Budapest Spring Festival (Budapesti Øszi Fesztivál). For 2 weeks, performances of opera, concerts, dance, and drama are held at all the major halls and theaters of Budapest. Simultaneously, temporary exhibitions open in many of Budapest's museums. Tickets are available from the Festival Ticket Service, (tel. 1/486-3311, weekdays 10am to 5pm or from http://bof.hu/. If you have questions, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Book your tickets as soon as possible as the best shows sell out a few days after they are announced. The festival runs mid- to late March.
Hollóko's Easter Festival. During Easter in this charming, small town in northeastern Hungary, villagers wear traditional costumes and participate in a folk festival featuring traditional song, dance, and foods. For information, contact the Hungarian Arts Festivals Federation (tel. 1/202-1095; www.artsfestivals.hu). Held on Easter Day, it is as popular with Hungarians as with travelers, so expect a crowd.
June, July & August
Open-Air Theater Programs. Budapest has a rich variety of open-air performances throughout the city during the summer. Highlights include opera and ballet on Margaret Island in the Open-Air Theater; folklore, and dance at the Buda Park Theater; musicals in Margaret Island's Városmajor Theater; and classical music recitals in the Dominican Courtyard at the Hilton Hotel. On the last weekend of June through the second weekend of July, the Chain Bridge has a band on either side with the entire bridge hosting a fair. For information, pick up a copy of Budapest Panorama from Tourinform, listing all events during the given month. Open-Air events are June through August.
Szeged Summer Festival. Szeged, the proud capital of the Great Plain, is home to a summer-long series of cultural events (ballet, opera, rock opera, and open-air theater). For information, call tel. 62/471-411; www.szegediszabadteri.hu. 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 concerts outside the front doors. If you don't care about sitting, you can listen for free. July through August.
International Palace Tournament, Visegrád. Each summer, this ancient town hosts an authentic medieval festival replete with dueling knights on horseback, and early music and dance. Contact Visegrád Tours, RÉV u. 15, Visegrád (tel. 26/398-090; www.palotajatekok.hu). Second weekend in July.
"Budafest" Summer Opera and Ballet Festival, Budapest. This summer festival (usually held during the tail end of July and six times in August) is the only time to see a summer performance at the glorious Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest. Tickets are available at the Opera House box office at VI. Andrássy út 20 (tel. 1/331-2550; www.opera.hu).
International Guitar Festival, Esztergom. This stately town on the Danube hosts a guitar festival that features performers from around the world. The Basilica hosts the classical concert performances. For information, contact Gran Tours, Esztergom at Széchenyi tér 25 (tel. 33/502-001; www.guitarfestival.hu). First week of August every other year; the next festival is scheduled for 2011.
Formula One Grand Prix, Budapest. One of the European racing circuit's most important annual events is held at Budapest's HungaroRing in Mogyoród. Hotels increase their rates considerably for this event, so plan ahead. Call tel. 28/444-444 or check out www.hungaroring.hu. First week or second weekend in August.
Island Festival (Sziget Fesztivál), Óbuda Island in the Danube. Established in 1994 as Hungary's very own Woodstock, the Sziget Festival (tel. 1/372-0650; www.sziget.hu) is a weeklong music festival that draws people from all over Europe, but the scope is now worldwide. It is one of the largest music festivals in Europe, gaining in popularity each year. The event features foreign and local rock, folk, jazz, world music, and other 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 or check out their website. Usually begins the second week of August.
Traditional Handicraft Fair, Budapest. The Castle District is the site of a 3-day annual handicraft 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 part of the St. Stephen's Day celebrations . August 20.
St. Stephen's Day, Budapest. Hungary's national day. The country's first king and patron saint is celebrated with cultural events and a dramatic firework display over the Danube at 9pm. St. Stephen's mummified hand is paraded through the streets. Hungarians also celebrate their constitution on this day and ceremoniously welcome the first new bread from the crop of July wheat. August 20.
National Jewish Festival, Budapest. Celebrating its 11th year in 2010, this annual festival enriches the Hungarian cultural scene. The festival features a variety of Jewish culture-related events. Features range from klezmer music to a book fair, from ballet to cabaret, held at various locations for the different venues offered. For information, contact the Tourism and Cultural Center of the Budapest Jewish Community, Síp u. 12 (tel. 1/343-0420; www.jewishfestival.hu). Late August into early September; call for exact dates.
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. Each year, there is a guest country that shares its wines. The sponsor is the Hungarian Viniculture Foundation, XI. Bartók Béla út 152 (tel. 1/203-8507; www.winefestival.hu). Early September.
Budapest International Fair. For 10 days, Budapest's HungExpo grounds fill with displays of Europe's latest consumer goods. (tel. 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 spring up for 3 weeks in all the city's major halls. For information, contact the Hungarian Arts Festivals Federation (tel. 1/318-8165) or pick up a Budapest Panorama at Tourinform. 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. 1/318-8165). Starts the end of September. Note that the Liszt Ferenc Academy closed in fall 2009 for a 2-year renovation.
For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening all over the world.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.