Before you visit Budapest in Hungary, we definitely recommend you to check out the public holidays that may happen during your visit. This is an important factor to plan your journey of a lifetime, as these public holidays can affect opening and availability hours for certain venues and services. What is more, if you like some of the festivities Hungarians have, you have a chance to join the celebration.
Budapest holidays and public holidays in Hungary
1st of January- New Year’s Eve
Hungarians celebrate this the same way other nations celebrate New Year’s Eve. There are fireworks all over the country, people are counting down when it is almost midnight, and they clink glasses filled with delicious champagne. If you visit Budapest during this holiday, you will find all party places with an extended opening hour, and with marvelous programs and artists.
End of February, beginning of March- Carnival
This is a moving holiday, which means that it is not celebrated on the same date, in contrast, it always takes places on the last week of February and the beginning of March. The Carnival is a couple of days long festivity in Hungary, as conserved from old traditions, people are banishing the winter and every negativity. Consequently, the new spring can bring about luck and happiness in their lives.
Traditions in Mohács
The way people celebrate this day differs from region to region. However, there are two popular ways to banish the winter. The first tradition is “Busójárás”, which takes place in the city of Mohács and lasts for 6 days. Masquerading, dancing, folk music and cooking are among the most popular activities. Many tourists favor this event.
Traditions in Novaj
The second special way to brush off winter is called “Remélés” in English “hoping”. This is held in Novaj every year. On this occasion, men gather around and wear traditional folk dresses and paint their hands and faces with chalk to scare off winter. They are walking around the village and paint every woman’s face with chalk, well, only those who they can cache, as women are trying to flee from the masqueraded men. They get food in return, according to old traditions, and they cook and eat it together.
8th of March- National Women’s Day
International Women’s Day is also celebrated in Hungary. If you visit Budapest in this time of the year, be prepared that some stores offer discounts for women, at some places they even give roses or chocolate to their visitors.
15th of March- National Independence Day
On 15th of March Hungarians commemorate the Revolution of Independence of 1848 when they wanted to break away from the Austrian Empire. People are wearing a cockade, with their national colors (red, white, green) to show solidarity. Be prepared if you visit Budapest on this day, that all public transport services are scheduled as if it would be a Sunday, thus they run less frequently. Being a public holiday, you will find many stores closed or with limited availability. Apart from this, there are still many things to do in Budapest to entertain yourself and your company.
Easter is again a traditional public holiday in Hungary when men and young boys visit their female relatives and sprinkle them with cologne to keep them fresh and beautiful. Women are awaiting them with alcoholic drinks, food and chocolate easter eggs.
1st of May – Labour Day
On the 1st of May Hungarians have an additional day only for themselves, as all employees have an official leave from their work. Labour day is usually celebrated together with May Day, called “majális”. Families go outdoors, attend some programs that the local government organizes in parks or on the main square of the city. There are usually different DIY programs for the kids and concerts, wine and beer tasting for the adults. You can always stumble across some delicious Hungarian food as well. If you visit Budapest on Labour Day, you will definitely have many things to do in Budapest.
According to some traditions, boys are erecting a tree decorated with colorful ribbons in front of the house of their would-be wife. In some regions, family members erect a tree for the young girls of the family. This action is usually performed early in the morning, to surprise the girl when she wakes up. Nowadays, boys give a nice bouquet or a basket of flowers to their partner on this day.
Pentecost day is held 1 week after Mayday. This is a Catholic holiday, that is rooted in religious traditions. This is the day when the trees erected on the 1st of May get cleared away. Probably the most important Catholic tradition on Pentecost day is a journey to Csíksomlyó, which is a nice town in Transilvania. Previously it was a part of Hungary, before Trianon. This is still a very popular annual activity for believers. Thus, Csíkcsomlyó became a unifying place for Hungarians scattered all across the globe.
20th of August – Celebrating the Foundation of Hungary
Hungary’s first king St. Stephen’s Day, also the day of the Foundation of Hungary. St. Stephen of Hungary (Szent István király in Hungarian). The first king of Hungary led the country into the Christian church and established the institutions of the kingdom and the church. He was canonized on 20 August 1083, and 20 August is his feast day in Hungary.
If you visit Budapest on the 20th of August, you are at the best place possible. You will see the most beautiful fireworks at night, as this is one of the main attraction of the celebration. Usually, they are shooting fireworks from multiple locations, sometimes even from vessels on the river Danube. Do you want to see the sky colored by the 3 main colors of the Hungarian flag? Or do you want to see the famous Chain bridge in its most beautiful decor? 20th of August is probably among the best Budapest holidays to experience all of these.
23rd of October – Memorial day of the 1956 Revolution
The Revolution of 1956 aimed to free Hungary from the hand of the Soviet Union and demanded the departure of their troops. Moreover, on this day Hungarians also commemorate the Proclamation of the Third Hungarian Republic, in 1989.
If you visit Budapest on the 23rd of October, be prepared that the public transportation runs less frequently, and stores are either closed or they have limited opening hours. These events are usually commemorated by speeches and exhibitions. As a result, if you like any of these, you will have a fun time exploring Hungary’s history.
1st of November – All Saints’ Day or Halloween
Halloween is not so widespread in Hungary, it only started to wave itself into the culture around 10 years ago. Traditionally it is not part of the Hungarian culture, so there are only a few young kids who go trick or treating. Apart from that, there are several Halloween costume parties around the country that you can visit during your Budapest holiday.
On All Saints’ Day, people go to the cemeteries and light candles for their loved ones who passed away. They also decorate the tombs with white flowers and wreaths.
6th of December – Saint Nicholas Day
There is an additional gifting day in Hungary in December when kids usually get lots of chocolate from Santa if they behaved correctly during the year. Badly behaving kids sometimes receive a birch as a notification from Santa, to improve their behavior. They receive the chocolate into their shoes on the morning of the 6th of December. In order to get many gifts, they need to polish them the night before.
24th of December – Christmas Eve
In contrast with American traditions, where Santa Claus brings the presents to everyone in the morning, in Hungary Jesus brings the gifts under the Christmas tree on the evening of 24th of December.
Public transport stops operating at about 4 pm on the 24th (“Szenteste”) as most families gather to celebrate, placing presents under the tree, which has been decorated while the children are away from the house. Later, when the kids are older, the family decorates together. Then, they open presents and eat a huge meal in celebration of the event. On 25th and 26th, people usually visit relatives and give each other gifts again.
We hope that this insightful composition gave you much information about Budapest holidays and ideas about when to visit Budapest. Don’t worry, no matter when you arrive in the Hungarian capital, there are always many things to do in Budapest.