St. István’s Day: Program of events

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The Public Administration and Justice Ministry (KIM) along with a handful of other governmental and private organizations released their program of events for the August 20 holiday under the theme “The Country: Together as One.” Just in case you’re still planning, here’s a brief look at what’s cooking on St. István’s Day this year.

Within celebrations of “The Country,” the “Very Balaton!” program has been announced, replete with “colorful family events, concerts and fireworks” in bigger lakeside towns. 

This morning will see the traditional raising the national flag with military honors in Budapest, followed by what the government is calling the “passing-out parade” (perhaps too many folks started partying early…?), followed by family programs all day at Clark Ádám tér and within the Buda castle. The Festival of Folk Arts within the castle will feature some 50 craftsmen presenting their works; Federation of Folklore Association (NESz) Managing Director Gabriella Igyártó has touted this as her organization’s largest annual event.

An open-air stage near the Chain Bridge will feature children’s shows and other presentations while a presentation of Ferenc Erkel’s opera “King Stephen” will be staged on the open-air theatre on Margit Island. The capital city’s festive holy mass will be held at St. Stephen’s Basilica at 5pm, followed by a fireworks display beginning at 9pm, weather permitting – more on this below – and Hungarian pop veteran Ákos will thereafter play a free concert at Dózsa György tér.

Meanwhile at Balaton, the party began two days ago (now that’s “Very Balaton!”) with various programs in 11 locations: Balatonboglár, Balatonfüred, Balatonlelle, Fonyód, Keszthely, Révfülöp, Siófok, Tihany, Veszprém, Zamárdi and Zánka. Street festivals and open-air concerts featuring pop stars and “various jazz bands” – one may wonder about the connection between an 11th-century Hungarian warrior king and a distinctly American musical art form of the 20th, but there you have it.

To their credit, the national government has managed to defray significant costs of this year’s festivities, having received from private organizations and local governments some HUF 100 million of the programs’ HUF 250 million budget.

And about that weather … the National Weather Service has announced a thunderstorm warning for 14 counties and Budapest, with meteorologists reckoning that a cold front will move into areas near the Danube this morning. Officials have stated that the decision to launch fireworks at each location will be made just prior to the event.

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