The main character of this spring Budapest Festival is Palinka, a really strong spirits distilled from various fruits. Although the annual spring Palinka Festival is usually in one of the nicest place in Budapest, in the Buda Castle on the Castle Hill, some of the festivals are in the heart of the city, on the lovely Elisabeth Square (Erzsebet ter), like in 2013. There are various concerts (folksy, swing, world music, boogie, rock, etc.) during the 4 days of the festival. Programmes usually start around noon and end daily around midnight sometime in May.
Each year celebrates a specialty, e.g. apricot in 2012, sour cherry in 2013. The Palinka Festival is not to be confused with a similar festival in the autumn called Palinka and Sausage Festival.
Entrance fee at the Palinka Festival Budapest
You can get daily and four-day entrance fees (the multipass is very discounted). Each includes a tasting glass, then you can buy the palinkas of the most famous Hungarian distilleries. Daily tickets cost approx. HUF 2,000, while a multi day festival ticket is about HUF 5,000 (and also includes a palinka shot glass for tasting). Entrance to the festival for children under 14 is free.
What is Palinka?
Palinka (brandy) is most typically made from plums, apricots, pears, grapes (the digestive ‘torkoly’) and apples, but can be made of all kinds of fruits like raspberry or quince too – anything that is made for making jam is also a good base for a palinka. Here are some Fun facts about Palinka.
Hungarians love palinka, like the Russians do vodka. It is thought of as a noble alcoholic drink, although there are many home made versions of it – many true palinka fans try to make their own versions (although distilleries are more regulated these days). Palinka is the number one distilled alcoholic drink in Hungary exceeding vodka, rum, gin, etc. Pear palinka is the most popular palinka variety in Hungary (especially ‘Vilmos’ or William pear), followed by apricot and plum.*
The palinka varieties at the festival are of course really unique, much better than what you can get at the usual grocery stores, so take your sampling glass and sip the palinkas of the best makers. There will be food stalls, lots of snacks and other more gourmand palinka companions, like chocolate.
Mind you, there are lots of palinka festivals in Hungary, even Budapest has several of them – but the May Palinka Festival is probably one of the most famous of the palinka merriments.
Here is a video of a former Palinka Festival Budapest made by citizenreporters.
And here is a recording of an authentic Gypsy band called Parno Graszt at a former Palinka Festival Budapest
And some of the most famous Hungarian palinka distilleries:
- 895 Hunnium
- Árpád és Vadász Pálinkák
- Békési Pálinkaház
- Brill Pálinkaház
- Etyeki Czimeres Pálinka
- Gusto Pálinkák
- Gyulai Pálinka Manufaktúra
- Hegyközi Manufaktúra Kft.
- Hírös Kecskeméti Pálinkaház
- Márkházi Pálinkák
- Márton és Lányai
- Matheus Pálinkaház
- Nobilis Pálinkák
- Ördögi Pálinka
- Pajor Pálinka Kecskemét
- Pannonhalmi Pálinkárium
- Panyolai Pálinkák
- Schiszler Pálinka Soltvadkert
- Spiritus Primus Pálinka
- Villányi Pálinka
* according to a Nielsen market research made in Hungary in 2009