February is carnival season, which have their roots in the distant past. Although they are now a part of western Christian culture, carnivals are based on the traditions of the people even from pre-Christian era. Croatian carnival cities are famous for colorful parades and parties. Read what they looked like old Croatian carnival traditions and where and when you can enjoy the lively carnival atmosphere.
International Rijeka Carnival
The International Carnival Parade in Rijeka is the jewel in the crown of the carnival festivities in Kvarner and beyond. Competitions in creativity, humour and originality, fireworks of colours and shapes result in a parade of hundreds of allegorical floats, thousands of masks and a countless number of visitors from home and abroad.
Since the day it was organised for the first time, by the Rijeka Tourist Board, in 1982, the renewed Rijeka Carnival has, in the best possible way, continued with the centuries-long masking tradition in the Croatian Littoral and has placed the city on the Rječina River amongst the most important European carnival cities. When, in 1982, three masked groups (namely, carnival groups “Lako ćemo”, “Pehinarski feštari” and “Halubje Bellringers”) passed through Korzo, nobody foresaw the proportions that the already traditional International Rijeka Carnival would assume over the years. The International Carnival Parade is only one of the programmes of this important event which brings together an ever growing number of participants and visitors both from Croatia and abroad. Carnival Parade is held during the winter months, in March.
It is difficult to describe the Rijeka Carnival in words or fully capture it in photos or television broadcasts. The Rijeka Carnival must be lived and experienced! So we invite you all to the Rijeka Carnival – where you can be whatever you want!
The Summer carnival on the Island of Pag
The Summer carnival on the Island of Pag is the oldest carnival on the Adriatic. This fact alone is a guarantee to all visitors of a rather special experience should they choose to take part in the Carnival. The Carnival goes on for two days – the parade takes place on the first day – and culminates on 26th August, when the best and most attractive masks are chosen and rich awards presented. Cultural clubs and children’s choirs keep the atmosphere , and all visitors are welcome to join the traditional wheel-dance of Pag, accompanied by the town Brass Band. The Carnival reaches its climax at the closing ceremony when the Carnival Prince Marko is burnt on the main town square, which, according to the local belief, should cast away all evil forces for the whole of the following year.
Split carnival it began on February, when the masks on Pjaca take over the control of the city under Marjan.
The parade formed in front of the theatre, and so begins a masked walk through the city, all the way to Riva, and then to Prokurative. After awarding the best looking masks, a sentence will be traditionally read to Krnje (pron. Kernye), a figure declared guilty for all the bad things that happened during last year. Nobody knows so far who or what Krnje will represent, but tradition dictates a lot of invention and political messages.
The two-day Split Carnival includes various fun activities, the highlight of which is an evening procession with many locals, donning masks, joining in. The main carnival is normally preceded a few days before by a children’s carnival in which the little ones can also put on masks and take part in their own procession.
One of the most historical carnival events in Europe is placed in Dubrovnik. Here, in the middle of the majestic and breathtaking architecture you can see a passionate display of music, dancing, and garish costumes all at a wonderful parade down the streets to the sound drums, accordions, and trumpets.
When a carnival atmosphere descends on the city you will feel the magic of Dubrovnik Carnival.. This centuries-old tradition takes place along the Stradun, around the Church of St Blaise, and the Revelin Fortress. Expect music, parades and colourful costumes. This is the Winter Carnival and is held in February.