Zagreb's spectacular Festival of Lights returned last night, transforming Zagreb's Upper Town into electrifying alternative worlds with projections, light installations and light-based performance.
The excitement of the evening began long before reaching the launch venue, the Zagreb City Museum, as the whole of Opatička was bathed in pretty blue light. Many visitors to the city stood at the top of Kamenita Vrata to admire the sight. Making your way up Opatička, the whole of the courtyard in front of the Croatian Institute of History, and the front facade of the institute itself was drenched in floral pinks, yellows and reds, contrasting to the blue of the street, but representing the official colours and design of this year's Festival of Lights.
Croatian Institute of History
At the Zagreb City Museum, hundreds of guests waited in the courtyard. That all could enjoy such a mild spring evening reminded us that the festival itself marks the beginning of this season, a rebirth after the cold winter. Four dancers in mirrored costumes emerged and took to places centrally in the courtyard where they moved, almost like a dance in slow motion. The flashes of light coming from mobile phones and press photographer cameras sharply reflected back off the dancers mirrored suits, back into the eyes of the audience.
Speakers at the official opening event included the head of the Zagreb Tourist Board, the Mayor of Zagreb and His Excellency Hu Zhaoming, Chinese ambassador to Croatia. In his speech, the Chinese ambassador told the audience that a festival of light is celebrated at the same time of year and for the same reason in his own country. Although, he noted that the Chinese festival of light is over 2000 years old and is celebrated by over one and a half billion people. He also spoke excitedly about 2019 being a year of special co-operation between China and Croatia, which will include the first official state visit to Croatia by the President of the People's Republic of China.
The launch of the 2019 Zagreb Festival of Lights took place simultaneously around several areas of the city. Places in Zagreb at which the festival can be enjoyed this year include Grič Tunnel and Grič Park, Art Park, Tomićeva Street, Lotrščak Tower, Strossmayer Promenade east and west, Vranyczany Field, St. Catherine's Church, Gradec Plateau, and Gradec Summer Cinema, Klovićevi Dvori Gallery – Atrium, and Klovićevi Dvori Gallery, Jesuit Square, Opatička Street, Croatian History Institute, Zagreb City Museum – the main courtyard, Vraz Promenade, children's playground – Dubravkin put, Tuškanac Summer Stage, and Tuškanac (Dubravkin put). Three years ago, Zagreb joined a prestigious list of cities including Berlin and London to have a bright and shining Festival of Light. Zagreb's 2019 Festival of Lights is taking place between 20th to 24th of March.