Alternative things to do at Zagreb's Advent
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 most instagrammable places at Zagreb Advent festival
Zagreb makes a pretty picture at any time of year. But at Advent, when Christmas mania sweeps the city, it reaches levels of dazzling that will get Instagrammers’ pulses well and truly racing. Looking for logs by fires, presents by trees, and stupid amounts of sparkles? You’re in for a treat. Cameras at the ready - here are the ten most instagrammable places in Zagreb at Advent.
Pretty Rijeka might be steeped in Hapsburg-era elegance, but there's nothing last-century about its grittily modern cultural scene. The arts are thriving here, in what will be the European City of Culture 2020. That might be surprising to some tourists, who have never given it much attention. Perched on the Kvarner Bay, the city is Croatia's longest-serving seaport, but visitors tend to bypass it for the alluring nearby islands. That has left punky Rijeka to get on with what it does best – creating brilliant, cutting-edge art. 'Red Rijeka' (so dubbed by Croats for its left-leaning locals) is the defiantly edgy younger sister of sophisticated Zagreb. A melting pot of Italian, Hungarian and Croatian influences, the port city has always had a creative buzz about it, but it really 'found itself' in the '80s, when it played host to Yugoslavia's burgeoning punk-rock movement. The city has continued to breed alternative talent, and it now boasts some of Croatia's most exciting writers, artists and musicians. They tend to be fiercely independently-minded, but if there's one thing that unites them it's the pride they take in the spunky heritage of their art-loving city.
The best falafel in Zagreb
These days, there's no shortage of falafel in Zagreb. Croatians have taken this humble Middle Eastern chickpea dish to their hearts, and it's fast becoming the vegan answer to cevapi. Whether you want it in a takeaway wrap or on an artisan platter, dressed in yoghurt or with humous on the side, here's where you'll find the best falafel in Zagreb. RECOMMENDED: The best vegetarian restaurants in Zagreb
Modern anxiety and the master of gloom: why we still love Giacometti
Summer’s over, it’s freezing cold, and everyone looks bloody miserable. To make things worse, the Art Pavilion are on a mission to reduce us all to trembling messes, a few anxiety attacks away from existential crises. Alberto Giacometti, the Swiss artist at the centre of their gloom-fest, would have been delighted. The first thing you’ll see at this exhibition is Walking Man I. You’ve got no choice about that because they’ve plonked him right at the entrance like a spring up skeleton on a ghost ride. You might have seen pictures of this, Giacometti’s most famous sculpture, but it’s a startling sight in real life: pencil-skinny at 6ft, his expression is despairing. Maybe he’d cheer up a bit if someone told him his net worth. But then, we probably wouldn’t like him so much if he was smiling. Giacometti's brand of modernism is full of doom, and, like emotionally self-destructive teenagers, we're obsessed with it. His name has recently topped the bill in London, Paris, Istanbul and Vienna. And just in case we slip back into liking pretty things and pop art, the Tate Modern have a mammoth retrospective planned for 2017. That’s a lot of fanfare for the man who stuck to clay and sad-looking portraits while his peers got trippy with Surrealism. His work is sober, stark and funereal. Which begs a simple question: what’s wrong with us? Plenty of things is the answer, but the one that matters here is anxiety. We all know that the modern world is making us anxious, and the only thing we
Croatia's UNESCO world heritage sights
As of July 2016, Croatia boasts an impressive eight Unesco world heritage sites. That is, it has eight places that the Unesco committee deem to be of 'outstanding universal value'. While some of them (Dubrovnik's historic old town, or Plitvice Lakes) come as no surprise, others - such as the little-known Greek agricultural plain on Hvar island, have yet to make the sightseer's bucket list. But conveniently, they're all within easy reach of major towns or cities, making these world-class relics accessible to every curious traveller. Here are Croatia's eight fabulous Unesco world heritage sites. Recommended: more great destinations in Croatia
20 great things to do in Zagreb in October
Zagreb is bursting with culture in October. Music on offer ranges from American rockers Swans to the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra, there's comedy from one of Scotland's biggest comedians, and parties starring the likes of legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ Craig Charles. There's plenty to eat, too - and when restaurant week gets underway, the best of it wiil be half price. Here are 20 great things to do in Zagreb this month.
The best Croatian apps
Planning a trip to Croatia? There's an app for that. Actually, there are quite a few - they range from the specific (such as one which updates you on the state of the traffic) to the all-encompassing (you can basically plan your entire trip on some of these). Here are some of the best.
Croatian music festival meets wellbeing resort on Obonjan Island
Just off the central Dalmatian coast, in the midst of the Adriatic Sea, a new world is coming into being. It’s called Obonjan Island, it’s Croatia’s newest summer destination - and it sounds impossibly good. Untouched for ten years, the sumptuously located island just off the coast of Šibenik has fallen into the hands of festival planners Obonjan. They’re reviving and rebranding it as a 'curated island destination', opening in July. Obonjan (that’s oh-bon-yan) is a music festival, well-being retreat, gastronomical playground and cultural hotpot all wrapped up in an Adriatic Shangri-La. It’s no secret that Croatia has rocketed to the top of the tourism boards in recent years: tourist numbers have increased by 99% since 2010, and each summer it heaves with sun-hungry festival-goers. This year, there are over 20 music festivals on offer. But Obonjan offers more than just a few days of giddy fun. It’s open for the whole summer season, and guests can stay for as long as they wish (or for as long as they can afford; prices start at 74euros pp per night). With treats for mind, body and soul on offer, they’re saying that it has 'all the things we love in one place': a bold claim, but not too far off the mark. The music line-up alone is enough to have you sprinting to the nearest ferry: pioneering producer DJ Shadow opens a line-up that includes Jazz-Funk royalty Ray Ayers, the seductively synth-poppy Polica and legendary spin-master Four Tet. Oh, and there’s also a 25-piece orchestr
From socialism to Vogue: the Croatian shoe company stepping forward
If you’ve walked along a Croatian city street today, you’ve probably seen a Startas. Small and lightweight – and often sporting a quirky pattern – the plimsoll is taking over the streets one comfortable step at a time. They might be nearing ubiquity now, but a few decades ago, Borovo – the company behind Startas – were on the brink of collapse. Their remarkable story is the recent history of Croatia in miniature: founded in 1931 in Vukovar by a Czech entrepreneur, the company was nationalised in 1945 when the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia emerged from the ruins of WWII. The Borovo factory was an industrial beehive – 20,000 employees produced everything from laces to shoeboxes, churning out the footwear that they would themselves wear to work. In 1976, the factory started making Startas. Originally, the sneaker was designed for professional table tennis players – lightweight and flexible with the springiest of soles, it was a perfect athletic shoe. Robert Grgurev, the president of Startas USA, explains how the shoes came to be popular: “Over time, similarly to how Converse started as an athletic shoe and became a cultural icon in the US, Startas was latched onto by the younger generation, school kids and college students. Getting hold of those international brands in former Yugoslavia was impossible, so the Startas became the shoe that any kid wore.” Business boomed and employees multiplied: a whole town, Borovo Naselje, was born nearby, solely to house and school
The best rooftop bars in Croatia
A spectacular panoramic can make the tangiest wine taste a little sweeter. In Croatia – where the coast is lined with beautiful cities like Dubrovnik and party-central islands like Hvar – rooftop bars are ten a penny. Split boasts dozens of spots where you can booze away the night as you gaze over the ocean, and even in Zagreb, miles from the sea, you can admire the majestic cityscape from a ramshackle rooftop bar. Here is our pick of the bars with the best views in Croatia.
Riot Jazz: 'we’re just having a party on the stage
Riot Jazz are an unorthodox brass band who take everything from classical film scores to electronic music as inspiration to produce wonderfully unlikely mash-ups. England may not have produced anything quite like them before, but they follow in the tradition of American groups Young Blood Brass Band and Hot 8 Brass Band – so that’s big, brassy harmonies, Hip Hop-infused rhythms and complex, high-jazz interludes, all played out with the slam-you-in-the-face vivacity that gives them such a commanding stage presence. The uproarious nine-piece formed in their university town of Manchester in 2009, after they were thrown together for a club night and found that they were on to something special. They’ve been festival regulars since 2009, delighting crowds at Bestival and Soundwave with their infectious energy and unique sound. We caught up with drummer Steve Pycroft to find out how they’re tearing up genre boundaries, why they look up to Stevie Wonder and what we can expect from them at Soundwave festival. When did you guys start out? So we got together in 2008 – our band leader Nick Walters got in touch with us all and said he’d been asked to put a band together for a night in Manchester; we’d be playing hip hop and quirky covers of pop tunes. We realised it was something different, something we could pursue, and it grew from there. So it all came about quite naturally? Yeah, it grew naturally. No one said ‘right let’s go and market this and make it work.’ It came out of enjoymen
Croatian film 'The Constitution' wins Grand Prize at Montreal
Croatian film 'The Constitution' has picked up the Grand Prize of the Americas at the 40th Montreal World Film Festival, with its producers scooping up $100,000 in prize money. The film follows four people who live in the same building but who lead very different lives, which soon become inextricably enmeshed. Directed by Rajko Grlic and produced by Interfilm and Croatian Radio Television (HRT), it stars Nebojša Glogovac, Ksenija Marinković and Dejan Aćimović. A serious, substantial drama, it tackles head-on political, social and ethical issues that remain unresolved in the former Yugoslav countries. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Montreal Festival, which closed with the awards ceremony on September 5. A cornerstone of American film awards, the festival celebrates international cinema, with films from around the globe premiering at the event. 'The Constitution' is released in cinemas across Croatia on October 6. Here is the full list of winning films from Montreal World Film Festival 2016: World Competition Grand Prize of the Americas (Best Film)The Constitution [+] - Rajko Grlic (Croatia/Czech Republic/Slovenia/Macedonia) Special Grand Prix of the JuryHouse Without Roof - Soleen Yusef (Germany/Kurdistan) Best DirectorNic Balthazar - Everybody Happy [+] (Belgium/Netherlands) Best ActressHannah Hoekstra – The Fury [+] (Netherlands) Best ActorWillem Dafoe – My Hindi Friend (Brazil) Best ScreenplaySwaying Waterlily - Seren Yüce (Turkey) Best Artistic Contribut
Trump who? Here's what Croatia's been Googling this year
The internet continued to take over our lives this year, and we turned to Google with our every query. Each year, the search-engine-cum-super-power reveals the terms most frequently searched - giving us a pretty good (and slightly alarming) idea of what the world's been thinking about. So, what's been on Croatia's mind? Along with the rest of the world, Croats were driven to distraction by Pokemon Go, the interactive smart phone game that had millions of players chasing virtual Pokemon characters in real-life streets, leading to a lot of passerby confusion and the occasional serious injury. It might come as surprise to those that have never heard of it, but Slither.io - an online game involving a hungry snake-like creature - also made both the world's and Croatia's top tens. Big Brother, the reality TV show that, in many countries, has long been hiding in the depths of oblivion, was Croatia's fourth most searched-for topic. Fourth. Donald Trump, meanwhile is nowhere to be seen. The US president-elect did make it into the world top ten though, along with other names that made the headlines in 2016 - David Bowie and Prince. But who cares about American politics and celebrity deaths when there are games to be played? Topping Croatia's most searched-for-terms list was its favourite game of all: football. Here are the lists in full: TOP 10 Google Searches in Croatia 1. Euro 20162. Pokemon Go3. Agario4. Big Brother5. Slither.io6. Rio 20167. State Electoral Commission of the Repu
Exit to run new Croatia festival
The remarkably successful Exit festival, which takes place in Serbia, will get a sister festival in Croatia, organisers have announced. The new event – called ‘Sea Star’ – will take place in Umag on the coast, and The Prodigy have already been confirmed as the headline act. Since its debut edition two decades ago, Exit has come to be one of the most popular music festivals in Europe, with the EU Festival Awards naming it the Best European Festival of 2014. Its smaller sister events run in Romania and Montenegro, to similar acclaim. Sea Star, an independently run festival, is being billed as the place where hedonism meets activism. It’s part of Exit’s so-called ‘Summer of Love’, celebrating 60 years since the famous summer of 1967. Festival-goers at all four events are encouraged to continue the mission for social change instigated at the likes of Woodstock and Monterey. The Prodigy, the English group behind ‘Firestarter’, are the only headline act announced so far. They’ll be joined by Bosnian group Dubioza Kolektiv and Urban & 4, with more than 70 artists set to perform across six stages. Sea Star will take place on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 May 2017, with a warm-up party on the Thursday and an afterparty on the Sunday. To celebrate the new Croatia venture, Exit are offering festival-goers a genuinely unmissable four-for-the-price-of-one deal. Buy a ticket for the original Serbian festival (99 euro), and you’re entitled to complimentary tickets for the other three events in
Croatia Music Week to kicks off 2017 in Zagreb
The summer music festival season may be over, but there's room for more before the year's out: Zagreb is set to host a brand new music festival this winter. Croatia Music Week will be held at the cavernous Zagreb Arena from 31 December - 6 January 2017. ItIn-keeping with the main ilk of festivals in Croatia, Croatia Music Week is electro-dance based, with a number of globally renowned DJs already on the line-up; Armin Van Buuren will headline the New Year's Eve 360 party on December 31st - it'll be the Dutch DJ's first appearance in Zagreb. Aside from the music, there will be a host of gaming events, with tournaments and giveaways for eSports fans. The full line-up is yet to be announced, but keep tabs on the official website for updates.
A 'sub-space' hostel has just opened in Zagreb
A few months ago, a new train hostel became the weirdest place to stay in Zagreb. But that title may have a new contender, as a brand new 'sub-space' hostel opens. Housed in what used to be an internet cafe, the hostel simulates the inside of a space-craft. Guests sleep in their own private capsules, each of which comes with wifi, android screens and air conditioning. There's no natural lighting because of its subterranean setting (it's in a basement on Tesla street), so the sci-fi atmosphere is completed with eerie blue lighting. To make things extra celestial, stars are painted on the ceilings. Hrvoje Krlić is the man behind the venture. Though something of a novelty in Europe, the Japanese-designed 'capsules' are often used as space-saving accommodation in parts of Asia. As soon as Krlić saw them, he says, he was imagining the sub-space hostel - the first of its kind in Europe.
Fancy starring in new Game of Thrones?
... All you have to do is jump on the next flight to Dubrovnik, where the upcoming series will be filmed. Producers of Game of Thrones, the HBO fantasy series that's garnered a fanatical following, have confirmed that they will return to the coastal city to film, despite speculation to the contrary. According to newspaper Dubrovacki dnevnik, shooting for season seven will commence in mid-December. Croatian Throne-heads will be even more pleased to hear that the production team are on the hunt for extras. Embassy Films Croatia sent out a casting call via Facebook. If you fit the description (stronger male, age 20+, 173 to 188 cm tall / female, age 18+, 158 to 173 cm tall), and you can be in Dubrovnik by December 1, you could soon be rubbing shoulders with Jon Snow. Dubrovnik, known for its monumental medieval walls, has previously served as the setting for the Kings Landing, the capital of the show's fictional Seven Kingdoms. It's become such a selling point for the city that visitors can now go on Game of Thrones tours - so, even if you don't make the cut, you can still go and have a good look round. Check out the Embassy Films Croatia Facebook event for more details of the casting. Read our Game of Thrones guide to Croatia for our round-up of GOT filming sites in Croatia.
Amazing new mural comes to Zagreb
Street art collective Pimp my Pump, whose giant murals can be spotted all over Zagreb, are sprucing up the city centre yet again with a brand new work of art. This time, their subject of choice is Gulliver and his little Lilliputians, and their setting is park Bishop Stephen II (also known as Park Opatovina), a reasonably run-down spot tucked behind the cathedral. Pimp my Pump founder Boris Bare worked alongside artist Dominik Vukovic to paint the characters - from English/ Irish author Jonathan Swift's 18th-century satirical novel Gulliver's Travels - across a bare wall in the park. It was a spontaneous decision, according to the pair, who say that inspiration only came when they saw the size of the wall. For reference, they looked to the work of Zagreb-based photographer Hrvoje Zalukar. Check out the Pimp my Pump facebook page to keep tabs on the troupe's upcoming projects.
Are big brands really sending crap to Croatia?
Coca-Cola, watch out - the Croatians are on to you. Many believe that big brands, such as Coca-Cola, have long been sending inferior products to Eastern European countries, compared with those destined for Western Europe. Now, that theory is being put to the test. Earlier this week, reports poslovni.hr, Croatia's European Parliament Member Biljana Borzan teamed up with Director of the Croatian Food Agency Andrea Gross-Bošković to present a survey. The results suggested that a staggering 82.6% of Croatians think that products destined for their shops don't match up to those found in German, French, or British supermarket aisles. To clear things up once and for all, a selection of products will be tested against identical counterparts found in German supermarkets, Sweets brands leaving a sour taste in the mouth include Milka chocolate, Nutella and Coca-Cola. Ariel detergent, Gillette razors and Colgate toothpaste are also raising suspicions. But for the complainants, it's not just a matter of quality: according to Borzan, over 70% of participants believed that large corporations see Croatians as second-class citizens. So, are big brands really sending crap to Croatia? Or is it all a conspiracy theory? Here's the full list of brands set to go under the microscope: Jacobs Cronat Gold coffee, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, Bravo orange juice, Nestea ice tea, Heineken beer, Red Bull Milka cholocate with hazelnuts, Nutella spread, Haribo sweets Philadelphia spread, Activia fruit yoghurt
Watch Outlook Festival 2016 highlights in new video
If you were at Outlook Festival this September, you'll know that it was as wild and wonderful as ever. The official highlights video has just landed - so, as registration for 2017 opens, you can relive the party. Set in the abandoned Fort Punta Christo in coastal city Pula, the ninth edition of the festival continued its tradition of celebrating the best in dubstep, reggae, drum & bass, hip-hop and more, and it all opened with Damian Marley's unforgettable set in Pula's gargantuan roman amphitheatre. Watch the best bits in the video below: If that's got you counting down the days until the next Outlook Festival, you can sign up for early bird tickets now. Register on the Outlook 2017 website before 20 November to get discounted tickets, which go on sale on 21 November. Last year, tickets sold out in record time, and with next year being the 10th birthday party, they'll probably get snapped up even sooner.
Croatia becomes world leader... at drinking
Ah, Croatia. Land of glittering seas, far-flung islands - and excessive alcohol consumption. According to new data, Croatians are among the world's biggest drinkers. The World Health Organisation ranked 186 countries according to their alcohol consumption, and Croatia has managed to come in at an impressive (?) fourth place. They were beaten only by the Czech Republic, Lithuania, and Belarus - which had a per-capita rate of 17.3 litres of alcohol consumed annually. Croatians, meanwhile, guzzle through an average of 12.18 litres a year. Croatian's drink of choice was wine, which made up 5.89 of those 12.18 litres per capita. Beer made up 4.7 litres, spirits 1.2, while the remaining 0.39 litres fell into the mysterious 'other' category. So, Croatians may not be so good at leaving home, but they are world-class drinkers. We wonder if the two are related... Have a look at the full report here. Need a drink? Discover the best bars in Croatia.
Zagreb Film Festival programme announced
With less than a month to go until Zagreb Film Festival gets underway, its exciting line-up has been revealed. Highlights include the premiere of Croatian director Hana Jušić's first feature film, and acclaimed Romanian director Cristi Puiu's latest film Sieranevada. Jušić has screened several short films in ZFF new name's category in previous years, winning the Golden Pram award in 2012 for her film Terrarium. ZFF has always been about celebrating new work, and its main section is dedicated to first or second feature films. Quit Staring at My Plate is Jušić's feature debut, and it has already won the Fedeora Award for best European film at this year's Venice Film Festival. Dead-pan comedy Sieranevada was warmly met when it premiered at Cannes Film Festival this year. Puiu, one of Romania's leading New Wave filmmakers, has a long history with ZFF, winning an award for his short film Coffee and Cigarettes at the second edition of the event. It's also been confirmed that New Zealand director Taika Waititi's new film Hunt for the Wilderpeople will be screened. Waititi is best known for his Vampire mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows, and his new film is a typically off-beat comedy, which takes the misfortunes of a juvenile delinquent and his uncle as its subject. It stars Jurassic Park's Sam Neill. ZFF always celebrates Croatian work, but this year's programme also puts a focus on collaborations between Croatian filmmakers and those from other European countries. Nationalit
It's official: Croatian men are Europe's biggest mummy's boys
It's bad news for Croatian men, and even worse news for their parents. Of all under 35s in the EU, Croatian men are the most likely to still be living at home. The study, run by Eurostat, assessed the number of under-35s still living with their parents in EU countries. Croatian men came top, with a remarkable 78% of them yet to fly the nest. Of course, soaring unemployment rates and an unreasonably low minimum wage probably have something to do with it; speak to an average young person in the capital and they'll tell you how tricky it is to launch a profitable career. Still, young women seem to be having less trouble - if only slightly. Just over 60% of them still live at home. That's a smaller figure than that of Slovakia, but still considerably higher than countries such as France, Sweden and the UK (surprising, considering London's notoriously exponential rent prices). At the other end of the scale, only 15% of Finnish women under the age of 35 remain at home. Young Danish men are similarly desperate to get away from their parents, with just 23% of 18 - 34s yet to move out. Which leaves us to conclude what we already know - Scandinavians do things better than the rest of us, and Croatians love their mothers.