Suppose you only have one night in the city and you’d like to spend it as if you were living here the whole year round. Authentically, in sync with the local world, picking a location that gives you a chance to blend in, even as a tourist. Put on your disguise and mix with the locals in Budapest. It might be hard to choose, but it’s impossible to make the wrong decision. Wherever you go in the evening, try to plan your route to walk across at least one bridge, because it is worth taking a moment to immerse yourself in the beauty of the city at night at a place you have already visited during the day. Then it’s up to you to either choose something that is a good fit for you or go for something bold and outside your comfort zone since you are here. Either way, you won’t be disappointed, because there is no lack of choice when it comes to venues. Dive into the whirlwind of opportunities and let it take you wherever it wants or opt for one of the iconic venues, some of which are presented below.
Dürer Kert | Budapest, Öböl utca 1, 1117
If you really want to get to know something, you have to dive deep below the surface. It’s possibly the underground that reveals the most about a city. Since 2008, Dürer has been home to alternative music and its audience, to subcultures that do not ache for the main stage, but still want to perform under professional circumstances. If you go to Dürer, you can experience first hand what it’s like when a venue simply does not give up. They refused to be discouraged after having lost their iconic location next to City Park: they relocated, started over and it seems like the new location offers many possibilities for Dürer. If you visit the bank of the Danube, not very far from the city centre, you’ll find a peaceful open-air space where you can discover bands you wish you had known about before. All this in a wholly accepting, inclusive and kind environment, something that Dürer is famous for in Budapest, challenging many a music genre stereotype. Metal, post-punk, rock, drum & bass and various experimental parties and concerts follow each other, but Dürer has been always known for organising events aimed at strengthening community and social responsibility, as well as for theatrical or art happenings. The concert organisers have a good eye for selecting the best new European and overseas bands, and performers whose only option is Dürer if they want to add a show to their European tour. During the day, a huge green space awaits people who’d like to hang out near the water with a relaxation area, bogrács (a huge outside cooking pot) and BBQ areas, a food truck and a massive bicycle rack.
A38 | Budapest, Petőfi híd, 1117
It’s only natural to have a lot of ships in a city that’s built on the banks of a river. But what does it say about a venue if everyone knows what you mean if you say: we’re going to the “Ship” tonight? The A38 Ship is one of the most iconic concert and party venues in Budapest, named after the family who designed it, Artemovsk and its width (38 feet wide). It has been anchored on the Buda side of the easily accessible Petőfi Bridge since 2003. The crew awaits visitors with music at 3 locations: in the belly of the ship you can enjoy one of the best sound systems of the city on a traditional main stage; on the bow terrace you can enjoy a sunset above the river while sipping cocktails to the music of the coolest DJ sets; while on the roof terrace, you can vibe like you’re at an open-air rooftop party. A38 invites the most popular musical talents of the lively Hungarian music culture on board to celebrate electronic music, hip-hop, indie and quality pop together. Recently, the ship has started to take on cultural production agency tasks, with radio and TV shows produced in the panorama studio. They also put a big emphasis on finding upcoming talents as the A38 Academy offers an opportunity to learn professions of the live music segment and then participate in practical training at this tried-and-tested venue.
Budapest Park | Budapest, Soroksári út 60, 1095
Budapest is the living evidence that a huge festival can take place within the city, if it’s properly organised. Budapest Park was envisioned in 2012 as a venue of 11,000 square metres in the city, one that is easy to access and doesn’t bother anyone with its main stage rocking. So if you want to visit a festival for an evening, head straight to the bridgehead on the Pest side of Rákóczi Bridge and forget that you’re in the city. With its motto, Budapest Park encourages you to do exactly that: “Leave reality behind”. They are not asking for the impossible, the venue twists your head with its vivid atmosphere, whether you are drifting towards the Hoppá (Oops) or Jungle terrace or the main stage. If you prefer to have a good time in a less crowded space and would rather avoid melting into the crowd while dancing, you can elevate yourself above the party to a VIP terrace and enjoy concerts like there’s no one around you. Budapest Park aims to exploit its possibilities to the fullest, with the biggest names coming to play week after week, performers who can fill its capacity of 12,000 people, making them the biggest open-air entertainment venue in Europe that is open throughout the summer. This can be confirmed by artists like Iggy Pop, Die Antwoord, Marilyn Manson, Pet Shop Boys, Thirty Seconds to Mars, Billy Idol, Pixies, Scooter, Tommy Cash and Sum 41, among others.
Opus Jazz Club – Budapest Music Center | Budapest, Mátyás utca 8, 1093
There is a Hungarian saying that goes “good music to accompany good lunch”. The Opus Jazz Club exceeds this expectation, as it delivers world class jazz to go with fine dining. The building itself already gives the impression that you are not about to enter a ruin bar for a semi-official unplugged guitar concert. The Budapest Music Center has been standing just a few streets away from the bank of the Danube and Fővám Square since 1892. It is right in the touristic heart of the city, and it was into the east wing of this architectural heritage that László Gőz envisioned the Opus Jazz Club. The internationally known, Grammy Award nominee trombone player envisaged a place, where people can enjoy the best contemporary jazz musicians in isolated tranquillity, that is if you can pay attention to the music whilst indulging in culinary delights. It was obvious that the jazz club had to rise up to the challenge of being able to offer the acoustics and the atmosphere worthy of the performers, but opening an elegant and renown restaurant was, literally, the cherry on top.
If possible, plan your visit to be able to hear the Fazioli piano being played, since this instrument is technically the Stradivarius of pianos. With Opus, BMC focuses on the present, however, it also puts great emphasis on the past and the future: the former represented in its musical library, and the latter supported by music studios and a music education centre.
MÜPA | Budapest, Komor Marcell utca 1, 1095
After spending a couple of days in a foreign environment and soaking up as much local experience as you can, it might be refreshing to find something that feels familiar. Müpa – formerly the Palace of Arts – has given home to a more universal perception of arts since 2005. It is modern, contemporary and progressive in every detail, the design of the building has preserved its modern appearance to this day, and it is no coincidence that it won a Prix d’Excellence Award back in 2006, which literally says “The Palace of Arts is the best cultural institute of the world”. It is located on the Pest side of the Danube, in the southern part of the city, so step in, and after you’re done being amazed by its organic inner spaces in complete contrast to its outer design, you have the hard decision of which event to choose. One day is not enough for Müpa, but not even for the Ludwig Museum housed in the building, which exclusively houses contemporary art exhibitions. Müpa offers such a wide and colourful variety of music and performances that you’ll most certainly find something you’re excited about and you’ll be sad to skip the rest, since Müpa is a place for classical, contemporary, pop, jazz and world music, opera, new wave circus, dance, literature and film all in one.