Month by Month
Budapest Spring Festival, mid-April
Sziget Festival, mid-August
Busójárás, late February/early March
Szeged Open-Air Festival, July & August
Hollókő Easter Festival, April
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.
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.
This pre-Lenten carnival of Busójárás (www.mohacsibusojaras.hu) involves anthropomorphic costumes and is held in Mohács on the weekend before Ash Wednesday.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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 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).
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.
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).
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.