Europe’s Most Beautiful Tram Illuminations and Best Christmas Markets Through an American Photographer’s Lens
This post isn’t intended to compare American and Hungarian Christmas traditions since we’ve already done that in a previous article, which you can read HERE.
Now, using the photos of Franklin Ames, an American photographer who spent 26 months in Hungary alongside his work, we’re taking an Advent walk through Budapest and a few Hungarian cities. During the early dark winter period, the illuminated festive trams adorned with strings of lights and the retired nostalgic tramcars become true spectacles. Each city has its unique style, giving rise to genuinely individual creations. There’s an increasing tradition in major European cities to introduce beautifully decorated Christmas trams during the Advent season. Budapest saw its first festive tram depart from Jászai Mari Square on Line 2 fourteen years ago. The current fleet’s vehicles boast over five kilometers of LED lights, encompassing 140,000 LED bulbs. Additionally, thanks to a passenger, 150 crocheted decorations were placed aboard to commemorate Budapest’s 150th birthday. The fleet comprises six trams, two buses, and decorated vehicles running on the cogwheel line—this year, for the first time. Budapest Transport Company announced that the festive fleet covers nearly the entire city, and passengers can travel on these vehicles with regular fares and valid tickets. The schedule for these special rides can be found on bkk.hu.
During the highlighted festive weeks, I had the opportunity to witness what a genuine, true-blooded photographer does to capture Budapest’s illuminated trams, preferably with the Parliament in the background. Seeking the right position, they’re capable of waiting for hours in freezing temperatures, winds, and snowfall, just for the tram to appear every 20-30 minutes according to its schedule, ready to be photographed repeatedly. In these moments, standing in the cold, they pass the time between shots by conversing. They exchange experiences about the best settings—how many thousand Kelvin and what ISO settings produced their best pictures… Then, when someone notices the approaching tram, everyone rushes to their tripod-mounted cameras, awaiting that perfect moment. Some take simple shots, some use long exposures. There are amateurs and professionals, those with professional cameras and others shooting with super-equipped mobile phones. The essence lies in capturing the best possible moment. Well, I believe Frank’s enduring the cold truly paid off, as he captured marvelous pictures. His photos feature Budapest and Miskolc, the latter of which has already won the title of Europe’s most beautiful Christmas tram five times in an international poll on a Czech portal and is a contender this year as well.
Photos by Franklin Ames (you can find more of his pictures HERE).
Another source of pride is that the Advent Basilica has once again been named Europe’s Best Christmas Market. This year marked the thirteenth opening of the Advent Basilica, an event that organizers have been creating for years with the determined intention of crafting an unparalleled festive atmosphere, offering quality time and a unique gastronomic experience for visitors, as reported by Hello Magyar.
The Christmas market held at St. Stephen’s Square isn’t just one of the most beautiful festive events in the Hungarian capital, but it’s also among the most splendid events in the European region. The Advent Basilica has won the title “Best Christmas Market in Europe” four times and last year also received the title of “Christmas Markets’ Pole Star.”
Never before has any festive event managed to claim this prestigious recognition four times, which the Advent Basilica has continuously earned since its first-place win in 2019. Budapest, now crowned Europe’s best Christmas market for the fourth time, surpassed events in London, Vienna, Prague, among others, in the competition, as reported by Daily News Hungary.
If you’re tempted by Hungarian specialties, you’ll find grilled sausages, goulash, pickled cabbage, strudels, and various sweets waiting for you. Of course, mulled wine, Hungarian wine, and apricot brandy are also on sale. The Unicum liqueur is a must-try. Visitors are treated to daily cultural programs, ranging from concerts of various music genres to dance groups, while children can have a blast in creative workshops.
The adorned trams floating in a sea of light, as in previous years, create a fantastic festive ambiance not only for the locals but also for those visiting Budapest. If you happen to be in Hungary, Budapest, or Miskolc, be sure not to miss it!