Hungary is the land of cultural experience. Both locals and visitors from all around the world anticipate some of the most well-known festivals in the country. Everyone from music lovers to culture enthusiasts will find a festival they like in Hungary.
The so-called “Island of Freedom”, Sziget Festival (which translates to Island Festival) is the top music festival in the country, attracting thousands of international festival-goers every year. It brings artists to the stage from different genres and music styles for a week-long festival of fun and freedom. The festival takes place on the Hajógyári Island in Budapest, which sees some of the highest numbers of tourists in this period, in August every year. Over half a million music fans gather on the island every summer, for one of the largest and most popular festivals in Europe.
The festival began in 1993 and since then it has grown to be an incredible music festival with art installations and many other programs. In recent years, performers have included international pop and rock superstars such as Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Lana Del Rey and many others. While music is an essential part of the Sziget Festival, art, inspiration and social issues are also core elements. Each year there are multiple venues including a theatre, museum sites and many interactive installations. Sziget Festival also promotes the power of diversity and supports causes such as spreading music to underprivileged children.
Balaton Sound Festival
For a week every summer, people gather on the south side of Lake Balaton, to party in Zamárdi. The Balaton Sound Festival is one of the biggest festivals in Hungary and one of the most popular festivals around Lake Balaton. With past acts including Macklemore, Tiesto and Marshmello, Balaton Sound is one of the world’s top electronic music festivals. The festival proudly has a place among one of the largest (and most colourful) open-air electronic beach festivals on the continent. It has been around since 2007, hosting the world’s greatest DJs and artists in the pop and electronic genres.
Tihany Lavender Festival
Celebrating the magical time of the scented flowers, the Lavender Festival in Hungary takes place every June in Tihany, one of the most magnificent cities around Lake Balaton. Visitors can try lavender specialities such as lavender coffee, beer or ice cream. At the cliff-top of Tihany, fields are in full bloom in the summer. The local lavender farm was founded in the early 20th century, becoming the county’s first large lavender plantation.
The festival is held at the best time to see the Balaton’s north shore in full bloom, painted with lavender and the greenery around. Some programs supporting the Lavender Festival include guided hikes to the Balaton Uplands, cave tours, birdwatching and many others to discover the magical area.
Debrecen Flower Carnival
The Debrecen Flower Carnival takes place in the city of Debrecen, celebrating all things floral. The festival was first held over 50 years ago and since then has grown to be one of the biggest, most colourful and most international floral carnivals in Europe. The main event is the parade of spectacular floral floats and performances by local and international artistic groups. The one-week festival offers much more than just colourful flowers – from dance and theatre performances to concerts and even puppet shows.
The Volt Festival has been one of the largest pop music festivals in the country, held in Sopron every year since 1993. It is defined by the diversity of music, including all music genres like rock, electronic, jazz and even folk music. The festival interestingly got its name from the pop culture magazine called “Volt”, which translates to “was”, in the years after the fall of Communism. The first couple of festivals were held around Easter time in the town centre of Sopron, but due to its growing popularity, the venue and date of the event changed to become a summer festival at a campsite in Sopron.
One of the more recent festivals in Hungary, Strand Festival was first organised in 2013. Held yearly at Lake Balaton, on the Zamárdi beach, the summer-end festival attracts tens of thousands of festival-goers of all ages to the lakeside where both Hungarian and international stars appear on stage. Strand Festival is the place to go for electronic, pop and hip-hop music lovers, with previous festival performers including Ellie Goulding, Jason Derulo and Bastille. The festival is a big beach party with several activities scheduled outside of concert hours – such as yoga classes or water-balloon fights.
Language point: The term “DJ” stands for “disc jockey”, a term which was invented in 1935 by an American radio commentator. The word “disc” in the term refers to vinyl records, but nowadays DJ is used to describe a person who mixes music from other recording media such as audio files on a controller or laptop.
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