Advent in Zagreb: Advent u Zagrebu is Europe’s Best Destination for Christmas
Christmas holidays are fast approaching. I for one love this time of year. Everyone is happy, joyful and spreading good vibes and a lot of love, especially those with children. Christmas is a time to spend time with family, a time to be thankful for all our blessings and a time to take some well-deserved time off from work and school.
If you are planning to travel this year during the Advent Season, Advent in Zagreb should be at the top of your list of cities to visit in Europe. As it should be because in 2016 Zagreb won European Best Destinations Best Christmas Market Destination, and has been nominated in 2017 as well. So you better believe the Zagreb Tourism Board has been doing a lot of work to make the Christmas Market even better this year.
Zagreb is a magical place during the Christmas Advent; it truly turns into a winter wonderland. The city comes to life with the lovely sounds of jingle bells and Christmas classics played all over the city, various concerts and musicals, performances, workshops and exhibitions for kids and people of all ages. Not to mention all the food it has to offer on literally every corner of the street, including roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, fresh fritters, homemade sausages are just few that come to mind. The Christmas Fair will take place this year from November 26 to January 8, 2017.
There is an exhibition literally for everyone.
Advent in Zagreb: Choir in Zagreb. Photo Credit: Zagreb TZ
Ice Park at King Tomislav Square
Adults and kids of all ages go crazy over the ice park that is set up in the King Tomislav Square. An entire park is transformed into one giant skating arena, while on the sidelines you will find many cute wooded houses that offer warm drinks, local foods, and traditional Croatian sweets.
Advent on Zrinjevac
Zrinjevac is by far one of my favorite parks in Zagreb. A lovely little park right in the middle of the city, minutes away from the central Ban Jelačić Square, surrounded by lots timeworn, large plane trees, with benches, offering a very cozy and romantic feel. It is a perfect place to sit, relax and watch the world go by.
During the Christmas season, this park is transformed into something very special and even more beautiful. All of the 220 trees are decorated with Christmas lights, with many cozy wooden houses set up along the walking areas of the park, each offering its own traditional Croatian specialty, from handmade souvenirs, unique Christmas ornaments, local artisans, specialty foods, wines and sweet delicacies.
There is an old musical pavilion in the middle of the park, where each night there is some kind of a cultural event happening, such as musicals, traditional dances, children’s performances, choirs singing traditional Christmas songs and much more.
Advent in Zagreb: Zrinjevac. Photo Credit: Zagreb TZ
Advent on Ban Jelačić Square
Regardless of the time of year, there is always something happening on Ban Jelačić Square. But it becomes even more special during the Christmas Advent Season. For one, every year on the first day of December a large Advent wreath is put up around the Manduševac Fountain, where thousands of people gather to take pictures or just sit and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere all around them.
A big Christmas tree is put up near the “clock” with traditional Zagreb hearts decorations. In the middle of the square, you will find a large stage, where many concerts and dance performances are performed each night. Visitors will also enjoy the treats offered at one of many wooden houses offering traditional delicatessens, mulled wine, sausages, treats, and souvenirs.
Advent u Zagreb. Photo credit: Zagreb TZ
Christmas Fair on Bogonićeva and Gajeva
Strolling the streets of Bogovićeva and Gajeva in the center of the city, you will find some really great gifts and stocking stuffers for your family and friends. The streets will be lined up with long rows of wooden houses stands selling handcrafted gifts, souvenirs, Christmas ornaments and decorations, handmade knitted hats, scarves and gloves, carved glass souvenirs and much more.
You will especially love the scents of the homemade delicacies, such as fritters, roasted chestnuts, hot chocolate, mulled wine, cooked sausages, various Croatian pastries, and cakes.
It is a unique atmosphere, as you walk the streets of Zagreb you will see people strolling the streets, standing around, enjoying hot drinks and stacks, laughing, talking and having a great time. The city is vibrant and full of life!
Advent in Zagreb: Foodies Will Love it.
“Fuliranje” or just simply “Fooling Around” is one of the first and best Advent events in town. Fuliranje is simply walking around the city, singing, dancing, talking to and getting to know strangers, while having a great time. You will enjoy lots of great food, treats, drinks, shops, fun photo booths, concerts and much more.
In Tomićeva Street some of the best Croatian chefs will present their culinary art on the street and share their life and food philosophy with you. While Kurelčeva Street will become a large open-air disco, music will be dedicated to the disco culture and big music influencers of the second half of the 20th century.
The European Square has also become a popular Fuliranje destination, so if in town go and check it out. My advice is simple: Be Fun. Have Fun. Goof Around. Fool Around. Be Jolly. That is all you need to know, and everything else is self-explanatory.
Advent in the Tunnel
This is a new and very exciting exhibition for the Zagreb Christmas Market, where an actual tunnel is transformed into a winter wonderland, featuring 3D installations, Christmas music and video projections in the tunnel. An extraordinary experience not to be missed.
Advent in Zagreb: Photo Credit: Zagreb TZ
For Art Lovers
Artomat During Advent
Not only are there fun activities for winter lovers, foodies, and kids, but the Christmas Market also offers a great exhibition for art lovers as well. Art lovers must go and visit the Artomat at the Victims of Fascism Square, with various educational workshops, performances, and many art exhibitions.
Art lovers can also visit exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, a new Advent exhibit this year; the Advent at the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery; Advent at the Ethnographic Museum; Zagreb’s Courtyards (Dvorišta), including Advent Style at the Croatian Natural History Museum (Palača Amade), Old Slavic Institute (Palača Balbi), City of Zagreb Museum, and the Croatian Institute of History.
A special treat this year for the art lovers is the exhibition of The Nutcracker, which will be exhibiting sets and costumes from Berlin, New York, and Zagreb at the Museum of Arts and Crafts. There will also be various programs and souvenirs for visitors.
Fashion and design fanatics will love the exhibitions of the Modni Advent Oktogon and the Advent in the Design District at the Hrvatski Velikani Square and at Martićeva ulica.
For Music Lovers
Along Tkalčićeva street and at the Croatian National Theatre, music lovers will be surrounded by magical melodies of Bach, Handel, Clarke, Ivan Zajc’s Marches and traditional Christmas songs. During the Advent Season in Zagreb, the six-piece Ad Gloriam brass ensemble will be holding various concerts on balconies of some of the most beautiful buildings in Zagreb – a music lovers delight.
Music lovers will especially love the traditional Christmas caroling, where choirs and ensembles will perform on the open music pavilion in Zrinjevac Park, St. Catherine and St. Blaise churches, followed by a Christmas walk through the Upper Town.
The Strauss in Oktogon, the famous passageway near Cvijetni Trg (The Flower Square), is another fun exhibition. The Strauss Ensemble will perform some old Croatian music; revive old customs and traditions, including salon music, waltzes, polkas and tradition Christmas songs. You will feel like you have gone back in time.
Ultra Music Festival is coming to Zagreb! The Ultra Music Festival will make its way to Zagreb from December 31 to January 6, 2017, which will be held at the Zagreb Arena. Some of the world’s best DJ’s will be performing this year in Zagreb, including DJ Armin van Buuren.
Advent in Zagreb.
For Young Crowds
For all the young and single people I would recommend visiting the European Square during the Advent Season. It is located in the heart of the city and has an excellent offering during Advent, including lots of concerts, exhibitions and attractions to enjoy. So grab a warm mulled wine and hit the pedestrian zone for some great fun.
Just for Kids
Strossmayer Square will turn into the North Pole, where Santa’s special helper Rudolf will be the main star of the show. This fairytale for kids will offer many interactive workshops, musical concerts, puppet shows, cartoons, choirs, fun with Santa activities and many different programs for all age groups.
Every day from 11 am to 6 pm there will be various programs organized for kids up to 12 years old. From 6 pm to Midnight there will be special programs dedicated to adults.
Kids will be able to meet Rudolph, take pictures with him, sing songs with him on stage, take part in art and science workshops, along with many other fun activities kids will love.
Check out Advent in Zagreb: A unique Christmas market.
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“The Tale from Grič”
Kids will also enjoy the fun adventure of the Tale from Grič at the Vranyczany Plateau in the Upper Old Town. This program is inspired by the characters from the tale “Stribor’s Forest,” a famous fairytale by the Croatian author Ivana Brlić Mažuranić. The decorations will be similar to the famous Stribor Forest fairytale setting. Children and parents will be able to enjoy delicious foods and find fun souvenirs in the nearby wooded stands. Various workshops for the children will be held, along with readings of fairytales from the author Brlić Mažuranić.
A special Christmas exhibition at the Zagreb Velesajam will be held for kids, featuring fairytales Santa Clause at his Ice Castle. Children will enjoy the large ice castle, an igloo park, and a large skating area, intended just for children and their parents. The wooded stands will offer various warm drinks, food, and tasty treats.
This exhibition will be available from November 28 until January 2, 2017.
Advent in Mala Scena Theatre
Families with children will enjoy various children plays and fun activities with the good old St. Nicholas and Santa Claus.
Christmas Story in Čazma
For all you parents out there this is a must see for you and your children! This Christmas fairytale is about an hour drive from Zagreb; it is definitely worth the drive. The Salaj family has been crating a fairytale Christmas tradition for the last 14 years, where they decorate their garden and perform various fairy tales for families and children.
Imagine an atmosphere with millions of stars scattered everywhere, Christmas lights, decorated trees, sounds of mill-wind, waterfall from the River Grabovnica, fireworks, and so much more! Children will feel like they are a part of a real fairytale, surrounded by lots of love, laughter, and good cheer. To keep you warm you will be able to sip on a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate, mulled wine and enjoy delicious desserts. The family offers a variety of different events and programs to please every visitor.
Advent in Zagreb. Photo Credit: Zagreb Tourist Board
Other Great Events
Some other exhibitions to watch out for include the Live Nativity Scene at the Zagreb Cathedral. A real life display of baby Jesus in his crib, the manger, people of Bethlehem, farm animals, shepherds, and three wise men. This is a special kind of experience that will take you back in time of Jesus’ birth and make you remember what Christmas is all about.
If you plan on visiting Zagreb during Advent look out for these great events and exhibitions as well, Zagreb’s Christmas Fairytale at Johann Franck on the main square; Advent on Stross at Strossmayerovo šetalište; Christmas Bazaar on December 15 at the Zagrebački Velesajam (Zagreb Exhibition); Advent in Marija Bistrica with Advent concert performances; New Year’s concert of waltzes, polkas and other shenanigans by the HRT Tamburitza Orchestra; Kings on Ice at the Zagreb Arena on December 15; New Year’s changing of the guard with horses, performed by the company of Kravat regiment.
Advent in Zagreb: Photo Credit: Zagreb TZ
With all of these exciting Advent exhibitions, it is no surprise why Zagreb is the new Advent superstar in Europe. The city offers a unique atmosphere for everyone that just must be experienced. More and more tourists from all over the world are making Zagreb their top destination to spend the winter holidays, especially during the Christmas season. Having experienced this wonderful event myself, I have to tell you it is one of a kind! It is fun, safe and full of life! Every corner you walk makes you feel very warm and cozy inside, it just simply an incredible experience that you must try for yourself.
If you have the time you should also check out some other great Christmas Markets in Croatia, including Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik and Rijeka.