Palinka & Sausage Festival in Budapest (or simply Budapest Palinka Festival) is about two things Hungarians like and are passionate about: Hungarian brandy, a strong fruity spirits called ‘Palinka’ (pah-lin-kah), and the other one is sausage or ‘Kolbasz’ (kohl-bus), which is probably the closest to the Spanish chorizo type of sausage. We assume that no health fans or fitness enthusiasts are reading about this festival, so let’s focus on the fun.
You may not learn about the secret ingredients and special treatments of palinka and sausage, but you may thoroughly enjoy them. Or who knows? Some secrets may be revealed after a few shots. Two yummy things in a spectacular place: Palinka & Sausage Festival takes place in the Buda Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site in Budapest. The festival is not only gastronomical with all day palinka tasting and kolbasz munching, but also cultural due to the various programmes organized by the Hungarian Palinka Marketing non profit organization.
Palinka is a much loved strong alcohol in Hungary, reaching back to centuries’ old traditions. Hungarian palinka can taste heavenly, and make you ‘happily whistle around’ (hence the nickname and later on brand name ‘whistling brandy’ or Futyulos Palinka). Yep, you are right, it is something like vodka for the Russians. While vodka tastes like hot water, palinka is like the velvety essence of peaches, pears, apricots, plums, etc. depending on which fruit it was distilled from.
The palinka at the Palinka and Sausage Festival must be the very best for sure, but palinka has not always been a noble drink, or was not sipped away in a noble way to be more precise. In the old days, Hungarian peasants would start their chilly mornings with a shot of palinka to ‘muscle up’ for the hard jobs on the fields, or to gather stamina for the all day ‘pig killing feasts’ (disznooles). The stronger earthier versions of palinka can feel like fire in your throat, while more gentle and subtle versions will help you recall the warmth of the sun that ripened the fruits your palinka was made from. Beware, Hungarian palinka of the best distilleries is very nice, but very strong, like any serious spirits.
Sausage or Kolbasz is often used in traditional Hungarian cuisine as a stand alone feast for more filling breakfasts or dinners served with fresh bread, and some vegetables (tomato, pepper, cucumber, etc.), or as a booster in hot meals like bean soup (bableves), potato soup (krumplileves), layered potato with sausage and sour cream (rakott krumpli), etc.
Entrance fee – Palinka & Sausage Festival Budapest
2 000 HUF for daily tickets (one entry), 4000 HUF for passes (multiple entries). Both tickets include a Hungarian brandy tasting class. Free for under 14s. Alcohol minimum age limit is 18 years old in Hungary.
Venue of Palinka & Sausage Festival Budapest:
Oroszlanos Courtyard in the Buda Castle, Castle Hill, Budapest
Bus number 16 from Deak square (also stops at the 2 ends of the Chain Bridge, on Clark Adam square and Szechenyi Istvan square, former Roosevelt ter)
For a bit more history, you can hop on the Funicular Railway (nostalgic cable car) on Clark Adam ter, at the Chain Bridge, next to the Tunnel under the Castle Hill. The cable car will take you right next to the Buda Castle.