Jazz, Folk & Dance in Budapest

Whether you want to immerse yourself in the revelry of folk dancing or watch the professionals perform on stage, Budapest offers many opportunities to better know the country through its dance and music – no language skills required.

Several major venues regularly feature jazz and world music concerts in their programme, bringing many international stars to Budapest and shining a light on local talent. A38 is a unique venue, a stationary boat on the Danube with multiple performance spaces, and in 2012 it was voted Best Bar in the World by readers of Lonely Planet online. Random Trip parties on Tuesdays are about jazz improvisation featuring the best young Hungarian musicians. In the heart of downtown, Akvárium Klub is one of the city's best venues for live concerts. Budapest Music Center boasts a free public library containing over ninety thousand books, sheet music and recorded music. In the same building, at Opus Jazz Club the audience can enjoy a gourmet dinner to complete the musical experience. The Festival Theatre and the Bartók Béla National Concert Hall in the Palace of Arts are state-of-the-art venues for jazz, world music and dance performances and the annual Jazz Spring and Hey June festivals are dedicated to Jazz, world and popular music. Throughout the city countless bars, cafés and clubs put on live jazz and world music concerts, including Budapest Jazz Club, Columbus Jazz Club, Gozsdu Manó Klub, IF Jazz Café, Kisüzem, Konzi Klub, Jedermann Café, Mika Tivadar, Muzikum, Nothin' But The Blues Pub and Spinoza. The Budapest Spring, Summer, Autumn festivals, the Jewish Summer Festival and Újbuda Jazz Festival present a selection of jazz, world music and dance performances.

Trafó House of Contemporary Arts is the home of contemporary performing arts, hosting visiting international artists and promoting local talent in dance, alternative theatre, new circus and music. The National Dance Theatre is moving to a new base at Millenáris in 2015; in the meantime their shows of contemporary ballet, folklore and children's plays will be performed in other venues including the new Royal Garden Pavilion and MOM Cultural Center. Hungarian Heritage House is the place to learn everything about Hungarian folklore, expertly interpreted by the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble. The programme of Fonó Budai Zeneház presents a rich and varied selection of jazz, world music and folk concerts and also hosts Dance Houses – a type of lively folk party with a live band where everyone can join in, no previous experience needed, and dance the night away. You can immerse yourself in the unique atmosphere of the Dance House for three whole days at the National Dance House Convention held every year as part of the Budapest Spring Festival, where every region and people of the Carpathian Basin is represented. RaM Colosseum, the home of ExperiDance focuses on large scale, spectacular dance productions, often inspired by Hungarian folklore.

Even if you don't speak a word of Hungarian, there are many talented Hungarian artists worth paying attention to. Not only does music and dance transcend the language barrier, many singers will also perform in English. Look for jazz singers Veronika Harcsa, Vera Jónás, Vera Tóth, trumpet player Lőrinc Barabás, Aladár Pege and guitarist Ferenc Snétberger. The amazing voice of singer and composer Bea Palya will transport you to another world. In dance, the companies of choreographer Yvette Bozsik and Pál Frenák, Szeged Contemporary Ballet and the experimental Tünetegyüttes have all achieved international success.