The country comes alive each summer with a compelling collection of festivals that celebrate music in all its forms.
Not surprisingly, many of the country’s biggest festivals take place in Budapest, but there are plenty of noteworthy events happening outside of the capital as well. Whether you like to camp out or go more upscale, there’s likely a festival to suit your style. The following is a compilation of some of the major events scheduled for the upcoming season.
June 5-7, Szabadság tér, Erzsébet tér, Zrínyi utca
This free downtown festival features local musical acts that play anything from jazz to folk, rock and pop. The highlight remains the silent disco; a nighttime party where two DJs provide the beats and partygoers can chose their channel of choice on a pair of headphones.
June 6-August 31, Budapest, various venues
When traditional music venues close their doors for the summer season, many artists and musicians wind up on the open-air stages of Budapest’s Margaret Island. Over three months, classical, folk and jazz can be heard filtering through the warm summer air, with the main concerts being held on weekends.
June 10-14, Budapest, various venues
Taking place at several folk-centric venues in the city, expect plenty of dancing and late night parties, as dance house is an integral part of the regional folk music scene.
June 17-20, Orfű
Taking place just outside a serene lakeside town among the rolling hills of Orfű in southwest Hungary, this alternative music festival plays host to local talent and caters to a slightly older-than-average festival crowd.
June 25-28, Budapest, various venues
Live music and DJs perform at some of the city’s most epic venues including the Széchenyi Baths, the Hold utca and Grand Market halls, the Budapest amusement park, the Railway Museum, Margaret Island and a handful of the city’s coolest clubs and ruin bars. La Roux, Astronautalis, The Wombats, and Peter Kruder are on this year’s bill.
July 1-4, Sopron
On the scene for two decades now, the Volt festival returns this year with a standout lineup of international and Hungarian acts including David Guetta, Motörhead, Fatboy Slim, Nouvelle Vague and Triggerfinger, among many others. Set in a lush valley in western Hungary, camping here is usually the best option.
July 9-12, Zamárdi
The small town of Zamárdi on the southern shores of Lake Balaton – Europe’s largest fresh water lake – is overrun for one full weekend of mostly electronic music acts and mainstream live shows. This year’s lineup includes: Tiësto, Faithless, Hardwell, Ludacris, Laidback Luke and many more. The main stage shuts down around 11 PM but a handful of late-night DJ parties are held in large tents set up on the festival grounds.
July 9-12, Eger
Not the plonk it used to be in communist days, Hungarian bikavér (bull’s blood), particularly that found in Eger, can be very drinkable indeed. Sample many of the local varieties while enjoying Hungarian musical talent or perhaps the tractor beauty pageant and speed race.
July 14-19, Velence
EFOTT may be turning 40 this year but the crowd is just as young as when it began. Once a covert meeting called the “National Tourist Meeting of University and College Students”, the festival is still home to an all-Hungarian lineup of musical acts. A good chance to go native!
July 15-19, Tokaj-Rakamaz
A largely Hungarian assortment of rock, folk and jazz acts, along with a few more underground foreign outfits, will perform in an idyllic location in one of the country’s most renowned wine regions, at the foot of a large hill where the Tisza and Bodrog rivers meet. Sample the country’s most famous sweet white Tokaj Aszú on site or at one of the nearby wine cellars.
July 16-18, Bánki Lake
This grass roots affair has kept to its mandate of promoting local music and culture. Check many of the lesser known musical acts and DJs in a majestic setting: three small stages on the banks of Bánki Lake, a short drive from Budapest.
July 22-25, Veszprém
Loads of underground acts from all over Europe perform at this festival. Although many of the shows take place on larger stages, the heart of the music is on the streets of the city. Folk, jazz, world and rock music are all represented.
July 24-August 2, Kapolcs, Taliándörögd, Vigánpetend
The Valley of Artists festival grew out of a very small and independent event that now spans three villages in the picturesque Káli Basin just north of Lake Balaton. Dominated by folk acts, there are also a handful of rock shows, theater performances, workshops, and plenty of children’s programs.
August 3-9, Dádpuszta
This king of psychedelic music festivals, O.Z.O.R.A. attracts people from all over the world in Europe’s answer to Burning Man. Heady beats around the clock and spectacular visuals keep the trance fanatics happy.
August 10-17, Budapest, Óbuda Island
Big musical acts and up-and-comers take over the dozen or so stages set up on the leafy island of Óbuda where as many as 400,000 foreigners and locals flock to the festival for seven days of hedonism. Touted as one of the largest festivals in central Europe, this year’s event includes headliner Robbie Williams alongside Boban I Marko Markovic Orkestar, Ellie Goulding, Interpol, The Ting Tings, Kasabian, Limp Bizkit and many others. Street theater, circus and dance performances also feature at Sziget and are a nice distraction from the heaving crowds and dust that sometimes kicks up around the main stages.
August 19-22, Zamárdi
Like the earlier Balaton Sound, the Strand festival also takes place in Zamárdi on the shores of Lake Balaton. Expect plenty of beach activities and music to go alongside. Top acts this year include Simple Plan, Steve Aoki, House of Pain and loads more from Hungary. Happening simultaneously, also in Zamárdi, the B.My.Lake festival features a fine selection of some of Europe and North America’s top DJs.
August 20-23, Budapest, Castle Hill
Folk costumes and crafts take center stage at the annual Festival of Folk Arts (Mesterségek Ünnepe) held in and around the Buda Castle. Of course the festival would not be complete without a good dose of folk concerts performed by local and international acts.