The perfect family program does exist, and it’s called the Budapest Puppet Theatre – truly a one-of-a-kind experience!
When it comes to unique free time activities, Budapest is just unbeatable. How many cities hide more than a dozen escape rooms or ruin pubs established in old, crumbling inner city buildings? Where else can you go to spa parties held in huge thermal baths at night? And the list of Budapest’s oddities could go on… Among the many quirky things Budapest is famous for, however, the current article’s subject is seldom mentioned, even though the Budapest Puppet Theatre is the largest puppet theater of Central Europe, which has been keeping a tradition alive for generations since 1949. Would you like to know what kind of magical shows they do that attract 100,000 viewers every year? Then read on!
What comes to your mind when thinking about puppetry? Probably Pinocchio, the Muppet Show, or if you’re weird enough, Team America. The origin of puppetry goes way back: we have written proof from the 5th century BC in Ancient Greece, but some think this form of art has been with us since 3000 BC. Puppets appeared in almost every society as a form of entertainment, sacred objects in rituals, or symbols in celebrations such as carnivals. Somehow people all around the world have always had a desire to move inanimate objects and tell stories with them.
The Budapest Puppet Theatre opened in 1949. Initially, the shows were only for kids, but from 1951, adult programs started as well. The golden era of the theatre started in 1964, when under the directory of Dezső Szilágyi they introduced musical performances, which brought huge success and got the Hungarian puppet theatre in the spotlight in Europe nearly for a decade.
There’s a real magic to the ancient, still undying art. The mission of Budapest Puppet Theatre is to keep this beautiful tradition alive for both children and adults, making the concept of theatre easily consumable for youngsters. Many kinds and styles of puppet shows have a place in this establishment, including new, experimental approaches as well. The art of puppetry is diverse and ever-changing. Here the main attractions are performed by puppeteers dressed in black velvet dresses who hide in the back and bring the puppets in the limelight alive with their hands or rods, creating a flawless illusion for the audience. You can also enjoy great marionettes (puppets animated by strings from above), shadow, and bunraku puppets, and even giant puppet shows at the Budapest Puppet Theatre. Fashion changes, traditions come and go, but there’s something that has not changed: the magic of giving life to a lifeless animated object, because “puppetry is not only for a certain generation, but a genre.”
With a total of 360-380 shows and 100,000 visitors per season, The Budapest Puppet Theatre works at full capacity every year. It boasts three stages: the largest one is the auditorium with 400 seats, the studio theatre in the middle with a capacity of 100 people (named after Ország Lili, a famous Hungarian painter), and the tiny Kemény Henrik Hall (named for a puppeteer legend) which only has 40 seats and opened in 2017. The artists of Puppet Theatre have worked hard for decades to earn legitimacy and equality for puppetry among other genres of performing arts. They achieved this by creating their own and unique adaptations of classical pieces which were not only shown in Hungary but all around the globe: Hungarian puppeteers have guest starred over seventy times on the five continents. And their performances are not only loved by audiences but critics as well, so it’s not a surprise they received awards in the most prestigious domestic and foreign festivals.
The Budapest Puppet Theatre can be found on one of the largest and most popular boulevards of the city, Andrássy út, which ends in the famous Heroes’ Square. Thanks to the perfect location, as well as the many bus stops and a metro line 1 stop nearby, the theater’s signature logo – depicting a blue puppet figure and a text spelling “BÁB” (‘puppet’) – is viewed by tens of thousands of pedestrians, drivers, and commuters every day. Since the many attractions nearby made this area a major tourist destination (with House of Terror being 2 minutes’ walk away, for example), you can take a Hop-On Hop-Off bus to come here as well.
Tickets vary based on the day, the show itself, the rows, and the audience (kids or adults), but even the most expensive one is not high-priced at all. You can watch a children’s play like Bambi, Around the world in 80 days, Nutcracker, Háry János, or Peter Rabbit for 1000-2300 HUF (around 3-7.5 EUR). The price for an adult show, of which there is much less (The tragedy of a man, Gangsta Rabbit, The Magic Flute, etc.) the ticket price ranges from 1000 HUF to 3600 HUF (3-10 EUR). If you’re looking for a unique program with your family, the Budapest Puppet Theatre must be on your list!
Address: Budapest, Andrássy út 69, 1062
- What is puppet theatre?
- It’s a theatrical act when puppet artists (puppeteers) move inanimate object (mostly dolls) to tell stories while creating the illusion of the dolls being alive. There are various types of puppets like marionettes, shadow, and hand puppets etc. These shows are mainly for kids, but some are quite enjoyable for adults as well.
- Is there a puppet theatre in Budapest?
- Yes, there is a large and famous puppet theatre in Budapest with 100,000 visitors every year. The Budapest Puppet Theatre has three stages for about 500 guests and puts on regular shows every week, even on weekdays.