Along with the Dance Week Festival, the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and the International Folklore Festival, Croatia is home to several other cultural events located all over the country. Whether you're searching for a bit of soul music to sway to or you want to watch on as local Croatians perform traditional dances, these festivals are bound to have you wholeheartedly immersed.
There are many festivals spanning every season, so we've put together a list of our favourites.
1. Holy Week
Formally known as Za Krizen, Holy Week is less a festival in its traditional sense and more a religious procession but it still deserves a spot on this list for its cultural importance to the people of Hvar. Holy week is a 500-year-old tradition made up of six annual processions taking place in the areas of Jelsa, Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirce, Vrbanj, and Vrboska on Maundy Thursday at exactly 10 pm.
Acting as a highlight for the city's Easter festivities, this deeply spiritual event is led by a barefoot cross-bearer who, along with the rest of the procession, will walk the full 22km through the six villages in total before coming to an end just before the sunrise. Watching over this procession is guaranteed to be a moving experience and help you better understand the role of faith in the lives of everyday Croatians.
2. Split Summer Festival
Known to be one of the more important cultural events in all of Croatia, the Split Summer Festival (occurring from mid-July to mid-August) is not to be missed. With plenty to keep you entertained throughout the entire month including theatre shows, musical concerts, dance performances, film events, and street acts, this festival celebrates the vast spectrum of the dramatic arts and encourages everyone, both young and old, to get involved.
While different events are located in various venues around the city, the main hub of activity is in Republic Square where performances take to the street to delight and wow the onlookers.
3. Full Moon Festival
Taking place under the stars, the Full Moon Festival in Zadar is a way to celebrate local customs and traditions while appreciating the natural beauty of the city and seafront. With the city's street lights off in favour of thousands of candles and torches lining the walkways and Riva (seafront), you're guaranteed to feel as if you've stepped into a fairyland with a romantic, mystifying atmosphere following you on your journey past boats full of produce and local ware for you to taste and try out.
If you're looking for an explosion of the senses then Spancirfest is the festival for you. Located in the small town of Varaždin, this festival brings street performing back to life with hundreds of musicians, stilt-walkers, magicians, and jugglers encouraged to walk the cobblestoned streets in search of a crowd to entertain.
Also known as the 'Stroller's Festival' for the very reason that performers stroll through the streets, this festival is truly one-of-a-kind and showcases the very best entertainers from all over Croatia. Listen to buskers as they sing out sweet-sounding songs, watch a magician as they defy all reasoning and logic, or join one of several workshops scheduled over the course of the festival for an experience like no other.
5. Korčula Sword Dance Festival
If you happen to be travelling around Croatia in June, it's worth stopping in at Korčula Island for their annual Sword Dance Festival. Since the 17th century, two dance groups have kept this traditional battle dance alive - the Kumpanjija and the Moreska. The Kumpanjiji link themselves together by holding each other's long swords as a sign of unity while the Moreska members clash their swords together in battle.
With the aim of preserving the heritage of this dance for future generations, onlookers are treated to performances by participants in traditional dress and are told tales of victory through the dance's dynamic movements.
6. Visualia Festival
If it's a visual spectacle you're after then it's a visual spectacle you'll get at the Visualia Festival in Pula. Described as both fascinating and intriguing, this festival focuses on light installations and displays to wow festival-goers of all ages. Using the latest 3D mapping and light technologies to create magical scenes, Visualia features pieces such as the 'Lighting Giants' installation where a series of cranes is displayed and illuminated at the town's iconic port district in a light show that runs every hour from 9 pm until midnight.
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