Budapest is definitely a cosmopolitan city with a tremendous variety of cultural events all throughout the year. There is no event that is unaffordable to the average tourist if you don’t have your heart set on a particular section of a theater, but even then, seats are bargains as compared to New York, San Francisco, or London.
At the Hungarian State Opera House, one of Europe’s finest, tickets generally range from 300 Ft (EUR 1) for the nosebleed balcony to 10,900 Ft (EUR 35) for the ultraluxurious royal box once used by the Habsburgs.
Almost all of the city’s theaters and concert halls, with the exception of those hosting internationally touring rock groups, offer tickets for 1,000 Ft to 5,000 Ft (EUR 3-15). Of course, higher-priced seats are available also at the same venue if you want a closer view. In some cases, it is wise to choose performances based on the venue. For example, you may not particularly be a fan of ballet, but if that is the only offering during your stay, you may want to consider less expensive tickets just to see the opera house up close and personal. You won’t regret it; its splendor is superlative and it is best appreciated with any performance.
The opera, ballet, and theater seasons run from September through May with some sporadic events in June, but most theaters and halls also host performances during the summer festivals. Bear in mind that none of them are air-conditioned and heat rises. If you are sitting in a balcony on a hot evening, you are going to be miserable.
A number of the better-known churches and stunning halls offer concerts exclusively in the summer. While classical music is ingrained into the culture in Hungary, jazz, blues, rock, disco, and every other variation you left at home is here also. Stylish and unique new clubs and bars open and close regularly. The bar and club scene starts late and lasts until very early morning.
For the most up-to-date information, go to www.jegymester.hu and click on the English link. This site includes information for the opera house as well as the major theaters in the city. Complete schedules of mainstream performing arts are found in the free bimonthly Koncert Kalendárium, available at any of the Tourinform offices with a link for English. The Budapest Time and Funzine also have comprehensive events calendars; the weekly Budapest Times includes cultural listings. Budapest Panorama, also a free monthly tourist booklet, only offers partial entertainment listings of monthly highlights.
If you are looking for the easy way out, you can look at ticket availability online for purchasing opera, ballet, theater, or concert tickets for a number of different venues at www.jegymester.hu. It shows how many tickets are available with a seating chart to help you decide how much you want to spend for what seat. Their secure server allows you to make your purchase online. You can also prepurchase special museum exhibitions on this site, but it may require your printing an e-ticket.
However, ticket agencies may not carry the entire price range of tickets. You may also find that agencies charge a commission (usually about 4%), especially for a popular performance. For last-minute tickets or performances that are looking like they are sold out, try the venue box office for no-show tickets about 30 minutes before the performance. For opera and ballet, go to the Hungarian State Opera Ticket Office (Magyar Állami Opera Jegyiroda), Budapest, VI. Andrássy út 22. (Phone: 00 36 1 353-0170), Mon–Fri 11am–5pm).
Try Concert & Media, Budapest, XI. Üllői út 11–13 (& 1/240-2841; www.jegyelado.hu.), for classical performances as well as pop, jazz, and rock concerts.
For just about everything from rock and jazz concert, opera, ballet performances, and theater tickets, try Ticket Express, Budapest, VI. Jókai u. 40. (Phone: +36 30 30 30 999; www.tex.hu), open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 7pm.