The Debrecen Flower Carnival is the best time of the year to travel to Debrecen, Hungary’s second largest city. Hosted every year in August, The Flower Carnival consists of a week of festivities including live music, dancing, food, crafts, and light shows.
The Flower Carnival is the main reason that we decided to travel to Debrecen. We heard about how fun it is and made it a priority to go! We were glad that we visited Debrecen during this fun-filled week, because it seemed like it would be a pretty quiet city the rest of the time.
The best part about the carnival is that most of the events are completely free! There are a few music shows that you have to buy tickets for, but other than that, you can attend all the events without spending a dollar. Just make sure you budget some money for the yummy food and drinks that are sold throughout the festival.
Best Events to Attend
The Flower Carnival posts about the schedule and location of all the events ahead of time on this website. Sometimes, the locations of events change so be sure to check the website before you head off to an event.
Most of the events take place in the city center or in the Great Forest Park. It’s about a 30 minute walk between the two places, so you may want to download Bolt (an app that allows you to call and taxi and pay via credit card on the app). We used it a couple times to get between events and our Airbnb.
Here are a few of our favorite events that we attended during the Debrecen Flower Carnival:
Fiesta Cubana Debrecen
The Cuban Dance Fiesta was our favorite part of the festival hands down. They had live music and dancers teaching the audience how to do easy Cuban dance moves. The steps were all really easy to learn, and it was a blast dancing with so many people in the square.
At one point, we even formed a conga line. The sense of community that we got from attending this event was incredible. We walked away beaming from ear to ear.
The festival took place on both Friday and Saturday night, but the Friday night party was much more fun. There were more people because I think less events were going on in the festival.
3D Mapping Show
If you like modern art, then you will love the 3D Mapping Show that takes place in the Great Forest Park after dark on the Saturday night of the festival. It was one of the coolest displays of modern art that we have ever seen, set against the regal backdrop of an actual building.
Basically, a projector displays all sorts of colorful animations against the building, while the crowd watches in awe. It is way cooler to witness in person, so take my word for it and go see it for yourself. The show only lasts about 10 minutes, and they do multiple shows per night if you miss the first one.
The Flower Parade is arguably the biggest part of the Flower Festival. A massive parade with flower-adorned floats makes its way through Debrecen’s city center. Nearly the entire city shows up to watch!
The parade takes place on St. Stephen’s Day, which is similar to the 4th of July or Independence Day. Most people have the day off work, so it’s a great day to enjoy the festivities with family.
Czech Beer Garden
The Czech Beer Garden is open for most of the festival and is located in the Great Forest Park. Here, you’ll find tons of alcohol and food vendors selling food to festival attendees. During the day, it can look a little bit empty. But at night, especially during the weekend, the place comes alive with tons of people.
If you don’t like beer, worry not! There are also plenty of other alcohols to chose from, as well as non-alcoholic selections and food, snacks, and desserts. Communal seating is located throughout the garden. It’s the perfect place to fuel up before heading to the next event.
Galiba Children’s Festival
Even though we’re only children at heart, we still wanted to check out the Galiba Children’s Festival to see how it was. It turns out, there is plenty to do for adults, as well! They have all sorts of food and drinks vendors here, as well as stands selling trinkets and souvenirs.
The coolest part of the Galiba Children’s Festival was the show. Men in costumes stood on stilts and performed a play. It was entirely in Hungarian, so we have no idea what was happening. Nevertheless, it was super entertaining and we are glad we stopped by.
The Craft Fair is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for souvenirs from the show. There are vendors set up selling all sorts of different goods, including kitchen items, stuffed animals, candy, gifts, and more. They even sell flower headbands in case you’re looking to dress the part!
Where to Eat
During the festival, you’ll likely need a some restaurants to eat at. While there are many food trucks and street vendors around, sometimes you’ll want to sit down and relax before heading off to the next event. Here are a couple of our favorites from throughout the week.
For a quick and cheap bite to eat, you can’t beat Délibáb Ételbár. This popular eatery serves up hearty Hungarian fare in a casual, counterserve setting. In the back, there are plenty of comfy booths to sit in and enjoy your food. It is located in the city center, very close to where many of the events take place.
We ordered a plate of fries that was topped with meat and peas, a pineapple burger, and a Greek salad. The total for all three things was about $10 USD, so definitely very affordable.
If you are looking for a healthier dinner option, we can’t recommend Kis Padlizsán enough. This stylish vegan restaurant has food that is so tasty, it’ll make you question why you eat meat. We tried our first vegan pizza here and absolutely loved it! The vegan cheese on top was just as delicious as regular cheese.
They have seating inside, as well as a patio outside. We ate inside since the patio was full, and the ambience was great. They have green plants hanging from the ceiling and very stylish furniture. Plus, the staff was very friendly and they speak great English!
The Debrecen Flower Carnival was a blast, and we were so glad that we got to take part in this Hungarian tradition. There was something so special about celebrating an event that has taken place for 50 years and is clearly beloved by the locals.
The first few days of the carnival were a little slow, so we’d recommend coming during the weekend when things really start to heat up. That’s when most of the fun events are since people have work off.
Since the carnival is one of the most popular times to travel to Debrecen, make sure you book your accommodations plenty in advance. We booked about a month before the festival and the only Airbnb left was pretty far outside the city center.
Don’t forget to check out our other posts from Hungary:
- 17 Fun Things To Do In Debrecen, Hungary
- Budapest Street Food Guide: Best Foods and Vendors
- Celebrating St. Stephen’s Day in Budapest, Hungary!