The holiday weekend featured a two day Folk Festival in the grounds of the palace just down the road from our hotel so we visited it late on our second day. Hundreds of stalls were selling various national bits and pieces and there were lots of demonstrations of local folk art. The searing sun, rather than the large crowds, are the main problem in trying to make the best of the festival which is very impressive.
We caught an hour of 'World Dance' on the main stage featured inside the grounds of the palace, which featured some very colourful dances and music - definitely the highlight of the different acts we saw on stage.
On our final day we had to fill in time between hotel checkout and taxi collection time and caught an hour of local Hungarian music and dance, which depicted three 'acts' of a local wedding proposal and acceptance. It featured some wonderful costumes, demonstrating how much work goes into dressing the ladies with those endless petticoats, but came across very much as a Hungarian equivalent of Morris Dancing, with embarrassed looking participants and music that too often sounded like nails being scraped down a blackboard to these Western ears.
We returned to the hotel to get some great viewsof rehearsals for the Red Bull Air Race - just as well since the Hilton Hotel reneged on their promise of late checkout, claiming they'd had a sudden rush of new bookings after we'd checked in - not impressed! The day of the race itself we caught some skydivers and a few of acrobatic plane routines we'd aleady seen so don't feel we missed too much by refusing to stand in the heat with the manic crowds who lined the few vantage points across the river.
We left before the fireworks in the evening, which turned out to be a lucky break as tragedy struck the festival on Sunday night. Budapest is a beautiful city and well worth a visit - it's not hard to see why people fall in love with the place. But the tragedy that occurred the evening we left leaves a sad, sour footnote to our visit. Our plane hit the storm that was the cause of the tragedy, and was the most turbulent 15 minutes I've ever suffered on an international flight - but we thankfully arrived back safely on time (if only the same could be said for our baggage - the baggage handling delays at Heathrow are a national scandal that should have been sorted out years ago). Hearing the news of the deaths and injuries in Budapest after our departure, one wonders what local folk are making of the inability of the miraculous 'Holy Right Hand of St Stephen' to protect them on the day of celebration of their founder and miracle worker!