St Patrick’s Day this year falls on a Sunday, which is perfect for the St Patrick’s Day Parade, the ninth annual gathering of painted faces and leprechaun hats walking beneath banners and behind Irish wolfhounds celebrating one of the patron saints of Ireland. When the first 546 people showed up in 2011 for the inaugural St Patrick’s Day parade in Budapest, I wonder if they had any inkling of how popular an event it would become. Participants, now numbering in their thousands, will start gathering around 12 noon at Szabadság tér for face-painting and the like, with the parade itself starting at 3 pm. There’ll be live Irish music on a stage with majorettes twirling up a storm. 6:3 Borozó will be running a bar, a food truck will be whipping up 100% Irish beef burgers, and Guinness will be on tap to pour you a pint of the black stuff. You’ve no excuse. Come for lunch! And don’t worry if you don’t have your green; there’ll be plenty of Paddy’s Day t-shirts on sale.
The parade will wend its way through the streets of Budapest, led by the Scottish Highlanders Pipe Band, ending up at Instant VIII, on Akácfa utca 49-51, where the craic will continue. With plenty of Irish music, dance, food, and drink, the three main ingredients of any Irish buli (Hungarian: party) will be ticked off: ceoil (Irish: music), caint (Irish: chat), and craic (Irish: fun). Billed as one of the biggest St Patrick’s Day parades in Central Europe, it’s one not to be missed.
Watch out for the greening of Budapest, too. MUPA will be green for the day as will the Chain Bridge, part of the Global Greening that sees many iconic landmarks around the world turn green in a nod to Ireland. Elsewhere in Hungary, Felszabadulási emlékmű in Szombathely, and Jedlik Ányos bridge in Győr will also turn green.
The Gala Dinner
As usual, the Gala Dinner will coincide with the final match in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament. This year, in the second match of the day, Ireland will take on Wales in what promises to be a nail-biting meeting of titans. With kick-off at 15:45, many of those heading to the Gala Dinner will be watching in ballgowns and tuxedos and I, for one, will have to take care not to chip my nail polish. You can catch the match and revelry at Jack Doyle’s Irish pub and restaurant over on Pilvax utca, at Beckett’s Irish pub on Liszt Ferenc tér, at 6:3 Borozó on Lonyay utca, and at The Caledonia Scottish Bar on Moznár utca (these are the ones I know about).
The Hilton Hotel (1014 Budapest, Hess András tér 1-3) is this year’s venue for the annual celebratory dinner. For the thirteenth consecutive year, guests will gather to mark a history rich in music and dance. Twenty-one-year-old Ciara Harvie, who made her musical debut in front of 1200 people at Edinburgh’s Festival Theatre, will be on stage to wow the 300 or so expected to attend. Billed as a cross-over mezzo-soprano, Harvie is self-taught and in just a short time has become known for her ‘glamorous gowns and diva-style dresses’. Ladies, take note. Gents, dress code is Black Tie.
A local favourite, dance troupe Coincidance, with their unique contemporary Irish Dance style, a combination of modern dance and traditional Irish step, will rev the juices and get the collective feet tapping. Live music will continue with Babel Rock and then DJ Andrew J will take the dancers into the night.
Starting with a champagne reception at 18:45, continuing with a three-course dinner accompanied by wine, beer, and Guinness, the Gala Dinner will run into the early hours of the following morning. Ticket prices range from 22000 HUF (members) to 27000 HUF (non-members) with tables of ten running at 250 000 HUF. Contact Aranka Bartalis at email@example.com for more details.
A little bit of business
A delegation from the Irish International Business will be here for the dinner and the parade and a business mixer on Monday. If you’re interested in making connections in Ireland and Irish business people, contact the Irish Hungarian Business Circle. It’s a first-come, first-served event, so don’t wait. The Irish Hungarian Business Circle works hard to create synergy between the two countries. If you’ve a notion to do business in Ireland and want to get in touch with Irish business in Hungary, check them out at www.ihbc.hu. Or drop by one of their First Friday get-togethers. The next one is 5 April at 6:3 borozó on Lonyay utca.
And the rest…
If you’re planning your own party, this year the Irish Hungarian Business Circle has put together a Spotify play list of Irish music for you. Check it out on https://spoti.fi/2VwMx3X. You’ve no excuse not to celebrate. I did a quick check of other Irish stuff going on and see that the Hungarian band Firkin, who rock a mean fiddle are playing in ELLÁTÓház (Dob utca 19) on Thursday night, March 14th, the same night as the Paddy and the Rats St Patrick Day Special at Barba Negra. This brilliant Celtic punk band from Miskolc will definitely get you in the mood for the weekend’s festivities.
But it isn’t all about St Patrick’s Day. For some, being Irish is a state of mind and what better way to explore that state of mind that through literature. The Embassy of Ireland in Budapest hosts a monthly Irish Book Club that is worth checking out. If you’re interested in anything Irish and are not already following them, think about doing so. Check their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/irlembbudapest/ And don’t miss the travelling exhibition, Blazing a Trail, focusing on the lives and legacies of Irish diaspora women. It’s at the National Library of Foreign Literature and runs till 26 March.
Lá ‘le Pádraig sona daoibh. Happy St Patrick’s Day.