Hungary in detail

Month by Month

Top Events

Budapest Spring Festival, mid-April

Sziget Festival, mid-August

Busójárás, late February/early March

Szeged Open-Air Festival, July & August

Hollókő Easter Festival, April

January

Hungary is still festive after the Christmas holidays. It’s cold but the skies are bright blue. There may be a light dusting of snow on church spires and possibly (though increasingly less likely) ice floes in the Danube and Tisza.

New Year's Gala Concert

This annual event (www.hungariakoncert.hu), usually held in Budapest's Pesti Vigadó on 1 January, ushers in the new year and is the favourite of the capital's glitterati.

February

By February winter has hung on a bit too long and the cold days are shorter and bleaker. Many attractions will remain closed (or keep shortened hours) until mid-March.

Busójárás

This pre-Lenten carnival of Busójárás (www.mohacsibusojaras.hu) involves anthropomorphic costumes and is held in Mohács on the weekend before Ash Wednesday.

March

This is an excellent month to visit Hungary. Women have put their furs back in the closet, and it’s the start of the concert and theatre season in many cities.

Pécs Spring Festival

This month-long 'everything but the kitchen sink' event (www.pecsitavaszifesztival.hu) takes place throughout Pécs in late March.

April

In April the brief interval between winter and summer looks, feels and smells like an old-fashioned spring.

Budapest Spring Festival

The capital’s largest and most important cultural festival (www.springfestival.hu) takes place over two weeks at dozens of venues across the city.

Hollókő Easter Festival

Traditional costumes and folk traditions welcome in spring at this World Heritage–listed village's Easter Festival (www.holloko.hu).

May

The selection of fresh vegetables and fruit is not great in winter, but in spring a cycle of bounty begins, starting with asparagus.

National Gulyás Competition & Shepherd’s Meeting

The National Gulyás Competition & Shepherd’s Meeting (www.hnp.hu) sees Hortobágy cattle herdsmen testing their skills in competition, with a gulyás-cooking competition thrown in for good measure.

June

Late spring is wonderful but the month of June can be pretty wet, especially early in the month. Beware the start of the holiday crowds.

Museums Night

For Museums Night (https://muzej.hu), hundreds of museums across the country mark the summer solstice in mid-June by re-opening their doors at 6pm on a Saturday and not closing them till the wee hours (as late as 2am).

Kecskemét Apricot Brandy & Wine Festival

Vintners and distillers from around the country set up tasting booths on the squares of Kecskemét at this festival (www.hirosagora.hu).

Sopron Festival Weeks

All manner of concerts, theatrical performances, plus arts and crafts exhibitions are held in Sopron’s squares from mid-June (www.prokultura.hu).

July

School's out for the summer, so now you’re competing not only with foreign visitors but local ones too. Book early for Balaton and the hills of northern Hungary.

Szeged Open-Air Festival

The most celebrated open-air festival in Hungary (www.szegediszabadteri.hu) is held in July and August; events include opera, ballet, classical music and folk dancing.

Balaton Sound Festival

This lakeside adjunct of Budapest's hugely popular Sziget Festival, held at Zamárdi, near Balatonfüred, over five days in July, boasts almost as impressive a lineup of bands (www.sziget.hu/balatonsound).

Eger Bikavér Festival

Four days devoted to Bull's Blood, Eger's iconic wine (www.eger.hu).

Anna Ball

Even if you don't attend the Anna Ball (www.annabal.hu) on 26 July it's worth joining the crowds to watch the beautifully attired guests. On the following day the ball queen parades around Balatonfüred in an elaborate horse and carriage. Concerts accompany the days around the ball.

August

Hungary used to come to a grinding halt in what was called the 'cucumber-growing month', but that’s all changed now and August is festival month.

Debrecen Flower Carnival

A week-long spectacular (www.iranydebrecen.hu/info/flower-carnival) in Debrecen kicked off by a parade of flower floats on St Stephen’s Day (20 August).

Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix

Hungary’s prime sporting event (www.hungaroring.hu), held in early August in Magyoród, 24km northeast of the capital.

Hortobágy Bridge Fair

This century-old fair (www.hnp.hu) held in Hortobágy around St Stephen's Day (20 August) has dance, street theatre, folklore performances and the occasional horse and pony for good measure.

Sziget Festival

One of the biggest and most popular music festivals in Europe, with half a million revellers at last sighting, the Sziget Festival (http://szigetfestival.com) is held on Budapest’s Hajógyár (Óbuda) Island.

September

September brings summer to a close. It’s a good time to visit as there’s still a lot going on, wine is starting to flow and peak-season prices are over.

Grape Harvest Festivals

Festivals celebrating the grape harvest are held in late September in all wine-producing areas of Hungary, including Tokaj, Eger and Sopron. The Budapest International Wine Festival (www.aborfesztival.hu), held in the Castle District, is when Hungary's foremost vintners introduce their vintages to the public.

Valley of the Beautiful Women Weekend

Three days of wine, women and song at the celebrated Valley of the Beautiful Women in Eger (www.eger.hu).

October

Though the days are getting shorter and everyone is back into their routines, autumn is beautiful, particularly in the Buda Hills and the hills of northern Hungary.

Budapest International Marathon

Eastern Europe’s most celebrated race (www.budapestmarathon.com) runs along the Danube and across its bridges in mid-October.

November

The month kicks off immediately with a public holiday: All Saints' Day on 1 November. After that the winter season begins, with many museums and other tourist attractions around the country sharply curtailing their hours or closing altogether.

Budapest Christmas Fair & Winter Festival

Budapest kicks off the start of the holiday season in mid-November with Christmas markets opening in V Vörösmarty tér and in front of the basilica in V Szent István tér (http://budapestchristmas.com).

December

The build-up to Christmas intensifies as the month moves on, and the arrival of decorations, trees and coloured lights is a welcome sight.

New Year Gala & Ball

The annual calendar's most coveted ticket is this gala concert and ball held at the Hungarian State Opera House (www.opera.hu) in Budapest on 31 December.