A typical year in this festival city ends with new year celebrations such as concerts, street parties, and spectacular fireworks.
This city comes alive in Spring and usually has at least one sizeable festival every month until the end of summer. Of course, soon thereafter the Christmas markets start (end-November to end-December). But that’s a discussion for another time.
Due to the pandemic, most of the festivals were canceled in 2020. Many of them for the first time since it started. This was a great loss to vibrant Szeged and its people.
The Carnival Bear Watching is a yearly event that takes place in the Szeged Zoo on the second day of February. On Candlemas Day, in clear weather, a bear is said to retreat into its cave and winter will last a long time if it sees its own shadow.
On Szent István tér, a celebration of the end of winter takes place on February 15. The organizers have a full day of events planned for attendees, including a fair, craft activities, a donut eating competition, a carousel, an effigy burning, and entertainment for the young ones from the Grimmbusz band and Pasenkó Clown.
The Water Tower also welcomes visitors, and from April to October, the “Old Lady” is open for tours on the first Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 16 p.m.
The second weekend in March marks the beginning of the festival season in Széchenyi tér, the center of Szeged. The Pork and Pálinka Festival delivers a taste of the country to the heart of the city. Visitors can enjoy mouthwatering pork dishes, a competition for the best cabbage cook, concerts by well-known Hungarian performers, and many more contests.
As part of the narrated Pastry Tour, which takes place on March 28, we will also learn about Szeged’s sweetest side. With a sampling at the conclusion, we retrace the steps of illustrious master confectioners from the past and present.
The Spring Festival, which begins on April 15 and runs for one month, will offer a variety of academic, cultural, educational, sporting, and entertainment events as well as conferences and faculty days at various locations throughout the university and the city.
April comes to a close with the Fool Moon Acapella Festival. At this one-of-a-kind music festival in Hungary, local and international artists will showcase both classic and contemporary tendencies in the genre.
Several tens of thousands of people sample Hungary’s finest wines over the course of the festival’s ten days while socializing with friends or family in a fun environment. At the Szeged Wine Festival (first held in 1931, and steeped in tradition) in mid-May, raise glasses. Cheers! Or as they say in Hungary, egészségére (meaning: to your health)!
In early June the city finds itself in the ‘90s in Újszeged Partfürdő, at the Déjà vu Festival.
In Szeged, every summer the square in front of the Votive Cathedral transforms into a huge open-air theatre to host the Szeged Open-Air Festival. It’s usually from June to August. With 6,000 seats per show, this cultural festival is the second largest of its kind in Hungary featuring opera, fold dancing, classical music, ballet, rock opera, and many more shows.
July has its very own 3-day International Beer Festival usually around mid-July.
August is the city’s anniversary month and the month for the Szeged Youth Festival.
One of the popular festivals – being a university town, quite frankly, they’re ALL popular festivals! – is the Hungarikum Festival.
Since 2008, hungarikums (items that are uniquely Hungarian) have taken up four days in Széchenyi Square every August, and the 4-day Hungarikum Festival attracts up to 60,000 visitors looking for high-quality Hungarian goods or simply enjoying the Hungarian culture.
Brandy lovers get their special treat of soul-warming fruit brandies with the Toros Brandy festival, while fish lovers’ highlight is the International Tisza Fish Festival on the banks of the Tisza River. This is also the best time to taste Szeged’s famous fish soup, cooked from several types of fish. The fish festival is usually held on the first weekend in September.
The Szeged Air Show, at Szeged Airport, is a long weekend around the second week of September about aviators, aircraft, and flights from across the world.
Usually, you meet up at Dom Square shortly after mid-September for the Wine Square, a festival of the best of Hungary’s winemakers combined with culinary specialties and excellent concerts.
Szeged transforms into a holiday mecca between November 27 and December 24 and hosts the Christmas Festive Weeks. To enable the populace to prepare jointly for the Christmas holiday, the downtown, Széchenyi tér, Dugonics tér, and Dóm tér are crowded with artisanal vendors, roasted chestnut, mulled wine, and Christmas food. Rudolph, the sparkling reindeer in Dugonics tér, is another draw.
Traditional Hungarian cuisine was out for all to indulge.
Like Halászlé, the mixed freshwater/river fish soup, and Körtöskalács, a type of spit cake, which is prepared with dough that is wrapped around a stick, before being baked on an open fire. Also known as the Chimney cake, it is topped with cinnamon sugar or a mixture of sugar and walnut.
Halászlé (fisherman’s soup) is a Hungarian dish, prepared for centuries by fishermen and their families along the banks of the Danube with generous amounts of hot paprika. The soup is not only a popular street food at festivals but also very much part of a traditional Christmas.
The cotton candy floss was out in traditional pinks and blues, which I knew as “Spook Asem” as a child. Directly translated, it is ghosts’ breath!
The last festival for April ran from the 29th to the 1st of May. We decided to go on the last day since we knew it would be a popular event. Especially since all COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
It is the first day of May. The spring flowers are in bloom, young and old are in festival mode, laughter is all around me, families spend time together and it is one big party!
The ambiance was great. Not a single piece of paper lying around (it was very noticeable) and no pushing. Another relaxing family weekend that we’ll remember for a long, long time.
The adventure park was a nostalgic trip down memory lane about my early and formative festivals as a child in South Africa.
And as you know by now (if you follow me on Facebook), I got into the bumper cars but stayed away from the rest, except the Octopus.
Especially the XXL Extreme! So, happy I skipped the hammer swing. It sure was the extreme of the theme park. Not everybody got off gracefully. Some had an oops.
As for the Octopus… well, yours truly could not finish the ride. It was either get off or have an oops! Despite having an empty tummy, it was going to take whatever there was!! So, I got off just in time. Not something I will do again.
During my life in Hungary, I got to enjoy ice cream. Something I easily gave a miss in the past. So, I ended the festival with, of course, Hungarian ice cream.
Hungary is known for its award-winning ice creams and has a very definite ice cream season. Ice cream kiosks close for the winter.
However, no matter which ice cream you get, you are set for pure enjoyment. Whether you like ice cream or not!
And on that happy note, I conclude today’s chat about my experiences in what I call “Paprika-land”.
I hope you enjoyed the chat!?