All posts in Budapest Christmas

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

The annual Christmas events at the Museum of Ethnography can be a nice experience during the Advent in Budapest, Hungary.

Hungarian Christmas

Hungarian Christmas Bethlehem Play from the 1900s

2012 Programs of the Museum of Ethnography Xmas events:

14:00 to 18:00, Dec 15 2012

Prices: HUF 1400 for adults, HUF 700 for kids.
Waiting for Christmas craft workshop
Making Christmas tree and interior ornaments, crafting Christmas gifts

All children and parents are welcome to create a lovely festive paper lamp, a traditional Hungarian maize husk angel, some simple Christmas tree decorations inspired by old Christmas motifs in Hungary, make Christmas greeting cards on colored cardboard or on soft metal plates, or even try to make a paper nativity scene as well.

15:30, Dec 15 2012
Christmas Advent
Guided Tour (although the guided tour is in Hungarian, there are many parts, e.g. the film screenings, you can enjoy without speaking a word in Hungarian)

Why you and I celebrate Christmas? Was there always a Christmas tree in the homes of families or is it a relatively new tradition? What Christmas gifts were given to Hungarian children, had there been a Xmas gift at all?
The Hungarian winter solstice festivities associated with Christmas are rich in faiths, beliefs and rituals. Hungarian folk songs, and exhibits will help to recall the old rustic Christmas feelings.

17:00, Dec 15 2012
The Garden of Upward Sounds
Songs of the Day Moon Band (HolddalaNap Band), special Christmas Concert

“Up runs the soul’s desire, wing many tremble in the sky atrium. Day in the West and the East, in ancient times and now in this place, poems and songs were set to their home country to run.” These up running poems inspired the band for their Christmas concert. The music is only acoustic, world music and folk music pieces.

You can hear Flamenco Christmas carols, Egyptian Coptic Christian songs, carols from Moldavia, along with the fast-paced songs of the Moon Day Band to which you can even dance.
The band members are outstanding musicians, folk musicians like Lydia Draskóczy, the Zurgó Orchestra violinist, Arpad Keresztes Nagy playing on koboz (and old string instument), Robert Vidak guitarist, who is one of the gems amongst Hungarian Flamencos guitarists, and Csaba Bakos young master of the Balkan rhythms. Do enjoy the rhythmic dance music, the simplicity and power of Hungarian folk music, flamenco and Balkan inspirations.

Bakos, Csaba – percussion
Draskóczy Lydia – violin
Anna’s Goulash – for
Arpad Nagy of the Cross – vocals, lute, flute
Robert Vida – Guitar

About the band: Facebook / Moon Day songs, / Moon Day Song

Budapest Saturnalia festival is held at the Roman museum of Budapest called Aquincum. The Christmas Festival in Roman Style is an annual event much awaited by fans of the ancient Roman times, culture, lifestyle and history in Hungary.

Saturnalia Budapest

Saturnalia Budapest ( Photo)

Budapest Saturnalia 2012: The Roots of Christmas festivities in the Antiquity

Date of the event: December 04 – December 07, 2012, from 10 am to 4 pm
Theme of 2012: Saturnalia – The Roots of Christmas festivities in the Antiquity

Venue: the ancient style ‘Christmas’ is held at: Aquincum Museum, Exhibition Hall, District III  in Budapest, at 135 Szentendre Way
“The best of times!” according to Catullus, and indeed, Saturnalia was a really happy festival from Dec 17 to Dec 23 in ancient Rome, not the least for the slaves who could temporarily enjoy being the masters in the reversal of roles during Saturnalia.

Kids Workshop in Aquincum in December

Kids Workshop in Aquincum in December (photo source:

The merry festival of Saturnalia was dedicated to the Roman god of Saturn, i.e. the god of agriculture and joy in the ancient times. Saturnalia is considered to be the ancestor of the modern day Christmas festivals.
Saturnalia Budapest is organized by Aquincum Museum and the Circle of Friends.

Detailed program of Budapest Saturnalia 2012

  • Interactive guided tour of the permanent exhibition of Aquincum Museum, Budapest
  • “How was the ancient Saturnalia” – conversation about the antique roots of Christmas celebrations
  • crafting Antique Christmas gifts i.e. hand made Xmas gifts with Antique motifs
  • Saturnalia pools: a quiz about Saturnalia
  • Children programs and workshops

Entrance fee: HUF 700

For further information please contact the museum itself

Aquincum Museum, Budapest

Phone: 430-1081

Christmas Opening Hours at Budapest Aquincum 2012

If you are enjoying a Christmas break in Budapest, Hungary, you may wish to do some shopping too. The Budapest Christmas markets will offer handmade design gifts, the shopping streets of Budapest (Vaci utca and the Fashion Street near Deak Square) will have loads of international brands (usually of the lower end), while Andrassy Avenue will have lots of luxury boutiques with high end, high brand products. But what about shops and shopping malls in Budapest?

Budapest Christmas Shopping

Budapest Mammut Christmas 2012

Budapest Mammut Shopping mall Christmas

The shops in Budapest are regularly open from Monday to Saturday noon in Budapest, but during the Advent period, until Dec 24 many of them are open all week from 9am to 6pm. Shopping mall shops and boutiques are usually open all week from Monday to Sunday from 9am to 8pm.

December 24 is a special day, and by law, standard shops can only be open until 2pm. The exception to this rule are the many little 24/7 so called nonstop shops, shops by tourist attractions, petrol station convenience stores and florists. Shopping malls on Dec 24 are typically open between 8-9am and 2pm in the afternoon.

The Real Christmas Sales in Budapest

On Dec 25 and 26, the shopping malls are open, but only the entertainment facilities are permitted to stay open through the Christmas holiday, i.e. movies and cinemas, restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs, but not the shops. From December 27 everything goes back to the regular opening hours, and most people do their Christmas exchanges and sales shopping after the Christmas holidays until the end of January (this is the period when you get the best winter sales in Budapest, Hungary).
On Dec 24 the Christmas markets in Budapest are only open until 2pm, and this is the last day of the markets (until Dec 31 only the food stalls and gastronomy vendors of the Xmas fairs remain open, the wooden booth selling handcrafts are gone once the Advent is over).

The shops and the markets, market halls, shopping malls re-open on December 27, so expect to find closed doors of shops on Dec 25 and Dec 26 in Budapest, and schedule something else for these two days. See what is on in Budapest on Dec 25 and Dec 26:

Budapest Westend Shopping Mall Christmas

Budapest Westend Shopping Mall Christmas

The Hungarian Museum of Applied Arts (Iparmuveszeti Muzeum) holds its annual Christmas market in December. The date of the Xmas Fair changes from year to year, but to cater for more visitors, the Christmas Market is usually held at one or two of the weekends during the Advent.

Museum of Applied Arts Budapest

Museum of Applied Arts Budapest – Phil Calvert Photography

Christmas Market at the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest:

first weekend of December 

The Christmas fair is simultaneous with an Advent Family Weekend at the Museum, with workshops and many programs for the children.

The program of the event and some photos will come soon. Please check back later.

Until then, take a look at some of the fantastic displays from the exhibitions of the Museum of Applied Arts (Iparművészeti Múzeum) on Ulloi Way, Budapest, District IX.

Hopp Ferenc Eastern Asian Museum (also managed by the Museum of Applied Arts) features beautiful objects from the Asian continent, like ceramics from China, Japanese wooden carvings

The museum will also have some Christmas decoration workshops (date not finalized yet). Some of the previous programmes

  • making Korean Christmas decors (yes, in Budapest, did we mention that Budapest is a cosmopolitan city?)
  • Origami girlands
  • and other Christmas decor with an Asian infusion

December 1 – 30 at the Nagyteteny Castle in Budapest

Budapest Museum of Applied Arts Christmas Fair

Budapest Museum of Applied Arts Christmas Fair

Another smaller museum in Nagyteteny Palace is also under the management of the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest. This nice 19th century palace on the outskirts of Budapest is in Nagyteteny district (District XXII, 9-11 Kastelypark Street). Each year in the Advent period, the Nagyteteny Castle gets a range of beautiful Christmas decor, plus you can see the old 19th century furniture and interior decor of Hungary (at that time part of the Austro-Hungarian empire)

In the month of December, from Tuesday to Sunday (except Christmas holidays), you can see the Christmas trees of designers, made or decorated by Hungarian designers.

On one of the weekends, you can also participate at a very children and family friendly program in Budapest, where the kids can also make Christmas tree decorations, you can buy some little gifts, etc.

This Christmas event is absolutely not touristy, as the castle itself is about an hour’s ride from the city center of Budapest with public transport (about 35 min by taxi)

See more info about Budapest Museums and Budapest Attractions.

Exhibits at the Museum of Applied Arts

Exhibits at the Museum of Applied Arts

The location of the Museum of Applied Arts on Budapest Tourist Map: in the center of the map, you can see the yellow M symbol for the museum.

View Budapest Tourist Map in a larger map

The Kempinski Hotel Corvinus is one of the hotels of the Kempinski chain, and almost all of them are close to some Christmas market. The Kempinski Hotel in Budapest is literally a few steps away from one of the most popular Christmas markets in Europe, the Xmas Fair on Vorosmarty Square Budapest.

You can also visit the Kempinski Christmas Terrace on Fashion Street from December to January. The Kempinski Christmas Terrace is usually open from Monday to Friday from 3pm to 8 pm, and on Saturdays and Sundasy from noon to 8 pm. You can enjoy signature drinks, like hot mojito and Glühwein Rosé (mulled rosé wine) and try the savoury and sweet crêpes made by the kitchen of Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest.

In the promotional video you can also see the Budapest Christmas Market on Vörösmarty Square (square is ‘tér’ in Hungarian, so the square goes in Hungarian: virr-ersh-morty tay-r). The Christmas fair on Vorosmary ter is usually open from mid November to early January, & there will be an Advent Market on St. Stephen’s Square by the Basilica from December 1 to December 31, every day from 10 am to 8 pm.

The two markets are very close to each other, and besides shopping some gifts, eating and drinking, and listening to concerts, you can also peek into the workrooms of craftsmen and cooks, see how the Hungarian sausages are sizzling, how the cinnamon pastry, the Chimney cake (Kurtoskalacs) is baked over open fire, how ironwork is made by old fashioned smiths, etc. This is the time to taste a wide range of spicy winter drinks, eat and buy traditional Hungarian Christmas foods. In front of St.Stephen’s Basilica, you or your children can enjoy ice-skating on the make shift artifical rink in the snow in a beautiful environment. Last but not least, you can admire the ray light painting – on the Cafe Gerbeaud on Vorosmarty Square and on the Basilica on St Stephen’s Square.

There are more than a hundred little Christmas stalls on the market, little traditional wooden stalls contrasted with the beautiful Cafe Gerbeaud in the background, the Hard Rock Cafe on the side, etc. It is a bit of time travel, away from the commercialised Christmas markets and streets. Something traditional, somewhere to feel the warmth of the Christmas festivities despite all hardships and uncertainties. Come to Budapest and enjoy the Christmas with all its warm lights, home made foods, nice smells and sights.

You can see the Advent Calendar in the windows of Cafe Gerbeaud, which these days are painted with lights, but sometimes you can see the Advent windows revealing a nice painting on the facade of Cafe Gerbeaud, one of the oldest confectioneries in Budapest, dating back to the 19th century.

Boldog karácsonyt! Merry Christmas