hungary, villagers wear traditional costumes and participate in a folk festival. Traditional song, dance, and foods are featured. For information, contact the Hungarian Arts Festivals Federation (tel. 36/1-318-8165). Held on Easter day.

May-June

Book Fair, Budapest.
Publishers set up kiosks throughout central Pest to display the year's newly released titles. The main attractions, such as authors' signing sessions, are located in Vörösmarty tér. Most books are in Hungarian, of course, but there are always beautiful books on art, architecture, and other subjects. Last week of May or first week of June.

June-August

Open-Air Theater Programs, Budapest.
A rich variety of open-air performances are given throughout Budapest during the summer. Highlights include opera and ballet at the Margaret Island Open-Air Theater, folklore and dance at the Buda Park Theater, musicals in Városmajor Theater, and classical music recitals in the Dominican Courtyard at the Hilton Hotel. For information, contact the Hungarian Arts Festivals Federation (tel. 36/1-318-8165). June through August.

Organ Concerts, Budapest.
Concerts are given in the Matthias Church, in the lovely Castle District of Buda. June through August. In addition, Budapest's largest church, St. Stephen's Basilica, also hosts organ concerts. July through August.

"Budafest" Summer Opera and Ballet Festival, Budapest.
This 10-day festival is the only time to see a summer performance at the wonderful Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest. (tel. 1/318-0281).

International Palace Tournament, Visegrád.
Each summer, this ancient town on the Danube hosts an authentic medieval festival replete with dueling knights on horseback, and early music and dance. Contact Visegrád Tours, RÉV u. 15 in Visegrád (tel. 26/398-160). Second weekend in July.

International Guitar Festival, Esztergom.
This stately little town on the Danube hosts a guitar festival that features performers from around the world. Classical concerts are performed in the Basilica. For information, contact Gran Tours, Esztergom at Széchenyi tér 25 (tel. 33/502-001). First week of August every other year; the next festival is scheduled for 2005.

Formula One Grand Prix.
Budapest. One of the European racing circuit's most important annual events is held at Budapest's HungaroRing in Mogyoród. Call tel. 36/2-844-4444 or check out www.hungaroring.hu. Second weekend in August.

Pepsi Island (Pepsi-sziget).
Óbuda Island in the Danube. Established in 1994 as Hungary's very own "Woodstock," Pepsi-sziget is a weeklong music festival that draws young people from all over Europe. The event features foreign and local rock, folk, and jazz groups on dozens of stages playing each day from early afternoon to the wee hours of the morning. Camping is available. You can get details and pick up a program schedule at Tourinform. Usually begins the second week of August.

Traditional Handicraft Fair, Budapest.
The Castle District is the site of a 3-day annualhandicraft fair, which draws vendors from across Hungary and from Hungarian enclaves in neighboring countries, especially Romania. The wares are generally handmade and of high quality. This is a part of the St. Stephen's Day celebrations. August 20.

St. Stephen's Day, Budapest.
This is Hungary's national day. The country's patron saint is celebrated with cultural events and a dramatic display of fireworks over the Danube at 9pm. Hungarians also celebrate their Constitution on this day and ceremoniously welcome the first new bread from the recent crop of July wheat. August 20.

National Jewish Festival, Budapest.
In 1999 this new annual festival arrived on the Hungarian cultural scene. The festival features a variety of Jewish culture-related events -- from klezmer music to a book fair, from ballet to cabaret -- held in "Gödör," a new cultural center that opened in Deák tér in 2004 (on the site of the former central bus station, which was at one time slated to be the location of a grandiose new national theater in Budapest). For information, contact the Tourism and Cultural Center of the Budapest Jewish Community, 1075 Budapest, Síp u. 12 (tel. 36/1-343-0420; the not-quite-up-to-date website is at www.interdnet.hu/Zsido/zsikk/festival_en.html). Late August or early September.

Szeged Summer Festival, Szeged.
Szeged, the proud capital of the Great Plain, is home to a summer-long series of cultural events (ballet, opera, rock opera, open-air theater). For information, call tel. 62/471-411. June through August.

September

Budapest International Wine Festival.
This festival, in Budapest's Castle District, features wine tastings, displays, and auctions, as well as folk and classical music performances. The sponsor is the Hungarian Viniculture Foundation, XI. Bartók Béla út 152 (tel. 1/203-8507; www.kertnet.hu/HungarianHorticulture/gb/226s.htm). Early September.

Budapest International Fair.
For 10 days, Budapest's HungExpo grounds are filled with displays of Europe's latest consumer goods. Contact tel. 36-1/263-6000; www.hungexpo.hu. Mid-September.

Budapest Art Weeks.
In celebration of the opening of the fall season, special classical music and dance performances are held for 3 weeks in all the city's major halls. For information, contact the Hungarian Arts Festivals Federation (tel. 36/1-318-8165). The festivals' traditional start is September 25, the day of Béla Bartók's death.

Contemporary Music Weeks, Budapest.
Held in conjunction with the Budapest Art Weeks, this 3-week festival features contemporary music performances in all the capital's major halls. For information, contact the Hungarian Arts Festivals Federation (tel. 36/1-318-8165). Starts September 25.

Public Holidays

25 Dec - Christmas Day
1 Nov - All Saints’ Day
23 Oct - 1956 Remembrance/Republic Day
20 Aug - St Stephen’s/Constitution Day
May/Jun - Whit Monday
1 May - Labour Day
Mar/Apr - Easter Monday
15 Mar - 1848 Revolution/National Day
1 Jan - New Year’s Day

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