The Croatian capital is the place to be for the best Advent celebrations in Europe. The city was voted as the hosts of the “Best Christmas Markets” last year by European Best Destinations.
Each year, more and more visitors choose Zagreb for a few days break in the run-up to Christmas and into the New Year. The city centre is compact, easy to get around and there’s something happening almost at every turn. The majestic architecture and squares lend themselves perfectly to Advent illuminations and festivities.
Just like an Advent Calendar, Zagreb’s Advent Festival is a series of events and markets that reveal some of the city’s courtyards and squares, all themed differently to offer a unique Christmas experience.
It all starts on 26th November when the first Advent candle is lit on the Ban Jelacic Square, the main square in Zagreb, then the festivities spread throughout the city into one big continuing fairytale!
Ban Jelacic Square is home to a huge open-air stage which is surrounded by sparkling Christmas trees and plays host to a variety of free Christmas performances, perfect for all of the family. The popular traditional Christmas fair surrounding the stage is where you will find Zagreb’s famous gingerbread hearts, cookies, seasonal gifts, jewellery designed by Zagreb’s craftsmen and Croatian products.
European Square, in the heart of the city, will be lined with white Christmas stalls surrounded by fairy lights. The market is dedicated to showcasing the best handmade Christmas decorations among stalls offering seasonal food and drinks, evening performances, including a choir singing after midnight mass – and a short-film festival.
Zrinjevac Park is transformed into the hub of Advent which serves home-made food and drinks surrounded by decorated trees that transform the park into a classic Christmas scene. Magical lights illuminate fountains and the old music pavilion sparkles as the stage for live music throughout the day and into the evening. The rich musical programme including classics and waltzes.
For a modern twist on traditional Christmas markets, head to Tomiceva Street at the base of Zagreb’s famous Funicular. Stalls offer everything from beer to wine and cocktails, accompanied by modern Croatian style finger foods – think of it as street party!
Not to be missed is Ice Park, located on King Tomislav Square. It is the centrepiece of Zagreb’s Advent Festival, against a backdrop of glistening lights that decorate the trees in front of the ornate Art Pavilion. Shooting off from the traditional rectangular shaped ice rink are ice paths that curve among the trees offering a mini adventure through the park.
Finally, complete your advent experience at the live Nativity Scene on Kaptol, where the story of Jesus’s birth will be brought to life by young actors and actresses who have overcome their own hardships.
For more information about Zagreb’s Advent Festival, please visit www.adventzagreb.hr/en