Events on a global scale are an intrinsic part of Budapest’s DNA. A host of imposing buildings in the city centre’s green heart, the Varosliget Park, are remnants of the Hungarian National Millennium Exhibition from 1896. The exhibition centrepiece was a mighty structure, now housing the Hungarian Agricultural Museum. During that time, numerous architectural gems were erected, now the legacy of the fin-de-siècle project. Since then, Budapest has hosted countless world-renowned events, culminating in a record-breaking summer for global events this year. In mid-August, Budapest hosted the grandest sports event in the history of Hungary, the World Athletics Championship. Around 2,000 athletes from over 200 countries competed in the Hungarian capital. Over a billion people watched the competition on their TV screens, and over a hundred thousand spectators cheered for the athletes live. Just before the sports event, the legendary Sziget Festival, the fifth-largest festival in the world and Europe’s most diverse, attracted more than half a million festivalgoers. The festival, originating in 1993, celebrated its storied 30th anniversary. In three decades, 10 million people have visited the festival. A month before the festival mecca took place, the Hungaroring racing track hosted the Formula 1 Hungarian Grand Prix. Some 330,000 spectators came to the event from across Europe and seemed unbothered by the foul weather. The contract for hosting the F1 race ends this year.
With its historical buildings steeped in history and world-famous attractions, Budapest is a one-off destination for mega-events. When the city hosts such events, the visitor numbers are off the charts, and hotel rooms are jam-packed. The synergy between the city and mega events hosted here flows seamlessly. That leads us to believe Budapest is mature enough to apply for hosting the Olympic Games and win the bid. Time will tell whether that will remain a utopia or transform into reality. The fact remains – Budapest can easily host huge events, thanks to its modern sports infrastructure.
WHAT’S NEW IN 2023
It is a near-impossible feat to stay up-to-the-minute with all the novelties regarding the city’s constantly evolving meeting infrastructure. Staying informed about all the unique venues sprouting across the city is even more challenging. The opening of the Hungexpo Congress Centre in 2021 was a milestone for hosting mega-events. The conference centre recorded incredible growth after the pandemic. Its beating heart, a multifunctional hall designed as an auditorium, can capacitate up to 2,500 attendees. Altogether, Hungexpo provides 15,000 square metres of meeting surface, suitable for any event type.
Among the latest hotel openings, the lifestyle hotel heavyweight W Budapest made waves in the city. Our hidden guest assessors evaluated the glamorous hotel gem (https://kongres-magazine.eu/2023/08/hidden-guest-w-budapest-hotel/). Another highly-anticipated hotel will open by the year’s end. Dorothea Hotel Budapest will offer 216 rooms and a smaller conference centre. Marriott will open the hotel as part of its Autograph collection.
At the end of the year, the opening of the boutiquehotel Verno House attracted the attention of design-savvy hotel lovers. In terms of offer, the hotel is one of the best choices for organising boutique events. One of the most recent additions to the hotel scene is the Hampton by Hilton Budapest City Centre, with 219 rooms and a smaller conference hall. Before the summer started, Four Points by Sheraton Budapest Danube Hotel also opened its doors. Set within the DunaPearl complex, the hotel adjoins luxury apartments and artisan shops. The hotel offers a smaller meeting room and boasts 105 rooms.
Event organisers can look forward to help from the proactive professionals at the Budapest Convention Bureau, which now operates under the Hungarian National Tourist Office. The youthful and energetic team connects all key providers across Budapest and has ambitious plans for the future. You can find out more at https://budcb.hu/.
DID YOU KNOW?
It is a lesser-known fact that Budapest applied to host the Olympic Games several times. First, they announced a candidacy for the 1916 Olympics, which were cancelled due to the raging First World War. Next, they tried to win the bid for the Olympics in 1920, 1936, 1944 and 1960. Their last candidacy was in 2013 for the Summer Olympics 2024, hosted by Paris next year. They withdrew their application in 2017, thus leaving the Olympic Committee to decide between Paris and Los Angeles. As Budapest’s application was structured and thought out, the idea to host the Olympics lives on. Rumours have been spreading in public that Budapest may host the Olympics in 2036. The idea was revived after the World Athletics Championship came to a successful close. Sebastian Coe, the legendary president of the World Athletics Organisation, is also keen on Budapest becoming a host city in the future.
BEST INCENTIVE IDEA
The Queen of the Danube is a destination where visitors can spend more than 4 hours without breaking a sweat. The Hungarian capital offers several enticing incentive experiences for one or more days. Budapest always has something in store, even if you only have a few hours. At Conventa’s Try Before You Buy event in Budapest, attendees experienced four intriguing programmes in just four hours. The hands-on experience gives event organisers a taste of what to offer their attendees. Between 1 and 2 September 2023, we discovered some of the city’s most unusual event venues. The programme was organised by the Budapest Convention Bureau and UNDERGUIDE Travel and Event Experience DMC agency. You can read more about the incentive ideas on Kongres Magazine’s website. We were most amazed by the possibility of hosting various thematic events the agency is famed for. Learn more about them at http://underguide.com/mice-type/team-buildings-games/.
BEST KEPT SECRETS
The Metro Line No. 1 is Budapest’s oldest and most iconic metro line. It was the first underground metro in Europe, pompously inaugurated by Emperor Franz Joseph in May 1896. It seems unrealistic that the metro captures the spirit of that age down 4.4 kilometres of track, stopping by at 11 scenic metro stations. You should not be surprised if you will experience déjà vu, as if you had seen the stations before in some film. The Metro Line No. 1 is, unsurprisingly, a sought-after film set. In 2002, UNESCO placed the metro line and Andrássy Avenue on its list of World Heritage Sites. We warmly recommend you take your attendees on a metro ride when hosting an event in Budapest. You will be mesmerised by the flawlessly functioning piece of engineering heritage.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
According to the sheer number of terraces with spectacular views, Budapest is the capital of New Europe. One of the most popular is The Duchess Rooftop at the top of Hotel Matild Palace. Matching its swanky look is the terrace of Hotel Aria, which also offers some indoor space if there is poor weather. When organising prestigious events, we suggest booking one of the apartments in Párisi Udvar Budapest, where you will be delighted by the cityscape from one of the most sought-after hotels. Marriott’s Sky Bar is where Freddie Mercury sang to a group of friends before their iconic Hungarian Rhapsody concert in 1986. 360Bar is arguably the most popular, accessible from the most pictured street in Budapest, the Andrassy Avenue. The mentioned rooftops are just some of the city’s incredible venues.
Between the 17th and 19th centuries, Hungary was famed as the finest wine-making region in Europe. The Tokaj wine region has already regained its former glory, as have others, including Villany, renowned for Hungary’s finest red wines. Quality white wines are also produced near the wine regions surrounding Lake Balaton. The most popular sorts include királyleányka, chardonnay, irsai olivér, welschriesling, rhein reisling and the grüner veltliner. Unsurprisingly, Budapest has a host of specialised wine shops and artisan boutiques. If you have some space in your luggage, a quality Hungarian wine is a thoughtful gift.
TOP FIVE EVENTS IN 2023
|1 – 4 July 2023| 9th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology
|21 – 23 July 2023| Hungarian Grand Prix – Formula 1
|10 – 15 August 2023| Sziget Festival
|19 – 27 August 2023| World Athletics Championships Budapest 2023
|7 – 10 September 2023| Budapest Wine Festival 2023
If we are to believe Michelin’s culinary guide, Budapest is undergoing a gastro revolution. Michelin included a record-breaking 22 restaurants in their guide. Six of them received one Michelin Star, while one restaurant received two. In addition, two Michelin Green Stars were awarded, and 15 restaurants are now Michelin-recommended. To get familiarised with the culinary scene, we suggest visiting Felix Kitchen & Bar, where you will see first-hand what a culinary revolution stands for. The chefs elevate quality ingredients and traditional dishes to unseen heights. When strolling the iconic Danube riverside, you will be swayed by the fragrant scents from great restaurants.
Another bit of trivia we learned on our last visit is that the French did not invent the croissant. Au contraire, it was resourceful Hungarian bakers who created the pastry when the Ottomans sieged the city in 1686. They celebrated the win over the Ottomans by baking croissants that supposedly resembled the Ottoman Crescent. That is at least what the Larousse Gastronomique encyclopedia says. In any case, Budapest is an innovative culinary capital where you can find something for everyone.
WHY BUDAPEST? Five great reasons to organise an event in Budapest: 1. World-class hotel offer The selection of hotels is diverse, cosmopolitan and suited to all tastes. Budapest is one of the leading destinations in the region in this segment. 2. Glamorous meeting venues Only a handful of European cities boast as many meeting venues as Budapest. Most of them are affordable and flexible for hosting events. 3. Culinary revolution Hungarians are gastronomical masters, even in fine dining. The catering offer in Budapest is world-class, too, and offers excellent value for money. 4. New conference centre The new Hungexpo Conference Centre beautifully complements the offer. Budapest can now host events for over 2,500 attendees. 5. First-rate production Several AV and multimedia companies based in Budapest can organise the most demanding event productions. They can support everything from drone shows to a Rolling Stones concert.
BUDAPEST, IN A FEW WORDS
With several substantial investments in recent years, the modern and well-developed congress metropolis can now stand toe-to-toe with its rivals, Vienna and Prague. The city’s added value helped it edge out its competition. Budapest has always resided in the cultural sphere of the West. Its confinement to Eastern Europe is but a blurred memory. Local providers, who closely resemble their Scandinavian colleagues according to their Finno-Ugrian language group, give the city added value with their professionalism and positive approach. When hosting an event in Budapest, your event will run like a well-oiled machine. If Prague and Dubrovnik are considered love at first sight, Budapest is a city where love flourishes over time.
WHO TO CONTACT?
Ms. Ildiko Lippai
Budapest Convention Bureau
Residence 1. building | 1027 Budapest, Str. Kacsa 15-23.
T: +3630 899 2835