The Budapest Summer Festival is a series of cultural events held in 3 different locations in Budapest. The common theme connecting these events is their location, and an attempt to introduce high culture into the everyday life of Budapest. The festival lasts the entire summer, and has a property that makes it unique. Instead of holding the events of this festival separately, the proprietors of the event sell incredibly discounted tickets that allow you to watch several concerts or plays in a bundle. There is so much to see during this festival: plays, musicals, virtuosos, circus performances, concerts from jazz to pop and everything in between, not to mention classical music and choir meetings. This festival is a great way to learn more about current and past Hungarian culture, and as many of the events are in English, language barriers need not keep anyone back from attending. The events are family friendly and can be visited with children.
Margitsziget Open Air Stage
One of the most scenic locations in the city, this huge open air theatre is located on the northern end of Margaret Island. Originally built in 1911, the theatre was renovated in 2013. This curiously shaped stage has a large oval tent surrounding it, giving the place a vibe of modernism.
The bean shaped large tentish structure was added for acoustics. The theater can fit lots of people, and is entirely open air. There are plenty of roofed establishments around the theatre, and the entire stage is located next to the second location, the Margaret Island Water Tower. It’s great acoustics and one of a kind atmosphere make it the perfect location for cultural events in the midsummer nights breeze.
Margaret Island Water Tower
Visible from even quite some distance, the Margaret Island Water Tower is an iconic part of the Budapest skyline. It is also home to many plays and concerts throughout the summer months as part of the Budapest Summer Festival. Viewing the open air stage from this tall building is a one of a kind experience, but make sure you book your tickets on time, as only 30 people can stay in the Water Tower at one time.
Városmajor Open-Air Stage
The Városmajor Open-Air Stage has been open in one form or another since 1825. At first just a series of tents, later on an outdoor movie theatre, and today, a wonderful outdoor theatre in one of the biggest parks of Buda. The theatre is covered by an enormous, semi-permanent tent, so you can attend an even if the weather is bad. This quiet and peaceful park is magnificent, and is well worth visiting on its own, not ot mention if coupled with a marvelous play or fun night of music.
The great thing about the Budapest Summer Festival is that you get to see a great diversity of events in some of the most beautiful locations in the city, and you can buy tickets for them in a bundle, saving money. There are folk events, theatre, children’s events, jazz, rock and roll, pop, soul and funk, operas, plays, musical theatre, and even contemporary music. For a full program, refer to the festival’s website. Here, we wish to only highlight some of the main attractions that this year’s Budapest Summer Festival has to offer.
Classical music and opera:
The Margaret Island Open Air Theatre will have a viewing of Puccini’s classic opera, Turandot, on June 7th. The opera will take place in three acts, and will be performed by the Cristina Pasaroiu and José Cura, among many other notable solosists.
Nigel Kennedy Concert
Nigel Kennedy and his fantastic virtuoso violin will be on stage at Margaret Island on the 11th of June. The world’s leading violin and viola virtuoso will vividly verify his wild abilities to a wide audience. Incredible improvisations will compliment classic chords, in Nigel’s unique style.
Nicola Benedetti and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra
This July 4th, the Margaret Island Open Air stage will host one of the most sought after violinists of our day, Nicola Benedetti. She will be backed by the San Francisco Youth Orchestra, and this will be her first performance in Hungary.
Stars of Hollywood
This event will feature live performances of classic Hollywood music scores, brought to you by the Budapest Symphonic Orchestra in an attempt to familiarize and popularize classical music to a crowd that may not be familiar with it. From Jaws to Indiana Jones, Ennio Morricone classics and more recent compositions, a star-struck evening is on the horizon.
Twin opera performances of Mascagni and Leoncavallo
Two one act operas will be offered in a palatable and enjoyable night of “easy opera”. Marcelo Alvárez, an international star of Opera will pair with the best Budapest has to offer for two spectacular performances, on August 1st and August 4th.
Vittorio Grigolo Gala Concert
A night with the fabulous voice of Vittorio Grigolo, as he performs a gala on the Margaret Island stage. The internationally known virtuoso will be performing his favourite arias, backed by the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra.
Musicals, theatre and dancing:
The classic Hungarian operetta act Csárdáskirálynő will be performed live this Summer. Although the piece is in Hungarian, we really recommend it even to visitors who do not speak the language.
Shukishvili, Georgian Ballet
August 16th, 17th
Classic Georgian folk dance, group dance, and classical ballet mix into a seamless and unique blend that has critic raving internationally, now performing for the first time on Margaret Island! August 16th and 17th only.
June 20th, 21th
Perhaps one of the most well known, classic Ballet pieces will be performed at the Margaret Island Open Air Stage, on the 20th and 21st of June. Olga Grishenkova and Ernest Katypov will lead Adam Adolphe’s adaptation of his classic 19th century romantic ballet.
Duna Karnevál gala
An evening of Hungarian folk dance, adapted to the theatre. This is not to be missed if you like dance and folk music! June 12th at 8 pm.
A bold, new musical theatre and interpretive dance performance, drawing heavily on Western traditions and Algerian music as well. Hervé Koubi’s masterpiece deals with the topic of ancient peoples, and is performed by a troupe of West African and Algerian men.
Süsü a sárkány
Beloved Hungarian children’s animation star Süsü will make a special appearance on the stage of the Margaret Island Open Air Stage on July 20th. The performance will be in Hungarian, but is recommended for all kids.
Journey behind my eyelids
A stunning representation of the power of imagination, brought to life on stage for the enjoyment of kids everywhere! The story of a little boy looking for his lost glass marble in a dreamworld will take place on the Városmajor Open Air Stage on July 13th.
The most authentic telling of the Pinocchio tale, as it is performed by a puppet theatre. The classic tale of Gepetto, Pinocchio, and of course Jimenez cricket will be told by Hadart company on August 10th.
The Magic Book
A dance troupe has made an amazing acrobatic assembly, an alternative telling of audacious proportions. This act will arrate the joys of reading. Airing August 3rd, in Hungarian.
Palya Bea is one of the foremost contemporary Hungarian singers in our era. She will be giving a special performance, which will feature favourites from her 13 solo albums, in the Városmajor Open Air Theatre on June 15th.
The Cotton Club Singers
The Cotton Club Singer’s performance, called Oh, Budapest, will feature popular songs about Budapest from different eras of the 20th century on June 22nd at the Városliget Open Air Theatre.
Fusing pop music with classical, jazz and rock, this Oregon based songwriter duo, and their 12 piece orchestra do it perhaps the best. A very diverse musical experience that is extremely smart and self aware, catch them at the Margaret Island Open Air on the 24th of July.
With a diverse array of musicians on constant rotation, you can see the most famous Hungarian musicians, singers and songwriters get on stage and be backed by a rock solid foundation at Budapest bar! You can see it live on August 25th on the Margaret Island Open Air Stage!