Croatia is a fun-loving country with celebrations spread throughout the year. As a foreigner, you can partake in the celebrations as they welcome spring and enjoy the country's tradition, culture and national festivities. The following are some of the cultural events in Croatia.
For the last 4 years, Zagreb has welcomed different lights artist in March of every year to showcase their latest light projection technology. The lights are breath-taking, displaying different artistic concepts and formations. They add pomp and colour to the already beautiful city. Revellers witness the colourful images and projections throughout the city, which is a historical event.
Since March is spring, most light concepts celebrate growth, awakening and new life. The light artwork prepares people for the warm weather and Zagreb's bubbly life. It gives locals and international visitors a chance to go back to the street and carry out their daily routines.
The Zagreb Lights festival brings together light artists and fanatics from all over the world. It illuminates the city and celebrates its beauty.
As a Christian country, Croatia celebrates Easter in a big way. Rovinj combines religious celebration with people's love for food. Locals and visitors enjoy 3 days of Croatian Cuisine to celebrate this important milestone in their religion.
It is a local tradition that orients visitors into Croatian food. Foods on offer include Fritulica, Pinca and painted eggs, which are Croatia's Easter delicacies.
Visitors sample the foods for free and exchange real and chocolate eggs amongst themselves. All this while, the Rovinj Majorettes and the brass band fill the air with joyful tunes to celebrate the occasion.
The procession is a historical event in Baranja, Slavonia and Syrmia. Young women ripe for marriage wore beautiful costumes with sabres strapped to their sides. They would wander in the village, singing and dancing to the delight of on-lookers. However, Gorjani village is the only place where the procession is still active.
Young women still wear the traditional dresses and partake in the procession, accompanied by gajde (bagpipe) and bećarac singers or tambura players. They wear white wreaths, while others put on men's clothes with flowery hats. The procession happens on the Pentecostal Sundays.
The women dressed as men and took up sabres were believed to scare soldiers in the Ottoman siege, as they resembled ghosts. Its intrigues make the procession one of Croatia's most colourful and unique festivals.
The Rijeka Carnival is the most significant and memorable event in Croatia's social and cultural calendar. The carnival comes at the beginning of the year as a way to welcome everyone into Croatia's cultural calendar. From mid-January into February, there are parades and merry-making to the delight of on-lookers.
The carnival starts with men dressed in UNESCO-recognised Zvončari. These men chase evil spirits with huge cowbells, a widespread practice with the Hapsburg in the 1880s. However, it was forgotten but revived in 1982 by 3 masked men. They walked down Korzo, which excited locals, marking its resurgence.
Thousands of people line up to cheer entertainers, mainly musicians and masked revellers.
The event's culmination is the International Carnival Parade which takes place on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Floats take time to pass the main street towards the canal, which is the main spectacle of the event. It progresses into the night, where people party and enjoy the Croatian hospitality.
The dance traces its origin from the Korčula Island when the locals protested against the Moorish occupation. It was widespread across southern Europe, involving a Moreška Sword. Nowadays, you can only find it on Adriatic Island, celebrated with 9 indigenous dance groups. They organise this festival to keep the tradition alive.
It happens in summer from June to September of every year on Island Korčula and other islands that observe the tradition. Participants come dressed in traditional attire, walking down the Korčula streets. Their destination is the Reconciliation square, where they perform the mock dance to relive the great victories.
Besides the Korčula Sword Dance, the Korčula half year's Eve happens every June. The celebration occurs on 30th June every year, which is precisely half of the year. In essence, June is a good cultural month for the people of Korčula and Croatia.
Korčula locals came up with the celebration over 20 years ago and have since featured it in their cultural calendar. The night combines pomp, colour, partying and carousing. It is a replica of the actual New Year's Eve, but with better weather. As a preparation for the actual day, there are workshops, street performances and other celebratory events.
The festival celebrates the end of the year's first half, going into the other. It draws large crowds, both local and visitors, on Korčula streets. Besides the merry-making, organisers prepare workshops and engaging activities showcasing the best of Korčula and Croatia.
The Zagreb festival started in 1966 and has grown to become one of the most celebrated cultural events in Croatia. It showcases the country's heritage and diversity, including the minority. The festival is backed by UNESCO's, providing a unique opportunity to celebrate its tradition. Locals use it to build a foundation from which they can shape the country.
Highlights of the festival are performances on the Gradec and Ban Jelačić Square. Others include workshops, church singing and exhibitions, which happen throughout the city. The organisers also welcome other folklores from other regions in the world.
Thanks to its following and concept, the festival attracts headlines both in Croatia and Europe. It is over 20 years old, witnessing over 200 play performances. Other programs like concerts, exhibitions and performances have also graced the occasions.
Film enthusiasts from Europe and worldwide come to Pula for the film festival. Launched in 1954 in former Yugoslavia, it was the country's main film festival.
Croatia's Pula Film Festival adopted the Film Festival and made it a National Film Festival in 1992. By 2014, the organisers added documentaries to the list of audio-visual content showcased. The festival happens in the Pula amphitheatre, The Arena, and other selected city locations.
The Dubrovnik Summer festival happens in July and August every year, dating back to the 1950s. It includes daily theatre performances, classical folklore and dance. Organisers stage it in open spaces within the Dubrovnik Old Town. Besides the outdoor stage performances, there are indoor performances with Sponza Palace, St. Blaise Church and the Rector's Palace as some of the chosen areas.
Ballet dances and classic theatres make up the production list showcased on open stages. These open space activities pull in people from all over the world to come and witness Croatian Art. It also attracts audiences, from the fun and wild to the quiet and composed. You can find the best Croatian artists spread across the different genres. The festival also welcomes international visual and performing artists to showcase their talents and entertain locals and visitors.