A series of festival-style events are being organized to mark the national holiday of August 20, government officials announced this week in Budapest. August 20 is an official holiday to commemorate the foundation of the Hungarian state and its founder, King St. Stephen.
As it was announced, the biggest ever celebration is being prepared, with hundreds of events taking place in 17 venues over three and a half days.
As it was decided by the government in 2019 – but last year, the coronavirus epidemic did not allow it to happen – the aim is to make the foundation of the state, an event that goes beyond previous national holidays. The objective is to involve as many people as possible in celebrating the day of King Stephen.
This year's celebrations will include the usual elements: a flag-raising ceremony, a military air parade and the inauguration ceremony of officers tied to a large-scale military show.
President János Áder will present the Order of Szent István, followed by the Kossuth and Széchenyi Prizes, the Hungarian Order of Merit and several other awards, the handover ceremonies of which were cancelled due to the coronavirus epidemic. On the evening of August20, the festivities will conclude with "Europe's biggest fireworks display".
Coronavirus restrictions lifted for the events
A government decree has been published in the official Hungarian Gazette about suspending restrictions, which means that no immunity cards will be required for participation at the August 20 celebrations regardless of the size of the given event, the European Carriage Driving Championships and the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, and there will be no restrictions on the number of visitors, so the events will be open to all. This regulation also applies to municipal events.
The European Carriage Driving Championships will be held in the capital from September 2 to 5, while the International Eucharistic Congress, during which Pope Francis will have a short visit in the country, will take place from September 5 to 12.
It was also announced that the task force responsible for combating the coronavirus epidemic is meeting continuously, monitoring the situation so that the necessary measures can be taken at any moment.
Three weeks ago, another governmental body, the task force responsible for the safe management of the holiday, also started its work. All the organizations involved in the August event 20 are reporting to this.
According to the announcement, the celebrations are also intended to help the tourism sector, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus epidemic. More than 10,000 people are working on the festivities.
Europe's biggest fireworks display
As is traditional, this year's festive fireworks will be set off from the surface of the Danube at 21:00 hours on August 20. The fireworks display will also be bigger than usual: 4.3 kilometers of the Danube will be covered by rockets launched from many more launching sites, so more security measures will be needed.
Each act will have a different color: "blood and battle", for example, will be in red, while "to be Hungarian" will be in tricolor. The fireworks display, which lasts around half an hour (34 minutes), will be complemented by additional visual and sound effects.
This year, the larger rockets will be launched from the Margaret Bridge and Petőfi Bridge, as well as from 14 river barges. These larger barges will also be linked in a "string of pearls." The Erzsébet Bridge and the Szabadság (Liberty) Bridge will also be decorated, and this is where the Bengal light will be lit.
The rockets to be used are imported from Spain, Portugal, Slovenia and China, among others, and all of the 40,000 or so are EU-certified. The fireworks can be stopped immediately if necessary, for example, because of the weather situation.
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