Zagreb holds a special fascination for me because of its architectural styles and collection of unique museums - especially the Museum of Broken Relationships! Let's include time to explore this beautiful and definitely underrated city when we plan your next trip to Croatia. Here are some festivals to check out throughout the year to make your visit even more special.
Excerpt below from Virtuoso article produced with Zagreb Tourist Board dated 7/17/23 can be found here.
Zagreb wins over travelers with its laid-back vibe, stunning East-meets-West architecture, cherished café and coffee culture, and dynamic arts community. Thanks to a packed year-round calendar of festivals, it feels like there’s always a new reason to explore Croatia’s capital city – and the 208-room Esplanade Zagreb Hotel, a shining example of the city’s timeless style, makes a great home base. The belle epoque beauty originally opened in 1925 as a stopover for train travelers on the Orient Express; since then, it’s hosted a wealth of A-listers, from movie stars to royal family members.
From film festivals and avant-garde light shows to cozy Christmas markets and outdoor summer concerts, here are the city’s marquee events – well worth a planning trip around.
Fall: Art Shows and Indie Films
For a week in October, contemporary-art exhibitions and performances take over Zagreb during Artupunktura, the city’s bold new cultural program. The event – which features pop-up installations, billboards turned into works of art, and other “art therapy” experiences – celebrates the act of creation, providing a welcoming space for a lively exchange of ideas among some of the city’s most notable authors, gallery owners, and artists.
The Zagreb Film Festival, held every November, is one of the city’s most popular annual events and Croatia’s biggest celebration of cinema. The weeklong affair showcases the best of independent film, and from its inception in 1991, the festival’s focus has always been on promoting contemporary programming, along with the works of first-time Croatian and international directors. (Past premieres have included films from Sofia Coppola, Taika Waititi, and other big Hollywood names.) Culture-loving travelers can attend screenings, workshops, Q&A sessions with directors, and after-parties around the city.
Winter: Holiday Cheer
Europe is known for its Christmas markets, and come December, Zagreb’s installment, Advent Zagreb, transforms King Tomislav Square into a festive wonderland filled with twinkling lights, souvenir shops, and cozy food stalls – be sure to try paprenjaci, peppery Croatian gingerbread cookies. There’s also an ice rink and a 1924 Christmas tram that delights young ones with sweets and a cameo from Santa and his elves.
Spring: Bright Lights, Busy City
The city celebrates the return of sunnier days during the annual Festival of Lights Zagreb in March, a visual spectacle that uses parks, squares, and Gothic and neo-Renaissance buildings as canvases for light shows, projection-mapping displays, and other art installations. Artists from Zagreb and worldwide participate, bedecking sites such as the Croatian National Theatre and Old Vlaska Street in pops of color.
Come May, Zagreb transforms into an open-air party during Cest Is d’Best, the city’s oldest and biggest street festival. During the vibrant three-day fete, actors, comedians, dancers, musicians, and circus artists turn the city into their stage, partaking in various competitions, art installations, musical performances, dance parties, and sporting exhibitions.
Summer: Alfresco Evenings and Secret Spaces
Outdoor concert season reaches its peak during the Zagreb Classic in June. Bring a blanket and a bottle of plavac mali wine to King Tomislav Square to watch performers from the Zagreb Philharmonic, City Comedy Theatre, and around the world.
July lets travelers (and locals) in on a secret slice of Zagreb. Across the city, beautiful courtyards hide behind the facades of baroque palaces, centuries-old townhouses, and unassuming buildings. For a week every summer, Dvorista – The Courtyards festival opens these usually off-limits spaces in the Upper Town for picnics, parties, jazz concerts, and more.
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