August arrives and thousands of people (like 500,000!) descend on Budapest for Sziget Festival, it’s probably THE most famous of all the festivals in Budapest. The line up is kind of like Glastonbury – featuring all the top names from a variety of different music genres – there’s an amusement park, beautiful beaches nearby and it’s all located on one party island in the north of the city.
But that’s not the only Budapest festival worthy of your time. The festivals in Budapest cross all genres and are held in Roman baths, over the river and in the bars. Take a look at these 11 reasons to expect more from Budapest than just Sziget Festival, although, it is awesome.
The Best Budapest Festivals
1. The August Bath Parties
– Thanks to Elin B for the image from Flickr.
After a few days camping out at Sziget it’s only natural that you’d be in need of a good scrub, and you can do that in some of the city’s many thermal baths. I went to the Szechenyi Baths and soaked my aching bones in the warming and cleansing waters. Bliss.
Also, some of the spas host ‘sparties’ all year round, but in August things really heat up with laser shows and discos at the weekly bath time boogies. Check out the dates and stay in Budapest after Sziget long enough to check them out!
2. The Budapest Fireworks Show
– Thanks to Peter Szanto for the image from Flickr.
The 20th of August is also known as St. Stephen’s Day in Hungary and marks the day King Stephen founded the Hungarian state. Like a European version of 4th of July, the celebrations last all day and even kick off the day before with loads of food stalls set up along the riverbanks. Concerts take place in the Buda Castle Quarter and it all comes to a crescendo in the evening with a firework display along the Danube River.
Depending on the dates of Sziget Festival the year you go this could work out well. I managed to stay for it and got to see the fireworks exploding over the Danube, after watching the parade of St Stephen’s hand through the city. Yeah, it was weird.
3. The Junibor Wine Festival
– Thanks to gotohungary.com for the image.
Swap out the beer tents for some traditional wine tasting at the annual Junibor fest. Just head to the front of the city’s Basilica between the 25th and 28th of August where you can slurp on stuff made by the country’s young wine makers. I can’t guarantee the quality, but I’m sure it’ll be a fun time nevertheless, and in an incredible location.
4. The Opera and Ballet Festival
– Thanks to Elin B for the image from Flickr.
You may be a lover of techno or house but how about changing things up with a bit of the classics? After Sziget you may just need that change of tempo, which is where the Budapest Opera House comes in. Shut for most of the summer, it opens for two weeks in August for its opera and ballet festival where you can see both beautiful art forms in action.
5. The Festival of Folk Arts
– Thanks to dunakarneval for the image from Flickr.
Over three days, usually from around the 18th to 20th of August, craftsmen come from across the country to showcase their arts. They gather by the Buda Castle letting tourists and locals browse and buy their works. There may not be any crowd surfing or twerking at this festival, but there are traditional Hungarian games to play, workshops on being a goldsmith and the like, and lessons in traditional folk dancing.
READ MORE: The Best Souvenirs from Budapest
6. The August Boat Parties
– Thanks to budapestrivercruise.com for the image.
Come the summer peak and Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights you can take your party to the Danube. Boat parties are hosted pretty regularly throughout the month but if another day takes your liking you can grab your newfound festival friends and book your own private boat party for a relatively cheap cost.
7. The Budapest Summer Festival
– Thanks to festivalbudapest.com for the image.
Sziget seems to get all the love from us Brits when it comes to festivals in Budapest, but Budapest’s Summer Festival deserves attention too. From June until the end of August there are various events over venues such as the legendary Margaret Island Open Air Stage, which has been hosting musical legends for over 75 years.
The Water Tower and Városmajor Open Air Stage are also pretty cool venues for listening to a bit of jazz, catching some comedy or watching performances like Romeo and Juliet.
8. The Lemonade Festival
– Thanks to Balnaterez for the image.
When life gives you lemons, use them to cure a post-fest hangover. The city’s Lemonade Festival takes place at Bálna Terasz and is three days dedicated to the sweet stuff. From the 22nd to 28th of August there’s a crazy amount of flavoured, fizzed and fusioned lemonade beverages for you to try.
Beyonce would love it.
9. Cholent Festival
Head to Kazinczy Street on the 28th of August to extend your time in Budapest after Sziget and enjoy the best of Jewish food. Only in its early years the festival is quickly becoming popular as people rush to try the different kinds of cholent, aka a really good stew. You can learn how to make it, discover the top tips on keeping a kosher kitchen and generally eat some decent grub which may be a nice change after the festival food of Sziget.
10. Summer on the Chain Bridge
– Thanks to Domiketu for the image from Flickr.
This one kicks off in June so by the time you’re in Budapest the Chain Bridge will have been in full swing for a while. The bridge shuts down to cars and is only open to pedestrians until the end of August. You can try your feet at some lindy hop dance, folk music, jazz and rock from the dancing teachers there. It’s one of Budapest’s biggest attractions and what better way to see it then by dancing, singing and drinking along it?