The best things to do in Croatia in July

Here's your definitive guide to the best events and happenings throughout July in Croatia
© Grgo Jelavić
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Croatia really heats up in July - and we're not just talking about the weather. This midsummer month sees its famous festival scene erupt into action, as well as open-air events in the heart of Croatia's ancient cities and film festivals set under starry skies. Whether you’re seeking festival mania or your island idyll, here's our pick of the best things to do this July.

RECOMMENDED: more great things to do in Croatia.

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Things to do, Exhibitions

Catherine the Great: Empress of all Russians

icon-location-pin Upper Town
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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.

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Justin Gardner
Music, Music festivals

Obonjan

icon-location-pin Zadar, Sibenik and Islands
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A more grown-up affair than the get-rinsed-and-repeat dance festivals, Obonjan (pronounced oh-bon-yan) takes a holistic approach to the art of partying. A self-styled Adriatic Shangri-La, its ten-week programme is curated by artists, labels and cultural institutions – and music isn’t necessarily centre-stage. Fully embracing its ‘boutique’ label, the wellbeing workshops and gastronomy are talked up as much as the music is. Events aren’t ticketed, instead punters book from a range of fancy accommodation packages, sleeping under the stars in a bell-tent or plush forest-lodge. Electric Elephant relocated here after many a happy year at the Garden site. One of the more chilled-out Croatian festivals, DJs throw around house, tech, balearic, disco and funk beats over five sun-kissed days in July. The legendary compilation series Late Night Tales takes over for a session in August, and Gilles Peterson curates three days of globe-spinning beats at the end of the season. If you can’t afford the pricy accommodation packages, much of the festival’s music programme is live-streamed on the net. But if you’ve got the cash, Obonjan is an island idyll, and the perfect place to turn up, tune in and bliss out.

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Stross
Things to do, Festivals

Strossmartre: Summer on Stross

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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.

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Things to do, Performances

The Days of Diocletian

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This is a celebration of the rich and vibrant history of the former Roman city Split, including parades, food and wine tastings, performances of all types and more, around the historic Roman palace that centrepieces the Old Town.

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The Sixties in Croatia
Image courtesy of MUO
Museums

The Sixties in Croatia: Myth and Reality

icon-location-pin Zagreb
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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. Sudden shifts in lifestyles are signalled by exhibits such as the “Fića”, the Yugoslav-made version of the Fiat 600 that brought car ownership to the masses; a pair of Rifle jeans, the most popular purchase for Croatian shoppers popping over the border to Trieste; and arguably the mo

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© Zagreb Time Machine
Art, Performance art

Zagreb Time Machine

icon-location-pin Zagreb
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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.

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Changing of the Guard
Ivan Kralj
Museums, History

The Changing of the Guard

icon-location-pin Zagreb
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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.

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Istra Inspirit, festivals, art and culture, Istra, croatia
David Nikolic
Things to do, Festivals

Istra Inspirit

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Istra Inspirit offers genuine insight into the history, gastronomy, architecture, culture and literature of the fascinating region of Istria with a series of events from June to September. Here you can learn something new and really get under the skin of Istria, whether it’s learning about the dining habits of peasants in Rovinj, witch-hunts in Svetvincent, or the legend of pirate captain Henry Morgan and what bought him to Dvigrad.

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Dubrovnik Summer Festival
Things to do, Festivals

Dubrovnik Summer Festival

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Now 69 years old, to say walled city Dubrovnik's Summer Festival is something of an institution would be an understatement. Once again, visually and auditorilly stunning performances will take place at venues around the city, including but not limited to classical concertos from prominent orchestras, plays from directors both local and foreign and award-winning films screened under the open sky.

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