Last month, we found ourselves in the beautiful town of Szombathely exactly for the annual Savaria Történelmi Karnevál. This two-day event is organised by the town and all the residents participate in it.
EVERYONE’S EXCITED ABOUT THE SAVARIA TORTENELMI CARNIVAL
Some are actors in the nightly shows and in the parades in the day, while others put up stalls to sell food and handmade crafts. There are also musicians to keep the good vibes going with performances all day on a big stage in the town centre.
Even townsfolk who must work on these days join in the carnival in spirit. For example, many of the waitstaff at cafes and restaurants are also dressed up either in Roman outfits or medieval outfits.
In fact, practically everyone is wearing a Roman outfit or a medieval outfit while walking around town during the carnival days. This adds to the festive fun as the entire town is transformed into another place and another time, even just for a long weekend.
THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF SZOMBATHELY
The Savaria Történelmi Karnevál is actually a re-enactment of the history of Szombathely, which is reportedly the oldest town in Hungary. And, guess what. It’s also supposed to be one of the happiest cities in the country.
It’s really beautiful and quite small so you can walk from one end to the other in just about an hour. In fact, after two days here, we felt completely like locals and we were quite sorry to leave.
REMEMBERING THE ROMAN ERA
The carnival itself covers different periods of history from the Romans to World War II. But it really seems that everyone in this town prefers the glory of Rome and the romance of the medieval ages to the memories of World War II. There was evidence of Roman culture and the medieval ages everywhere. Every other person on the street was wearing a Roman costume or a medieval costume.
The other fun thing to do at the Savaria Történelmi Karnevál is to shop. Yes, shop! All the main streets of town are lined with wooden booths. These booths sell everything from pottery to food to knives and clothes. Almost everything is handmade in this region, so its a great chance to buy the best products of the region.
One lady made original scarves out of handprinted silk. They were so pretty that I just had to buy one. We also bought a lot of locally made Hungarian sausages. My favourites were the sausages made from venison and wild boar.
THE DELICIOUS CANDY AND CHOCOLATE OF HUNGARY
Candy and chocolate were also big hits at the festival. I just couldn’t resist buying some chocolate called Tokaj Aszu, especially as this is my favourite sweet drink. Well, the chocolate I bought was as delicious as the drink.
Finally, all the stores were open during the festival period and most of the things were on sale. So when we weren’t participating in the festival, we were going into the stores to buy clothes and shoes at 50% off.
What a wonderful carnival. I can”t think of too many events that combine history and culture plus fun in one weekend. There”s music, pageantry, food and shopping too.