Edited by Anna Popper

The Budapest International Book Festival is considered the largest international book event in Central Europe, an important professional and cultural forum in the region and a noted event in the international book world.

The 28th edition of the Budapest International Book Festival with 140 exhibitors and 40 foreign authors took place between 28th September – 1st October 2023 in the event halls of Millenáris Park. During the four-day festival, several thousand visitors of all ages were treated to various programs, including 200 book signings, 180 literary evenings, book premieres, round table discussions and exhibitions, all programs with free admission.

In addition to promoting children’s books and reading, there was a separate area for children with a wide variety of programs.

John Scalzi – Budapest Grand Prize Awardee

Traditionally, the Budapest International Book Festival hosts the world’s most prestigious writers and posts. This year’s guest of honour author was the world-famous and multi-award-winning American science fiction writer – John Scalzi (former president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of US), who received the Budapest Grand Prize from Mr. Gergely Karácsony, Mayor of Budapest and Ms. Katalin Gál, President of the Hungarian Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association (MKKE), at the opening ceremony of the Book Festival at the National Dance Theatre.

The guest country of honour – the Netherlands

This year the Netherlands was welcomed as the Book Festival’s guest country of honour. Although more and more Dutch books have been published in Hungarian translation in recent years, Dutch literature is still undeservedly little known to the wider Hungarian audience. This festival was an excellent opportunity for visitors to personally meet dozens of famous Dutch writers, poets and illustrators, and their works in Hungarian, including Arnon Grunberg (writer and journalist), Abram de Swaan (essayist, sociologist), Martin Michael Driessen (writer, theatre and opera director), and Annamarie Bon (popular youth author), representing the cream of contemporary Dutch literature. These authors and their works offer a glimpse into contemporary Dutch literary scene, showcasing a mix of thought-provoking themes, cultural reflections and narrative innovation. In addition to the Dutch authors, Hungarian writers, translators and experts were also presented at the panel discussions at the impressive stand of the Guest of Honour, providing insight into the history of Dutch-Hungarian relations and many other aspects of Dutch culture.

Historic Dutch Exhibition – ‘Destination: Hope’

As part of the Dutch cultural presence, a special exhibition was inaugurated, showing documents and photos related to the legendary Dutch children’s train campaign under the motto ‘Destination: Hope’which was generously operated between 1920-1930. It was a major humanitarian aid action initiated by the Netherlands and involving several European countries (Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain and Belgium). As part of the campaign, more than 60,000 Hungarian children from families severely affected by the deep social and economic crisis in Hungary were sent to host families in the Netherlands to stay abroad for several months in order to regain their strength, health and enjoy their childhood. Some of the children did not return to Hungary, but developed their lives in the host country.

Presentation of the book of the former Spanish Ambassador

One of the surprises of the festival program was the presentation of the Spanish-Hungarian bilingual book of poems entitled Tempo Magyar, authored by Anunciada Fernández de Córdova, former Ambassador of Spain to Hungary, writer and poet. The poems are dedicated to her more than four years diplomatic service in Budapest, inspired by the city, the Danube, the cultural life of Budapest and the Hungarian people, highly appreciated by the audience. It was a unique occasion for the ambassadors and diplomats working in Budapest to meet their former colleague and congratulate for her artistic expression and creative endeavour.

Anunciada Fernández de Córdova’s dedication to portraying her diplomatic and private observations, experience and memories through poetry represents a unique and personal approach to diplomacy and literature, demonstrating the power of art in bridging different cultures and contributing to the enduring bonds between the two nations.

Budapest Book Capital

In 2023, Budapest celebrates the 150th anniversary of its unification: Buda, Pest and Óbuda in 1873, marking a significant milestone in its history, which laid the foundation for the modern and unified Budapest as we know it today. The Hungarian capital has a great capacity to overcome challenges and thrive as a vibrant hub of culture, arts, sports and innovation. The city is proud of its two-millennia-long history, which dates back to Roman times. Celebrating this jubilee, the Municipality of Budapest launched a series of events, including the Budapest Book Capital project in cooperation with the Szabó Ervin Library. The project’s program office also participated at the book festival with its own stand under the name: Literature Empire.

Sources: Embassy of the Netherland in Budapest,

Budapest International Book Festival 2023