1. Trakošćan in winter
    © Zlatko Zalec
  2. Pula Carnival
    © Pula Tourist Board
  3. Festival of Lights
    © M. Mihaljević

Great things to do in Croatia this winter

From music and theatre events to carnivals, exhibitions and film festivals, there are lots of great things still left to do in Croatia this winter

Written by
Marc Rowlands
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Croatia's famous Christmas markets may have just ended, but the country's special Advent celebrations are far from the only reason to visit Croatia in winter. As the season progresses, more likely than not, Croatia's castles and national parks will be covered in a magical shroud of snow, giving them their most impressive, annual outfit. It's the start of a thrilling year of events in Rijeka as the city assumes its title of European Capital of Culture 2020 and its thrilling carnival takes place, like the one in Pula, this winter. Zagreb's stunning Festival of Lights is one of the capital's most spectacular events of the year, let alone winter. And, from visiting pop and rock bands, techno DJs and opera events to art exhibitions and film festivals, there are lots of great things still left to do in Croatia, making the country one of the best options in Europe for a winter break.

Great things to do in Croatia this winter

  • Music
  • Rock and indie

In a colourful career which has seen her several times embroiled in controversy and campaigning, if the dust ever truly settles, it will be for her music that Irish singer Sinéad O'Connor will be remembered. Her version of the Prince song 'Nothing Compares 2 U' is the definitive rendition and was a worldwide hit, topping the charts for weeks in the USA, UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and all over Europe in 1990. Following its release, in tandem with her solo career, O'Connor took part in several high-profile collaborations to produce work which was every bit the equal of her big hit, most notably with Peter Gabriel, Massive Attack, Jah Wobble, Terry Hall, Moby, Bomb The Bass, U2, The The and members of Pink Floyd. This visit to Zagreb is a rare occurrence, with only 1200 tickets on sale and could be considered a dress rehearsal for the substantial American tour she embarks on immediately afterwards.

  • Music
  • Classical and opera

This performance is very much a family affair, featuring the music of he music of Johann Sebastian Bach, his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and Carl's godfather Georg Philipp Telemann. Featured players on the occassion include Andreas Helm, oboe and art director, Stjepan Nodilo, oboe, Manuela Mitterer, oboe, Laura Vadjon, violin and Tanja Tortić, violin.

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  • Things to do

A huge 24-hour party takes place throughout Rijeka to mark its inauguration as European Capital of Culture 2020. Festivities start on Friday 31 January and continue well into Sunday 2 February (and, indeed, throughout the forthcoming year), but the main day of events and celebration of this inauguration period is Saturday 1 February. Street artists, dancers, open-air exhibitions and street theatre will line the routes of the city centre throughout the day and there will be a soundtrack of music provided by live bands and DJs throughout the day and night. The day begins with a get-together at Skradin bar and guided city bus tours, followed by the official inauguration at the Croatian National Theatre Ivan Zajc Rijeka in the afternoon at which members of the European Commission, diplomats, government officials, 16 EU culture ministers and representatives of previous and future European Capitals of Culture will be present. The central event of the inauguration ceremony, Opera Industriale, symbolises the city and combines sound, music, performers, art and noise and will include more than 120 participants. The gathered crowds will also be asked to join in. It takes place at 7pm at Rijeka Port. More than 70 additional events will take place as part of the inauguration, at over 30 city-centre locations, with some 500 performers taking part. Rock, pop, jazz, punk, electronic and blues performers will play on outdoor and indoor stages with local stars like Jonathan, Parafi, Fit and

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