This time of year is one of my favourites, Budapest downtown becomes even more picturesque as usual. Lonely Planet has chosen Budapest as one of the best winter destinations for a reason. The different festive and advent markets are big part of December with their beautiful lights and little stalls, we love going to them, sip mulled wine in the cold and just soak up the atmosphere and there is so much on offer for the little ones too.
Everyone knows and has been to the most famous one in Vorosmarty ter right, which according to the Sunday Times newspaper is one of the most beautiful ones in Europe. There are more and more popping up in town every year and more and more districts are now putting one up too.
Here are some of my favourites:
- Budapest Christmas Fair at Vorosmarty ter – even though it’s very touristy and regularly making the top 10 Christmas markets of Europeit is always one of the first ones we visit. My daughter now loves running around, checking out the Xmas tree, there is an arts and craft hut for kids as well as a stage with different performances throughout December. If you get too cold you can always visit the famous Gerbaud Cafe and order a very nice (and pricey) hot chocolateTo get there: M1 metro Vorosmarty ter or tram 2 to Vigado ter and walk in the side street
- Advent Fair by the Bazilika – For the second year in a row – 5th district council has put up this new favourite one on the Bazilika square. It’s smaller and cosier than Vorosmarty ter but there is a small ice-skating ring in the middle which is free as well as the usual stalls with handmade crafts. It even has an English website To get there: Short walk from Deak ter metro on M1,M2, M3 or walk up from tram 2 stop by the Academy of Science
- Advent by Vajdahunyad Castle in City Park – a smaller fair next to the famous Budapest Ice-skating rink within Vajdahunyad Castle. Expect the usual xmas stalls with food and drink options and a good variety of children’ programmes in the Museum of Agriculture that the castle also houses. There is a play-house in the Museum’s ‘Gingerbread Palace’ (Mezeskalacs Palota) with daily morning activities. Santa is also making an appearance on 6th and 7thof December.To get there: M1 metro to Heroe’s Sq (Hosok tere) or Szechenyi Bath
- Ferencvaros Christmas Market at Bakats Ter– Since I have recently moved to the district I am a little biased but what I love about this one is that it’s more of a local one with really not many tourists. Last year they had a big rotating Christmas pyramid tree, a smaller plastic ice-skating ring that was free, wooden booths with Christmas crafts, some food and even street artists. The beautiful Church of St Francis Assisi has advent masses and choirs singing.To get there: either walk down on Raday utca from Kalvin ter or it’s actually closest to walk from the Mester utca stop of the 4/6 tram) UPDATE: I have just walked down to Bakats ter in 9th and sadly the cute spinning tree and the ice-skating ring is not there this year, they will have some booths mainly at the weekend and will lit the advent candle every Sunday morning after mess and choir sings as well apparently.
- Obuda Christmas Market in 3rd district’s Fo ter also has a plastic ice-skating ring that’s free and expect more of the local atmosphere (to get there: Arpad-hid stop of Szentendre HEV or bus 34
- Christmas market at Liszt Ferenc ter – The 6th district council has been putting up its Festive Fair at Liszt Ferenc ter for year now, it’s basically many stalls along both sides of the square
With the first snow just arriving this week, it’s time to think about where is best to sledge and of course you have to go ice-skating if you have older kids. When we lived in Buda just under the castle we used to go up to Normafa or to Taban Hill in the 1st district for sledging, there is a great slope there. In Pest the bigger parks will have some basic ‘hills’ that you can have fun with toddlers.
Budapest mom Adriknows collected the best ice-skating spots in town in a recent post. As I mentioned above, if you are in Pest, Bakats ter also has a small free one as part of the Xmas market in the 9th district and of course the ones Adri mentions. The newly renovated and famous ice-skating ring in City Park is a must though
Enjoy the holiday season everyone!
Andi Lustak was born in Budapest and is a Freelance Technology PR consultant when she is working and a mom of a beautiful 2 years old daughter. Andi studied, worked and lived in London for 9 years before relocating back to Budapest to spend a big chunk of the year in her beloved home city with her British husband. She found Reka’s baby-mommy group when she was only 4 months pregnant in 2009 and met some great friends since through this great community. Baby-free time these days means watching a lot of box sets in the evening, she and her hubby are currently into Mad Man, Homeland and can’t wait for the new seasons of True Blood and Fringe.