National Holiday in Hungary
On 15th March Hungarians commemorate the Revolution and the following War of Independence against the Austrian-Hapsburg rule in 1848 – 1849.
This day is one of the most prominent National Holidays in Hungary with
- Commemorations, and
- Family programs in Budapest, and the rest of the country.
We recommend the family programs in the Hungarian National Museum‘s Garden, and in Buda Castle.
If you are ready to wait out the queue you can visit the Parliament building and the Holy Crown of Hungary in it for free.
The whole city will be decked out in the national tricolor, so if you take a stroll in the centre, cross the bridges spanning the Danube, you will definitely soak up some of the commemorative atmosphere.
Bath Opening Hours – Programs In The National Museum’s Garden – Open Day In The Parliament – Family Programs In Buda Castle – Photo Exhibit: Hungary 365 (Danube Promenade) – Programs In Várkert Bazár (Castle Bazaar) – Hussar Procession (Government Celebrations) – Other Venues Of Commemoration – Historical Background
Want to see the magical night view of Budapest? The best way to enjoy all the major attractions adorning the river sides is on a boat cruise.
You can opt to have buffet dinner with drinks, or just cocktails, wine or beer tasting!
See prices and booking through the link below!
Important Notes For Tourists:
- Shops, markets and services are closed on 15th March, Wednesday.
- On 15. March Public transport services operate according to Sunday/holiday schedule, meaning less frequent services.
- On 14. March services run according to Saturday schedule. See timetables at the Budapest Public Transport Company’s (BKK) website.
- Most cafés and restaurants are open though, especially in downtown Budapest.
Bath Opening Hours Over The Holiday
Tickets To the Baths
- Széchenyi Bath & Gellért Bath (with locker): Mon – Thurs: 9 400 HUF/cc. 25 EUR, Frid – Sun: 10 900 HUF/cc. 29 EUR
- Rudas Bath: Mon – Fri: 8 600 HUF/cc. 23 EUR, Sat-Sun: 12 200 HUF/cc. 32 EUR
What Does Hungary Celebrate On March 15th?
“Rise Up Magyar the Country Calls!”
The above line is quoted from the famous Nemzeti Dal (National Song) by poet Sándor Petőfi (1823-1849) and a prominent figure of the uprising.
On 15. March in 1848 he recited the poem from the stairs of the Hungarian National Museum (Múzeum körút 14-16., M3 (blue) metro, Ferenciek tere station) for thousands of people.
Petőfi’s passionate recitation marks the beginning of the revolution against the Habsburg regime.
He was killed in one of the last battles of the war in 1849.
No Revolution day goes by without reciting the National Song during the celebrations at national monuments, especially from the stairs of the National Museum.
On 15th March Budapest, and the rest of the country are dressed up in
- White and
- Green, the national tricolour of Hungary.
People also wear tricolor cockades pinned to their clothes.
Many events accompany the official celebrations including:
- Musical and theatrical performances as well as
- Family activities in Buda Castle and in the
- Garden of the Hungarian National Museum.
Kids can go a round on horse back with the help of hussars dressed in traditional uniforms in the garden of the National Museum.
You can join the commemorations at several venues.
The official government celebrations start with raising Hungary’s National Flag on Kossuth Square, in front of the Parliament at 09.00.
The Garden of the National Museum welcomes families with kids with a range of programs and activities.
Join the various family programs at various locations in Buda Castle, and the Várkert Bazaar.
All festive programs are free, do some require to register.
Photo Exhibition: Hungary 365, Danube Promenade, 14. March
- Location: Duna Korzó/Danube Promenade, between the Petőfi Statue and the Vigadó
- Date: 14. March – 10. April, 2023
You can admire the best 200 photos from the previous 4 years of the Hungary 365 photo contest along the Danube Promenade between the Stature of Sándor Petőfi and the Vigadó Hall.
15. March – Government Celebrations
- 09.00 – Raising Hungary’s Flag on Kossuth Square, in front of the Parliament
- 09:30 – Procession of Hussars from the Parliament to the Hungarian National Museum: route of the procession: Alkotmány utca, Bajcsy Zsilinszky út, Károly krt., Múzeum krt.
- 10.00 – 18.00 – Festive Commemoration in the Garden of the National Museum
Hungarian National Museum – 15. March, 2023, 10.00 -18.00
- Address: Múzeum krt. 14 – 16., Bp. 1088, distr. VIII.
- Opening Hours: Monday (14. March): 10.00 – 18.00, Tuesday -Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00
Due to the holiday the museum will be open on Monday too (the general opening hours are Tue-Sun: 10.00 – 18.00).
Since the National Museum and its lovely garden were a major venue of the events of the revolution in 1848, do visit it if you wish to learn more about the historical background.
Take a walk in the beuatifully renewed garden and have coffee with cake in the Geraldine/Auguszt Confectionery.
Later in the afternoon you can enjoy a beautiful light play on the facade of the museum (begins at 17.30).
Geraldine is open Tuesday- Sunday from 10.00 to 18.00. Have a slice of classic Auguszt cake creation, like the
- E-80 torte,
- Dobos cake or
- Krémes (square-shaped layers of puff pastry and custard cream).
They also serve savoury snacks like quiche or pogácsa (savoury scones).
There will be also guided tours, lectures, presentations in Hungarian related to the revolution and war from 10.00 to 18.00 – these will be mainly be in Hungarian.
Family Programs – Garden Of The National Museum, 10.00 – 18.00
The main activities include:
- Thematic and interactive museum routes to explore the exhibitions.
- Board games for families with kids.
- Treasure hunt.
- Colouring – little kids can join and colour a beautiful coloring booklet that lists the top artifacts of the museum.
- Baking cake in the Geraldine (Auguszt) Confectionery.
- Local delicacies in the fair – taste Hungarian specialties like langos, kürtös kalács (chimney cake) etc.
- Horse petting and riding on a pony.
- Craft workshops for the whole family.
Light Show On The Facade Of The National Museum, 17.30 – 23.30
The front of the museum’s building will be dressed in dazzling rays of colourful lights in memory of the revolution of 1848.
Open Day In The Parliament – 15. March, 10.00 – 18.00
Open day in the Hungarian Parliament on Kossuth Square, 10.00 – 17.00 .
Take a tour of the largest building of Budapest for free.
Visitors can access the Parliament from the direction of Alkotmány utca.
You can view the
- Impresisve Staricase Hall, the
- Cupola Hall as well as the
- Holy Crown of King St. Stephen, first King of Hungary who established the Hungarian state and introduced Christianity.
Performances, exhibitions, music, dance and literature, historical walks and free family programs like:
- Weapon demonstrations and
- Mounted hussars fill the venues of the renewed Budavári Palace Quarter on the national holiday.
Most events are free, but the more popular programs require pre-registration to participate
- Date & Time: 15. March, 10.00 – 18.00
- Address: Ybl Miklós tér 2., district I.
The halls of the beautifully renovated Southern bazaar of the Várkert/Castle Bazaar will host various family activities and concerts for children.
Craft Workshop, 11.00 – 18.00
- Making cockade, soldiers and hussar shako
Weapon Demonstration – Csikós Courtyard, 15. March, 11.30 – 15.00
Follow the clang of swords to the Csikós Couryard in Várkert Bazár!
You can learn about the various types of weapons, fighting methods and the military traditions of the past.
Brass Band Concert – Csikós Courtyard, 15. March, 14.30 & 15.30
A special holiday preformance of the Hussar Band that gives free mini outdoor concerts during the summer month.
Mounted Hussar Patrol Demonstartion – Csikós Courtyard, 15. March
The hussars played an important role in the 1848-49 revolution and war of independence. The National Cavalry of Hungary and a special hussar unit will patrol in the courtyard.
Other Venues in Budapest For Commemorating 15th March
Besides the Parliament and Buda Castle, other places where official celebrations take place include
- Petőfi Statue (Petőfi tér, near Elizabeth bridge, tram 2) and
- The Batthyány Eternal Flame (Batthyány Örökmécses, Báthori utca, district V., M2 metro Kossuth tér station).
Count Lajos Batthyány was the prime minister of the first responsible Hungarian government in 1848-49.
He was executed by a firing squad at the site of the memorial during the Habsburg’s retaliation following their victory over the Hungarian army.
The eternal flame has been burning in memory of him since 1926.
The Hapsburg and their allies liberated Buda from the 150-year Turkish occupation in 1686. However Hungary did not become a free country but a province of the Austro-Habsburg Empire.
Hungarians fought against the Habsburg oppression throughout the coming centuries.
The most important anti-Habsburg movements include
- the Thököly movement, and
- the War of Independence in 1703 – 11 lead by Ferenc Rákóczi.
The Austrians had beat down these movements.
The first half of the 18th century was a period of compromise between the Austrian rulers and Hungary.
Influenced by the events of the French revolution, a new resistance movement, the Jacobin, emerged in Hungary toward the end of the 18th century.
Lead by Ignác Martinovics, the Jacobins’ main objectives were
- the independence of Hungary and
- transforming the country to a bourgeois society.
The Jacobin movement failed too. The Habsburgs arrested and executed the leaders of the organization.
The Reform Era
The Hungarian Reform Era started in 1825 when at the diet Count István Széchenyi (1791-1860) offered his 1-year income to establish the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Széchenyi become a prominent figure of this era facilitating great developments in Budapest and the country. The other outstanding personality of this era was Lajos Kossuth.
The spirit of nationalism arose in other European countries and capitals and they only heightened the enthusiasm of Hungarian reformers.
On political level Lajos Kossuth’s fiery speeches provoked anti-Habsburg feelings while Sándor Petőfi roused common people through his uplifting poems.
He’s Hungary’s most celebrated romantic poet and a fervent fighter for the nation’s independence.
Petőfi roused the Hungarian people against the Austrian-Habsburg oppression reciting the verses of his National Song/Nemzeti Dal from the steps of the National Museum on the morning of March 15. in 1848 (though according to current knowledge this is just an urban legend).
He also participated in drawing up the famous 12 points (also recited from the steps of the museum ) – a summary of the Hungarian revolutionaries’ demands.
He wrote nearly 1000 poems during his short life (around 875 survived and are known today).
Petőfi’s Most famous Works
Every Hungarian knows his best-known romantic poems by heart. Some of them like the At the End of September were translated into most languages of the world.
His epic poem János Vitéz/John the Valiant is also very popular. It’s been made into a musical, puppet show, cartoon, and rock opera.
Petőfi also wrote a lot about his homeland the Great Plain/Alföld (Az Alföld, A Tisza, A puszta, télen) raising the bleak “puszta” to poetic heights.
In the War of Independence of 1849 he fought in the Hungarian army as captain. He thought to had been killed (or captured) in the last and lost battle of the war, at Segesvár on 31. July in 1849.
Today many street names, statues, memorials, museums keep his memory in Hungary and the neighbouring countries of the Carpathian basin.
TIP: The Petőfi Literary Museum in the Károlyi Palace (Károlyi utca 16., district V., downtown Budapest) has one of the largest collections on the works of Petőfi as well as a permanent exhibition on his life complete with audio-visual tools and apps titled: Who Am I? I Will Not Say…” Petőfi’s Choices
Admission: 800/400 HUF.
The Revolution On 15th March 1848
The revolutionary wave that had swept over Europe in spring 1848 resulted in a bloodless revolution in Hungary on 15th March.
A bunch of Hungarian poets and writers formed the core of the radicals.
They were preparing for a demonstration on 19th March at their regular meeting place, the Café Pilvax.
They heard the news of the revolution in Vienna on the evening of 14th March so they decided to bring forward the demonstration.
The revolutionaries started to gather people while reciting
- Petőfi’s National Song and
- reading their demands worded in the 12 points (kids at school have to learn it by heart when they learn about the Revolution).
The Most Important Demands Were:
- Freedom of press, abolition of censure
- Freedom of religion
- A national bank
- Independent jury
- Abolition of feudal conditions.
The 1st Independent Hungarian Government
The mass lead by Petőfi in the pouring rain occupied a press and printed out the poem and the 12-points.
The Hapsburgs didn’t dare to intervene. Despite the rain, an even bigger crowd gathered in the garden of the National Museum by afternoon.
Following the events on 15th March, a Hungarian delegation went to Vienna to tell their demands to Ferdinand V. After several discussions the Habsburgs accepted an independent Hungarian ministry lead by Count Lajos Batthyány.
“We swear unto thee – that slaves we shall no longer be!”
In summer 1848 Vienna decided to take action against the Hungarian revolution.
The ethnic minorities living in Hungary weren’t happy with the Hungarians’ victory. The Croats allied with Austria and their troops attacked and invaded Hungary.
Although the Habsburgs had more power and larger army, they weren’t strong enough to defeat Hungarians. Austria convinced Russia to provide support for breaking down the Hungarian War of Independence.
Despite being a small country, Hungary humiliated Austria by fighting tooth and nail and by surrendering not to the Emperor but to the Russian Czar in August 1849.
Age Of Terror
Following the defeat, retribution began.
Fourteen generals were executed at Arad on 6th October 1849. Count Batthyány Lajos, Hungary’s first prime-minister was shot at Pest, and thousands were sentenced to death or prison.
The Habsburgs built the Citadel fortress on Gellért Hill at that time with cannons directed at the town below.
The age of terror stifled Hungary in the coming years.
More Events, Things To Do in March – Easter Programs and Traditions – Easter Festival in Buda Castle – Spring Festival 2023. – April Events – May Day Programs – St. Stephen’s Day August 20. – October 23. 1956 Revolution