Program and Things To Do Recommendations
Although the second month of the year is cold and the days are still short, Budapest offers a wide range of events and activities for a fun wintry city vacation.Quick Links: Weather – Events, Festivals – TIP: Valentine’s Day – Ball of Hungarian Wines – Doughnut Festival – Cooking Program – Ice Skating – Sightseeing TIPs – Folk Dance – Concerts – Exhibitions – Restaurant, Cafe TIPS
February is the last month of the winter season with temperatures below zero on most days and even colder at nights.
The wind often makes you feel even colder.
It snows occasionally but in recent years it melted within a couple of days.
Bring warm clothes, sweaters, coat, winter cap, scarf, gloves and comfortable, warm boots.
For Families with Kids: Bear Festival in the Zoo, 01 – 04. February
Venue: Zoo and Botanical Garden – Magic Hill/Varázshegy, Állatkerti körút 6-12., district XIV.
Entry: free for children under 14 years of age
The 150-year old Zoo of Budapest will have a special Bear’s Day over the first weekend of February with fun programs in the Varázshegy/Magic Hill between 10. 00 – 16.00 Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Some of the programs:
- craft workshops: bear badge and bookmark making,
- show feedings
- meeting with the panda family: every day at 9.30 at the panda enclosure
- 02. Feb/Friday at 11.00: Does the bear see its shadow (Kisszikla/Small Rock)?
- Bear Show – performance for children
- Apiary Show by the Apiary Museum in Gödöllő town (on Saturday, 05. Feb)
- Honey tasting and fair (on Saturday, 05. Feb)
- Bear Theatre on the stage of the Magic Hill, musical and theatre show for kids: Saturday, Sunday at 11.00
According to folk tradition if the the answer is yes, (the sun is shining) the bear goes back to sleep and winter lasts 40 more days. If the answer is no (the sky is overcast) then it stays out to play and spring is just around the corner.
Mangalica Festival, 10 – 12. February
Location: Szabadság Square in the city centre (Parliament Neighbourhood), district V., M2 metro Kossuth tér station, M3 metro Arany János utca station , tram 2 Kossuth L. tér stop (5-minute walk from each station)
A festival dedicated to a unique Hungarian heritage pig breed, the mangalica.
The event is organised for the 10th time in a central location on Szabadság tér so it is easy to get there from anywhere in downtown Budapest.
The meat of this hairy pig is tastier and juicer while its fat contains higher ratio of healthy fatty acids.
This year Hungarian pálinka makers will be the special guests. Pálinka is fruit distillate with around 40-50 % alcohol content.
The most popular flavours are apricot, pear, and plum but you can taste specialties made with quince or elderflower in the Pálinka Udvar at the festival.
You can taste and buy mangalica ham, sausage, salami, black pudding and other meat products prepared by farmers. Mangalica street food will also be offered by food trucks as well as whole roasted suckling pig.
- Cooking contest,
- craft fair,
- food market
- folk, pop, jazz concerts from early afternoon enrich the 3-day event.
Fish Festival, 09 – 11. February, 2018
Location: Vajdahunyad Castle – City Park,
The 5th Fish Festival moves to a new outdoor venue, the Vajdahunyad Castle in City Park.
Besides a range of fish dishes such as
- Fishermen’s soup (Halászlé – a typical Hungarian fish meal made usually from carp: fish in paprika broth,
- harcsapaprikás (cat fish paprikash), fish and chips, the event offers a great variety of programs for all ages.
Grey catfish (szürkeharcsa) will be in the focus in 2017.
Cheese, kürtöskalács, sweets, wines and beers, and the pálinka – Hungarian’s favourite hard drink, an essential element of all festivals – cooking competition are the other highlights of the event.
Expect crowd and standing in queue for food/drinks just like at any other big festival.
- You can view an original fishing village with fishing gear, try adventure angling,
- Giant cauldron from Szeged – one of the two Hungarian towns famous for its fishermen’s soup,
- More than 50 types of catfish dishes,
- Giant catfish demonstration and roasting
- Fishermen’s soup cookers from Baja – the other town well-known for its fishermen’s soup,
- Popular fish dishes of other nations,
- Heated playhouse not just for kids (free to use): you can try your hands at contemporary crafts,
- Lake aquariums showing the flora and fauna of Hungary’s rivers and lakes,
- Concerts in the afternoon and evenings on all three days.
This year Valentine’s Day falls on Saturday so you can devote the whole weekend to charm your loved one.
Here are some suggestions:
Romantic Cruise on the Danube with Dinner
Spend a memorable evening with your partner on sightseeing boat tour with 4-course buffet meal, welcome champagne, and live gypsy music.
Our city is even more enchanting at night with the lights reflecting from the river and illuminating the World Heritage listed historic and cultural sights.
You can see and experience it on the two-hour long excursion.Buy Valentine’s Cruise Ticket
Tickets (several options between 35 – 56 EUR): cruise with dinner, full price: 56 EUR/person.
- a 2-hour river tour,
- welcome drink,
- 5-course buffet dinner with a drink,
- live music.
A romantic meal in a fine restaurant is always a good choice on Valentine’s Day. ARAZ, one of the top restaurants in the city centre, will have the following 4-course dinner:
Wine Tasting: In a Historic Castle, On the Danube, or in the Countryside?
Savouring fine wines with your loved one is a perfect program, not only on Valentine’s Day but any day. Here are our recommended wine programs for you in and outside Budapest!
- 1st program: A 2-hour Boat Tour on the Danube with a tasting of 7 local wines incl. 3 from Tokaj, at 19.00 and 22.00
- 2nd program: a sampling of 8 outstanding wines in a cellar of medieval origins located in Buda Castle. Wines represent the various regions of the country: Eger, Somló, Szekszárd, Tokaj, Sorpon, Mór.
- 3rd program: a guided tour with transfer to Etyek village: 3 cellars, tastings, snacks and a traditional 2-course dinner at one of the estates.
- Welcome cocktails: Cupid’s Arrow, I Love you
- Soups – “First Touch”: Celery Cream Soup with Roasted Walnut or Saffron Flavoured Fishsoup
- Cold appetizer – “Aphrodite’s Delicacy”: Spicy, French bread salad with salami
- Main Courses – “Heavenly Dream”: Lamb ragout with roasted corn strudel and Armagnac sauce or Salmon filet poached in white wine with cinnamon carrot and pea puree
- Desserts – “Honey Moon”. Caramelized cardamon parfait or Savarin soaked in passion fruit, served with white chocolate mousse
Price: 7 990 HUF/person You can reserve a table through their website.
Price: 30 EUR/prs + 10% service fee, incl. a welcome drink, 4-course dinner, 3 glasses of Hungarian wine. Reservation is recommended!
Hungarian Folk Dance in Duna Palota, 24. February, 20.00
This fantastic folklore evening in Duna Palota in the vicinity of the Basilica in downtown allows you to experience a bit of the Hungarian spirit.
The 2 x 45 minute program features authentic folk dances from various parts of the country presented by professional dancers dressed in traditional costumes.
Ticket prices in 3 seat categories, from 23 EUR.
Venue: Corinthia Hotel, Erzsébet krt. 43-49., district VII.
One of the most prestigious wine event in a a grand historic hotel, the Corinthia Budapest.
You can taste around 100 of the best Hungarian wines representing the 22 wine growing regions of the country. During the dinner wines of 7 wine cellars from 6 regions will be served. Tickets are available in various categories.
Program of the Ball:
- 18:00 Door opening
- 18:30 Welcoming melodies from Mr. Norbert Döme virtuoso violinist
- 19:00 Welcome speech and exclusive wine dinner
- During the dinner Mr. Mihály Liszkay bar pianist, owner and director of Liszkay Vineyard Estate
- Voice and Guitar: jazz and swing melodies from Ms. Myrtill Micheller and Mr. Tibor Pintér
- Announcement of the Gál Tibor Award
- Ms. Adrienn Zsédenyi – Zséda: “The pianist and me”
- Raffle game
- Opening dance: young talents of the Hungarian Dance Academy
- Night Cruisers Band
- 02:30 End of the Ball
Welcome drink: méthode traditionnelle champagnes by the Garamvári Wine Estate, Southern Lake Balaton
Amuse bouche: cod brandade with avocado mousse, smoked duck breast with mustard and yogurt, made by the Michelin-star Costes Downtown restaurant.
- Welcome drink, amuse bouche, 5-course exclusive dinner, ball program, unlimited food and drinks after dinner in the lobby, casino, raffle game (the value of prizes amounts to 2 500 000 HUF): Prices: diamond tables: 60 000 HUF + VAT/prs, Golden tables: 55 000 HUF + VAT/prs, Silver tables: 50 000 HUF + VAT/prs.
- Standing ticket: welcome drink, amuse bouche, 3-course dinner (standing reception), unlimited consumption in the lobby after dinner, casino: 25 000 HUF + VAT/prs
You can find out more and purchase tickets on the event’s website.
Location: the promenade next to Allee Plaza, Kőrössy József u. district XI., tram 4
A foodie festival where the carnival season’s symbolic pastry the doughnut, fánk in Hungarian, will be in the focus.
You can choose from around 50 traditional and new wave doughnuts over the last weekend of February 2017.
Besides the sweet treat, street food, wine, beer, pálinka and other drinks will also be available at the festival.
Our fun cooking courses are a perfect way to find out about local gastronomy, unique cooking ingredients and traditional recipes.
You can do the program with or without a visit to the iconic Great Market Hall (you can also have breakfast there).
During the course you will prepare a traditional Hungarian 3-course meal: soup, main course and a dessert, that you’ll eat at the end.
Details and BookingHungrain Cooking Courses
Fat Thursday (Torkos Csütörtök), 02. March 2017 – CANCELLED in 2017
Gluttonous Thursday is a prominent day in the Carnival Season (Farsang) in Hungary when you are allowed to eat as much as you feel like before the start of the 40-day lent preceding Easter. This year it falls on 02. March.
The good news is that you can do it for 50 % less in many restaurants across the country including the capital city, Budapest.
See also participating restaurants and reservation at the official site of the event organiser.
Things To Do in February in Budapest
Ice Rink in City Park
Address: Olof Palme sétány 5., district XIV. Getting there: M1 underground (yellow line), Hősök tere station, 2 minutes walk from there, or trollies No. 75 and 79: Városligeti Műjégpálya stop
Opening Hours (till Mid- February):
- Mon-Fri: 09.00 – 13.00 and 17.00 – 21.00,
- Saturday: 10.00 – 14.00 and 16.00 – 21.00,
- Sunday: 10.00 – 14.00 and 16.00 – 20.00
- Mon-Fri Mornings: adult: 1 500 HUF, student, senior: 1 000 HUF,
- Fri Afternoons: adult: 2 000 HUF, student, senior: 1 500 HUF,
- Sat-Sun all day: adult: 2 000 HUF, student, senior: 1 500 HUF,
- Free for children under 6.
The best place to pursue this awesome winter sport is the Ice Skating Rink in City Park (Városligeti Műjégpálya) that was completely refurbished a couple of years ago.
Ice Skating at the Bálna/Whale, till 15. February
Address: Fővám tér 11-12., district IX.
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday 10.00-22.00, ice maintenance: every day: 14.00-15.00
Entry: free, skate rental: 1 000 HUF/skate for 3 hours
The Whale/Bálna Shopping & Cultural Centre, is a wonderful, scenic location for ice skating right by the Danube in Pest.
A 450 sqm ice rink with skate rental welcomes the active ones till the end of February.
Entry is free. Skate rental is 1000 HUF for 3 hours.
A boat tour on the Danube is an ideal sightseeing program on a cold winter day.
The heated panorama boats offer a fine view of the two river banks and the landmarks lining them:
- the Parliament,
- Buda Castle with the Royal Palace,
- Gellért Hill,
- the National Theatre and the Palace of Arts and
- of course the bridges.
Tours last 1,5 – 2 hours and most are available every day. You can select from several options:
- Daytime cruise with/without lunch, at 14.00
- Wine tasting & cruise, 7 splendid Hungarian wines, at 19.00 (8 cl each)
- Evening cruise with dinner & music, at 19.00
- Craft beers & cruise at 19.00 (exc. on 14. February) – sample the best local artisan brews
- Night cruise & dinner, at 22.00
Wintry Budapest Photos
London Sinfonietta: Here and Now, 09. February, 19.30, Liszt Academy, Grand Hall
Venue: Liszt Academy, Concert centre, Grand Hall
Tickets: 1 200 HUF, 1 700 HUF, 2 800 HUF, 3 900
- Nyman, Michael: In C Interlude
- Tansy Davies: Neon
- Steve Reich: 2 x 5
- Simon Bainbridge: Concertante in Moto Perpetuo
- Edmund Finnis: In Situ
- Steve Reich: Radio Rewrite
The famous British contemporary orchestra will give a concert in Budapest’s Liszt Academy of Music on 09. February 2017/Thursday at 19.30.
Details and tickets on the Music Academy’s website.
Find out about more concert venues and classical music programs in Budapest!
For Families with Kids:
Address: Andrássy út 12., district VI.
Opening hours: Sunday-Thursday: 9.00-19.00, Friday-Saturday: 9.00-21.00.
The interactive train tables of the Miniversum offer lots of excitement for both children and adults.
There’s also a playhouse and buffet where you can unwind while your kids play. An awesome rainy-day/bad weather program!
See ticket price, more details and photos about the Miniversum.
Masterpieces from the Museum of Fine Arts, National Gallery
Date: till 31. December 2017.
Opening hours: Tue-Sun: 10.00-18.00, exhibit halls close at 17.30, ticket desk is open till 17.00Address: Hungarian National Gallery, Buda Royal Palace, Buildings A, B, C, D, Szent György tér 2., district I.
Tickets: full price: 1 800 HUF
You can view a selection of 57 works from the collection of the Hungarian Museum of Fine Arts that is closed due to renovation till 2018.
The exhibit covers the main periods of art history from the ancient times, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque periods to the turn of the 19-20. centuries.
Works by Raffaello, Correggio, El Greco, Memling, Bruegel, Cranach, Van Dyck, Frans Hals and Bellotto are followed by more modern pieces by Monet, Gauguin and Rodin (his the famous statue, Eternal Springtime, that the museum purchased directly from the artist himself).
TIP: The ticket is also valid for visiting the Dome of the Royal Palace, where three artworks from three different decades are placed strategically to show and symbolize death, passing, sacrifice and the ideas, beliefs related to these notions. Visiting hours: Tue-Sun, between 10.00-17.00.[/box]
Besides having a tasty meal on Gluttonous Thursday or Valentine’s Day you really have to try new restaurants and cafes in Budapest on other days too (you don’t need a special occasion to eat good).
The restaurant scene has changed a lot in recent years: lots of quality places opened both in the fine dining/Michelin-star aspiring (Costes Downtown, Babel, Salon in New York Palace) and in the more budget-friendly or street food categories.
Buja Disznók in the Downtown Market (Belvárosi Piac)
Address: Hold utca 13., on the gallery
Opening Hours: Mon: 11.30 – 17.00, Tue: 11.30 – 18.00, Sat: 11.30 – 16.00
One of the iconic chefs of Hungarian gastronomy, Lajos Bíró (he runs Bock Bistro in Pest, a top-quality wine restaurant and its Buda-side sister the Vendéglő a Kisbíróhoz) opened the place in 2015 autumn on the gallery of the Belvárosi Piac/Downtown Farmers’ Market in Hold utca.
His aim is to entice its guests with breaded pork-chops/Wiener schnitzel the way our grandma makes it.
Other dishes made from less popular parts of pork are also on offer:
- breaded pork ear,
- boiled pork nose, and
- szalontüdő: a kind of stew made from the lungs and heart of the pig.
The flag-ship dish, breaded pork chop is served with potato salad: the giant portion is enough for two people and costs 2 200 HUF.Note: the Buja Disznó restaurant is usually packed to the brim – similarly to the other eateries on the gallery of the market – with office workers from the neighbourhood during lunch time.
Cafe TIP: Ambers French Bakery
Address: Fővám tér 5., district V.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 08.00 – 21.00
Ambers is a spacious yet cozy French-style cafe opposite the Great Market Hall, at the beginning of Váci utca.
The counter is filled with lush croissants, pain au chocolate, baguettes, bread, ciabattas, tarts, cakes and desserts. All sorts of coffee drinks, teas, smoothies, lemonades, iced coffee and other chilled drinks, beer, wine are all on the menu.
A lovely place for a leisurely breakfast or lunch before or after exploring the market hall or wandering down on Váci Street. In fine weather you can sit on the terrace.
TIP: Visit our Top Winter Things To Do in Budapest page for more ideas on events, activities from December till February.