I have always wanted to visit a country during one of their national holidays, but my vacations have never really lined up quite right.
However, I ended up being lucky enough to celebrate August 20th in Budapest for St. Stephen’s Day.
In August of 2015 I decided to revisit Hungary.
I had my dates planned and the trip booked before I decided to see if there was anything special happening during my time there.
To my surprise I was going to be there during St. Stephen’s Day(Szent István ünnepe).
Stephen(Istvan in Hungarian) was the first king of Hungary in 1000 A.D. and he founded the Hungarian state.
In other words this is a big holiday for Hungary therefore Budapest has activities throughout the city all day and night.
What To See and Do:
1. In the early morning the Hungarian flag is raised in Kossuth Square in front of the Parliament.
2. There are concerts and dance performances at Varkert Bazar/Castle Bazaar all day.
3. The Parliament building is open FREE of charge from 10am-6pm and that is where you can view St. Stephen’s Holy Crown.
4. ‘Street of Hungarian Flavors’ happens all day at the Danube Embarkment in Buda.
5. The Festival Of Folk Arts is also happening that same weekend at Buda Castle.
6. The blessing of new bread and a harvest procession starts at 2:30pm at Szent Gyorgy ter in Buda Castle and ends at the statue of St. Stephen(Fishermen’s bastion).
7. Holy Mass and the procession of St. Stephen’s Holy Right Hand happen at St. Stephen’s Basilica at 5pm.
8. Last but not least; the Fireworks!!!
The firework show starts at 9pm and lasts about 30 minutes.
Fireworks and Booze Cruise.
The fireworks were the main thing I was looking forward to.
I don’t have an obsession over fireworks or anything, but I was going to have one of the best views of the show from the Booze Cruise on the Danube River!
Therefore under those circumstances I was a little more excited then normal.
The Retox Party Hostel that I stayed at, along with their sister hostels, organized a Booze Cruise for St. Stephen’s Day after the firework show.
It was a few hours long; the ticket also included 2 hot dogs and all the beer and champagne was FREE.
The beer of the night was a disgusting piss flavored beer known as Rakoczi.
It has to be the PBR or Milwaukee’s Best of Hungarian beer because this stuff was utter garbage.
It was the only free beer available, and even though I’m not a big fan of beer I’m even less of a fan of champagne.
Basically it became a choice between the lesser of 2 evils.
Aside from gross beer and 2 Aussies dancing with their dicks out(I’m absolutely serious), I had a really good time.
Met some awesome people and just generally had a good time floating on the Danube.
Even though I mostly enjoyed the Booze Cruise on St. Stephen’s Day I did enjoy the rest of the city before then.
There was a fun party vibe in the air while I was walking around the city earlier and there was this feeling of celebration all around.
After this experience I certainly plan on visiting more countries during their national holidays.
Have you ever celebrated August 20th in Budapest or somewhere else in Hungary?
What countries have you been to for their national holidays?
Let me hear your stories.
My name is Jeremiah and I'm an Arizona desert rat in search of the next adrenaline pumping adventure.
Follow me as I show you What and What Not to do when visiting new places in search of Cheap Travel and Cheap Thrills.