Things to do in Budapest in December

Budapest is an ideal travel destination in December: but what can you do in December in Budapest? There are three December things to do in Budapest which seem to take all: Budapest Christmas, New Year and Hannukah. We have put together detailed guides for all, and see some more options too. Lots of things to do indeed!

Budapest Christmas Market Winter Weekend Budapest

Budapest Christmas Market -TopBudapestOrg

Budapest Christmas:

Budapest New Year 2014

Budapest Hannukah

Hannukah Festival Budapest December

Hannukah Festival Budapest December

The city of Budapest is in a festive mood all December, also with live shows and a rich programme for the upcoming Budapest Hannukah in the Old Jewish Quarters. Basically, December equals a month long Budapest Christmas festival with bigger and smaller markets, Advent concerts, Nutcracker ballet, people strolling with mulled wines and Chimney cakes, chestnuts and sausages sizzling and popping on the open air grills at the fairs, Xmas shows for children and adults, etc.

Things to do in December in Budapest

Szechenyi Bath Budapest December

Szechenyi Bath Budapest December

In addition to the Xmas and Hannukah events, you can enjoy many of the winter things to do in Budapest, like skating (at some of the Christmas markets too!), or lazily soaking in the warm thermal baths in the wintry open air, hiding under the puffs of steaming water to gaze at the stars (Szechenyi Bath is open until 10 pm, and so are its outdoor thermal pools even in the winter weather!). If you do the bath on Jan 1 against hangover, book a ticket in advance. And a massage. Nothing better. Almost nothing.

Christmas Market: the Christmas Market in Budapest, which has become a big hit amongst the European Christmas markets is the most centrally located and most traditional Xmas fair. Since 2011, however, there have been two major markets, one of them is the Vorosmarty square Christmas Market (the older one, and winner of many winter travel top lists in Europe), and the other one is the recently launched Basilica Christmas Market (the newer one on St Stephen’s Square, right in front of the tall building of the Basilica – you cannot miss it, as the church tower gives perfect orientation on the flat Pest side). One of the best things to do in Budapest in December, without a doubt. You can even combine a Budapest Christmas market tour with a wine tour for an excellent value for money.

December Parties in Budapest

Szechenyi Spa Party - Budapest Cinetrip bath parties

Szechenyi Spa New Year’s Party – Budapest Thermal Bath Parties in Winter

In December there are still some amazing Budapest parties , including the New Year’s Eve Budapest Bath Party in Szechenyi Baths.

Most parties are inside, as and the open air party venues in the city close down until next spring (like Holdudvar Bar on Margaret Island)

Some special parties stand

out from the usual Budapest nightlife events, which young tourists must do: the pool parties in Budapest baths, and the river boat parties on the Danube.

December Bath Parties in Budapest bring amazing laser shows

and bath discos in Lukacs Bath for late night pool parties, while the NYE Party is in Szechenyi Spa & Baths. Just get your swimwear, flip flops, and enjoy the night in this visual / tactile and all in all fun and sensual place. The Magic Bath party series offer cool pool parties in Lukacs Thermal Bath: spa waters, music and party adding up as a ‘Sparty’. Definitely a must see and do for under 40 or so party goers.

Budapest Winter Sights Parliament View

Budapest Winter Parliament – Federico Bierti Photography

Design to Go Christmas Fair is organized by the Museum of Applied Arts each year in early or mid December in Budapest. It is a perfect must do for design lovers who are hunting for specialty items or Christmas gifts in Hungary. You can buy high quality design shoes, dresses, belts, jewellery, toys, interior design decor pieces, Christmas decor, etc. Unfortunately, this unique Christmas fair is only a 2-day event. Its dates are usually confirmed by November.

Royal Fair on Kiraly Street. The Royal Fair is in the old Jewish district of Budapest in the happening street called Kiraly street (literally King street, hence the name of the November fest). The fair at Gozsdu Courtyard in Kiraly street is informal, more like a fusion of a freestyler flea market, a local festival and an artisan crafts fair. Even if you are not into gift shopping, you can visit the fair for the food stalls and the live music. The Budapest Royal Fair is a one month event (and is not in the Royal Palace but in Kiraly street close to Deak square.). The Royal Fair at Gozsdu is open daily, from noon to 8 pm on weekdays and from 10 am to 8 pm at weekends. Not in 2012.

Danube Cruises in December

Budapest river cruises are still on in December, you can find a day or night cruise every day (indeed many of them are on a daily basis), including the general sightseeing river cruises, and the special a la carte dinner cruises in Budapest

Budapest December Cruise on Danube

Budapest December Cruise – Simon Schoeter Photography

Christmas river cruises in Budapest: it is always a sure bet to take a boat ride on the Danube in Budapest, even in December boat tours run every day from the many ports of Budapest downtown. So if you are in Budapest for the Christmas holidays, you can enjoy a Christmas Eve river cruise or a Christmas Day river cruise in Budapest too.

Likewise, popular New Year’s boat cruises await those who want to splurge on something special on New Year’s Eve or as a start of the New Year, on January the 1st: New Years Eve Cruises in Budapest and New Year’s Day Danube cruises.

Gala Concert of the 100-Member Gypsy Band– each year on December 30, the huge orchestra of Roma musicians and virtuosos, the 100-Member Gypsy Band gives a spectacular gala concert to say farewell to the old year. The concert is featuring the classics: Liszt, Strauss, Brahms, Rossini, Bizet, Khachaturian, Erkel etc. The venue is the Budapest Congress and World Trade Centre on the Buda side. The gala concert is part of the Music – Wine celebration, including wine tasting or dinner. One thing that amazes visitors is that all players and musicians play without music scores. If you like classical music on the light side, this is definitely a good programme for Dec 30.

Dec 30: Music-Wine Gala Concert with the 100 Member Gipsy Orchestra (traditionally every year on Dec 30, pre-NYE concert)

Dec 30, Symphony Orchestra with Cimbalom Show in the Danube Palace

Dec 30, Classical Concert in St Stephen’s Basilica, city center Budapest

Dec 30, Classical Concert in Matthias Church by the Hungarian Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra in the Buda Castle on the Buda side of Budapest
Dec 31: Classical Music Concert in the St Michael Church, Budapest (annually on the last day of the year)

Winter Sports in Budapest December

Skating lesson for children on the Ice Rink Budapest

Skating lesson for children on the Ice Rink Budapest

Skating in the City Park – in winter time a sporty thing to do in Budapest is to skate on the more than 140 year old open air artificial ice rink in the City Park of Budapest (the lake is a boating lake in warm months and in winter it turns into a popular ice rink, where skates can be hired). The artificial ice rink is pretty big, in fact it was the home of the 2012 European Speed Skating Championship!

The ice rink (Mujegpalya) is undoubtedly very popular amongst locals. You can also skate on some of the Christmas markets in Budapest (e.g. at the Basilica or in Obuda district), all December. Moreover, the beautiful historical building by the ice rink has recently been restored to its former fin de siecle beauty, so you may have a chance to take a look inside the bars and facilities of ToPart, a sweeping success in summer time in Budapest.

Stylewalker Night is a design event, when several Budapest design boutiques stay open until midnight and you can meet and talk to the designers too (plus get some discounts if you fall in love with a Hungarian design piece). There are about 20 design shops participating in the December event – all over the city centre of Budapest, e.g. Magyar street, Kecskemeti street, Henszlmann Imre street, etc., which are close to Vaci utca shopping street.

Budapest in December: Fishermans Bastion covered in snow

Budapest in December: Fishermans Bastion covered in snow – photo by Le Foto di Grimmo

New Year Concert at the Palace of Arts Budapest: if you are a serious classical music fan, you will absolutely enjoy the excellent New Year concert at MUPA, the biggest and most modern concert hall of Budapest.

Top Budapest Event Calendar / Event Guide to the current December events in Budapest, Hungary: click to see the currently highlighted events in Budapest in December this year (downloading the event calendar takes about 8 seconds, which is quite slow, but we think it is worth waiting)

December Photos of Budapest

Statue by the Vajdahunyad Castle in December Budapest

Statue by the Vajdahunyad Castle – Le Foto di Grimmo

The statue of Count Alexander Karolyi at Vajdahunyad Castle, Budapest City Park – meditating on the snow covered bench (the statue was made by Alajos Strobl in 1908). The count was an advocate of farmer cooperatives based on the examples he saw on successful farms in western Europe. His statue stands by the Hungarian Agricultural Museum (which is inside the Vajdahunyad Castle).

And here is the statue of the count in a broader context, in the Vajdahunyad Castle, right next to a huge outdoor ice rink, one of the favourite places of locals to visit in December in Budapest:

Statue by the Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest - photo by Le Foto di Grimmo

Winter in Vajdahunyad Castle Budapest – Le Foto di Grimmo

 

Quarter 6 Quarter 7 Festival in Budapest

Quarter6Quarter7 Festival is in the Jewish Quarter of Budapest (the quarters are in downtown Budapest in District 6 and 7, hence the name of the Jewish festival). Quarter6Quarter7 Festival had various dates in the last few years, it was both in April and in Dec (2x in 2012), with various festivities from candle lighting through theatre performances and film screenings to Jewish culinary events, kosher foods and nice concerts. There will be guided walking tours during the festival where you can get some deeper insight into the (Hungarian) Jewish culture, the cultural heritage so lively vibrant in present day Budapest (there are dozens of venues, including quirky ruin pubs (romkocsma), clubs, restaurants, etc.

Christmas market Budapest: from Christmas tree decors through handcrafted silk shawls and leather belts to mulled wines, sausages and Hungarian specialties.

 
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