From gastro festivals and events to signature meals, Hungary is bustling with best of flavours and fun
If there is one thing in Hungary that is even better than the wonderful sights, it is the local cuisine. In recent years, Hungary has gone through a gastronomic revolution, where high quality ingredients are used keeping the Hungarian gastronomy’s long tradition. Gastronomy in Hungarian culture is characterised by both tradition and innovation, as well as creative ideas and solutions inspired by a heritage of many centuries.
As of now, Hungary has seven restaurants with one Michelin star and two restaurants with two Michelin stars in Budapest and the countryside. Hungary is also home to more than 60 restaurants that are included in the internationally renowned Michelin Guide. Owning to Hungary’s multicultural history and eastern European influence, Budapest offers one of the most lavish dining opportunities.
Traditions of the Hungarian Gastronomy – Signature Meals
Hungarians say that they are a ‘nation of soup eaters. While in many countries, soups are relegated to mere starters, traditionally for Hungarians, if you haven’t had a bowl of soup, then you haven’t had a meal. That said, it differentiates between light vegetable soups and more substantial soups with meat and pasta. The iconic goulash and fish soups belong to the latter category and are prepared in myriad variations, both in restaurants and at home.
For mains, Hungary is proud of its stews, made from slow-cooked chicken and paprika, the signature chicken paprikash. Stuffed cabbage, cabbage rolls filled with minced meat, features in the colder months, while lecsó, Hungarian ratatouille, is popular in late summer. Traditional thick pottages can be concocted from lentils, potatoes, peas, beans, cabbage or pumpkin, served with an egg or sliced sausage, or just a slice of bread.
Gastro Festivals & Events
Most foreigners mention the Hungarian cuisine among the top three attractions of the country. That’s not surprising! Hungarian cuisine is famous all over the globe and has a uniquely rich offer. It is well worth tasting the delicacies of Hungary’s various regions. While Budapest is bursting with amazing restaurants, every region has its delicious specialty and exciting gastronomic event, which is worth exploring in the autumn.
One of the symbols of Hungarian capital is its distinctive dome of the Buda Castle, recognisable from afar. Towering above the Buda Castle Hill, which dominates the panorama along the Danube, the Buda Castle Palace is hosting one of the most prestigious wine festivals of the year, the Budapest Wine Festival. Wine lovers can taste a wide range of white and red wines and sparkling wines from renowned Hungarian wineries. South America will be the guest of honor this year, presenting its distinctive flavours and aromas. Speaking of flavours, the Gourmet Courtyard will offer a colourful array of premium dishes and fantastic meals. This year, for the first time, the festival will also open their VIP terrace to the public, offering special experiences and privileges for VIP guests.
Location: Buda Castle, Budapest
Balaton Wine & Gourmet Festival is the biggest gastronomy venture of the Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture event series, where, in addition to providing an international outlook, the focus is on the region and the country’s cultural heritage, winemaking traditions and the increasingly exciting present and future development of Hungarian gastronomy. This year, the largest gastronomic festival in the region will present the culinary specialties of France and Argentina, along with key representatives of Balaton region gastronomy, comprising more than 50 restaurants and wineries. Family activities, free tastings, professional workshops and exclusive Michelin-starred chef dinners await guests at one of the most beautiful venues in the country, in the magical natural setting of Veszprém Valley.
Harvest Days of Tokaj-Hegyalja is one of the oldest harvest events in Hungary, having been celebrated since 1932, making it over 90 years old. Tokaj wine has played a key role in shaping the Hungarian national identity for centuries. The aim of the event is to foster this cultural tradition and showcase the diverse community values of the World Heritage Site in one of Hungary’s most popular tourist regions, Tokaj, the eponymous town of Tokaj aszú. The organizers are looking forward to a three-day celebration from 6 to 8 October 2023, with the slogan ‘white wine, colorful culture’.
Hollókő Harvest Festival is a traditional event that is held every year to the great delight of the residents of the village and the visitors. During the festival, grape pressing techniques are demonstrated, fresh grape is served and the taste of fresh fruit can be enjoyed. Each year, the organizers take care to provide a high-quality entertainment experience, with a series of stage performances to entertain visitors. There are folk dancers and traditionalists, who present a lovely segment of their culture. Handicraft fairs provide an opportunity to buy relics and free activities await those who want to have some fun. The Harvest Parade is one of the most spectacular scenes of the festival, traditionally accompanied by folk dancers, flag-wavers, and horse carriages.
Villány Red Wine Festival is the biggest gastronomic event in the Villány wine region. Villány is usually known as the city of wine in Hungary, and this event that celebrates the town’s pride, wine. For three days, from Friday to Sunday, events will take place from the wine cellars of Villány to the Main Square, where, in addition to various musical performances, traditional demonstrations and the harvest parade, cultural and gastronomic delights await the visitors. Of course, the best wines of the region will be on display for visitors to taste.
Etyek Picnic offers a great range of programs every month for lovers of gastronomy and wine. At the beginning, the picnic has been held four times each year: one in spring, in summer, in autumn and at winter. But since the last few years, Etyek offers a unique atmosphere, food, drink, culture, and sport activities every month of the year. The great atmosphere and the unforgettable team alone make the events worth a visit, but the programs also play a key role for the festival’s success. The Etyek Picnic team will make sure that children and adults alike will leave with an unforgettable experience. Wine, gastronomy, sophisticated folk music and a great atmosphere await everyone who visits the Etyek Picnic any month of the year.
The Csaba Sausage Festival is one of the biggest and most popular gastronomic events in Hungary, where in the center of the attention is the world-famous Hungarian sausage, Csabai. Csabai sausage is a Hungaricum, a typical cottage industry product protected by the European Union with a geographical indication of origin. With the traditions that Békéscsaba has in terms of pig breeding and pork processing, and with the popularity that Csabai sausage has, it is quite natural to organize a sausage-themed festival in the town.
Saint Martin’s Day
Celebrated on the 11th of November, Saint Martin’s Day is marked with huge feasts, as it is the last holiday before the 40-day Christmas fast. Therefore, historically, St. Martin’s Day was the day that Hungarians would cook and eat the goose they had been fattening up. As a worthy accompaniment, it is traditionally on these days that the new wines of the year are tasted for the first time. The wine-tasting is traditionally accompanied by balls, fairs, and great feasts. According to tradition, eating goose on Martin’s Day ensures wealth all year round and drinking new wine ensures good health. Wine cellars and traditional local restaurants offer special delicacies to those who wish to take this good advice. Well-known dishes include goose soup and roast goose with steamed cabbage and potato dumplings.
St. Martin’s Day Celebrations traditions are increasingly popular in all parts of the country, and the town of Bogács is no different, where excellent new wines and goose dishes will be sampled at the Martin’s Day Fair for the fourteenth time this year. Local restaurants and cellars will be offering a wide range of food and drink on this noble event. Martin’s Day is the last day before the 40 days of Advent fasting, when good and rich food and merriment are allowed. Even though fasting traditions are no longer widely observed in the country, the traditions of St. Martin’s Day are being revived year after year.
Location: BogácsNovember 11-12