150 years ago, on 17 November 1873, Budapest was born through the unification of Pest, Buda, and Óbuda. To celebrate this milestone, Budapest will host a variety of events, including a party tram, lectures, concerts, and an outdoor exhibition, from Friday to Sunday. On the occasion of Budapest’s 150th birthday, the Merlin Theatre will reopen, and the Courtyard of the City Hall will also open its doors to the public.
Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony announced the celebrations in a Facebook post, stating: ‘Budapest is turning 150 this year, so we’re throwing an enormous birthday bash. It’s the kind where you can arrive in a special party tram, taste Budapest’s birthday cake, listen to the Grand Novel Budapest in the City Hall, explore an exhibition about Budapest’s everyday heroes, and witness the works of the best illustrators. You can dance in places you’ve never danced before, and to top it off, after many years, you can step back into the Merlin Theatre. And if that’s not enough, on Budapest’s birthday, a new public space is also being born. Celebrate with us!’
As part of the celebrations, the Budapest City Council will hold a ceremonial assembly on Friday at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, where the Budapest Awards, Pro Urbe Budapest Awards, and Budapest Honorary Citizen recognitions will be presented.
Starting Friday, the City Hall Park Passage will open, connecting the gates between Károly Boulevard and Városház Street.
A new promenade, illuminated by light installations after dark, will enhance the festive atmosphere.
The City Hall Courtyard will also be accessible for visitors. They can view The Budapester’s illustrations on posters for the first time, where 151 Hungarian illustrators created visuals depicting significant events from Budapest’s history from 1873 to the present. Alongside The Budapester’s artworks, Budapest’s Heroes will be introduced, with employees of the city’s companies selecting and presenting their esteemed colleagues on posters, sharing insights into their work. The Friday programmes will conclude with a gala evening at the Vígszínház theatre.
The City Hall itself will also open its doors, showcasing excerpts from the Grand Novel Budapest, written by twenty-three contemporary authors, with the participation of TÁP Theatre in a reading session on Saturday. After twelve years, the Merlin Theatre will reopen its doors as part of the celebration, offering theatrical performances, slam poetry nights, exhibitions, and discussions. Evening hours in the City Hall Courtyard will be filled with musical performances by Dj Palotai and Lőrinc Barabás.
Additionally, the party tram will operate on the line of tram no. 49 during the weekend, offering dance-worthy DJ sets.
Events at the Merlin Theatre are free but require registration through an app; the same applies to the party tram routes.
According to the organizers, other institutions in the city will also join in the celebration. The Budapest Festival Orchestra will prepare a special performance, and the Budapest Historical Museum will host a birthday programme. The Centre for Budapest Transport (BKK) will offer a 150 forint birthday ticket on Friday through the BudapestGO app, valid for all means of public transport on 17 November. FILMIO, the first Hungarian public streaming service provider, will also commemorate the birthday by offering three films for free until Sunday.
A special film showcasing the history of the city, titled The Birth of Budapest, has been created for the anniversary. This approximately fifteen-minute creation, made from hundreds of old photographs by the Animatiqua studio, can be viewed here.
To mark the special day, Viber is offering the ‘Budapest150’ sticker pack today, allowing users to send humorous, historical, and romantic stickers to each other.