Hungary, and especially Budapest, hosts a wide range of summer programs. Everyone can find something to suit their tastes, from the assortment of festivals, concerts, markets, to other forms of summer entertainment. The festival atmosphere reaches its peak around August 20, when Hungarians celebrate the biggest public celebration of the year: the establishment of the country. The day also coincides with the festival of the ‘New Bread.’
In case you don’t know what to do on ‘Szent István Nap,’ let us provide you with short list of highlights!
- Let them eat cake! If it is the Nation’s Cake that you have been waiting for all year long, you can start the celebration on the 19th. The official slicing of the royal delicacy will take place on Clark Ádám square at 10 a.m. that day. If you make your way to Buda embankment from there, you will find yet more gourmet food on the ‘Street of Hungarian Flavors’ to spice up your lunchtime.
- Civic Pride. The official commemoration starts early in the morning on the 20th in front of the Parliament. The inauguration and award ceremonies will be followed by the opening of the Parliament to the public until 4 p.m. You then have an hour to get to Szent István Bazilika, where the holy mass commences at 5 p.m. followed by the ‘Holy Right Procession’.
- Blow it up! When fireworks start at 9 p.m. along banks of the Danube, most locals have long settled into their favorite places to view the display. The hills are remarkably popular, with Gellért teeming with people. Buda Castle and Fisherman’s Bastion also provide a venue worthy of the occasion. If you would like indulge in some explosive photograph, get there a couple of hours prior to the starting time in order to secure a unobstructed spot. Personally, I recommend the park in between the Chain Bridge and the Four Seasons’s Gresham Palace, as you can see the explosions with the castle in the background.
- Romance in on the water. It is more romantic and stylish to spend those few hours on one of the Duna boats. I can recommend the Columbus, the Vogue, or the Operetta boat. The music venue A38 will also be open for those open to a different perspective.
- Killer cocktails. If a cocktail, or mocktail, sounds good to you but a sitting in a hotel is just too posh for your tastes, just hit a local pub. There are fantastic new terrace bars all around. Why not try the Raqupart, the 360 Bar or the Tip Top Bar?
- The full boat. If you would like to spice up this prominent day with a entertaining program, start your day at the Buda Castle where the Festivities of Trade will take place between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. Or buy a ticket to the Margitsziget Open Air Stage, where the virtuosos will perform a show called ‘Celebration.’ The fireworks display will provide a grand finale to the concert.
- Keeping fit. Perhaps you consider yourself a bit more sporty. Why not sign up for the 7-8 hour-long Bike’n’Boat Tour to Szentendre leaving at 10.30 a.m.? After a busy day like that you, will be happy to spend the evening in your favorite armchair, soaking your feet, and watching the fireworks on TV from the comfort of your own home.
- Culture and sophistication. Now that we have about about going outside Budapest, why not journey a bit further? How about the ‘St. Stephen’s Days Summer Festival’ in Mosonmagyaróvár, the Open Air Plays in Tihany, or the European New Bread Festival in Orosháza? There will surely be fireworks in all locations, so you will not miss out on it.
There’s always lots to do on Szent István Nap. Our simple eight suggestions only scratch the surface. Please write us a note on our Facebook page letting us know where you intend to spend your national holiday…maybe you’ll inspire others! Now matter where you decide to spend the holidays, we wish you a pleasant time.