Great Summer of Sport Ahead in Budapest

  • 26 Jun 2023 3:36 PM
Great Summer of Sport Ahead in Budapest
Budapest is hosting a number of high-profile sports events this summer, including the prestigious World Athletics Championships for which a new stadium has just been unveiled. Look out, too, for the ever-popular Grand Prix, soon approaching its 40th anniversary.

Hungary’s recently successful football team, meanwhile, welcomes the Czechs, probably at the national Puskás Aréna, although the venue is yet to be confirmed.

World Athletics Championships 2023

Only one down from the Olympics, the World Athletics Championships take place in Budapest this August – not only that, but an entirely new stadium has been built for the event, at the northern tip of Csepel island, graced by the president of the sport, former Olympic champion Sebastian Coe, on his visit this month.

He’ll be back in two months’ time, long with more than 2,000 athletes from over 200 countries, and nearly 8,000 accredited participants for this pinnacle event.

Established 40 years ago to fill in the gap during summers without any Olympics or World Cup taking place – and during a time of mass boycotts of the Games – the World Athletics Championships have given rise to a number of stand-out moments in the sport’s history.

Usain Bolt’s world record in the 100 metres from the 2009 event in Berlin still stands, while few women will top Allyson Felix’s record haul of 14 golds and 17 years of championship appearances in sprint and relay events.

Moving away from the track itself, several famous Budapest landmarks will provide the backdrop for the longer-distance races, including Heroes’ Square, Andrassy út, Chain Bridge and Buda Castle.

After the event closes on 27 August, the 35,000-capacity National Athletics Centre will be adapted to a smaller 15,000 and the site will become a public park.

World Athletics Championships, 19-27 August.

Hungarian Grand Prix

The first such event to take place behind the Iron Curtain in 1986, the Hungarian Grand Prix has been a permanent fixture on the calendar ever since.

Taking place in the heat of high summer, it attracts thousands of fans from the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, who bring the party to Budapest every year.

The Hungaroring track is just outside the city at Mogyoród, with handy transport links, meaning you can easily head back into town after watching the day’s practice laps and race itself.

For 2023, renovations see an upgrade of Hungary’s largest sporting facility. A new grandstand, entrance, café and shop now welcome visitors, still charmed by the old-school track that harks back to the classic days of Grand Prix racing.

Hungarian Grand Prix, 21-23 July.

Hungary v Czech Republic

Currently topping their group to qualify for Euro 2024 in Germany, unbeaten since September 2022, Hungary’s football team are on a roll.

After what will be a tricky visit to Serbia on 7 September, Marco Rossi’s men welcome the Czech Republic for a prestige friendly, almost certainly to be staged at the national Puskás Aréna.

It’s hard to overstate the revolution that has taken place at national level here, the much-maligned team qualifying for their first showcase tournament in 40 years in 2015, and then for another Euros five years later.

Few would have thought that they would be witnessing Hungary play – and almost beat, in fact – the world champions at a major finals in Budapest, as was the case for the epic fixture with France in the summer of 2021.

Since then, Hungary have, if anything, improved, beating both England and Germany away in consecutive competitive internationals. With Germany on Hungary’s doorstep, the prospect of taking part in a third straight Euros is an enticing one.

To warm up for more qualifying fixtures, stars such as golden boy Dominik Szoboszlai and Ádám Nagy will be keen to show the home crowd what they can expect from Hungary this season.

Hungary v Czech Republic, 10 September.

Words by Peterjon Cresswell for
Peterjon has been researching the byways of Budapest for 30 years, extending his expertise across Europe to produce guidebooks for Time Out and his own website

MTI Photo: Zsolt Czeglédi

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