Bonfire Celebrations Raise Record Amount for Charity


“Oscar”-winning sponsors and supporters.

A packed house from Hungary’s international community united at the Budapest Marriott Hotel on Nov. 4 to mark Bonfire Night, celebrate organizer XpatLoop’s 23rd anniversary and #FeelGoodDoGood. The evening raised a record total HUF of 7.5 million according to the local charities involved.

More than 200 guests and dignitaries gathered to bid for prizes to support local charities. A 007 theme to mark the 70th anniversary of James Bond’s first appearance in Ian Fleming’s book “Casino Royale” gave the event an extra twist this year.

Bonfire Night (also known as Guy Fawkes Night) festivities take place on the nearest Saturday to Nov. 5. Firework parties light up the skies across the United Kingdom and in many countries around the world to mark the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament and kill the British royal family in 1605.

In Budapest, the James Bond theme tune played in the Marriott’s ballroom as master of ceremonies Hans Peterson kick-started the event by raising a glass to the U.K.’s most iconic spy and XpatLoop. TV star Zsuzsa Demcsák then joined Peterson on stage to guide guests through the evening’s proceedings.

“We’re here to raise funds for charities like the Csodalámpa Foundation, as well as to raise our glasses,” Arne Klehn, general manager of the Budapest Marriott Hotel, said in welcoming guests. “It’s great to celebrate with all the stars here tonight, the many generous spirits in attendance.” He started the party “with a toast to the kids who benefit from your generosity.”

Event organizer Stephen Linfitt thanked everyone involved and invited gala supporters to the stage to receive an “Oscar” along with recognition and praise for their contributions over the years.

Fantastic Work

Long-time supporter Dennis A. Diokno, founder and CEO of platinum sponsor FirstMed, was presented with a Star Award and a loyalty certificate.

“I remember speaking with Stephen Linfitt when was still a concept. As an entrepreneur, I greatly appreciate Stephen and his team’s hard work in creating XpatLoop and turning it into the success it is today. Partnering with XpatLoop for over 20 years, I’ve witnessed the fantastic work that it has done for the expat community.”

Another speaker was Éva Patzauer, co-founder and managing director of children’s charity Csodalámpa / Magic Lamp Foundation, which makes wishes come true for thousands of youngsters with life-threatening conditions. XpatLoop’s annual Bonfire Party has long supported her organization.

“For 10 years, we have participated as one of the main beneficiaries at this event: great people, great mood, and great organization. It’s touching how many guests stand with us to make more and more very ill children happy.”

Alongside her on stage was Réka Ragi, who, as a child cancer patient, was flown by Csodalámpa to London to fulfill her wish of meeting Hollywood star Johnny Depp. Now well recovered, she helped present the Oscar statuettes.

VIP dignitaries attending this year included Ragnar Almqvist, the Irish Ambassador to Hungary; the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Hungary Désirée Bonis; Matthew Kirlew, head of policy at the British Embassy; Kam Jandu, the CEO of Budapest Airport; Georgina Szilágyi, the country director of the British Council Hungary; chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hungary Duncan Graham; and István Kardos, the secretary general of the Hungarian Red Cross.

Visit the website for detailed reporting of the party and photo galleries.

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of November 17, 2023.

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