The Fabulous Five: Best festivals in Croatia
Guide to the best festivals in Croatia
Croatia captivates with summer cultural festivals of music, film, and dance. When visiting, don’t miss some of the unique and limited summer festivals in Croatia. Not only are they an amazing new cultural experience they are also incredibly upbeat and fun. By attending, travelers will learn about Croatia’s history as well as be a part of a historical tradition.
1) Dubrovnik Summer Festival, Dubrovnik
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival, Croatia’s oldest and most important cultural festival, began in 1950. It was even celebrated during the years of war from 1990 to1995 with small performances held by candlelight. Since the very beginning, the festival offers numerous performances of theater, ballet, classical music, and opera. What makes it unique is that all performances are held outside in the streets and squares, making the whole city of Dubrovnik deeply immersed in the festival. The Dubrovnik Summer Festival always hosts the world’s most famous composers, soloists, and orchestras, and this year’s 67th edition will not be any different. Throughout 47 days, theater, music, ballet, folklore and other performances will take place in nearly 20 different venues.
Tickets are available online; they should be booked advance because, similar to accommodation in Dubrovnik during summer, availability is limited.
2) Days of Diocletian, Split
With the Days of Diocletian, the city of Split shows its visitors 1,700 years of their history. This historical festival in Croatia is celebrated by returning to their ancient past. City streets and squares are lined with the Roman legions, and Emperor Diocletian, together with his co-rulers and carriages, can be seen passing along the Riva and Peristyle to greet the cheering crowd. Sounds of fanfares, drums, and Roman military music echo throughout the city, while visitors enjoy street performers, concerts and dance programs and rich gastronomic offerings from the time of Emperor Diocletian.
Accommodation in Split should be booked in advance because availability is limited.
3) The Alka of Sinj, Sinj
This unique equestrian competition, which has been held the first weekend in August in town Sinj since 1715, celebrates the victory over the Ottoman Turks. The town of Sinj is just 22 miles from Split so visitors can stay in one of Split’s many lovely hotels and go to Sinj for the day. In 2010, the joust was inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
“Alka” is the name of the object used in this tournament and various horsemen attempt to aim their lance at a hanging metal ring (alka). Made of two concentric rings, the contestant — called “alkar“ — rides his horse down the racetrack and tries to hit the central ring with his spear at full gallop. Depending on which part of the metal ring he hits, he receives points from 1 to 3 (and no points if he misses). Only men born in Sinjska Krajina can take part in the competition; this year is the 300th jubilee edition so the contest will be hard fought.
Tickets are available only at the Museum of Sinjska Alka in the town of Sinj; they cannot be purchased online, but feel free to contact us for assistance in purchasing tickets.
4) Summer on Stross, Zagreb
The Strossmayer Promenade is one of the most romantic walks in Zagreb’s Upper Town, and it offers the feel of the most elegant Parisian districts. This annual festival in Croatia features an array of concerts, plays, nighttime sightseeing tours, open-air film screenings and interesting spectacles in the courtyards of Zagreb’s palaces and family villas, turns the entire Upper Town into one big stage. The program begins in the morning and goes on until late at night so everyone can find something they like. This Festival in Croatia is best suited for families with children to younger visitors who enjoy open-air events.
During your stay in Zagreb, we recommend the magnificent, 5-star Esplanade Hotel that is just a 10-minute walk from the Strossmayer Promenade.
5) Motovun Film Festival, Motovun
For almost two decades, the Motovun Film Festival has presented films made by small cinematographers and independent producers. This festival in Croatia features films stand out for their innovation, ideas and the power of the stories the tell. The festival is a five-day marathon in which film screenings run from 10am until 4am. There are outdoor screenings in the evenings and screenings in movie theaters during the day. The program consists of around 70 titles from all over the world, ranging from documentaries to feature films, from short to long formats, from guerilla-made films to co-productions. The only criteria for their selection are that they fit the open-minded atmosphere of this festival.
Tickets are available online; we recommend booking your stay in Rovinj and using our transfer services to reach Motovun that is a one-hour drive from Rovinj.
If you are in Croatia this summer all of its unique summer festivals are a must-see addition to any trip.
By: Marcella Pappas
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