This year, 20 August celebrations will be held under the slogan “The country – together as one”. A special feature of this year’s events is that the series of programmes Nagyon Balaton (Very Balaton!) will include colourful family events, concerts and fireworks in several towns along the shores of Lake Balaton to commemorate the foundation of the Hungarian State. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from Hungary and neighbouring countries alike are expected to attend the festivities.
The programmes were presented in Budapest on Wednesday by the organiser of the events, the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice (KIM) and leaders of cooperating organisations including MTVA, Hungary’s public media management body, the Margaret Island Open Air Theatre, the Federation of Folklore Associations, Libri Media and VOLT Productions.
By tradition, in Budapest on 20 August the raising of the national flag with military honours will be followed by the passing-out parade in the morning, after which family programmes will await those interested at Clark Ádám Square and the Buda Castle. At 5:00 pm, a festive holy mass will be served at St. Stephen’s Basilica, followed by the Holy Right procession and then, at 9:00 pm, fireworks will be launched from barges on the Danube and from the Chain Bridge.
Referring to the slogan of the celebrations, KIM Minister of State for Public Diplomacy and Relations Monika Balatoni pointed out that 20 August had always been a source of strength for Hungarians, and that the floods in June had demonstrated their ability to act together as one.
On the two locations of the celebrations, she mentioned that Budapest represented tradition while Lake Balaton would be a symbol of momentum and youthfulness.
She said that since hundreds of thousands of people were also expected to travel to Balaton, heavy traffic was foreseen on the M7 motorway, and accordingly the State Motorway Management Company would also have a representative on the Operative Staff. The Operative Staff will have its headquarters in the Ministry of Public Administration and Justice building at Kossuth Square and will also have a unit deployed to Lake Balaton. Approximately 12 thousand people will take part in organising and securing various events and the National Ambulance Service will have all its units on stand-by during the programmes.
In reply to a question she said that the State was spending a total of HUF 250 million on festivities, including HUF 150 million on fireworks, adding that financial commitments from contributing organisations and local governments had made the national holiday HUF 100 million cheaper. Click on this link for a detailed programme: www.augusztus20.kormany.hu.
The contract for the firework displays was awarded under public procurement to the same company as last year. The same music, visual effects and fireworks would feature both in Budapest and at Lake Balaton, she added.
Talking about changes, she mentioned that many people were expected not to go home after the fireworks in Budapest since there would be a free Ákos concert at Dózsa György Square, at the foot of Naphegy.
Federation of Folklore Association Managing Director Gabriella Igyártó said, among other things, that their largest event would be the Festival of Folk Arts at the Buda Castle, where about fifty craftsmen would present their wares in their workshops.
MTVA Press Officer Rita Lencsó said that, as in previous years, public media would broadcast celebrations but, in addition to covering traditional programmes, it would be present at Lake Balaton venues and also at an open-air stage set up near the Chain Bridge in Budapest. Presenters of children’s channels and also Tévémaci (Telly Bear) will be welcoming children there, and later spectators can enjoy a colourful programme by Dankó Radio. The radio’s show will feature Kossuth and Liszt Award Laureate artist and first violinist Ferenc Sánta Jr. and his orchestra. “Peacock Variations” folk art talent show winners will put up a breathtaking 40-minute performance from 6:30 pm, which will also be shown on public TV-channels M1 and Duna World at 8:15 pm. Rita Lencsó called Ferenc Erkel’s “King Stephen”, a rarely played opera to be broadcast on public television live from Margaret Island Open Air Theatre, one of the highlights of this year’s festive events.
The series of entertainment events known as Nagyon Balaton will already begin on 18 August, two days before the celebrations. The three-day programme extending to the entire region will include concerts, sports events and family and children’s programs in the towns of Balatonboglár, Balatonlelle, Zamárdi, Zánka, Siófok, Veszprém, Balatonfüred, Tihany, Révfülöp, Fonyód and Keszthely. Festival Director of VOLT Productions and Nagyon Balaton organiser Norbert Lobenwein said that they would be present at ten locations in the region and cooperate with local governments at several venues. Talking about events, the organiser mentioned legendary Hungarian band LGT’s concert at the Európa Campsite in Alsóőrs on 18 August and festivals and street parties in the towns of Zamárdi, Zánka, Siófok, Veszprém, Balatonfüred, Tihany, Révfülöp and Keszthely, where, among others, Quimby, Kaláka, Bea Palya, Ági Szalóki, Miklós Fenyő and various jazz bands will be giving live concerts.
(Ministry of Public Administration and Justice)