All posts in Budapest Christmas

Budapest Christmas: places, events, markets, festivals, etc.

Christmas with the Bach Family is a fantastic concert at the Palace of Arts in Budapest (known as mupa for short). Istvan Ruppert will be playing on the organ, and the Purcell choir will sing with him.

Istvan Ruppert Christmas Organ Concert

Istvan Ruppert Christmas Organ Concert

Event: Bach Organ Concert + Purcell Choir
Date: 7.30 pm – 10.00 pm, 20 December 2014
Venue: Palace of Arts, Budapest, Bartók Béla National Concert Hall
Prices: from HUF 3300, to HUF 9900

Booking Bach Concert

Program of the Christmas with the Bach Family Concert

please check the actual programme on the official website of Mupa

  • J. S. Bach: Prelude in G minor, BWV 535
  • J. S. Bach: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659, 660, 661
  • J. S. Bach: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645
  • Johann Christoph Bach: Lieber Herr Gott, wecke uns auf – motet
  • J. S. Bach: Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich, BWV 605
  • J. S. Bach: Puer natus in Bethlehem, BWV 603
  • J. S. Bach: Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her, BWV 606 and 738
  • Johann Christoph Bach: Merk auf, mein Herz und sieh dorthin – motet (Hungarian première)
  • — (intermission)
  • J. S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 547
  • C. Ph. E. Bach: Sonata in F major, Wq 70/3
  • Johann Ludwig Bach: Uns ist ein Kind geboren – motet
  • J. S. Bach: Fürchte dich nicht – motet, BWV 228
  • J. S. Bach: Jesu bleibet meine Freude (Jesu, joy of man’s desiring) – closing chorale from cantata BWV 147

Christmas has customs all of its own; the kinds of traditions to which we perhaps most readily adhere. At the same time, no matter how ingrained these traditions have become, Christmas is very different in every country, region and family setting. Each year, the Palace of Arts puts on an organ concert in the days preceding the Yuletide festivities. For the first time in 2012, it will officially associate this annual celebration with Christmas also in name. The organ soloist at this year’s Christmas Concert is István Ruppert, the distinguished professor of the Liszt Academy. In the company of the Purcell Choir, he will welcome Johann Sebastian Bach and some of his outstanding musical relatives as “guests” for the evening.
Familiar Bach works will form the backbone of the programme, among them several pieces with a genuine liturgical Christmas purpose. At the same time, the commitment of Purcell Choir director György Vashegyi to reviving lesser-known works of early music will ensure that the audience also gets to know some rarely heard compositions. Of the two motets by Johann Christoph Bach (1642–1703), who was related to Johann Sebastian Bach through the latter’s great uncle, one has never been performed in Hungary before. Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714–1788), the extraordinarily talented product of Johann Sebastian’s first marriage, is familiar to pianists, but his organ works are rarely played. The latter’s Sonata in F major will be followed by a motet by Johann Ludwig Bach (1677–1731), a relative of the extended Bach family from the more distant “Meiningen” branch. J. L. Bach’s works were acknowledged by Johann Sebastian himself, and the inclusion of this motet is sure to provide added colour to an already rich programme of Bach family works spanning around one hundred years.

Presented by: Művészetek Palotája

For this concert you can buy your tickets in the Palace of Arts’ Ticket Offices.

For over a hundred years, Hungarian families have been decorating the Christmas tree with a decorative candy called Szaloncukor (szalon meaning parlour, and cukor meaning sugar).

For most Hungarians celebrating Christmas also means a hunt for the best Hungarian szaloncukor. But why is it a special candy? It is certainly the most traditional Hungarian Christmas sweets, a gift and a decor in itself.

Hungarian Christmas Fondant

Szaloncukor on the Christmas Tree

Szaloncukor on the Christmas Tree

Szaloncukor is the Hungarian Christmas Fondant. It is easy to carry, not so expensive to buy, and makes a good Christmas gift if you are visiting Budapest in winter time. You can also try them before just buying them to make sure that you really love what you give as a Christmas gift from Hungary.

What is Szaloncukor?

Szaloncukor is made of fondant, then covered by a thin chocolate layer (or not, but most of them are), and then wrapped into a nice, Christmassy paper or wrapping sheet with a special shape. The oval shaped fondant candy keeps its ovalness, and the szaloncukor as a whole has a bow tie shape with two frilly ends.

More traditional szaloncukor candies were wrapped in real paper and the frills were made of a very fine flimsy paper of a distinctive color. These days, the Christmas candy comes in shiny wraps.

Flavors of the Christmas ‘Fondant’ Candies

The Christmas fondant candies are not so fondant any more. The Xmas candies come in dozens of flavours. According to a recent vote on the best szaloncukor makes in Hungary, the top two manufacturers are Stühmer (Stuhmer Korfu got tons of votes, it is made of honey, egg white, frappe and covered in dark chocolate) and Szamos Marzipan fondants (made of marzipan of course).

This is the top ten list of Hungarian Xmas fondants, which locals like:

Hungarian Christmas Fondant Top List

Hungarian Christmas Fondant Top List

Top Favorite Flavors of Szaloncukor (based on the thousands of votes on szaloncukor.hu, December 2011)
  • Gelatin (sort of wine gum filling, covered in cholocate): Zselés Szaloncukor
  • Marzipan – probably the best one is made by Szamos Marzipan
  • Caramel
  • Cognac dipped sour cherry
  • Coconut
  • Hazelnut (Milka seems to be the leading brand in Hungary for the mogyoros szaloncukor)
  • Chestnut
  • Rum cocoa
  • Rum nut
  • Chocolate
  • Yoghurt & fruit
  • Apple cinnamon
  • Quark
  • Tiramisu
  • Strawberry
  • Sour cherry
  • Almond
But Szamos can be enjoyed. Excellent sour cherry variants. the marzipan is filled with a sour cherry cream (slightly alcoholic).
Expensive approx Huf 4,600 / kilo, but high end szaloncukor boxes can cost as much as HUF 8,000 / kg too (e.g. Stühmer’s luxury fondants).
Szaloncukor shaped handcrafted decor

Szaloncukor shaped handcrafted decor (made by Diavackai)

Szamos marzipan szaloncukor are tasty and great value, their price range is around the same as the well known Milka branded szaloncukor fondants. Milka is the market leader in the milk chocolate Christmas candies with hazelnut filling, which are quite sweet.
You can also try a much cheaper local Christmas fondant candy branded as Norbi. Norbi is a Hungarian fitness guru who is a great divider in Hungary. He has a range of products, foods, meals etc which are supposedly healthier products with fewer calories (e.g. Norbi update mustard, Norbi update ketchup, etc.) He even has a good and very popular lunch diner selling very cheap Hungarian meals as lunch menus. Norbi Xmas candy is not top tier szaloncukor but a good value option.

Oops, where is the szaloncukor from the Christmas tree?

Oops, where is the szaloncukor from the Christmas tree? (emmanyuszi’s photo)

Where can you buy Hungarian Christmas Sweets?

Szaloncukor, the traditional Xmas candy is sold all over Budapest, in every shop and supermarket. But Supermarket brands are for decor only. You have been warned. In addition to grocery stores and supermarkets, you can buy the specialty szaloncukor brands in  the brand shops, like the Szamos shop by Vorosmarty Square (Szamos Gourmet House, right next to the Christmas market on Vorosmarty Square), or Stuhmer shop in Budapest in Pozsonyi Street, District XIII (Stühmer Bolt).

Szaloncukor the fondant candy is a seasonal product, so you will only find it in Budapest from October to January, definitely not in the summer, sorry. Many tons of Christmas fondant candies are sold all over in Hungary before Christmas, and then what is left after Christmas is often sold at a reduced price. They do not store well for a long time, which is a good sign usually that it has not been full of preservatives.

The prices of szaloncukor boxes are quite high, as if you were buying handmade chocolates: in general the average price of good quality szaloncukor is approx. HUF 4,600 / kilo. The boxes come in all sizes, some of them are quite decorative and good for storing little tid bits in them.

Make sure you only buy szaloncukor fondants in a manufactured box, as these candies have been tested. At some of the Budapest Christmas markets, you can buy fondants by the kilo, but these candies may not have been tested, so it is better not to risk your health, especially if you wish to take it home as a small Christmas gift or souvenir from Budapest, Hungary.

Hungarian Traditions related to the Fondant

Many families hang the szaloncukor fondants on the Christmas tree, and place a basketful of them on the Christmas table. Still, somehow a szaloncukor taken from the tree tastes better. Hungarian children develop a special skill to make the Christmas candy wrap look as if it had been untouched, still full (parents cannot guard the tree well enough, so this usually develops into a traditional family game, who is ‘stealing’ the sweets from the Christmas tree, who is eating the candy after cleaning teeth in the evening, etc.).

You can also buy little metal hooks to pierce the paper of the szaloncukor so that it is easy to hang on the Christmas tree. Other families take a thread and make a string of szaloncukor as a decor on the Christmas tree.

Hungarian Christmas Sweets

Hungarian Christmas Sweets – Candy (crafted by zsizsu72)

History of Hungarian Szaloncukor

Nobody knows for sure how the special Christmas candy tradition started in Hungary, but one thing is sure, it wasn’t until the late 19th century that it started to be part of the Christmas celebrations. Hungary was part of the Austria Hungary dual monarchy, when the richer Hungarian noble families had nice parlors (or salons) to erect a Christmas tree (often for each child) and put up Christmas decor on the trees. Amongst them Salon sugar (szaloncukor), which were handcrafted from soft fondant with added flavors. The candy most probably came to Hungary via German sweets traders and makers (fondant was originally made in medieval France). One of the most popular Hungarian novelists, Mor Jokai called them Szalon czukkedli, which also shows that the name of the candy started off as a borrowed word from German.

It was only years later that the top Hungarian sweets manufacturers of the 19th century started to make the szaloncukor candies by the kilos. The easy production and delicious flavors made it and instant success, so many Hungarian families started to buy them from Cafe Gerbeaud and from Stühmer (both still in production). Budapest led the fashion, but the tradition of szaloncukor fondants were quickly picked up by families living outside Budapest. These days it is very widespread, from small villages to the Hungarian capital.

While fondant was typical during the Socialist era, after that, since 1989 the fillings have been made from all sorts of exquisite chocolate bonbon fillings. So we may as well call them Hungarian Christmas truffles, festive bonbons, silky smooth winter sweets.

 

Photo of the single szaloncukor, close up from Mistinguett blog

Nutcracker puppet show Budapest

The Nutcracker Puppet Show may be one of the programs of your Budapest Christmas holiday, if you love theater performances and visit Budapest with children: puppets and actors will perform the classic Nutcracker story, the dreamy Christmas party, the excitements of the big battle of the Mouse King and the Nutcracker, the enchanted Snow Land, etc. Christmas with children – no language barrier when it comes to live performances of the best kind.

Nutcracker puppet show Budapest

Nutcracker puppet show Budapest

Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker is also performed as a ballet at the wonderful Opera House in Budapest. The Nutcracker show with puppets will be at the Palace of Arts (MUPA or Muveszetek Palotaja).

Dates: 3 pm and 7 pm on Dec 19, 2018 and 10.30 am and 3 pm on 20 Dec, 2018

Venue: Palace of Arts, Festival Theatre
Prices: HUF 1500, 2000

Booking Puppet Show

Nutcracker Puppet Show with Actors and Puppets

Maria, Drosselmeyer, the Mouse King, Stahlbaum, and of course the nutcracker himself, The Land of Sweets, the Christmas tree and the boxes of presents. In other words, that Christmas theatrical essential, the wonderful Nutcracker. The traditional work appears here on an extended stage, where the entire Tchaikovsky score and the essential concept remain the same, but the performance is adapted for the greatest visual impact.
One or two of the characters will be played by actors, while others will also be represented by giant puppets. In accordance with the set design of Klaudia Orosz, the Christmas tree, with an unlit decoration at its peak, will stand to the right of the stage. The tree will grow and be lit from within as events unfold, while it becomes white again when the snow falls. When the top is pushed, it transforms into the castle of the Land of Sweets, and then back into a Christmas tree. There is a giant clock face that grows wings and turns into an owl as the image of the actor Drosselmeyer is projected on it. Masks, oversized puppets and 3D animated images – all genuine marvels that breathe new life into this classic Christmas story. (source: Muveszetek Palotaja Budapest, mupa.hu)

The Russian Dance in Nutcracker puppet show Budapest

The Russian Dance in Nutcracker puppet show Budapest

Budapest December 2018 events: one of the options is to go to the Palace of Arts on December 19 and 20

Presented by: Nemzeti Filharmonikusok (National Philharmonic Orchestra), Művészetek Palotája

Tamas Juronics
choreographer
Andrea Toth, Attila Etele Kiss
puppets
Julia Horanyi
settings
Zazzy Design
head ornament
Ferenc Stadler
lights
Budapest Christmas Market by St Stephen's Basilica

The Christmas market on St Stephen’s Square is right in front of the beautiful St Stephen’s Basilica (St Istvan Bazilika), one of the tallest buildings on the Pest side of Budapest, and one of the biggest churches in Hungary.

Budapest Christmas Market Basilica

Budapest Christmas Market Basilica – photo by MPeti

The first Advent Fair by the St Stephen’s Basilica was held in 2011, organized by the National Association of Folk Artists. The skillful members of the Association of Hungarian Folk Artist are selling their unique and high quality traditional crafts (rated by the panel of the best Hungarian folk artists) in the wooden market stalls of the Basilica Christmas Market.

Entering the giant Advent gate, you will find yourself among a hundred handcrafts stalls, and a sizeable skating rink set up on St Istvan Square (Szent István tér) in the heart of the city of Budapest.

Where is the Budapest Basilica Christmas Market?

Luckily, the location of the Basilica Christmas Fair is very close to the oldest and most well known Christmas Market on Vorosmarty Square, so you can easily visit two of the biggest and most popular Xmas fairs of Budapest during the Christmas holidays.

When is the Budapest Basilica Christmas Market?

2019 Dates to be confirmed

The Budapest Basilica Xmas Market is in fact a winter festival, which starts in late November, and ends in the New Year. The Christmas Market by the St Stephen’s Basilica opened late November in 2011 (its very first year, started in 2011), a bit later than the fair on Vorosmarty Square (running since 1998).

St Stephens Basilica Budapest in December

St Stephens Basilica Budapest in December (Mishpan photography)

Similarly to the latest years, the St Stephen’s Basilica Xmas market will be open throughout December.

As for the daily opening Hours of the Christmas Market on St Stephen’s Square:

The Opening ceremony is on 23 November, 2018
Opening times between Nov 23, 2018 and Jan 1, 2019:

Monday – Thursday: 10:00 – 21:00
Friday – Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 – 22:00

Dec 24: 10:00 – 14:00
Dec 25: 10:00 – 22:00
Dec 26: 10:00 – 22:00
Dec 31: 10:00 – 22:00
Jan 1: 11:00 – 20:00

Drinking mulled wine, eating some roasted chestnuts or filling Hungarian snacks attracts hundreds of thousands in Hungary and tourists from many countries.

Video Mapping – Christmas Laser Projection on the Basilica

Schedule of Light Painting:

In every hour, every day between 4.30 pm and 10 pm you can see the Basilica’s facade turning into a beautiful Christmas visual narrative. This year’s special attraction will be a 3D projection on the Basilica, that can be viewed from all corners of St Stephen’s Square with 3D glasses.

Budapest Basilica Christmas Market Video Mapping

Budapest Basilica Christmas Market Video Mapping / Light Painting on the Facade

Skating Rink at the Budapest Basilica Christmas Market

Budapest Basilica Christmas Market Skating Rink

Budapest Basilica Christmas Market Skating Rink

Enjoy the artificial skating rink right in the middle of the Christmas Market at the Basilica in Budapest downtown. Skating courses also available every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The age range of the course is 4-14 year old children. The price is not a question: they may join the free skating training on the nicely decorated rink at the center of the market.

Size of Skating Rink: 200 square metres

Entry Fee: Free of Charge for Kids aged 4 – 14

Opening Hours: daily (weekend skating classes scheduled, see below)

From the beginning of the Basilica Advent market, you can use the skating rink.

Skating Class Hours: Friday from 2-8 pm, Saturday from 10am-6 pm and Sunday from 10am-6 pm.

Free Skating Classes for children aged 4 – 14 years old. Wrap them up in warm clothes and let them enjoy the Advent Market in Budapest!

Folk Dance at the Budapest Basilica Advent Market

Every Friday and Saturday in the evening (starting 24th of November), the Goncol Folk Dance Ensemble, who aim to keep traditions alive and show its beauty to each generation, will give twenty minute shows. They either improvise a ‘dance house’ that all the guests of the fair may join or surprise the audience by vivid flash mobs.
Do join the dancers on Fri and Sat to try your legs at Hungarian folk dance. Or enjoy a festive Hungarian Folk Dance Show in Budapest in the winter season.

Goncol Hungarian Folk Band at Budapest Christmas Market by Basilica

Goncol Hungarian Folk Band at Budapest Christmas Market by Basilica

Budapest, the Perfect Christmas Destination

In fact, Budapest has often been chosen as one of the best Christmas destinations in Europe, and the Christmas markets are warmly recommended by many of the travel books about Europe and (Central) Eastern Europe.

St Stephens Basilica Budapest Candles

St Stephens Basilica Budapest Candles – Yellow Cat photography

Don’t worry, although some places are closed on Dec24-26, many places remain open, and many of the best places: restaurants, brunches, baths, sightseeing river cruises, etc. There is a lot to do in our cosmopolitan city.

You can be the part of this festive merriment. Come and visit Budapest and listen to the beautiful concerts in the Basilica (Advent Organ concerts, choirs, charity concerts, etc.). You can also attend the masses, light a candle, and be filled with the warmth of Christmas.

Past Christmas markets by the Basilica in Budapest

2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017

 

Budapest Christmas Fair Basilica

Budapest Christmas Fair at the Basilica

 

Budapest Christmas Market by St Stephens Cathedral

Budapest Christmas Market by St Stephens Cathedral

One of the most widespread and long running charity events in Budapest is called the Budapest Santa Claus Factory (in Hungarian: Mikulasgyar, where Mikulas comes from the word Nikolaus).

Budapest Christmas Charity

Budapest Christmas Charity on Vorosmarty Sq: Mikulasgyar

There are many people who visit the gift spots of the Santa Claus Factory to donate gifts for poor children in Hungary and in Hungarian communities outside the border of Hungary. Besides giving gifts, you can also enjoy some nice concerts and Christmas shows.

In Budapest you can also find several factories set up. Please donate, or join the enthusiastic volunteers of the Mikulasgyar communities (many of them comes from abroad to help). It is also fun to visit the factories with your children who will like sending gifts. :)

How to donate: you can buy pre-packed Christmas gifts for children who live in poverty. The Christmas goodies include: sweets, mug, puzzle, pencil. You can also donate your unwanted items suitable for children (no need to wrap them up).

Santa Claus Factories in Budapest

Official website of Mikulasgyar here.

Programs of the Santa Claus Factory in Budapest

There are more venues, so please check the venue to be at the right place and the right time for the Christmas charity concerts. The genre of the songs ranges from pop, rock to folk music.

56-osok tere (Felvonulási tér)

2012th December 6 (Thursday)
·
11:30 to 12:00 Fairy Factory
19:00 to 19:30 Percussion Ensemble Talamo
20:00 to 20:30 Tamas Somlo concert
 
2012th December 7 (Friday)
concerts
Mario 19:00 to 19:30
· Anita 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
· Thomas Palcsó 20:00 to 20:30

2012th December 8 (Saturday)
Concerts
10:00 to 11:00 Mono Mano Band and Santa Claus
11:00 to 11:30 ·  Maya Mano
11:30 to 12:30 Palanta Mission ·
13:00 to 13:30 · 501st Legion Garrison in Hungary
13:30 to 14:00 Gaspar Győző
15:00 to 15:30 ·  Wild Buffalo
16:00 to 16:30 Zoltan Mujahid
17:00 to 17:30 · Budapest Strings
18:30 to 19:00 · Sajtkukacz Orchestra
19:00 to 19:30 · Jennifer Szirota

2012th December 9 (Sunday)
Christmas concerts
09:30 to 10:00 a.m. Peter Mikola
11:00 to 11:30 Csepp Children’s Theatre
11:30 to 12:30 Palanta Mission
12:30 to 13:00 Kobold Band
13:00 to 13:30 · 501st Legion Garrison in Hungary
14:30 to 15:00 Mrs. Columbo
15:30 to 16:00 Eva Fabian ·
16:00 to 16:30 · Quantum Cowboys
17:00 to 17:30 Tibor Csordás ·
17:30 to 18:00 Arpad Zsolt Meszaros ·
18:00 to 18:30 · Vera Tóth
19:00 to 19:30 · Positive Band

2012th December 10 (Monday)
·
Leslie Szabo 19:00 to 19:30
Thick Thomas · 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

2012th December 11 (Tuesday)

19:00 to 19:30 Four Fathers

2012th December 12 (Wednesday)
·
20:00 to 20:30 English Rose
20:30 to 20:40 · Little Victor

2012th December 13 (Thursday)
·
And More Jazz Choir 20:00 to 20:30
 
2012th December 14 (Friday)
·
19:00 to 19:30 Zsuzsa Komonyi
7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Mary Notari ·
20:00 to 20:30 · L.L. Junior
 
2012th December 15 (Saturday)
·
9:00 to 9:30 chickweed
10:00 to 10:30 · Neverenough Zenegóc
11:00 to 11:30 Currants clown ·
12:00 to 12:30 · HandaBanda Orchestra
13:00 to 13:30 · 501st Legion Garrison in Hungary
14:00 to 14:30 · M.É.Z
15:00 to 15:30 · Catfish Veronika Valentine Diamond Duo
16:00 to 16:30 · Drumsters
16:30 to 17:00 Transcarpathian Ukrainian Folk Dance Group “Mrijá”
· Periodic Andrea 17:00 to 17:30

2012th December 16 (Sunday)
·
10:00 to 10:30 Palinta Society
10:30 to 11:00 · Apacuka
12:00 to 12:30 · Mollini Magician
13:00 to 13:30 · 501st Legion Garrison in Hungary
13:30 to 14:00 · Pflum Orsi
· Sing 14:00 to 14:30 FREE!
Kaden Heni students
· Buffalo Wild 15:00 to 15:30
·
17:00 to 17:30 Attila ·
18:00 to 18:30 Fairy Factory
19:00 to 19:30 · Retroleum Orchestra
20:00 to 20:30 · Mr. Joe

2012th December 17 (Monday)
19:00 to 19:30 ·Baby Gabi
20:00 to 20:30 Regina · Dukai

2012th December 18 (Tuesday)
·
19:00 to 21:00

2012th December 19 (Wednesday)
·
19:30 to 20:00 BuliOne Orchestra
20:00 to 20:30 · Bon-Bon

2012th December 20 (Thursday)
·
Sari Ethnic German Dance Group 19:00 to 19:30
20:00 to 20:30 · Carbovaris

2012th December 21 (Friday)
·
19:00 to 19:30 Erik
Dani Torres · 7:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
20:30 to 21:00 Zoltan Miller

Mikulasgyar

Mikulasgyar

Westend City Center

2012th December 6 (Thursday)
·
4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Drop Theatre
17:00 to 17:30 · 501st Legion Garrison in Hungary
18:30 to 19:00 Tamas Somlo ·

2012th December 11 (Tuesday)
·
4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Leslie Szabo
· 17:00 to 6:00 p.m. Seedlings Mission

2012th December 13 (Thursday)
·
Seedlings Mission 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

2012th December 18 (Tuesday)
·
4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Drop Theatre 4
· 17:00 to 6:00 p.m. Seedlings Mission

2012th December 20 (Thursday)
·
5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Seedlings Mission
19:00 to 19:30 · L.L. Junior