Croatia is home to unforgettable magical experiences year-round. You thought Croatia was all about sunshine and beaches (there is plenty of that) but join us on a tour of one of the most magical times of the year – Advent in Croatia!
Where to start, but with the finest in Europe! Advent in Zagreb, voted the best Christmas market in all of Europe for three years in a row, will once again be crowned Lonely Planet’s number one destination in 2017, alight with a spectacular range of concerts, workshops, gourmet experiences and fun, fun, fun.
Don’t forget your skates or you’ll miss your chance to showcase your pirouetting skills at the downtown skating rink of King Tomislav Square, home to enchanting evenings on the ice, with the aromas of chestnuts, sausages and mulled wine in the air. King Tomislav Square provides endless lots of fun for the whole family.
Then head to Zrinjevac, the park where Advent began. Adorned with 220 trees sparkling with Christmas lights provide an additional delight as in the background waltzes and Christmas classics at the old music pavilion play in the heart of Zrinjevac.
Zagreb’s historic Upper Town is not to be missed either, with traditional locations such as Caffe De Matoš and Priča s Griča complemented by three new additions – animal magic at Advent in Zagreb Zoo and Maksimir Park, Advent in Tkalča as well as Advent in the Sisters Baković Passage. Embrace your Hollywood alter ego by wandering into an old film studio, or check out Christmas movie classics at Cinema Europa.
Nothing brings magical childhood Christmas memories closer than fairy tales, and for a true cosy spirit and heart-warming stories for the little ones, Ogulin’s celebrated children’s fairy tale writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić will be a key theme of this year’s Advent in Zagreb.
Few things impress young children (and adults!) more than twinkling Christmas lights displayed during the festive season, and close to Zagreb is one of the most sensational Christmas displays of the world. The Salaj family’s SalajLand in Grabovnica has literary millions of lights each year, shining brightly like floating diamonds in the family home.
There are plenty of other destinations in continental Croatia offering the chance to explore in unique seasonal ways. Queen Elizabeth II is a famous visitor to the fabled Lipizzaner stables in Đakovo, but if you are looking for an outstanding Christmas event fitting of a royal attendance, do not miss the Lipizzaner Christmas ball.
Osijek is also a key location for Advent in Slavonia, adding at touch of romance to this majestic city on the Danube, with 30 days of Christmas activities, concerts, home-crafts and local gourmet offers planned. As well as the mulled wine and punch, enjoy the special Osijek Christmas Beer from the oldest brewery in Croatia. And speaking of old, why not experience Advent in the oldest continuously inhabited town in all Europe? Explore the 8,400-year history of Vinkovci, whilst also discovering other festivities in Vukovar and Baranja.
Winter is Coming, and where better to experience the magic than at Kings Landing? Dubrovnik in December is a totally different experience to the summer months. Enjoy a leisurely walk around its famous walls, then immerse yourself in the culture and fun of the Dubrovnik Winter Festival with concerts, cultural events, workshops and plenty of food and drinks.
More festive Game of Thrones locations can be found in the Diocletian capital of Split, as the Roman Emperor’s UNESCO World Heritage Site home comes to life full of seasonal cheer, with stands, concerts and lots of activities at key locations such as Riva, Procurative and Narodni Trg. And if you are looking to combine a little UNESCO culture with your Advent visit, both Zadar and Šibenik will be entering into the Advent spirit. See popular beach destinations such as Makarska, or island towns such as Hvar, as you have never before…
The healthy air of Kvarner is also getting into the Christmas mood. Tourism based on its temperate climate and pristine waters dates back some 170 years, but Opatija is now becoming known for a different winter attraction – chocolate! Savour the best national and international chocolate brands, and embrace your sweet tooth at various workshops, tastings and concerts at the Opatija Chocolate Festival on the first weekend in December.
And then continue with some Advent island relaxation on Rab or the Island of Vitality itself, Lošinj.
Alternatively, head to Rijeka to get a sneak peek of the 2020 European City of Culture at Christmas, with its colourful Christmas market, tunnels and, of course, Trsat.
The magic does not stop there, and different Advent experiences await all over this land of magic. Varaždin, the City of Angels, and a former capital of Croatia, will be spreading its festive joy all through its historic centre into the White Corso, with an accompanying selection of quality music, catering and events, whilst the religious shrine of Marija Bistrica has additional significance at this holy time of year.
Croatia, the land of a thousand islands and a thousand magical experiences. Which one will be yours this Advent?