Christmas Market in Zagreb
You have not seen Christmas until you’ve seen Zagreb’s Christmas Market. The Zagreb Christmas Market runs for six weeks so there is more than enough time to fit in the multitude of activities the city prepares for its citizens and guests. While I could sum it all up with the phrase that it’s a city full of holiday cheer, mulled wine, and fritule, let me give you some more detail.
Voted Europe’s best Christmas Market (again), Zagreb has many activities to keep anyone in the holiday spirit. Mark your calendars for 2017 for Zagreb. Get the best Christmas experience without contending with the crowds in larger cities like Vienna, Berlin or London. As Christmas markets aren’t done in the US, I had heard of them, but I really wasn’t prepared for the spirit of the season and how it permeated every single part of the city.
Advent on European Square
The European Square is named after the monument which announces the date that Croatia entered the European Union. Here you will find booths offering mulled wine, sausages, and sweets. It also is the starting point of a side street on which the some of the local restaurants have set up shop right along side the DJs playing house music. Side note: the music was described to me as “modern disco.” I am still perplexed by and firmly at odds with this description because how can disco be modern? I choose to think of it as non-trance house music.
Main Square Christmas Fairytale
The towns main square, Ban Jelacic, hosts a christmas tree that rivals Rockefeller Center’s. Christmas lights, a big main stage, and vendors make this typically busy square a winter wonderland. Every reveler will pass through this square daily at some point to chat with friends.
Advent in Zrinjevac
Zrinjevac is one of the beautiful parks that make up the horseshoe of public parks in Zagreb. The horseshoe park system is located just north of the main train station. Centered on a gazebo turned stage for Advent, vendors entice children with toys and adults with homemade goods.
Fooling Around Town
Fuliranje translates to fooling around town and is exactly what every Zagrebian does during the holiday. Who doesn’t love the concept of walking, singing, talking, and dancing with your friends? Multiple streets around the city center become magnets for those looking for a little fun with friends.
Located on King Tomislav Square, a part of the horseshoe park system, an impressive skating rink keeps families entertained from morning til night. Live music alternates with DJs on the stage. A champagne bar is atop the ice skate rental pavilion. Many Christmas shops surround the rink plying visitors with frutile (fried dough with chocolate sauce,) sausages, and mulled wine.
The city has over ten stages spread throughout the city for live music, and sometimes a stage isn’t even needed. Brass ensembles from the Zagreb symphony play a concert from various balconies on the Sundays leading up to Christmas. A chance not only to hear amazing music but to do it while looking at the stunning architecture of the city. The symphony also does a holiday show that I greatly encourage you to see. This year it was a great mix of classic, opera, and believe it or not, glee-style mash ups.
The city even got in on the fun this year by proclaiming that all trams, buses, and funicular would be free every Friday afternoon through Sunday midnight during Advent. That is quite the savings and it allows you to get through the town easily.
With its second win under its belt Christmas Market in Europe, who knows what will be added to the event schedule next year. The above is only a small portion of the events available this year. Here are a few thoughts for when you are picking your holiday plans for next year.
- Zagreb is much smaller than Prague or Vienna so you don’t have the crowds that those two cities have.
- Zagreb isn’t as expensive as those other cities during holiday or other times of the calendar.
- Experiencing a Christmas Market was one of my top highlights for 2016 and everyone should visit one at least once.
- Airbnb is the way to go here. You will be comfortable and right in the middle of everything. Get your invite here!
A few more Christmas Market photos
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