Month: May 2019

11 of Budapest’s best festivals
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11 of Budapest’s best festivals

(CNN) — Straddling the picturesque Danube, Budapest provides the perfect backdrop for a festival and this city definitely knows how to put on a show.Barely a month goes by when the Hungarian capital isn't playing host to some sort of event celebrating food and drink, music, dance or the arts.

For those keen to go and join the party, we've rounded up some of the most entertaining festivities happening in Budapest throughout the year.

Rosalia Festival

Rosalia Festival is dedicated to rosé wines, sparkling wines and champagnes.

Courtesy Rosalia Festival

Each year, Budapest jumps the gun on summer over a weekend in May for the Rosalia Festival.

Created by the organizers of September's wine festival, it's Hungary's only event dedicated to celebrating rosé wine, as well as champagne and sparkling wines.

Taking place over three days, it features a Rosé Garden, tastings, jazz concerts, Hungarian food stalls and special events for children.

Dates: May 31 to June 2, 2019

Sziget Festival

One of the biggest music festivals in Europe — Sziget Festival takes place every August.

Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images

For more than 25 years, the week-long Sziget Festival has been taking over the Danube river island of Óbudai-sziget every August, showcasing more than 1,000 performers and drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world.

It's one of Europe's biggest music festivals, attracting performers including 2019 headliners Foo Fighters and Ed Sheeran.

Revelers soak up the lively ambience as dance artists put on theatrical performances on the site and everyone goes for a dip in the Danube along the sandy beach.

Dates: Aug 1 to 13, 2019

Budapest Summer Festival

Held throughout June, July and August, the Budapest Summer Festival brings some of the world's top classical musicians and ballet dancers to Margaret Island, located in the heart of Budapest.

There's a varied program of opera, ballet and classical music — with a bit of jazz and pop thrown in for good measure — most of which takes place in the enchanting setting of the Margaret Island Open-Air Stage.

Look out for the performances held in the open-air stage set up in the shadow of Margaret Island's historic water tower.

Dates: June to September

Budapest Summer Festivals, Open-Air Theatre, 1122 Budapest, Városmajor; +36 1 375-5922

Budapest Christmas markets

The Christmas market on St. Stephen's Square is one of Budapest's top draws in winter.

Courtesy Hungarian National Tourist Office

Prepare to be utterly charmed by Budapest's Advent Christmas fair, which is held annually in the square in front of St. Stephen's Basilica.

From late November to early January, the area is filled with market stalls selling trinkets, toys, crafts and plenty of irresistible Hungarian food and drink.

Those who visit on Sunday can watch the Advent candles being lit.

To top it all off, there's a small but perfectly formed ice rink in the center, adding a further dollop of festive magic.

Even more treats are on offer at Vorosmarty Square, where the city's main Christmas market is held.

There are more than 100 stalls selling gifts and food — all of which have been personally vetted by a jury — ensuring the quality is high.

Budapest Wine Festival

Every September, Buda Castle becomes one giant civilized party in the late summer sun when scores of wine producers show off their latest vintages in a relaxed, yet convivial atmosphere.

Buy a glass and take it round for tastings at the various stalls, picking up Hungarian snacks along the way.

Four festival stages take turns with music and entertainment throughout the four-day event and there's also a Harvest Parade around Buda Castle celebrating folk music and dancing.

Dates: September 5 to 8, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival

Traditional Hungarian cuisine meets international creations at the Budapest Fish Festival.

Courtesy Budapest Fish Festival

Hungarians spend the winter months keeping warm with a dish called halászlé — a red hot fisherman's soup brimming with paprika and river fish.

When early March comes round, many head to the three-day Budapest Fish Festival to feast on this spicy dish and plenty of other types of fish.

Heroes' Square is the setting for cooking contests, wine tastings, folklore music and fun for the kids — not to mention stall after stall of mouthwatering dishes.

Dates: March 2, to 4, 2019

Budapest Fish Festival, Heroes' Square, Budapest, Hősök tere, 1146

Danube Carnival

The Margaret Island Open-Air Stage and a host of other open-air venues around the Danube become filled with color during this week-long festival of folk dance in June.

Several hundred international dancers and musicians bring their own cultural sounds and dances to mingle with traditional Hungarian styles at the annual event.

The Carnival Parade that goes along the Danube Promenade to Vorosmarty Square is one of the festival's main highlights.

Dates: TBC

Festival of Folk Arts

Festival of Folk Arts brings top Hungarian craftsmen to Buda Castle.

Janos Peter photography

Craftspeople from all around Hungary descend on Buda Castle every August for a three-day celebration of crafts made in the country for hundreds of years.

Visitors can take part in workshops and watch the experts in action as they spin, weave, carve, paint, demonstrating skills that have been handed down over the generations.

The festival includes folk dances and performances and — this being Hungary — plenty of food stalls offering delectable traditionalRead More – Source

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Europe will ‘die from inside’ if far-right populists triumph, top EU figure says
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Europe will ‘die from inside’ if far-right populists triumph, top EU figure says

"It's not a question of more or less Europe. It's a question of different," Verhofstadt says speaking to CNN in his spacious Brussels office. "We need a different union because this union will not survive the 21st Century."On paper, the 66-year-old is not the sort of person you would expect to hear using such fatalistic language about the European Union's future.In the post-Brexit era, Verhofstadt is a held up by Europhiles as a poster boy for the European project. His style of politics divides opinion. The British Sun newspaper recently described him in an editorial as a "curtain-haired slimeball" and the "most repugnant figure in Brussels." However, when he recently addressed a group of anti-Brexit protestors in London, he was cheered for saying that in the world of tomorrow, European countries needed to "work together".As the European Parliament's Brexit coordinator and leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, he has made no secret of his desire for a more integrated bloc where European institutions would have greater power."The big problem we have in Europe is the enormous distance between the European dream, shared by more Europeans than ever, and then in practice the European Union, which is absolutely not seen as the translation of the European dream," he says. Verhofstadt, known for his often combative oratory, is scathing about the populist movements and parties running on a Euroskeptic platform in this week's European parliamentary elections. Italy's deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini of the far-right Lega Nord party, is openly planning to form a large, powerful Euroskeptic bloc — one opposed to European institutions being given more power — following the elections that voters across Europe have previously treated as a protest ballot. Euroskeptic parties could potentially win up to 35% of seats. And if Salvini succeeds in bringing groups from countries all over the bloc together, a huge gang that was once on the fringes of European politics will be inside the halls of power, able to push for their own version of reform."Reform? I don't call that reform. I call that the kiss of death," Verhofstadt says of Salvini's plan for the EU. "Instead of beating it from outside it will die inside."While many bureaucrats and politicians in Brussels have been accused of sticking their heads in the sand and ignoring the threats facing the EU, Verhofstadt sees challenges both inside and outside of Europe."The world is developing into one not of nation states, but of empires. China is an empire. India is an empire. The US is an empire. We need to create a European Union that is capable of defending our interests," he says. And he doesn't see Europe's internal and external threats — populism and a changing world order — as unrelated issues. Nationalist politicians often talk about reclaiming their country's sovereignty, stripping away centralized power from Brussels.Verhofstadt says this is the wrong answer to Europe's challenges and points to the Council — one of the key institutions of the EU — as something that isn't working in its current form. The Council is the forum in which national governments decide on European policy. It makes decisions either by qualified majority or unanimity, depending on the issue. This can mean a single member state derailing huge issues because they don't agree with them.Verhofstadt says a Europe of nation states, where countries scale back their commitment to the bloc, would only exacerbate these tensions, weakening Europe and placing its destiny in the hands of others. "It's Putin, it's the Chinese leadership, it's Trump who are going to decide on our way of life, on our standards. Some nationalists say 'yeah we are against globalization', but what they are doing is worse," he says. "What is missing in the pro-European voice is vision and passion. We cannot convince young people to be pro-European with a bureaucratic and technocratic European Union as it works today."It's a reasonable point. The EU has in some respects become a parody of itself. It has more institutions than any normal person can name, unelected commissioners who seem remote to citizens and cumbersome bureaucracy that, unless you are on the pay roll, is hard to love. It's little wonder that a simple message of "Take Back Control" won out in the 2016 UK Brexit referendum. Pooled sovereignty and federalism lack the romance of national pride.Verhofstadt wants to re-imagine the "European dream." In this, he has an ally: France's President Emmanuel Macron, someone he says is able to stand up to populists but is struggling with his own anti-establishment movement, the "gilets jaunes" or "yellow vest" protesters. Verhofstadt's version of a reformed European Union is one that creates a "European Army and European champions" to rival those in China and the US. That, he says, would offer younger Europeans something more than boring, technocratic tweaks from an out-of-touch political class in Brussels. Go big or go home. While there is moderate support for Verhofstadt's view among fellow Europhiles like Macron, he is seen by many others in Europe as an outlier. It's simply a fact that the most prominent issue facing the European Union at the moment is Brexit. It has sucked all the oxygen out of virtually everything else.Verhofstadt wants Brexit over and done with. He wants to avoid spending the next five years "fighting again over Brexit" instead of "talking about renewal and reform."HeRead More – Source

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Venezuela crisis talks in Oslo break up without agreement
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Venezuela crisis talks in Oslo break up without agreement

Talks between government and opposition representatives aimed at resolving Venezuela's political crisis have ended without agreement.

The talks in Norway were the first between the two sides since National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaidó declared himself interim leader in January, arguing that President Nicolás Maduro's re-election was fraudulent.

Despite the lack of progress both sides said they wanted to continue the talks.

No date has been set for a next round.

Read more about Venezuela's crisis:
What happened at the talks?
A government delegation consisting of Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez and Miranda State Governor Héctor Rodríguez met an opposition delegation made up of lawmaker Stalin González, former minister Fernando Martínez Mottola and former lawmaker Gerardo Blyde.

The talks were held in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.

In a statement released after they were finished, the Norwegian foreign ministry urged the parties "to show their utmost caution in their comments and statements regarding the process" in order to "preserve a process that can lead to results".

Little is therefore known about what was discussed but both Mr Guaidó and President Maduro stated that the meeting had ended "without agreement".

What does the opposition want?
In a statement (in Spanish) released by Mr Guaidó, he listed three points he said were crucial to resolving Venezuela's crisis:

End of the "usurpation" of power by President Maduro
Transition government
Free elections

The opposition argues that Mr Maduro is not the legitimate president of Venezuela because his re-election in 2018 was "neither free nor fair".

They are calling for a transition government to take over until fresh elections can be held. They are also demanding that the electoral council, which is largely controlled by the government, be reformed to guarantee its independence.

What does the government want?
President Maduro said on Wednesday that he wanted "peace, dialogue, harmony, understanding".

Earlier this month, he suggested bringing forward parliamentary elections, an offer dismissed as "a farce" by Mr Guaidó, who pointed out that the National Assembly was the only body controlled by the Venezuelan opposition.

What happens next?
Mr Guaidó has called on Venezuelans to take to the streets in new anti-government demonstrations to increase the pressure on President Maduro. "There was no immediate agreement, so the chance that we have today is to remain in the streets," he told Fox Business Network.

He also again urged the armed forces to switch their allegiance to him.

Despite the willingness expressed by both sides to continue talks under Norway's auspices, it is not clear if and when another meeting will take place.

How did it come to this?
Mr Guaidó has been recognised as interim leader by more than 50 nations, including the US and most in Latin America, but Mr Maduro retains the loyalty of most of the military and important allies such as China and Russia.

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On 30 April, Mr Guaidó led a failed attempt to spark a military rebellion against Mr MadRead More – Source

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