How To Celebrate New Year’s Eve In Budapest

From the biggest street parties in town to a uniquely local hangover cure, here’s how to ring in the new year in Budapest.

Photo: © Emil Ivanov/iStock

While the rest of the world pops open a bottle of Champagne and marvels at a midnight sky full of fireworks, the Hungarian capital rings in the new year with its own unique approach. New Year’s Eve in Budapest is known as Szilveszter, and for most, it means one thing: the biggest party of the year. Fireworks bloom above the Danube, Champagne and Taschner flow freely, and the sound system is turned up to the maximum. And for the morning after? There’s no better hangover cure than a good, long soak in a thermal bath. Here’s how to celebrate like a local on New Year’s Eve in Budapest.

Enjoy The Light Show

From 10am – 10pm, the charming Christmas Market by St Stephen’s Basilica serves a hearty variety of aromatic local food and dizzying mounds of candy alongside the customary steaming mugs of Glühwein. Enjoy a winter warmer while watching the spectacular laser show that dances across the basilica’s façade every half hour on New Year’s Eve between 4.30 – 8pm.

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Celebrate At The Danube Palace

Each New Year, Budapest’s Danube Palace is host to a dazzling two-hour gala concert, which includes soaring classical pieces alongside traditional Hungarian folk music. It follows a sumptuous five-course dinner and is rounded off with a rollicking party that’s fuelled with Champagne into the early hours.

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Take A River Cruise

The Danube is the very lifeline of the Hungarian capital and separates the Buda and Pest districts which give the city its name. It’s a river that has inspired countless composers and poets for hundreds of years, so what better way is there to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Budapest than with an evening cruise along it? There are a number of providers running cruises throughout the evening. Almost all include a delicious dinner, music, and some of the best spots to see the Hungarian Parliament, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, and, of course, that impressive firework display come midnight.

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Party All Night

For most, New Year’s Eve in Budapest is synonymous with street parties. The centre of the action is Vajdahunyad Castle in City Park. Here, a rollicking three-day celebration is open to all, supplying food and drink in abundance at refreshingly reasonable prices. Elsewhere, the broad sweep of Vörösmarty Square is ideally situated for a view of the fireworks. It’s a popular gathering point to count in the new year. Afterwards, follow tides of convivial revellers to the trendy 7th District, where the city’s many ruin bars, pubs and clubs see the party through until morning.

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Ease The Hangover

There’s no better cure for a big night out than a restorative soak in a thermal bath. Heated to a toasty 30 degrees, the celebrated outdoor Széchenyi Baths are open from 10am on the 1st January. These are often overrun on the first day of the year, so if something quieter appeals, the smaller Király Bath offers calm respite away from the crowds.

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