(First published on We Love Budapest, 22 October 2014)
What is October 23?
The date is when, in 1956, Hungarians began to rise up against Soviet occupation. On this day peaceful protests calling for free elections and a free press (among other things) started what would become a weeks-long bloody freedom fight in which thousands would die. In the end, in early November, the revolution was crushed and Soviet tanks rolled into Budapest and a Soviet controlled government was reinstated. Despite this the revolution of 1956 is an important event in Hungary's history and many pay their respects to the people who fought for Hungary's freedom - especially the many young men and women who gave their lives - or their own personal freedom - for the cause.
The national day is commemorated with speeches, special exhibitions and family activities.
- 9am: raising of the Hungarian flag at Kossuth Square
- 10am - 4pm: open day at the Hungarian Parliament
- 10am – 6pm: free entry to the House of Terror museum with a candle lighting ceremony in front of the museum at 3pm.
- 10am - 5pm: the Magyar Radio building (5-7 Bródy Sándor Street) will have walking tours. The Magyar Radio building was a key site during the revolution as control of the radio and its airwaves was seen as a crucial strategic point.
- 5pm: live concert in front of the Budapest University of Technology (on the Pest bank of the Danube), there will also be a light show.
All day: a photo exhibition at Széna Square (near the Széll Kálmán Square metro station) showcasing cult places of the revolution "then and now."
Public holiday events and opening hours
In 2014 this public holiday falls on a Thursday and some workers also take Friday as a holiday, so it’s a super long weekend for many. This means that there are extra activities on Thursday and Friday because of these extra days off work. Here's our long weekend roundup for more information on concerts and other special events. On Thursday October 23 many shops, banks, doctors and pharmacies, and other services providers will be closed. 24 hour convenience stores will mostly be open in the more central parts of the city, but larger supermarkets and other shops will be shut. Not all restaurants, cafes and bars will be open but many do continue to operate despite the public holiday.