The Workers‘ Day on May 1st takes on a special meaning in post-socialist Hungary. Jaded memories mingle with reminiscence of good old times. Nowadays a cheerful crowd takes to the streets along both sides of the Danube river where workers once carried banners with political slogans.
When my teenage son and I exited the metro near the river the sound of jet engines hit us like a shock and a 9/11 movie started playing in my head. Seconds later a passenger plane shot across the street banking and disappearing under cheers from the people. Just then “Mayday”, the international distress call, finally made sense to me.
Using the river for reference, old and new airplanes displayed amazing skills while we climbed up to the Citadella to watch the show from above. Parachutists, helicopters, aerobatic teams and passenger jets zoomed past and adrenaline hit our blood stream when a daring pilot crossed under a bridge not just once but many times. These kind of airshows are not allowed over populated areas but Hungary has been taking a liberal stance – at least in the past – and we probably shouldn’t be giving this tip away. So check out this year’s program when it becomes available.
Also an integral part of this national holiday is the fun fair in City Park. The metro line M1 will bring you there (Széchenyi fürdő) and you can go wild on drinks, food, music and play. Try the caramel bread that looks like a cylinder (Kürtőskalács).
Do not worry if you can’t visit Budapest on this particular day – there is plenty to see, do and eat on any given day in the year. Don’t visit in the height of summer if you don’t like other tourists.
Featured Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn