Feeling more dreary than Christmas-cheery? Snap out of that winter malaise and explore Advent. In recent years the Croatian capital has become Europe’s coolest winter destination, which is largely thanks to its newly spiced-up Advent programme. What was once a cutesy Christmas market is now more like a rambunctious street party, with a contemporary air that sets it apart from its rivals in Vienna and Munich. There’s still plenty of mulled wine and the usual yuletide fare, but that’s all secondary to cutting-edge arts and culture and a host of genuinely original attractions. Dodge the Christmas cliches with our guide to Zagreb’s alternative Advent.
The best alternative things to do at Zagreb's Advent
Every day from December 14 to January 5, Kino Tuškanac will screen two different movies. The first, at 5pm, will be a popular cartoon or kid's movie and at 7pm they will screen family favourites. From December 2, the entrance to the cinema will look like a grand premiere screening. Beginning on Ilica, at the courtyard entrance which leads up to the cinema, visitors will feel like VIPs arriving at the Hollywood's Walk of Fame. Outside the cinema, you'll get the full red carpet treatment and be surrounded by thousands of Christmas lights decorating the facade and the trees. There'll be popcorn and sweet treats available outside, adding to the fairytale scene. Whether it's Elf, Home Alone or the Muppets, Film Advent on Tuškanac's festive experience will make this Christmas feel like your first.
Move aside, mulled wine-who said that Sex on the Beach was only for Summer? Get a hot version your favourite cocktail at outdoor market Fuliranje, where you'll find a host of other gourmet delights from around the globe. Roughly translating as 'Fooling around', Fuliranje is the food-lover's playground.
As the edgier underbelly of Zagreb’s Advent, European Square - steps away from the central Ban Jelačić square - tends to attract a lively crowd of creative twenty-somethings after a place to dance. Some of Croatia’s biggest names take to the stage, with live music and DJ sets playing into the small hours.
There’s nothing quite as festive as a World War II bomb shelter. Not convinced? Grič Tunnel is one of Zagreb's more unlikely attractions, but it's actually weirdly cute when it's decked out in the colours, decorations and lights of Christmas.
Zagreb pulls out all the stops when it comes to New Year’s Eve, with a beast of a firework show at Ban Jelačić square, and live music at Fuliranje to match. Though this year’s line-up is yet to be confirmed, if it’s anything like last year’s - which included Grammy-nominated House maestro Todd Terry - then you’re in for a treat.