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Helikon Park, Keszthely

The largest park of Keszthely is located near the train station. The foundation of the 17 hectares large area were the memorial trees planted by György Festetics and his guests during the Helikon Celebrations, the popular literary events held between 1817 and 1819. Unfortunately these trees were cut down in the early 20th century and replaced by linden trees in the 1920's. In the 1960's the park became a protected area of the city.

We can see many statues and memorials in Helikon Park, there is the Ottó Herman Memorial Column, the statues of botanic Pál Kitaibel and geographer Jenő Cholnoky. The Helikon Memorial, found in the center of the main path of the park, became a symbol of Keszthely.

Helikon Memorial

The memorial, found in the center of the park, was erected in 1921. The columned, domed structure commemorates the celebrations started by György Festetics who was inspired by similar events in Germany. The first literary celebration was held in Keszthely in 1817 and among the guest were writers, scientists and Transdanubian landlords. Guests of the event listened to speeches, songs, concerts, recitals of poems, and participated in feasts, balls and planting of trees. Between 1817 and 1819 two celebrations were held each year but due to the death of György Festetics, the last one was held in February 1819. 

In 1957 there was an attempt to restart the cultural events, this time focused on students and schools instead of literary people, and the following year the first Helikon Celebration of the 20th century was held. At first the events were popular but later on fewer and fewer people attended and the last one was organised in the 1980's.

Later in the 1990's a foundation was established to fund new celebrations, which is run since by volunteers. Starting from 1998, students from all over Transdanubia were invited to the festival and 6 years later, with the involvement of twin cities, the events became international. In 2008, on the 50th anniversary of the modern Helikon, over 4000 participants attended the celebration.