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20. August-St. Stephen’s Day

August 19 - August 21

What Does Hungary Celebrate On August 20.?

Fireworks, Programs in Budapest on St Stephen’s Day

20th August is St. Stephen’s Day in Hungary and it is a public holiday. We celebrate the foundation of the Hungarian state more than 1000 years ago. The new bread is blessed on this day too.

Countless programs await both locals and tourists all the day round. Besides commemorations organized by political parties, there will be numerous other exciting things to do, especially for families with children.

Festivities start on 20th August with the spectacular fireworks closing the holiday.

Learn about the variety of programs to plan your day well and catch a glimpse into Hungary’s history, culture, and gastronomy. Have a wonderful August 20th National Holiday in the Hungarian capital!

Quick Links: Program RecommendationsFireworksHungary’s CakeStreet of Hungarian Flavours

Program Recommendations

Fireworks on 20th August – Danube Banks: from the Open Deck of a Cruise Ship

teh fireworks on 20/aug as seen from the pest end of the Chain bridgeEnjoy the dazzling show starting at 21.00 from the best possible spot: from the upper deck of the Europa sightseeing and event ship anchored on the Danube.

Included are also:

  • A 4-course festive dinner with a glass of wine,
  • a 1-hour sightseeing river tour
  • for a truly romantic August evening.
Book Program!

The Interior of the Elegant and Spacious Európa Ship, Venue of the Program

The Európa is one of the largest and prettiest cruise and event ships in Budapest a perfect venue watching the fireworks and having a a memorable summer evening in our this scenic city!


Read more about the Cruise on the Danube with Dinner program that is available every day at 19.00 and 22.00.

Note: This year St. Stephen’s Day falls on Sunday. Most shops, markets, services will be closed.

The majority of cafes and restaurants – especially in the city centre – are open though.

Museums also welcome visitors over the two-day holiday.

Public transportation services operate according to holiday schedule.

Street of Hungarian Flavours – A Gastro Promenade in Lánchíd utca/Várkert Bazaar, on the Danube Bank in Buda, August 20 – 21.

Opening Hours: 9.00-20.00 on 20. and 21. August

Location: Lánchíd utca, Buda, between Lánchíd Street and Ybl Miklós Square

chocolate snails and other pastries in woven baskets on the Street of Hungarian Flavors festPrograms start on 20th August: visit the Street of Hungarian Flavours (Magyar Ízek Utcája) in front of the Várkert Bazaar, Buda, a beautiful, refurbished series of buildings built at the end of the 19.century, to have a taste of traditional Hungarian food and drinks.

You can taste the new bread (this year it is an all-natural spelt bread), cakes and pastries made with plum and apricot, milk loaves, scones and other delicacies (jams, preserves, honey, cheese).

Hungary’s Cake (Green Gold of Őrség – made with almond flour, pumpkin seed oil, white chocolate ganache, raspberry jelly) – along with the Sugar-free Cake – will also be introduced there on 20th August that everyone can taste (prepare for a long queue though).

Hungary’s Cake- The Winner and the Nominees

Hungary's cake 2013: Somlo revolution torte

Each year a special cake is prepared to celebrate our country’s foundation. The National Guild of Hungarian Confectioners selects the best recipe submitted by confectioners from all over Hungary.

It can first be tasted – along with the healthy version torte and a cake dedicated to the Hungarian Army (see photos below) – on 20th and 21st August during the culinary programs of the holiday (Street of Hungarian Flavours in Buda at the Várkert Bazaar between Lánchíd utca and Döbrentei tér), then in major confectioneries everywhere in the country.

The Winner Cake in 2016 – Green Gold of Őrség

Őrség Zöld Aranya/Green Gold of Őrség Cake
Őrség Zöld Aranya/Green Gold of Őrség Cake
Őrség Zöld Aranya/Green Gold of Őrség  – by Gellért Szó, G&D Cake Shop, Salgótarján.

The cake looks beautiful the red, green and white colours representing the 3 national colours.

The main ingredients are almond flour, cold-pressed pumkin seed oil and raspberry.

  • The name refers to the cold-pressed pumpkin seed oil made in the Őrség in West Hungary, white chocolate ganache and raspberry are the other two main ingredients in this unique, colourful torte.
  • The green sponge is made with almond flour and pumpkin seed oil.
  • White chocolate ganache, raspberry jelly, a crunchy pumpkin seed praline and a moss-green mirror glaze result in a unique, refreshing combination of various textures and flavours.

Other Nominees Were:

  • Zuzorka – by Gellért Szó, G&D Cake Shop, Salgótarján  – shortbread base with mascarpone and cream and fruits.
  • Aranyos Körtetorta by Nórbert Tóth, Tóth Confectionery, Dunaföldvár – pear, elderflower

revealing the nation's Birthday cake

The winner cake in 2014 was Somlói Revolution by Damniczki Confectionery in Székesfehérvár – the iconic Hungarian dessert (white and chocolate sponge cake sprinkled with rum, layered with vanilla sauce topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream) reinvented.

TIP: Damniczky has opened a cake shop in Budapest in Hercegprímás utca, close to the Basilica where you can taste delicious tortes and ice creams in a stylish yet cosy setting.

In 2013 the Milotai honey brittle torte (Milotai mézes grillázstorta) by Major Confectionery from Budapest (Maros utca 14., Buda, district XII., Milota is a village in the northeastern corner of Hungary) won: honey and praline cream between thin, crunchy layers of walnut brittle.

The cake is rich in walnut ( a slice contains 30 g).

Hungary’s Sugar Free Cake – a Healthy Version

Cranberry princess - Sugar Free Cake
Cranberry Princess – Sugar Free Cake

There will also be a sugar free birthday cake so that people with diabetes or the health conscious can also enjoy a slice of dessert.

In 2016 the Cranberry Princess Cake made by the Tortavár Confectionery (Buda, Keleti Károly utca 25., distr. II.) was selected the best by the jury.

It’s made without sugar, white flour, artificial additives and preservatives. A slice contains only 228 kcal, and 8.6 g carbohydrate.

In 2014 a cake named Choco Adventure by the Nándori Confectionery (Ráday utca 53., district IX.) won: chocolate mousse combined with thin marzipan layer and sour cherry.

A slice contains 254 calories, and doesn’t contain white flour, refined sugar, any artificial additives and preservative.

Ice Cream of the Year

The ice cream of the year, in 2016 a milk-based chocolate, cocoa, caramel creation with morello cherry topping named Vezuv by the Nándori Confectionery in Pest, Ráday utca can also be sampled in the Street of Hungarian Flavours

Programs on August 20., 2016

Festivities at the Parliament, 8.30-9.30

Festivities at the ParliamentAs usual, a series of state ceremonies launch the holiday programs in the morning, on St. Stephen’s day, August 20. to commemorate the Foundation of the Hungarian State.

The main venues of the state programs are Kossuth Square in front of the Hungarian Parliament, and Heroes’ Square.

Besides the state celebrations there’ll be a wide range of other programs both in the morning and in the afternoon ensuring wonderful time for the whole family.


Raising the Hungarian Flag Kossuth SquareThe celebration starts with the raising of the Hungarian flag on Kossuth Square at 8.30-8.50.

Family Programs at Clark Adam Square

Concerts, dance performances and puppet show provide entertainment for the whole family on the square at the Buda end of Chain Bridge between 10.00 and 20.00:

  • 10.00 – 11.00: Children’s concert and other fun programs with the Buborék Band
  • 11.00 Slicing Hungary’s Cake
  • 11.30 Hungary’s bread – Castle Captain’s Bread a rye bread made with 24-hour rye sourdough and without any additives, Potato Bread from Bükk,
  • 16.00 – 17.00 Concert by András Petruska who combines Hungarian folk motifs with British rock and dance music
  • 17.30 – 18.30 Supernem Concert – a Hungarian band known for melodic yet dynamic pop-rock music with a dash of punk craziness.
  • 19.00 – 20.00 Anna and the Barbies Concert – a popular local band’s performance closes the programs. They play rock, pop, hip hop and alternative music.

Festival of Folk Arts, August 18-21.

The Festival of Folk Arts in Buda Castle will be still going during the August 20. holiday. This year the festival will be focusing on the theme of playing: traditional folk games and toys.

people at the Festival of Folk Arts in Buda Castle

Open Day in the Hungarian Parliament

The Parliament building can be visited without preliminary registration and free of charge from 10.00 till 18.00: last entry is at 17.00.

Crown of St. Stephen in the Parliament

Blessing of the Bread and Harvest Procession

The blessing of the new bread and a harvest procession starts at 14.30 on Szent György tér in Buda Castle and ends at the statue of St. Stephen (Fishermen’s bastion) with the blessing of the new bread.

people in folk costumes on the Harvest Procession

Festive Holy Mass and Procession of St. Stephen’s Holy Right Hand

The mass will take place in front of the St. Stephen’s Basilica at 17.00.

Procession of St. Stephen's Holy Right Hand

Fireworks Show in Budapest Starting at 21.00

Fireworks and the Parliament on 20. AugustThe highlight of the August 20th-St Stephen’s Day holiday is the Fireworks launched from the ships on the Danube, two bridges (Chain Bridge and Liberty bridge) and from the Gellért Hill.

The 30-minute long dazzling show can be seen from numerous points in Budapest, and the Danube Bend, especially at the Danube bank in Pest.

TIP: One of the best spots to enjoy the Fireworks is from a ship on the Danube.

You’ll be also treated to a  pleasant dinner and live music.

Read more details on the Fireworks Show with Boat Tour/Dinner on the Danube on August 20, 2017.

August 20. – Historical Background

Stephen (István in Hungarian, was born in 969. and died in 1038.) was Hungary’s first king and he laid the foundation of the state by converting the nomad and pagan Magyar people (Hungarians) into Christianity.

Until the end of the 10th century the seven Hungarian tribes often attacked and robbed Western European nations. After a major defeat in 955, the Hungarian leaders decided to give up the raids, focus on settling down and found a strong state.
István realized that he can only achieve this by converting Hungarians into the Roman Catholic religion.

He received a crown from Pope Sylvester II and became Hungary’s first king in 1000 AD. The Holy Crown has survived the coming centuries and it is now Hungary’s most precious treasure.
You can view the Holy Crown in the Parliament.

King Stephen consolidated his power. He built churches all around the country and invited Catholic priests to help to lay down the foundations of Christianity. István formed new, strict legislations instead of the former pagan rules and took administrative measures to organize the country.

As a result of King Stephen’s efforts, Hungary became a strong state and a protector of Western Europe during the Medieval Ages. Read more about the History of Budapest.

Stephen was canonized on 20th of August in 1083 and became the patron of Hungary.
For the canonization procedure King Stephen’s remains were exhumed. According to the story his right hand was found as fresh as the day he was buried.
The hand was detached and since then everybody can view our first king’s mummified right in St. Stephen’s Basilica .

August 20. became Hungary’s national day and stayed to be until 1945, when Communist leaders prohibited celebrations due to the religious nature of the holiday. In 1990 the Hungarian Parliament declared 20th August national holiday again.

TIP: See more programs on St. Stephen’s day on the official site of the event.

Related: F1 Hungarian Grand RaceSziget FestivalFestival of Folk ArtsJewish Summer FestivalMore Budapest Programs in August


August 19
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