Budapest is known for its great Christmas markets, where both locals and visitors can experience the Holiday atmosphere of Budapest. This year, however, we can all enjoy a special treat as the Four Seasons Christmas Market will welcome visitors for the first time. Situated in the beautiful Gresham Palace, one of the finest examples of Secessionist architecture in Budapest, Four Seasons Hotel is also offering special festive events throughout the Holiday Season. We asked Fouad Shafik, Director of Marketing about the details on the upcoming events at the hotel.
I understand that this is the first time Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace is hosting a Christmas Market. How did you come up with this concept?
Yes, we are hosting a Christmas Market at the Gresham Palace for the first time since the opening of the Hotel. Our aim was to create a city buzz – a unique event that locals, visitors and hotel guests would fall in love with and tell their friends and family how wonderful it was. We are grateful to our international team which is full of new ideas. Our managements’ open-door policy and open mindset allow our hotel departments to work smoothly, exchange ideas and strive for improvement in every possible way. We listen to each other and support each other. In such an open-minded setting, creativity and ideas are generated, and we can realize such magical events as this Christmas Market.
Where is the Four Seasons Christmas Market arranged within the building?
The Christmas Market is hosted in the Zrínyi Passage with its main entrance from the lively Zrínyi Street. As you enter the Market, you get charmed by the enchanting atmosphere and 14-meter-high ceilings with hanging lights that look like a starry sky.
What is the function of this part of the building normally and what was it used for when the Palace opened in the early 20th century?
The Gresham Palace was built to host the aristocrats and riches of the era, with the Life Assurance Company occupying the first floor and part of the ground floor, and apartments the rest of it. Boutiques, hair salons and restaurants were located within the passage area of the building.
The Gresham Palace is one of the finest examples of Secessionist architecture in Budapest. Will visitors of the Market have the chance to visit other parts of the building to admire the interior of the Palace, the stained glass windows, and the mosaics through guided tours, for instance?
We open our gates and always welcome with warmth all visitors, who are always given the opportunity to discover the public areas of the Gresham Palace, including the Gresham Restaurant, which was once a Café. Almost from the beginning, it was called Gresham-Venezia and its décor was restored based on its original look. After World War I, it was visited by the newly-riches and it gave place to wild parties. Later on the Kávéház (coffee house) hosted the so-called Gresham Circle that was made up by Hungarian artists and the intelligentsia.
Do you consider the Four Seasons Christmas Market a competition for other Markets in the city, such as the one at Vörösmarty Square, or you’ll be offering a completely different kind of experience?
We strived to craft a one-of-a-kind experience and we believe that we have achieved it. Brands and products that you will find at the Market were carefully selected in order to offer our visitors best quality products, hand-made items and exclusive brands, including Arioso, Chrisand Design Fur Shop, CultiVini Wine Gallery, Design Terminal, EOSinE, FolklórHáz, Gelarto Rosa, Herendi Porcelánmanufaktúra, Neroli Perfumery, Pécsi Kesztyű, Ruszkai Jewellery, Martha’s Cake Shop, Varga Crystal, Aigner, Vitéz Kürtős and our own Four Seasons stand offering restaurant and Spa vouchers, as well as special packages.
What kind of goods are you offering and what is the approximate price range?
When visiting the Market you will be surprised by the variety of goodies and a wide range of prices. Whether it is a tailor-made Spa voucher, a bottle of quality wine or an elegant set of Herend porcelain, we are confident that each visitor will find a goodie or present idea for their loved ones.
What are the other services that visitors can enjoy during the opening hours of the Market?
Your experience at the Christmas Market will be enhanced by entertainment programs and themed weeks starting from Novembers 25 through December 30, including the opening week, fashion week, a week of classical music, followed by an art week, and finally, the week of Christmas fever. We recommend our visitors to follow the Facebook page of Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, as we will be announcing weekly entertainment programs.
Budapest is becoming more and more popular as a travel destination during the Holiday Season. Why do you think the Hungarian capital is so attractive to visitors in the winter? What are the top activities that your guests usually enjoy doing while in Budapest during this time of the year?
Personally, I love Budapest because it is filled with truly festive events, family activities and great shopping. Here is a list of great activities that are absolute favorites of our guests:
Budapest Christmas Market – A Magical Atmosphere That is truly Unforgettable
Each year, from Advent to New Year, Vörösmarty Square, only a few steps from the Hotel, is transformed into the annual Budapest Christmas Market. Visitors can browse through more than 100 stands offering unique Christmas-themed arts and crafts. The Christmas Market is a great place to pick up some unique hand-made gifts as well. A giant Advent calendar on the facade of the glamorous Gerbeaud building, exhibitions, live entertainment and food and wine are also part of the festivities. Children’s programs include artisan courses and puppet shows. The scent of traditional Hungarian foods such as lángos (fried dough with a variety of toppings), kürtöskalács (a cone-shaped sweet hollow pastry), roasted meats, fried sausages and other delicacies such as home-made strudels, töki pompos (oven-baked dough) and roasted chestnuts wafting in the air is sure to whet the appetite. Visitors can soak up the holiday atmosphere and keep warm while strolling among the wooden stalls of the Market with a cup of mulled wine. One can even keep the mug to remember this truly unforgettable and festive experience.
Classical Music Concerts at St. Stephen Basilica
St. Stephen Basilica is one of the most stunning Neo-Classical buildings of Budapest. Its great acoustics makes it the perfect place to enjoy a series of beautiful concerts of classical music where the organ and the flute are the main players, together with outstanding performers. The ensemble performs works by famous composers including Vivaldi, Bach, and Händel. Lovers of classical music shouldn’t miss the opportunity to attend one of these great concerts in one of the most beautiful buildings of Budapest. Concerts of classical music are held throughout the year, usually from 8:00 pm, however the most memorable concerts are worth to attend in the winter season.
Winter Shopping Sale in Budapest
In January, Budapest’s shopping malls, department stores, boutiques and all kinds of shops launch the winter shopping sale, offering great bargains that go up to 70 percent off. The January shopping sale is the perfect time to shop in Budapest and update one’s wardrobe for the New Year. Winter Sale in Budapest usually begins on December 26 and lasts for the entire month of January, although some stores keep the sale until the middle of February or until stocks last. This is the perfect opportunity to go shopping in Budapest and find something unique at a great price. Váci utca is a great place to start. There one can find lots of renowned stores as well as local ones. Shopping centres such as Westend, Arena Plaza and Allee shopping malls are great choices as well.
Ice Skating in Europe’s largest outdoor ice skating rink
There are several ice skating rinks in Budapest but certainly the recently fully renovated City Park Ice Rink is the best of all. Ice skating in the Budapest City Park Ice Rink is a traditional winter experience for Hungarians and tourists alike. The City Park Ice Rink is considered Europe’s largest and one of the oldest outdoor ice skating rinks. In the summer, it becomes the City Park Lake. At night, the lights, the music and the beautiful views of the Vajdahunyad Castle make ice skating in the City Park a magical experience. The rink closes when spring arrives.
The Vintage Tram Nr.2 of Budapest Navigates Tight Turns Past Markets, Restaurants and Churches, Giving Passengers Views of the Whole City
The Budapest tram number 2 has been selected among the world’s top 10 trolley rides by National Geographic. It rides between Millenniumi Kulturális Központ and Közvágóhíd every day of the week and is an important line for commuting. Trams are still very much part of everyday life in Budapest, which has a total of 96 miles (155 kilometres) of tram routes. On the Pest side of the city, tram number 2 follows the curve of the Danube River. This is the best way to see the Parliament building up-close and the panorama of Buda Castle across the river. Sit on the side nearest to the river for the best views and enjoy Budapest.
Please tell me a little bit about the other festive events at Four Seasons Hotel.
Santa is here: On December 7 we will have a special brunch held at the Gresham Palace, where we are inviting our little guests to meet a real Santa and take a photo together with him. Take a trip to a typical Italian Market every Sunday from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm and enjoy our scrumptious buffet with a selection of appetisers, homemade pasta, regional specialties and main courses created by our Executive Chef, Leonardo Di Clemente.
Christmas Eve: Start to celebrate Christmas with á la carte menu choices for lunch at the Gresham Restaurant or an elegant Festive Dinner at the Páva. The delightful five-course Christmas Eve Dinner is offering holiday favorites, such as Foie Gras Terrine with Blueberry Macarons, Pumpkin Compote and Pine Jam, Roasted Halibut Filet with Sundried Tomato Crust, Jerusalem Artichoke Pure and Clementine Sauce, and “Bouche de Noel in the forest” for a sweet ending. The Christmas Eve Dinner will be served on December 24 from 18:00 until 22:00. The Gypsy Quartet will set the tone for a merry celebration.
Christmas Day: Begin this special day with a Buffet Breakfast between 6.30 am and 11 am or enjoy your Christmas morning traditions and join us for a fabulous Brunch at the Gresham Restaurant on December 25. Our unforgettable Christmas Day Brunch from 11 am to 3 pm, entertains you with live music and includes Seafood, Salad, Soup, “Kürtőskalács” Chimney Cake, Egg, and Cheese Stations; a Carving Station offering specialties such as Lavender and Honey-Roasted Turkey with Giblet Gravy; Roast Prime Rib; Paprika Crusted Filet of Pike Perch, Tokaji Sauce; and a tempting Kids’ Station and a sumptuous Dessert Bar. We offer a five-course Christmas Dinner i at Páva with live music (Gypsy Quartet entertainment) from 6 pm until 10 pm. Limited á la carte menu selection is also available.
New Year’s Eve: Welcome the year 2015 in style commencing at 7.30 pm with a champagne reception and then an exquisite six-course New Year’s Eve Dinner including creative gourmet selections: Lobster Tartar with Oyster Mayo, Egg Confit and Salmon Caviar; Foie Gras Duo with Brussels Sprout Salad, Chestnuts and Shallot Jam; Roasted Panettone-Crusted Black Cod with Buckwheat Puff, Marinated Mushrooms and Endives; Prime Beef Tenderloin with Duck Foie Gras, Potato Mille-feuille, Truffle and Ricotta Filled Cabbage Roll; and a special surprise dessert. The dinner experience will be enhanced by a musical program showcasing the most well-known Broadway and West End masterpieces.
New Year’s Day: Gresham Restaurant celebrates the first day of the year with a variety of menu selections for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
5-6 Széchenyi István Square, 1051 Budapest view map
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Four Seasons Christmas Market opening hours:
1pm–9pm Mon–Thu, 10am–10pm Fri–Sun. Also open on December 24 and 25 10am–4pm
Festive Events prices:
Five-course dinner on Christmas Eve: HUF 24,000 per person and HUF 31,000 with wines
Christmas Day brunch: HUF 17,500 per adult including sparkling wine and soft drinks HUF 8,500 per child (age 6-14 years)
Christmas Day dinner: HUF 24,000 per person and HUF 31,000 with wines
New Year’s Eve dinner and festive event: HUF 75,000 per adult (HUF 95,000 with wines)
New Year’s Day breakfast, lunch, and dinner: HUF 12,000 per adult including sparkling wine and soft drinks.
HUF 6,500 per child (age 6 – 14 years)