History of ceremonial fireworks in Budapest

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The festive fireworks presented in Budapest on the Danube have a tradition of almost 200 years: there is a recording of the first fireworks display on St. Stephen’s Day in 1829. Since then, the attraction has been renewed year after year and supplemented with various programs.

The original article was written by our sister site, Ungarn Heute.

After fireworks were first used in 1829 on St. Stephen’s Day, this celebration could not take place for decades after the revolution of 1848/49. After the compromise with Austria in 1867, the Hungarian parliament debated for years whether St. Stephen should be declared a national holiday. The discussion revolved around whether a holiday of Catholic origin was suitable for the whole nation. Finally, in 1891, an agreement was reached on August 20 as the date, although no spectacular celebrations took place in the early years.

Fireworks display in Budapest in 1937. Photo: Fortepan / Sándor Bojár

Fireworks display in Budapest, 1938 with the map of Greater Hungary. Photo credit: Fortepan / Béla Heinzely

In the period following the First World War, the national holiday was not celebrated again until the end of the 1920s; In addition to the hoisting of the national flag and the procession, fireworks were also launched from Gellért Hill in Budapest. From the second half of the thirties the spectacle developed further, in which it was also accompanied by a musical background, and the map of Hungary in the form of before 1920 could be seen on Gellért Hill using lamps.

Fireworks display in Budapest 1955 with the Elizabeth Bridge destroyed during WWII. Photo: Fortepan / János Keveházi

Fireworks in Budapest, 1967. Photo: Fortepan / FŐFOTÓ

After World War II, the tradition was revived in 1946, but following the 1956 uprising against communism and the Soviet occupation, it was banned for ten years and was not reorganized until 1966. Au Over the following decades, the celebrations began each year in the morning with a naval and air parade, followed by fireworks in the evening.

Air show in Budapest 1978. Photo: Fortepan / MHSZ

In 1991, St. Stephen’s Day was declared an official holiday by the Hungarian Parliament. On August 20, 2006, a major disaster occurred during the fireworks display: following a violent thunderstorm, five people died and 500 others were injured.

This time, Hungary is gearing up for its biggest state-founding celebration weekend, with a 34-minute fireworks display, a huge folk art festival and a cooking feast. Hungarian. Hundreds of festive programs will take place in 17 different venues over three and a half days.

Featured photo by Péter Lakatos / MTI

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