May Day in Budapest - Programs, Things to Do Recommendations on Labor Day & May
May Day in Budapest used to be a major holiday of the Communist Party. Large processions followed by beer and frankfurter in the City Park marked 1st May a couple of decades ago.
Today political parties still use May Day/Labor Day to advertise their programs and recruit followers, but luckily 1st May- Labor Day has become a family day with a range of festivals and programs in the capital, and other towns of Hungary.
The open-air baths start the summer season on this day too. Here are some tips on where to go and what to do on 01. May in our city.
More Events in May: Urbitalis Festival - Belgian Beer Festival - Ice Cream Day - Bread Festival - Rosalia Wine Festival - Stylewalker Day & Night - Festival of Museums - Main Street Festival - Budapest Essentials Festival - Gourmet Festival
TIP: Concerts by the Cantus Ensemble Choir on 02. and 03. May in two churches: the Church of St. Anne on Szervita tér, district V., and the Rózsák tere Church of St. Elizabeth district VIII. Tickets: free (donations are welcome)
Air and Race Car Show in Budapest City Centre, 1st May 2015.
Venue: the Danube bank in Pest at the Chain Bridge, in front of the Hungarian National Academy, tram 2
Due to the popularity of the event in 2013 the spectacular show will be organised again this year on the Danube bank with WTCC cars and drivers, Formula 1 cars and pilots.
View May Day Programs Budapest, 1st May in a larger map
Air Show - Danube Banks, 1st May 2015.
The Air & Race Car Show will no doubt be the most spectacular event on May Day. The program starts at 8.00 with a race car exhibit on the plaza in front of the Hungarian National Academy building.
The air show with the performance of Ferenc Besenyei aerobatics pilot begins at 13.45 at the Danube embankment in front of the Parliament followed by Flying Bulls old timer aeroplanes at 14.30.
Venue: on the bank of the Danube in front of the Technical University in Buda
A festival with boat competition, running race in costume, and other sport events, children programs, folk dance house, cheerleader show, concerts and lots of fun on a wonderful scenic location of the city. More information...
May Day Festivals: City Park (Városliget) - Majális
Venue: City Park, district XIV., M1 metro (yellow line) Hősök tere (Heroes' Square) stop
Budapest's largest park, the Városliget hosts a festival on each Labor Day. Craft fair, concerts, cooking competitions, children programs
May Day on Margaret Island
Margaret Island is another spacious green patch in the heart of the city; a perfect place to celebrate May Day in Budapest. Read more about attractions on Margaret Island.
Tabán Festival - 1st May, 2015., 14.30 - 24.00
Venue: Tabán, district I., Buda
Budapesti people celebrate the first day of May with live concerts from early afternoon till late night in the Tabán area in Buda.
The Tabán concerts used to be all about rebelation against the communist regime, today it has a more relaxed atmosphere with the most popular Hungarian pop-rock bands giving concerts all afternoon.
Quick fact: the Tabán area is the hilly part between Buda Castle and the Gellért Hill in district I., and partly in district XI. It used to be a very idyllic city part around the turn of the 19th-20 century with lots of cozy cafes, bars and restaurants, the prototypes of Budapest's all popular ruin pubs today.
In the 1960s the Tabán underwent a landscaping project then the park slowly became neglected. The area today is more or less organised and clean.
Belgian Beer Festival - 16-18. May 2015.
Venue: Whale/Bálna, M4 metro Fővám tér station, or tram 2 Zsil utca stop
Tickets: 2 800 HUF, includes 3 glasses of beer (200ml) or 4000 HUF (incl. 5 glassess of beer), and a special tasting glass
Around 150 kinds of beer ( 50 on tap) by 31 Belgian Breweries.
The V. Belgian Beer Festival moves to a new venu, the Whale on the Pest Danube bank, close to the Central market Hall
Some other Belgian beers that will be will be present are the Deliria, made by women beer makers, or the limited edition Hopus Primeur and Duver Tripel Hop. You can also taste the new star of recent years, Omer.
Urbitális Majális, City Festival 1st - 31st May
Venue: several places in the city, (Amusement Park, walks in district VI.,
A series of programs throughout May centered around the theme: "Budapest as a Creative City".
The event focuses on how the city's public areas can be made attractive to artists and other people with creative thinking.
The Urbitalis Festival is a project of non-profit organizations to celebrate arts and culture, the strength of creative thinking in forming a metropolis, like Budapest, into a more pleasant place to live in.
The colorful programs of the Urbitalis festival include:
- concerts (musical evenings in the Secessio Cafe in the Secessist Museum (Honvéd utca 3., district V.),
- guided tours (e. g. walk in Terézváros, district VI.):
The Zoo - A Great May Day Program for Families
A visit to the Zoo is always a nice outdoor program for the whole family:
- lots of green,
- animals (do go say hello to Asha the 2-month old baby elephant),
- snacks, restaurants, and a fine confectionery (Gundel Patisserie).
The best thing is that the Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden is in the City Park, home to a colourful May Day Festival each year. Do include the new Holnemvolt Park in your visit located next to the Zoo in the place of the former Amusement Park.
Enjoy the Thermal Baths and Outdoor Pools on 1st May, Labor Day
The weather on 1st May is usually very warm (25 - 30 deg. Celsius), ideal for splashing around in outdoor pools and baths.
The good news is that some of the outdoor baths in Budapest are open on May Day:
- the outside pool in the Gellért Bath,
- the Dagály,
- and the scenic Palatinus
TIP: Perhaps the Széchenyi Bath in City Park is the most ideal choice: it has an outdoor thermal bath in case it's cold, and it is close to the May Day Festival, and the Zoo.
More Events, Programs in May in Budapest
May offers a wide range of events and programs in the Hungarian capital. See a selection of some of the best:
Óbuda Festival, 03. May 2015.
Óbuda (Old Buda, district III.) is a lovely quaint part of Northern Budapest with several great events during the year.
The May Festival offers lots of fun programs at several venues in Óbuda: Main Square (Fő tér), Szentlélek tér, Kobuci garden.
Concerts, art and craft workshops, wine and gastro programs, activities for children welcome everyone on the first weekend of May.
Day Of Artisan Ice Cream - 50 % Discount
Venue: ice cream parlors at various locations in Budapest and Hungary
The second Thursday of May is dedicated to artisan ice cream in Hungary. More than 100 ice cream parlors, confectioneries have joined the vent when you can enjoy the most delicious gelatos at half price.
Some of the participating places in Budapest that we I will definitely visit with my older son are:
Fragola - is one of the first Italian-style gelateria now at 7 locations in the city. A scoop is 250 HUF at regular price. They have a permanent selection of flavours with some seasonal offers thrown in: chocolate, vanilla, hazelnut, caramel, pistachio, mascarpone-gorgonzola, strawberry, tiramisu, lemon,
The most central Fragola Ice Cream parlors can be found at:
- Nagymező utca 7. district V., the street of the Pesti Broadway just off Andrássy út and close to the Opera
- Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 76. not far from the Parliament, and close to the Nyugati Train Station on Grand Boulevard
- Károly körút 3. distict VII., in the vicinity of the Central Synagogue
They are open from 11.00 to 21.00 (or 22.00) every day
Address: Ráday utca 25., district IX,
Open: Mon-Sat: 11.30-22.00 Sun: 11.30-21.00
A small but great Italian ice cream place in Ráday Street (not far from a Fragola shop).
Besides gelato, they have semifreddi, brioche gelato, ice bon, frappe, coffee and other delicacies.
One scoop is 300 HUF, two: 500 HUF, three: 600 HUF.
Jófagyi Fagylaltműhekly (Good Ice Cream Shop)
Address: Piarista köz. 2., district V. city centre, close to the Danube bank in Pest and Erzsébet Bridge
Open: every day: 12.00-21.00
Artisan gelato made from all natural ingredients. Flavours include classic and unique options. One scoop is 5 dkg and costs 220 HUF.
Bread & Pastry Festival Buda Castle, 09-10. May 2015.
Venue: terraces of the Royal Palace
You can taste the best what Hungary offers in bread and pastry making during the two day festival on a beautiful venue in the Castle. Traditional and new, healthier breads, rolls, buns, sweet pastries: kakaós csiga (cocoa snail), túrós batyu, (cottage cheese bundle), bukta (tarditional Hungarian yeast based pastry filled with jam) will be the highlights of the event.
Besides tasting, you can enjoy folk concerts and dance, try folk games, view a bread label exhibition.
Rosalia, Festival of Rose Wines, 08 - 10. May, 2015.
Venue: Larus center and MOM Gesztenyéskert, Böszörményi út 23 - 25., district XII., Buda
Opening Hours: 9th May: 14.00 - 23.00, 10th May: 10.00-23.00, 11th May: 10.00 - 21.00
Entry: free, tasting: you have to buy a tasting glass for 800 HUF
A festival celebrating fresh roses and other splendid summer wines.
Pálinka Festival 21-24. May 2015.
Venue: Városháza park, M1, M2, M3 metro lines, Deák Ferenc tér station
Tickets: daily ticket 2 000 HUF ( a tasting glass and two tasting coupons are included)
The Pálinka Festival moves to a new location from Buda Castle to Városháza Park in downtown Budapest, district V.
This year pear will be in the limelight: spirits and food specialties made from the delicious Hungarian fruit.
Museum Festival - 16-17. May, 2015.
Venue: Several Museums in Budapest, main event is in the Hungarian National Museum, Múzeum körút 14 - 16., district VIII., M3 metro, Kálvin tér station
Opening hours: 9.00-22.00 on both days
Admission: free more information
The main theme of this year's festival is the creative 19th century, the rejuvenation of the urban bourgeois.
Concerts, workshops, unique guided tours of museum exhibits and many other programs on the 2-day weekend festival.
Stylewalker Day & Night 16. May 2015.
Design Shops at various locations
An event dedicated to talented young designers and design shops in Budapest. During the walk you can visit small shops and boutiques at hidden spots in the city most people don't know about.
Besides getting to know these secret place you can buy their products at discount price and enjoy a range of programs.
Some of the participating design shops:
Barnoff, Black Box, Buborék, Colorbar, FuFavi, Insitu, Jojó Artshop, Lollipop Factory, Rododendron Art & Design Shop, wonderLAB
Downtown Main Street Festival (Belvárosi Főutca Fesztivál) - 22-24. May 2015.
Venue: the inner city: Egyetem tér - Március 15. tér - Szabadság tér - Hild tér - Kristóf tér, Szervita tér - Kossuth L. utca 3.
Entry is free.
A 3-day festival celebrating the renewed Main Street of Budapest with concerts: world music, classical music, jazz, children chorus, puppet show, interactive programs for kids, folk performances (Hungarian, Greek, Gypsy and Slovakian).
Budapest Essentials - Live The City! - a 4-Day Urban Festival, 29. May - 01. June 2015.
Tickets: till 11. May: 9 900. between 16-15. May: 16 500 HUF, on the spot: 21 000 HUF
The biggest event of the first half of 2015 offers lots of programs at countless venues in the city centre: concerts (50 bands will perform), unique walk tours (you can explore the fire walks and street art of the city), pop-up workshops, street food, gourmet food, cakes (Cakes Shop is highly recommended, ticket holders get a 20% discount).
Some regularly organised fairs are also part of the even: the Gourmet Festival (30. May-01. June) at Millenáris park in Buda, the Wamp Festival at Akvárium Klub (Erzsébet tér) where young designers, artists will showcase their products, or the Gouba/Gozsdu Bazár another place to get to know works of start up Hungarian designers as well as browse among antique art pieces.
With your ticket you can also enjoy a one-time free visit to any of the participating baths: Gellért, Dandár, Dagály, Király, Széchenyi, Lukács, Rudas, Paskál, Római, go on a Hop on Hop Off Bus tour, a Free Walking Tour or visit the Zoo and Botanical Garden.
Gourmet Festival 21. - 24. May 2015.
Venue: Millenáris Park, trams 4, 6, M2 metro Széll Kálmán tér stop - a couple of minutes walk from there
Tickets: 3 300 HUF/day (includes a Spiegelau wine glass, wine tasting by Terra Hungarica wine shop, street food tasting, a gastro magazine, a cup of Nespresso coffee, and a glass of champagne for the first 1000 visitors every day) - free with your Budapest Essential ticket
This is a must event for foodies. The cream of the crop of the Hungary's and the capital's restaurants,gourmet shops, cake and pastry shops, wineries and wine shops will be present, so you can sample the best foods and drinks at one place.
Eat and Drink Alfresco - Terraced Cafes, Bars in Budapest
The pleasant May weather is perfect for sipping a glass of wine or fröccs (spritzer made from wine and soda) or craft beer outdoor. Here are some of our favorite terraced places in the city:
Terasz - Március 15. Square
Address: Március 15. tér 2., tram 2
Sitting on the terrace of Terasz on the Danube Promenade with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoying the beautiful panorama of Erzsébet bridge, the Gellért Hill and the Danube is a perfect way to relax. The place also offers tasty meals: goulash soup with csipetke, chicken paprikash, grilled sandwiches.
Address: Naphegy utca 67, district I., buses No: 8., 112, 178 Sánc utca stop, or trams 18, 19, 41. Döbrentei tér stop,
Open: Mon-Sun: 10.00-03.00
In case you wonder Terasz means terrace in Hungarian. This one is in Buda on top of Naphegy close to Gellért hill. Geared more towards hipsters, and party people.
Stunning vista, fine wines, champagnes of the Vinopolis wine shop and restaurant (at the same address), late breakfast, lunch, dinner. DJ- s provide great music in the evenings.
More Outdoor Cafes:
You'll find plenty in the following areas
- Szent István tér, the Basilica and its neighbourhood - the Mini Bar is a brand new place with the theme of the Rover Mini Car
- Gozsdu Court - packed with bars, cafes - Blue Bird cafe is great for a breakfast and coffee (they have their own coffee roaster)
- Liszt Ferenc Tér, Hajós utca, Nagymező utca (aka Pesti Broadway)
- Andrássy út - Opera
- Ráday utca in district IX.
- the Duna Korzó - Danube Promenade- a scenic walkway between the Chain Bridge and Erzsébet bridge
Party TIP - Outdoor Clubs
Open air clubs and bars welcome the summer season with the arrival of May.
Barba Negra Track
Location: Neumann János utca 2., district XI.
The Barba Negra Track (former Zöld Pardon) at the Buda end of Rákóczi Bridge has opened its gates on 30. April with a 4-day concert series by Hungary's best rock, pop and underground bands.
Kosheen from Bristol will also perform on 1st May.
Concert tickets: around 1000 - 1500 HUF