Although Christmas is still quite a few weeks away, the appearance of Santa Claus and snowmen inside the stores, street lamp decorations and the Christmas-themed background music at the shopping malls have already started the festive countdown in our heads. Much to the delight of Budapesters as well as tourists, one of the greatest customs of the season is also rapidly coming into sight: Christmas fairs.
The start of the upcoming Advent period (3 December) will mark the universal opening of the city’s Christmas fairs, responsible for getting people into high spirits with mulled wine, seasonal sweets, cheerful music and warm lights.
Vörösmarty tér Christmas fair
The Vörösmarty tér Christmas fair is the most well-known in the country, and has been making a name for itself in journals such as The Times and the Daily Telegraph. Its reputation comes from its marvellously decorated spectacle and the fact that it merges everything there is to be tasted and smelled around Christmastime. From mulled wine to hot chocolate, from chimney cake to goulash soup served in a huge loaf of bread and other heart-warming Hungarian dishes, you can find all the quintessential winter dishes served at the stalls on Vörösmarty tér. Naturally, you can also shop around for cute, handcrafted and folksy items to gift them to your loved ones, while delighting yourself in great jazz and world music concerts all throughout the Advent period. Awaiting visitors from 10 November!
St. Stephen’s Basilica
Another popular spot during the winter months is the large square in front of St. Stephen’s Basilica, offering countless programs, including monumental 3D mappings at night, ice skating, flash-mobs, charity concerts, workshops and more. The Basilica Advent Feast will be organized for the seventh consecutive time this year, beginning on 24 November, turning the lavish square into a buzzing meeting point, bringing people together under the community-forming power of Christmas. Browse through the remarkable products of almost eighty craftsmen, and find unique, hand-crafted works of folk and applied art, textile and leather goods, pottery and jewellery along with designer clothes and accessories, or works of photographers and graphic artists.
The Christmas fair at Városháza park is another family-friendly venue to look up during the Christmas season. The homely downtown square awaits both young and old with concerts, puppet-shows, handcrafting workshops and delicious eats from the end of November till the end of the year.
The Óbuda Advent is organized each year on the district’s Baroque main square, a cobblestoned piazza lit up by beautiful fairy lights and surrounded by the leftover buildings of a gone-by era. The small-town vibe, the free ice skating rink, its rich gastro selection, the petting zoo, the artistic nativity scene, the live music concerts and the wide range of artisanal gift items make this one a truly unique Christmas fair that you should definitely check out.
Two other favorite Christmastime destinations among Budapesters are City Park’s Ice Skating Rink and Buda Castle’s Fisherman’s Bastion. The former awaits visitors with one of Europe’s largest rinks, delicious mulled wine, and the awe-inspiring ambience provided by the two beautiful buildings straddling the skating rink, the 19th century Main Building and the fake castle of Vajdahunyadvár. The latter, perched atop Castle Hill, provides a breath-taking view of the city below, crisp air, and a solemn atmosphere during winter.