- 21 Dec 2017 2:40 AM
The atmosphere in Budapest during the festive season really gets buzzing, with the Christmas markets and local holiday celebrations - featuring much mulled-wine - being the key highlights, another is naturally New Year’s Eve: ‘Szilveszter’ in Hungarian.
While the city's clubs, bars, restaurants, and hotels host a number of seasonal events on the 31st, many party-goers head outside before the clock strikes twelve to watch the official (and unofficial) firework displays around town.
There are several main gathering points in downtown Pest on Szilveszter, such as Oktogon and Andrassy Avenue - Hungary’s ‘Grand Boulevard’ is especially scenic and enjoyable since the locals here are happy to brave the winter weather and celebrate in style on the streets.
Also there are always outdoor celebrations at Vörösmarty Square and Nyugati Square too, where people gather to greet the New Year and enjoy the fireworks together - expats and tourists alike are encouraged to join in.
Crowds head over to Vajdahunyad Castle at Budapest’s City Park where there’s a free three-day ‘buli’ running from the 29th until the 31st of December. As you’d expect there are plenty of food and drinks available, and a family Masquerade Ball on Szilveszter.
Along with those more obvious options, you might like to have a little hike to the top of Gellért Hill which is not too strenuous and very rewarding given the extra spectacular views at this time of year, probably one of the best panoramic views of the fireworks when midnight arrives on the 31st.
Other hills looking onto the city offer great vantage points too, and are ideal if you prefer to avoid huge crowds, two other top spots are the Elisabeth Lookout Tower on Janos Hill and also the Fishermen's Bastion in the Buda Castle is great yet more popular and so quite crowded.
For something a little different you could try the iconic Széchényi Baths, which will again host the annual ‘Szilveszter Bath Party’. A truly unique way to bring in the New Year. Popular with the younger set, this musical thermal spa experience always sells out quickly, so if you feel this is you it’s best to book or buy tickets from the venue in advance.
Another creative option for NYE is to go ice skating at Europe’s largest open-air rink at Budapest's City Park near the Széchényi Baths, where locals, expats and tourists all come together for fun - follow this link for info about 5 Top Skating Locations In Budapest.
A night out clubbing on NYE in Budapest is amazing, be it at Brody Studio's 'Tinseltastic Party' (members only on NYE), or 'Time Travelling' at Akvárium Club back to the 90's, or some magical jazz-funk oldies from James Brown and Earth, Wind & Fire, plus live jazz and stuffed cabbage, of course, at Budapest Jazz Club.
Szilveszter dining options in Budapest are legendary, and cater to all budgets, ranging from local tastes to just about every international cuisine you can imagine.
One exciting Asian option available this year is at Japanika, or you can celebrate Lebanese style at Baalbek, a top tip for a classy night out in Buda is to visit Émile.
As you'd expect most 5* hotels have special NYE dinner+dance programs, including Buddha-Bar for an 'Ice Magic' time, and you can go 'around the world with Phileas Fogg' at Corinthia Hotels's Gala.
Boldog új évet!
Lucky New Year Brunch @ Corinthia Hotel Budapest
New Year’s Day Brunch At Kupola Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton Budapest