The city is brighter and buzzier with summer just around the corner. Heaps of outdoor events ensure that Zagreb vibrates with life in spring, from beer and cocktail festivals to performance and street art - plus there's plenty to do if you get caught in a spring shower. Festivals of every stripe take place in May with major animation, literature, queer and political events brightening up the cultural calendar. Discover the hottest happenings in Zagreb with our round-up of the best gigs, events and exhibitions this month.
RECOMMENDED: more great things to do in Zagreb.
Brilliant things to do in Zagreb this May
America's influence on global pop culture is so pervasive that it's easy to feel nostalgia for the old school romance of drive-in cinemas without ever having parked your Chevrolet in one. Well, now's your chance to recreate the American adolescence you never had. Set in the capacious open-space Poligon Kokice, DriveINkino screens four films over two weekends, kicking off with the hugely enjoyable car-chase flick 'Baby Driver' on April 28. The soul-searching Croatian dark comedy on identity, love and hate 'Ustav Republike Hrvatske (The Constitution)' shows on April 29, followed by the Disney classic 'The Lion King' on May 5 and the joyous modern musical 'La La Land' on May 6. All screenings start at 9 pm and entrance is free.
No doubt Waters took the most recent US presidential election as a kind of bat signal for his unique ability to skewer those in power. Accordingly, the ever-political rocker has emerged with an audio-visual spectacle that takes on fascism and greed with a soundtrack of Pink Floyd classics and tunes from his new record, Is This the Life We Really Want?
This popular ceremonial parade takes place every Saturday, Sunday and during bank holidays. Croatian soldiers in historical regalia set off from Banski dvori with another regiment departing from Kuševićeva ulica and along Cirilometodska accompanied by a military band. Kicking off at noon with the firing of the Grič cannon from Lotrščak Tower, the ceremony lasts around 10-15 minutes. The event forms a key part of the ‘Zagreb Time Machine’ season of historical recreations.
It’s often thought that the cultural and political turbulence of the Sixties was something that happened in London, Paris, Prague or West-Coast USA, leaving other parts of the world to passively watch from the sidelines. What this major exhibition reveals is that countries like Croatia were not on the fringes of a revolution happening somewhere else, they were themselves at the centre of the whirlwind. Then a constituent republic of the communist-ruled Yugoslav federation, Croatia enjoyed an unprecedented economic boom in the 1960s. People had money in their pockets, feeding the kind of consumer industries that employed designers, marketing strategists, advertising executives and stylists – the very people we call “creatives” today. Cracks in communist discipline unleashed increased dissonance in political views and a relaxed attitude to censorship, while relative cultural freedom allowed avant-garde artists to explore any avenues they wanted. Navigating its way through politics, art, pop music and film, the exhibition is a lavish visual treat: examples of magazine layouts, clothing patterns and swanky domestic furniture will provide stacks of inspiration for anyone interested in modern design.
Galerija Klovićevi Dvori presents a rich array of objects and artworks from the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg - over a thousand items in all. The exhibition is devoted to one of the most powerful women in history, Catherine the Great, who founded the Hermitage in 1764. Featuring magnificent paintings by leading European artists like Peter Paul Reubens, official coronation portraits and items from the jewellery collection, you can also glimpse at the everyday life of the Empress, shown tellingly by jazzed-up quotidianitems like her gleaming gold cutlery set.
This summer-long series of outdoor events offers an outstandingly varied programme of concerts, art-and-craft stalls and downright unusual happenings (the best mongrel dog show, finest wine-and-soda spritzer competition) in the lovely, leafy setting of the Upper Town’s Strossmayer Promenade. There’s usually a local band playing every night, and a couple of al-fresco bars at the scene make this a great place to hang out on balmy evenings.
From Spring until early Autumn, history consumes Zagreb. Zagreb Time Machine sees the city celebrate its heritage, with droves of enthusiasts donning fancy dress and performing in the street. Walking through the Upper Town, you might encounter Marija Juric Zagorka – the first female journalist in Croatia – or the poet Antun Gustav Matos. A newsboy will update you on local events, while the city guard will oversee your security. In the Zrinjevac park pavilion, in the centre of town, you’ll hear the strains of waltzes and tangos. A brilliantly, quirky way of bringing history to life.