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Opera House - Dress Code??

Leeds, United...
Level Contributor
53 posts
26 reviews
Opera House - Dress Code??

We were thinking of going to see a ballet performance when we visit Budapest in a few weeks but have never been before anywhere. Is there any sort of dress code, we would be going on a Tues/Weds night.


Budapest, Hungary
Destination Expert
for Budapest, Hungary
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13,038 posts
64 reviews
1. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

Do a search, this is often asked.

Very smart casual seems to be acceptable.

Level Contributor
378 posts
50 reviews
2. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

We were there last month and would agree smart casual is the way to go. I wore a sport jacket and tie. Only one person was black tie-he was a young Hungarian with his girlfriend and the poor guy looked so uncomfortable. I think his girlfriend had made him dress up. LOL.But that said there were many young people dressed very casually as well. It is truly a wonderful experience. Be sure to have a glass of champagne(they have mini bottles) and a snack at the intermission,

nyc, usa
Destination Expert
for Budapest
Level Contributor
8,410 posts
10 reviews
3. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

without wanting to sound too prissy, after thinking about it more or less for about a decade i've come to the conclusion that in budapest at classical venues like the Opera or the Palace of the Arts, people dress in a manner that respects the music, not the audience

4. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

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Level Contributor
1,880 posts
29 reviews
5. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

Respect the music and respect the locals. Wear a coat and tie at a minimum. You can always spot the tourists, they are the ones in the tennis shoes in the cheap seats.

Chester, United...
Level Contributor
3,558 posts
200 reviews
6. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

We now have tickets for the ballet on our trip, are travelling light so don't want to bring evening dresses and high heeled shoes, presumably in 'smart casual' trousers and proper shoes (ie not trainers, but not dress shoes either) and a 'dressy' top would be acceptable?

Have taken note of the tip re champagne in interval!

Now even more excited about our trip!

Level Contributor
1,880 posts
29 reviews
7. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

I dont think you have to bring an evening dress. Women have a lot more flexibility. If the gentleman is wearing a sports coat with almost anything but jeans he will fit in. Also depends on your seats to some small degree. In the boxes almost without exception the people are better dressed. They are trying very hard to have that sort of evening so i wouldnt mess it up for them. If you want to see the same fine performance and dress down go to the afternoon performance. Its less expensive too.

Level Contributor
2,911 posts
8. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

Jacket and tie with a formal shirt, trousers, and shoes should be fine. When I went I wore a tweed jacket of extremely good quality (with a white silk pocket handkerchief in order to look less the country gent) with formal trousers, as it seemed a bit much to take a suit just to wear for three hours. For the Royal Opera House would wear pretty much the same, though usually without the tie, but I had assumed that Budapest would be more old fashioned than London. In fact, I saw only two or three other men wearing ties, but I didn't feel particularly overdressed.

Bobandco recommends "a coat and tie at a minimum". I would say that jacket and tie or lounge suit are probably equally fine and that black or white tie would just look silly, as it does in most opera houses these days (only once have I worn black tie to the opera, and that was at the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires). For ladies I would certainly say that a ball gown-type outfit is unnecessary. Again, we see this at Covent Garden a lot, especially in the cheaper seats, and it just looks a bit daft. A suit (skirt or trouser) or a jacket with smart skirt or trousers and a smart blouse or top and/or a dress with proper shoes (flat or heeled) would seem fine.

Rather a harsh generalisation about tourists I thought. I went to Budapest as a tourist and didn't wear tennis shoes to the opera. I did sit in relatively cheap seats (dead centre in the front row of the balcony) as they were really very good seats for the price and we were spreading the budget to include a couple of piano recitals in the course of the trip.

Much more important than what one wears is how one behaves. We were sitting next to a couple of young ladies who were really dressed up for the event. They came back late for the third act and, having taken their seats (just off centre in the front row of the balcony, thus causing maximum disruption), one of them took out a can of coke, opened it (everybody knows how much noise that makes, especially in an opera house), and starting slurping away! So I'd rather be sitting next to somebody wearing tennis shoes than somebody who talks, eats, drinks, uses a mobile phone, etc.

Level Contributor
1,880 posts
29 reviews
9. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

I guess we are confused by a common language or at least my my casual use of a common language. Coat and tie around here means or was meant to mean sports coat or similar. I always thougt i understoond "smart casual" but the last time I went someplace under those terms I saw intelligent people in T-Shirts. So who knows any more. But Mr. Quinn we arent apart at all on this much.

I took a count last time i went to the Operett and (find the thread for the exact count) were about a dozen men without sports coats or suits or the equivelent. 75% of those that did have coats of some sort also had ties. Turtle necks under the sports coats were also popular (it was December). The ones that were not dressed like this looked silly, and by chance were primarily in the cheap seats. I remember one show when nearly 30 people showed up all at once (a tour group i suppose) and everyone had jeans, t-shirt and tennis shoes. Again, the cheap seats. All this is well and fine for the afternoon performance. Hence my harshness with tourists. I should say tourists of a certain mindset and not lump everyone together. Actually i should blame the tourguide.

I catch a lot of flack for caring about this but i really set a very low standard and even that appear to be too high for modern attitude. The hunsband and wife we shared a box with in our last visit (Hungarians) were dressed very well and i suspect that they appreciated the fact that we were as well. Mom always said you can never be overdressed. By the way, we had a very nice conversation with the couple about business and politics (here and there). Would they have approached us or would we have had the same conversaton, if we were were in jeans?

As for the coke slurping. When you begin to drop all standards of behavior and respect (and dress is among of those) the decline is unstoppable. I still feel self conscience about disrupting or spoiling anyone elses event; especially when i am a guest in their country; so i make an extra effort. I guess i will get past that some day.

The English Speaking world is obviously doing something correctly.

Just For Fun:




Phoenix, Arizona
Level Contributor
3,706 posts
27 reviews
10. Re: Opera House - Dress Code??

Jonathan and Bob: I suspect we have a bit of a cultural disconnect here. A "jacket" in UK is what you wear to go shoot grouse. A "Sport Coat " in US is what most of us will never win in a golf tournament. They are essentially the same thing when used in the setting you are discussing.One is just cut a bit tighter and has a few more odd little pockets, the other is a single vent rather than a proper double vent.

Regarding a "Lounge Suit", well I would love to hear that described!