Reasons why you need to visit Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture

Time Out in association with the Croatian National Tourist Board: 'Croatia Full of Life'.

In 2020, Rijeka will join a family of over sixty cities that have enjoyed the title of the European Capital of Culture. Known as the gateway to the islands – and once Croatia’s port to the world, this city was built on cultural diversity. The award isn’t all about arty parties, though – the aim of the project is to help develop the fortunes of cities to make Europe a more connected and culturally-enriched continent.

Located in Kvarner, Rijeka is Croatia’s third largest city but remains under-the-radar as far as Croatia’s coastal resorts go. Packed with fascinating history, Rijeka has always been a fiercely independent and known for its progressive values. In 2020, the spotlight will be on Rijeka during it’s turn as the European Capital of Culture – and there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in Croatian culture. Here’s some reasons why you need to visit in 2020.

For the festivals

Carnival season in Rijeka starts from January 17 - February 25, 2020 and is one of the biggest of its kind in Europe. The carnival kicks off with a ceremonial handover of the city keys to the carnival master, followed by a colourful pageant party. A series of parades take place throughout the month, featuring international DJs, entertainment for kids and a whole lot more. Because of it’s European Capital of Culture status, this year’s carnival will be themed around the diversity of cultures across Europe. The jaw-dropping spectacle will display heaps of imagination, humour and originality – from skies illuminated with fireworks to beautiful and bizarre floats, thousands of masks and tens of thousands of spectators. Other festivals throughout the 2020 year will celebrate themes of literature, art, music, migration, film, feminism and queer culture.

For the exhibitions

Rijeka boasts an array of art exhibitions throughout the year, featuring an eclectic mix of Croatian and and international art. With the Collection’ will transform the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art into an immersive, living space. Another highlight, ‘The Sea is Glowing’ is an international exhibition dealing with important works about the economy and preservation of the sea.

For the attractions

Rijeka is brimming with weird and wonderful attractions throughout the 2020 year. From eye-popping stunts, live robotic bands and interactive sculptures, the city pushes the boat out when it comes to interactive performances. Visitors should check out the installation of kinetic sound sculptures, and gawp at a giant mechanical bird that moves in rhythm. The sculpture has already made appearances across the globe – most notably at Burning Man Festival in the Nevada dessert. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – there’s plenty more planned throughout the year.

For the community spirit

In the spirit of community and togetherness, Rijeka will host a series of workshops and experiences with wide appeal. Activities vary from talks, lectures, games, film screenings, pop-up markets and live music, livening up the city for both locals and visitors. Expect cool new projects like rooftop terraces, urban gardens and shows from local musicians like the Fifth Ensemble, a musical collective of young people with disabilities. It promises to be a refreshingly uplifting experience.

The full cultural programme for the Rijeka 2020 European Capital of Culture can be found here.

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