Holiday Fairs at Various Venues
Come and explore our favourite Christmas Markets in Budapest, especially that the Hungarian capital was voted the most affordable Christmas Market destination in Europe by the British Daily Mail!
Apart from the best-known festive fair on Vörösmarty Square, the city has some other fabulous markets with unique craft products, tasty local food, drinks and great programs.
Admission is free to all events.
I love strolling in the Budapest with our 2 boys (aged 5 and 12) during the Advent period when the streets and squares take on festive decor and lighting and we try to drop by each major Xmas fair.
Here’s our list.Quick Links: Vörösmarty Square – Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace – Deák Ferenc Street (Fashion Str.) – St. Stephen’s Basilica – Erzsébet Square – Városháza Park – Whale (Bálna) – Jókai Square – Nutcracker Festival Opera House – Várkert Bazaar – Király Utca-Central Passage – Gozsdu Court – Palace Quarter, district VIII. – Corvin Promenade – Allee Shopping Centre – Advent in Óbuda – Müpa Winter Open Air – Map
Date: 11. November 2016. – 01. January 2017.
This is the most popular holiday fair in Budapest with a central location on a plaza in front of the Gerbeaud Coffee House.
Around 100 stalls are set up around the slender Christmas tree that is decorated with different colours of ornaments each year.
Concerts, craft and play house for children, the visit of Santa Claus on 6. December, delicious food:
- stuffed cabbage,
- grilled meats and sausages,
- flat bread (lepény) baked in clay oven,
- Sekler cake, beigli, flódni and other sweets,
- fragrant winter beverages (mulled wine, krampampuli, grog, tea) are the best features of this holiday bazaar.
A varied program, folk, jazz, world music, soul, blues, crossover concerts offer entertainment on the centre stage between 17.00-20.00 on weekdays and between 16.00-20.00 on weekends.
Date: 25. November – 24. December 2016.
Opening Hours: Mon-Thurs: 13.00-20.00, Fri-Sun: 11.00-20.00, on December 24.: 10.00-16.00
One of the top luxury hotels of Budapest, the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace hosts a festive market for the first time.
You can enter the fairy tale-like fair from the entrance in Zrínyi utca. Luxury items, handcrafted products, food delicacies, and a dazzling atmosphere in a lavish setting.
Even if you don’t intend to buy anything stroll around to admire the beautiful, elegant interior of the historic palace.
Pop in on the way to the fair at the Basilica!
Christmas Market in Fashion Street/Deák Ferenc Street
You can do two markets in one visit because Fashion Street (Deák Ferenc utca) that cuts through Vörösmarty Square also hosts one: with a slender Christmas tree in front of the Hotel Kempinski Corvinus.
All sorts of food and drink offers, strudel, Sekler Cake (kürtöskalács) and other pastries, oven-baked flat bread with delicious toppings and of course pottery, ceramics, embroidered folk textiles to tempt you to open open your wallet.
And right after a walk along Fashion Street you can head to the Basilica on St. Stephen Square…
Date: 27. November 2016. – 02. January 2017.
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs: 11:30 – 20:00, Fri: 11:30 – 22:00, Sat: 10:00 – 22:00, Sun: 10:00 – 20:00,
December 24.: 10:00 – 14:00, December 24.: 10.00-14.00, December 25. and 26.: CLOSED, December 31.: 10:00 – 22:00
The spacious Szt. István Square in front of the Basilica gives home to an Advent Fair from 27. November till the beginning of the New Year (02/01/2016).
No other venue can be more fitting to a festive Christmas fair than the St. Stephen’s Basilica in downtown Budapest. The market welcomes visitors for the fifth time since 2011.
The four and half week long event offers plenty of entertainment besides special artisan gifts for your loved ones.
Our son especially loved the 200 sqrm ice skating rink that is free for children (training is available on weekends: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, free for kids aged 4-14 years)).
Handmade chocolate bonbons, leather gloves, design jewelry, strawberry wine, pálinka, Csabai salami and more to see, buy and taste on the market.
This year you also can enjoy a spectacular light show on the facade of the Basilica in the evenings every 30 minutes.
The fair will be bigger than previous years: Budapest’s best street food vendors will offer delicacies in Zrínyi utca from Sas utca to Széchenyi tér.
You can have:
- gourmet burgers by Zing Burger,
- BBQ specialties by Szegyház,
- fried cheese burgers by Paneer,
- burgers, grilled sausages by KIOSK (a popular downtown restuarant on Március 15. tér)
- gluten- and egg-free fish and chips by Hal & Chips
Other options include: BudDog, Paneer (breaded cheese), MexKitchen, Balkan Grill, Beffaló Bill, and Korhely.
Programs of the Christmas Market at the Basilica
You can visit the following programs and events:
- Opening Ceremony of the Market – 30. November at 16.00: the first light on the Advent Wreath next to the Christmas tree will be lighted and the occasion is also the official opening of the holiday fair.
- Light Painting – spectacular light show and animation with festive themes every day from 16.30 till 18.00 Folk Dance.
- Performance by the Göncöl Folk Ensemble – every Friday and Saturday two 20 minutes shows followed by a free-to-join dance house should you want to learn folk dancing and warm up in the cold winter time.
- Awaiting Santa Claus – 4-6 December: well-known local people will dress up and play Santa with story telling and singing.
Date: 17. November – 27. December 2016.
Location: Városháza park, district V., city centre (M1, M2, M3 metro lines, Deák F. tér station, a short walk from there)
A Winter Festival organised for the third time this year offering a rich selection of cultural programs besides an Xmas Fair of hand-crafted goods and foodie goodies.
Dance ensembles, school groups from various parts of Hungary will come and show authentic Christmas traditions characteristic of the locale they live in.
Concerts, festive theatrical performances, several charity events and other programs will be staged in the Theatre Tent.
One of the country’s tallest Christmas Tree (16 m) will be erected in the centre of the festival.
Find out more about Advent and Winter Festival in Városháza Park.
Address: Fővám tér 11-12., tram 2 or M4 (green metro) Fővám tér stop
Opening Hours: Sun-Thurs: 12.00-22.00, Fri-Sat: 12.00-24.00
The steel and glass entertainment and shopping centre called Bálna/Whale on the Pest side of the river is is an ideal place for a Christmas-themed event.
The terrace offers amazing views of the Danube and the Buda side that you can enjoy while listening to
- jazz & blues concerts (free),
- sipping hot wine or
- wandering around the stalls of merchants.
Free ice rink with Disco from 18.00 every day. Skate rental is available. Interactive playhouse offers meaningful activities for kids in room No. 0.305 on the groundfloor.
St. Nicholas Day (Mikulás in Hungarian) on 6th December is one of the most awaited days of the year by children in Hungary because Mikulás (the local equivalent of Santa Claus) brings them small gifts, mostly sweets and fruits in a red packet.
If you have children you can await Santa at the Whale on on 03. and 04, December with programs starting from 15.00.
Date: end of November – 23. December 2016.
This event is held in the most central park of the city: Erzsébet tér.
Around 50-60 Hungarian craft food producers and farmers will be offering their products during the weeks preceding the holiday.
A not-to-miss opportunity to taste the best of Hungarian gastronomy, shop for local food stuff (honey, preserves, sausages, cheese, pastries, biscuits, wine).
Do try the Christmas bonbons and cakes by Suhajda Confectionery, the various mulled wines (only if you aren’t afraid of getting a tummy ache, the choice is endless from rosehip, lavender rose, to blueberry), and the craft cheeses from Transylvania.
Address: Jókai tér, district VI., a few steps from Oktogon tram and M1 underground stop
The Pesti Broadway part of the city, packed with theatres and other cultural entertainment hot spots, is a fitting venue for a festive fair.
The small plaza openning off the World Heritage protected Andrássy Avenue will host the event till 24. December offering handcrafted gifts, traditional food and drinks along with concerts and other programs.
Venue: in front of the Opera House on Andrásy Avenue, tram 4, 6 Oktogon, M1 (Yellow line) Opera station
The Hungarian Opera House‘s most awaited performance is the Nutcracker/Diótörő by Tchaikovsky each year.
In addition to the 26 performances between 01 – 30. December a special Nutcracker Festival in front of the historic building creates enchanting atmosphere in the World Heritage-listed neighbourhood.
- A 10 m tall Christmas tree had already been erected and decorated on 17. November. Characteristic elements of Tchaikovsky’s ballet, musical programs and a craft fair will bring alive an enchanted atmosphere in the neighbourhood.
- The Opera Cafe welcomes guests with hot drinks and traditional Christmas cakes and pastries.
- The OperaFleur’s cottage prepares with unique gingerbreads, Advent ornaments, and craft products. The aroma of roast chestnuts and Sekler cake will waft around the Opera building.
- The festival starts on 27. November, Sunday with the concert of the Hungarian State Opera’s Children Choir.
- Then László Lehel, the president-director of the Hungarian Interchurch Aid (HIA) and Szilveszter Ókovács the general director of the Opera house will start to serve mulled wine for the visitor.
- Till 23. December 30 minute before the Nutcracker performances school, university and other amateur choirs will perform on the terrace of the Sphinx statue overlooking Dalszínház utca.
Address: Ybl Miklós tér 2-6., district I.
The Castle Garden Bazaar at the Buda side of the Danube will host a Advent programs with
- folk craft fair,
- “Angel’s music, candlelight” – Christmas exhibition of old times in the Southern Palace/Déli Palota, (Till 06. January 2017, Tue-Sun: 10.00-18.00, Tickets: 1 500 HUF)
- food trucks,
- a small ice rink
- free children programs each Sunday.
This is perhaps the most scenic Christmas fair in the city at the foot of the castle Hill overlooking the Danube and the Pest side.
The Hello Wood team has created a charming mini cottage city on Ybl Miklós Square complete with 7 m high candles dressed in festive lights.
After looking around the craft market you sure will be tempted by the tasty street food offered by the trucks: from local specialties (Kobe Sausages) to international favourites (burgers, piadina, waffels, pancakes) and hot drinks, the choice is ample.Children Programs on Sundays (FREE), 11.00 – 19.00:
Advent Craft Workshop:
- making gifts, ornaments,
- decorating gingerbread,
- lighting the candles on the Advent wreath
Concerts, Other Programs:
- Sleeping Beauty by the Hungarian National Folk Ensemble on 04. December/Sunday at 17.00
- Erika Miklósa & the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra, 11. December, 19.00-21.00 (tickets: 4 900-7 900 HUF).
- Choir Festival on weekends: 04., 10., 11., 17., 18. December – open-air Christmas concerts by children and adult choirs in Lánchíd utca
Address: Komor Marcell utca 1., district IX., getting there: tram 2 or H7 suburban railwy, Közvágóhíd stop
Address: Király utca 8-10., district VI.
Dates: 10., 17. December, at 11.00 – 18.00
The weekly Közös Piac Farmers’ Market is my favourite place to shop for quality homemade food stuff (cheese, bakery, sausage, ham, biscuits, chocolate, herbs, hot paprika paste, jams and preserves etc.) and I’ll sure will drop by in December when the place turns into a festive fair with a wide range of producers, craft food makers, designers at present each Saturday and Sunday from 11.00 till 18.00.
The good things is that the Passage is covered and heated providing protection from the cold wintry weather.
Although I love the market because of the food, it also a great place to get other goodies on the joint events organised together with the Farmers’ Market: designer clothes, bags, jewelry and other accessories on the DIP Design Passage.
Location: Gozsdu Udvar, Király utca 13.-Dob utca 16., district VII., M1., M2., M3 metros Deák tér station
The party hot spot of the city hosts the weekly Gouba Designer & Antique Market: a place to get some nice, quality antique, vintage, retro, and design products.
In December the palce turns into a festive market where you can sure pick up some unique gifts for your loved ones. See more on their website.
Date: 26. November – 18. December 2016.
Location: Palace Quarter: Baross Street (Kálvin Square)-Szabó Ervin Square, district VIII.
This lovely area in Józsefváros part of Budapest (district VIII.) has become a hip cultural and festival venue in recent years (the Főzdefeszt Craft Beer Festival was held here twice a year, before it moved to the City Park) so it is only natural that that it has its own Christmas Fair starting at last weekend of November.
This year the renewed Horváth Mihály tér behind Corvin Plaza gives home to weekend programs in December and for a small ice rink.
Children and family programs on weekends, Bethlehem with live animals that kids can pet, church concert, live light music concerts on the stage at the renewed.
Christmas Fair on Corvin Promenade
Date: usually from the beginning of December till 24. December 2016.
Every shopping centre in Budapest will be decked in festive decor during the weeks preceding Christmas, but the market on the promenade behind Corvin Plaza are the loveliest one in my opinion.
Authentic folk craft items, holiday-themed craft workshops, Santa welcoming programs, winter-inspired food, snacks and drinks, concerts along Budapest’s newest urban walkway.
Date: 25. November – 24. December 2016. Every day: 10.00 – 20.00
The small pedestrian street next to the Allee Shopping Mall also hosts a Christmas fair each year.
You will find nothing surprising at the vendors: clothes, accessories, gifts and knick-knacks, and the usual fair-staples: honey, jams, pálinka, mulled wine, flat bread/bread pizza.
Date: 25. November – 18. December 2016.
Christmas market Gastro promenade opening hours: Mon-Thurs: 14.00-21.00, Fri-Sun: 10.00-22.00
Although Óbuda (Old Buda), district III. of Budapest, is a bit out of the city centre, it is worth going to to the festive Advent fair that is starting on 31. November.
The event is held on the district’s charming Main Square with a tall Christmas tree standing in the centre but programs are also held on Szentlélek tér, a square at 2-minute walk from Main Sqr..
Genuine handmade artifacts, fragrant Christmas drinks (mulled wine, tea, krampampuli), street food (flat bread baked in clay oven), traditional Hungarian dishes (fishermen’s soup, catfish paprikash, stuffed cabbage, veal paprikash, roasted goose, grilled meats, sausages and a wide choice of programs (concerts, folk music and dance, children activities) welcome everyone.
A nativity scene, animal petting area, an antique merry-go-round, lots of activities for children (ice skating, Santa Adventure Park on 05. December/Saturday) concerts every weekend are the other allures of the event.
The ice rink (free entry) is open from the last weekend of November till 31. January 2017., every day between 8.00-20.00.
Which Christmas Market Should You Visit While in Budapest?
Naturally you won’t have time to visit each holiday fair especially if you stay in Budapest only for 1-2 days and you would get sick of Xmas markets and the whole holiday anyway if you tried to do so.
1. The Christmas Market at Vörösmarty Square is a must (though it tends to be crowded especially in the afternoons and evenings) – it’s easily accessible (the Deák tér metro hub is close by, but the M1 Underground/yellow line has a stop at the square) and is the official Xmas market of Budapest and everybody raves about it.
2. the Advent Fair at St. Stephen’s Basilica – we felt the festive atmosphere the best at this event, might be due to the presence of the Basilica commanding the square.
3. Christmas Fair in Óbuda – you can kill two birds with one stone: explore this slightly hidden neighbourhood of Budapest and enjoy a great programs and food.
4. The Open-Air Winter Festival at the Palace of Arts is highly recommended too if you aren’t after buying something just have a good time. Ideal with families with kids.