Famed as one of the best Christmas markets in the world, Budapest’s splendid December stalls bring winter warmth of joy and delight in an otherwise cold climate. Popping up in the most glamorous locations throughout the city, and open from November through Christmas, Budapest winter markets not only sell gifts but serve the holiday’s traditional gastronomic dishes, and also feature cultural and children’s activities, plus fun extras like ice skating and 3D mapping. And do Hungarians relish their time at the markets! Join the festivities Budapest-style.
Budapest Christmas Market Locations
- Vörösmarty Square, 9 November 2018 – 1 January 2019. One of the most sparkling Budapest Christmas markets, this super-central and chic square, just a block away from Kempinski Corvinus, offers traditional Hungarian winter fare such as fried sausage, kürtőskalács, or “chimney cake”, mulled wine and pálinka, or fruit brandy, as well as a stage presenting folklore programmes and children’s activities.
- St Stephen’s Basilica, 24 November 2018 – 1 January 2019. This fancy Budapest Christmas market is not only built against the stunning backdrop of St Stephen’s Basilica, but features breathtaking 3D mapping at night. Light shows apart, this market also has an ice-skating rink! Children under 14 can rent ice skates free of charge, and take complimentary courses at the weekends.
- Fashion Street, 24 November 2018 – 30 Dezember 2018. Flanking Kempinski Corvinus, Fashion Street’s winter market brings the Advent and Christmas market right to our doorstep. Shop for Christmas gifts and savour seasonal gastro treats such as kürtőskalács, or “chimney cake”, and mulled wine under sensational light displays in the most fashionable street in Budapest.
- Városháza Park, 17 November 2018 – 27 December 2018. Budapest’s Christmas market and winter festival sets up its stalls between Kempinski Corvinus and party-hardy Király street, bringing all things seasonal to the December winter festivities. Enjoy artisan Christmas gifts, typical traditional Hungarian Christmas food and drinks, and the inimitable yuletide atmosphere of a winter arts and crafts market in the heart of Budapest.
- Óbuda - Budapest’s old quarter offers a quaint location in the Advent and Christmas markets tradition. Complete with a stage, the Óbuda Christmas crafts market delights with traditional Hungarian winter fare and cultural diversions, where you also have the opportunity to explore the historical third part of what once was Buda, Óbuda and Pest.
- Bakáts Square, Ferencváros - Rich in cultural programmes, Bakáts Square in Ferencváros, just off the gastronomically renowned Ráday street, offers traditional and religious Christmas diversions as well as the festive December season’s arts and crafts talent, must-have fare and drinks.
Food, Drink and Gifts
The sweet, irresistible perfume of kürtőskalács permeates the Christmas markets like no other – fried comfort meat like sausages and bacon apart. But it is this cylinder-shaped “chimney cake” that defines the gastronomy of December markets and the Christmas season for Hungarians, complete with body- and soul-warming mulled wine. Go for the best, and try Divino’s praise-laden mulled wine opposite the Christmas market at St Stephen’s Basilica. Another must-have is traditional Hungarian pálinka, or fruit brandy, which vintners now make in a premium-quality form and of any and all fruits.
Budapest’s December markets offer a fantastical range of artisan gifts on their stalls. The Christmas arts and crafts market in Vörösmarty Square exclusively features certified artisan designers. Leather accessories, sheepskin vests, hand-knitted hats, gloves and shawls… handmade wooden toys and beautiful Christmas ornaments – all generations of all tastes will find something suitable at the Christmas markets.
Alternatively, two design fairs, WAMP and Gozsdu Udvar, set up their own Christmas markets, where a younger, trendier generation of designers show their craft and collections of clothing, accessories and gifts of all sorts.
The unmistakable sweet perfume of kürtőskalács, a cylinder-shaped cake, which some call chimney cake, is as Hungarian as it gets – Hungarians insist. A strip of sweet dough is wound around a spit, baked and rolled in sugar, which caramelises on the surface. The resulting delicacy resembles an oversize hollow tube, which you unwind as you tear bits off. Its recent renaissance has seen bakers come up with several varieties – pick your own filling or eat it the way the purists do without further ado.
Other Winter Activities in the City
The quaintest and most curious Christmas diversion away from the hubbub of the December markets is in the water – outdoors! Plunge into Széchenyi Baths’ open-air hot thermal pool at dead of winter and enjoy the steam, no matter how cold it might be. You may even fancy a game of chess, a favourite pool activity of the locals in the soothing water.
While the Opera House is under renovation, its branch, Erkel Theatre, shows the December season’s family-fun must-see, “The Nutcracker”. While there are daily performances starting 14 December, we recommend you book early.
Relax in festive harmony to the yuletide tunes of music: the MVM Christmas Concert will feature János Balázs’ piano and Andrea Vígh’s harp mastery on 20 December, at the recently renovated and refurbished Academy of Music. On 26 December, popular Christmas music will entertain at the Budapest Congress Centre. On 27 December, noted singer Ági Szalóky selects the Christmas season’s most moving melodies.
Dressed in truly magnificent sparkle, Advent and Christmas trams became so popular in December in Budapest that they now run on several lines across the city in the festive season. Lights outside, Advent and Christmas decorations inside, these trams cost the regular fare.
Browse our "Budapest Christmas Fairs" event for detailed information and opening hours! * Click here for more unmissable winter experiences.
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