Nightlife & the Arts in Budapest

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Budapest Nightlife

Budapest's nightlife is vibrant and diverse. In mid-March to early April, the season's first and biggest arts festival, the Budapest Spring Festival, showcases Hungary's best opera, music, theater, fine arts, and dance, as well as visiting foreign artists.

The World Music and International Puppet Festivals are held in early July. In mid-August, Budapest hosts a Formula 1 car race, while the weeklong BudaFest opera and ballet festival takes place at the opera house after the opera season ends. St. Stephen's Day (August 20) is a major national holiday. The Jewish Summer Festival takes place from late August through early September.

Many of Budapest's district cultural centers regularly hold traditional regional folk-dancing evenings, or dance houses (táncház), often with general instruction at the beginning. These sessions provide a less touristy way to taste Hungarian culture.

Many of the English-language movies that come to Budapest are subtitled in Hungarian rather than dubbed; this applies less to independent and art films. There are more than 30 cinemas that regularly show films in English, and tickets are very inexpensive by Western standards (400–700 Ft.) Consult the movie matrix in the Budapest Sun for a weekly list of what's showing.

Most of Budapest's 10 or so major casinos are open daily from 2 pm until 4 or 5 am and offer gambling in hard currency—usually dollars—only.

For the very latest on "in" nightspots, consult the nightlife sections of the weekly Budapest Sun or Budapest in Your Pocket, published five times a year. Hotels and tourist offices carry the monthly publication Programme, which lists all cultural events.

Tickets for arts events and performances can be bought at the venues themselves, but are low, so markups of even 30% shouldn't dent your wallet if you book through your hotel.

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