Month by Month
National Dance House Festival, early April
Budapest Spring Festival, April
Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix, August
Sziget Festival, August
Budapest Marathon, October
Budapest looks lovely in a winter gown, with bright blue skies, a light dusting of snow on church spires, perhaps ice floes in the Danube (it last actually froze in 1963) and ice skating in City Park. Just make sure you bundle up.
New Year’s Gala Concert
This annual event (www.budapestconcert.com), held in the Pesti Vigadó, ushers in the New Year and is the favourite of the capital's glitterati.
Budapest International Circus Festival
A biennial event (www.fnc.hu/eng/festival), this week-long festival has been held under the big top of the Capital Circus in City Park in mid-January every even-numbered year for over two decades.
By now winter has hung on a bit too long and the cold days are shorter and bleaker. Some museums and tourist attractions sharply curtail their hours till mid-March or even April.
Held over three days in mid-February in Szabadság tér, this festival (www.mangalicafesztival.hu) celebrating Hungary's distinctive breed of pig (expect lots of pork sausages and salami) is the first in a series of gastronomic festivals held each year in Budapest.
Budapest Dance Festival
This annual eight-day festival (www.budapesttancfesztival.hu), held mostly in the Festival Theatre of the Palace of Arts from late February, features an array of styles from ballet and contemporary to folk.
This is an excellent month to visit Hungary. Spring has begun to, well, spring, women have put their furs back in the closet, and it’s the start of the concert and theatre season.
The primary focus of this three-day event (http://vincebudapest.hu/en), held in the Castle Garden Bazaar in late March/early April, is wine (vin) in Central Europe (CE), with some 160 wineries from Hungary and neighbouring countries offering master classes, workshops and, of course, lots of tastings.
Full spring is just glorious everywhere in Budapest but especially in the parks and on Margaret Island. And with the start of the city’s red-letter event – the annual Budapest Spring Festival – both music and spring are in the air.
Budapest Spring Festival
The capital’s largest and most important cultural event (www.springfestival.hu) has more than 200 events over some 18 days in April at dozens of venues across town.
National Dance House Festival
Hungary’s biggest táncház (www.tanchaztalalkozo.hu) is held over three days in early April at the Buda Concert Hall and other venues.
The selection of fresh vegetables and fruit isn't great in winter, but in spring a cycle of bounty begins.
Jewish Art Days
A two-week festival (www.zsidomuveszetinapok.hu) held from late May to mid-June that celebrates the best of Jewish culture, from gastronomy to music, theatre and film.
Budapest Beer Week (BPBW)
BPBW (www.bpbw.hu) is a week-long international craft-beer festival held in pubs, bars and other venues around town in May that brings together 60 Hungarian microbreweries and their products along with guest breweries from Germany and the Czech Republic.
Late spring is wonderful, but June can be pretty wet in Budapest, especially early in the month. This month marks the start of the holiday crowds.
A pan-Hungarian international 10-day carnival (www.danubecarnival.com) of folk and world music and modern dance is held from mid-June at the open-air theatre on Margaret Island.
Night of Museums
Dozens of Budapest museums of all shapes and sizes mark the summer solstice on 23 June by reopening their doors at 6pm and not closing them till the wee hours, some as late as 2am (www.muzej.hu/en).
School's out for the summer, so now you're competing with not only foreign visitors but local ones too. Put on a brave face and enjoy yourself!
This week-long gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender film and cultural festival (www.budapestpride.com) culminates in the annual Pride Parade, usually held on the first Saturday in July.
Once called the ‘cucumber-growing month’ because that was about the only thing happening throughout Hungary, August is now becoming something of a festival month in Budapest.
Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix
Hungary’s premier sporting event (www.hungaroring.hu) is held in early August in Magyoród, 24km northeast of the capital.
One of Europe's biggest and most popular music festivals (www.szigetfestival.com/en) is held in mid-August on Budapest’s Hajógyár (Óbuda) Island, with a plethora of Hungarian and international bands and as many as 500,000 revellers.
Budapest Festival of Folk Arts
The finest craftspeople from around Hungary set up kiosks and hold workshops in and around Buda Castle during this festival (www.hungarianfolk.com/hungarian-folk-festival) lasting three to five days in mid-August.
September brings summer to a close and the crowds back from their holidays. It’s a good time to visit as there’s still a lot going on, wine is starting to flow and peak season has ended for the year.
Budapest Wine Festival
Hungary’s foremost wine-makers introduce their wines at this ultrapopular event (www.aborfesztival.hu) in early September in the Castle District. The tipples are accompanied by a cornucopia of edibles.
Jewish Cultural Festival
This unique 10-day festival (www.zsidokulturalisfesztival.hu/en) in early September showcases Jewish culture through music and theatre performances, exhibitions and films, with many events taking place at Pest’s Great Synagogue.
Though the days are getting shorter and everyone is back into their routines, autumn is beautiful, particularly in the Buda Hills and further afield in the Danube Bend.
Eastern Europe’s most celebrated foot race (www.budapestmarathon.com) runs along the Danube and across its bridges in early October.
CAFe Budapest (www.cafebudapestfest.hu) is a mixed bag, celebrating contemporary art and including everything from music and dance to film and poetry slams. It's held over two weeks from mid-October. Design Week, Art Market Budapest and the Mini Festival of Contemporary Music are all part of the celebrations.
The month kicks off with a public holiday – All Saints’ Day on 1 November, the day after Halloween. After that the winter season begins, with many museums and other tourist attractions sharply curtailing their hours or closing up altogether.
Budapest Christmas Fair & Winter Festival
This month-long event (www.budapestchristmas.com) kicks off the start of the holiday season in early November with Christmas markets opening in V Vörösmarty tér and in front of the basilica in V Szent István tér.
The build-up to Christmas intensifies as December wears on, and the arrival of decorations, trees and coloured lights is a welcome and very festive sight.
New Year's Eve Gala & Ball
The annual calendar's most coveted ticket is this gala concert and ball usually held at the Hungarian State Opera House (www.opera.hu) or Erkel Theatre on 31 December.