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The traditional Hungarian version of Santa is Saint Nicholas, Mikulás (or Szent Miklós).  Saint Nicholas visits the little ones on the night of 5th December, which is the eve of Saint Nicholas Feast Day, 6th December. No wonder then that the Budapest Christmas market is in full swing at this time! Christmas in Budapest is an item for your travel bucket list.

Usually, the enchanted Budapest city-center Christmas market celebration usually opens mid-November and closes at the end of December (December 31) each year.

Budapest Christmas market
budapest hungary christmas lights

What to expect from a Christmas in Budapest

  • Amazingly beautifully decorated buildings with Christmas sparkles everywhere.
  • Ice-skating (offering skate rental, and weekend skating lessons for kids under 14) at the Basilica in a central rink that surrounds a towering Christmas tree.
  • The largest 3D Christmas Projections in Central Europe gives a new dimension to the façade of Budapest’s grandest cathedral, St. Stephen’s Basilica. For the ultimate view and enjoyment, put on your 3D glasses.
  • Charity-boosting concerts.
  • Especially, the quaint Christmas Streetcar ride in Budapest from early December that will take you through some of the scenic routes in Budapest. Get the Christmas Light Tram’s schedule online.

Delicious Hungarian and international food

For instance,…

  • The all-time favorite ‘flódni’, a traditional apple, walnut, and poppy seed pastry.
  • A warm and delicious Chimney Cake (namely, milk bread grilled over an open fire in front of your eyes, and nose!). Stroll around the Christmas market with a Chimney Cake (kürtőskalács) in flavors of cinnamon, almond, walnut, coconut, etc. If you’re into salty tastes, try a kürtőskalács (pronounced cure-tosh-col-arch) with pretzels.
  • Mouth-watering burgers.
  • A range of fish dishes.
  • Mulled wine.
  • Traditional Hungarian Christmas dishes such as stuffed cabbage served in a bun, roasted goose thigh or pork knuckle, and of course grilled sausages and meat.

To preserve the environment, food vendors use eco-friendly cups, plates, and cutlery, while waste is recycled.

Budapest christmas market coffe environmental friendly cups
flodni Traditional Hungarian desert
Mulled wine, flódni, and kürtőskalács.
Kurtoskalacs Budapest Christmas market

Shopping

  • A wide range of the best Hungarian contemporary hand-craft products
  • Delightful gift items.

Advent Feast at the Basilica

Best Christmas Market 2019, at a poll organized by European Best Destinations.

Despite being held in Hungary’s largest city, Budapest magically creates an ambiance community spirit during the annual Advent Feast. Rich with Central European holiday traditions, the market welcomes everyone with Christmas spirit sparkles.

The Basilica is still active. So, you can attend Christmas masses and ceremonies.

I recommend booking tickets to the beautiful organ concerts in St Stephen’s Basilica. Especially over the festive season, which gives the experience that added touch of magic.

budapest christmas market advent fair at night light pine illuminated christmas
St Stephen’s Square, Budapest, District V

Christmas Market on Vörösmarty Square

This market in the heart of the city has been going on since 1998, making it the oldest internationally acclaimed Christmas fair in Budapest.

Enjoy around 160 programs from puppet shows, folk, jazz, blues, soul, crossover, world music concerts, to dance house performances.

They plan to have around 122 stalls of high-quality products that are selected and pre-approved by a dedicated team of folk art experts.

Other attractions:

  • Buy tickets well in advance to see The Nutcracker Ballet at the State Opera House, a traditional winter show in Budapest.
  • Enjoy some winter fun and glide around the Ice Rink Palace and Vajdahunyad Castle at the City Park. 

Location: In front of the Gerbeaud Coffee House, on Vorosmarty Square, Budapest, District V.

Getting there: Get there via the M1 underground (yellow line), M1, M2, M3 metro lines: Deák tér station or tram 2 Széchenyi tér stop. It is a couple of minutes’ walk from both stops.

The Óbuda Christmas market

I recommend the beautiful Christmas market if you want to experience the local lifestyle. It is much less touristy.

Ordinarily, from four weeks before Christmas and closing on the 23rd of December.

To get there, hop on the H5 local train at Batthyány tér and get off at Szentlélek tér. The charming old town Christmas market is in front of Óbuda (‘Old Buda’) in the north of the Buda side.

  • An ice-skating rink
  • A romantic looking carousel
  • Plenty of free concerts
Budapest Christmas markets crafts
Hand craft Christmas gifts
Budapest Christmas Market products

To summarize, Budapest’s award-winning Christmas open-air festive-season market is worth visiting. Without doubt. 

While you’re at it, plan your trip around some sightseeing and spend a night or two in magical Budapest. After all, there is NO need to rush this once-a-year experience. Enjoy it for as long as you can.

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