Bratislava's convenient location close to the Hungarian and Austrian borders makes it a perfect European meeting-place. Stop by Slovakia's capital to make the most of these seasonal celebrations.
Sitting just half an hour away from the Carpathian mountains, Bratislava has a much more rural feel than most capital cities. With all the fresh air and beautiful sights, there's no excuse for sitting in cafés all day – instead, time you visit to fall in line with one of the city's most fabulous festivals.
Slovak Food Festival
Heralded as the city's largest picnic, this popular springtime food fest is held on the grounds of Bratislava Castle, just a 15-minute walk from our Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel, Bratislava. Here you'll find chef demonstrations, a cooking competition, and family businesses serving everything from pastries and salami to innovative international cuisine. At the Thursday-night wine tasting, visitors can sip the finest local vintages as well as trying some favored varietals from Spain and Greece. Live music and the castle's enchanting settings round out the experience.
Every first of June, Slovakia celebrates its youngest residents with a number of family-friendly events. Venues all over Bratislava, including the city zoo, offer free entry and activities. This year, the Bratislava Puppet Theatre will mark the day with puppet-making workshops and performances in the park, including its innovative take on Little Red Riding Hood. Families can enjoy sporting contests, special events, and exhibitions as the entire country effectively becomes a children's playground.
This summer festival takes a down-to-earth approach to showcasing some of the world's best classical musicians. This year's line-up includes American composer Philip Glass, flamenco guitarist Carlos Piñana and Slovak soprano Simona Houda-Šaturová. All of the concerts taking place on the city's main square are free, ensuring audiences aren't limited to die-hard followers. Curious onlookers and faithful fans of Queen can catch "Bohemian Rhapsody" and other favorites on the square this year courtesy of Fragile Queen Symphony, who are scheduled to perform on July 17.
Bratislava International Film Festival
Since 1999, this festival has brought the best and brightest newcomers in film to Bratislava each November. The mixture of mainstream and indie films featured at this festival highlights new talent and makes room for cutting-edge innovation, while directors and cinematographers compete for the glass Rona statuette, its counterpart to the Oscar. The international juries always include several luminaries from throughout the industry, such as British critic Derek Malcolm, Slovakian actress Zuzana Maurery and Georgian director George Ovashvili.
The city's annual Christmas market kicks off the holiday season in November and runs through December. Once the Christmas tree lights are switched on, shoppers are free to browse through more than than 100 open-air stalls. You can indulge in potato pancakes, roast sausages and Bratislavské rožky – crescent-shaped pastries typically filled with walnuts or poppy seeds – while exploring not one but three public squares in search of your holiday gifts. Once you've sorted out all your stocking fillers, head to the outdoor ice rink to practice your very best moves.