When temperatures plummet and the winter ennui creeps in, Zagreb's Christmas extravaganza Advent laps on enough yuletide joy to cheer up any Scrooge. Every year, the best Zagreb attractions are transformed into illuminated winter wonderlands, decked in acres of fairy-lights and huge Christmas trees; ice-rinks, nativity scenes: if it's Christmas-themed, you'll find it here. As the award-winning festival grows ever popular, Advent has undergone a dizzying expansion and the sheer range of locations and activities on offer is frankly mind-boggling. Navigate the festivities with this guide and carve out your perfect Advent experience.
RECOMMENDED: Christmas in Zagreb.
Tightly-clustered food-stalls snake along Ban Jelačić and European Square: this is where Zagreb’s best restaurants flex their culinary muscles, a sort of who’s who of the city’s gastro scene. Zagreb's best restaurants all have a presence here, with winter cocktails and hot toddies to warm your cheeks also thrown into the mix.
For more clichéd seasonal pleasures like chestnuts and mulled wine, make a beeline for Zrinjevac. Advent here consists of market stalls selling warm food, with a particular emphasis on traditional Croatian dishes - here you can try goulash, sour cabbage rolls, smoked leg of pig or braised cabbage with home-made pasta, and a sweet strukli for dessert. They also sell freshly made fritule: tasty deep-fried dough balls sprinkled with icing sugar.
Pitched as the young person’s advent, the programme at European Square is decidedly more modern than traditional festive happenings, with concerts and DJ sets every night from 8 pm with a musical spectrum incorporating everything from roots reggae to garage rock and techno.
The Upper Town and the tree-lined Strossmartre parade are romantic spots at any time of year, but they're even more magical in winter. Enjoy gingerbread and other festive snacks by the truckload while guzzling craft beer and mulled wine from fairytale styled kiosks.
The cobbled streets tucked beneath the funicular entrance turn playful for advent. Fuliranje, which translates as ‘fooling around’, encourages passerbys to do just that. It’s split between
Tomislavac square and Zrinjevac park, and has the aim of getting you to drop your Christmas shopping and dance in the street.