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Advent In Zagreb Guide – Zagreb Christmas Market Guide | Chasing the Donkey

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The Christmas holidays are fast approaching. I, for one, love this time of year. Everyone is happy, joyful, and spreading good vibes and a lot of love, especially those with children. Christmas is a time to spend time with family, a time to be thankful for all our blessings, and a time to take some well-deserved time off from work and school.

If you plan to jump on a plane and travel this year during the Advent season, Advent in Zagreb should be at the top of your list. This is because Zagreb has won the Best Christmas Market Destination award in Europe three years in a row. So, you better believe the Zagreb Tourism Board has spared no effort to make the Zagreb Christmas Market even better this year.

Zagreb is a magical place during the Christmas Advent. The city comes to life with the lovely sounds of jingle bells and Christmas classics played all over the city. It indeed turns into a winter wonderland.

Additionally, the organizers of the Zagreb Advent celebrations also emphasize the importance of environmental protection. This year, they’ve taken the respectable decision to reduce the use of plastic throughout the entire event. There will also be improved accessibility for disabled people at several locations.

There are various concerts and musicals, performances, workshops, and exhibitions for kids and people of all ages. Not to mention the abundance of food offered on every street corner. Roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, fresh fritters, and homemade sausages are just a few that come to mind. Advent in Zagreb will take place this year from November 26 to January 7.

There is an exhibition for literally everyone, and all of it is super-affordable, if not completely free.

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Zagreb Advent And Christmas Markets Dates

This year, the Christmas markets and Advent events in Zagreb take place from November 26, 2022, until January 7, 2023.

Zagreb Advent Locations & Highlights

Ice Park At King Tomislav Square

Advent In Zagreb Christmas_ Ice Skating

Adults and kids of all ages go crazy over the ice park that is set up at King Tomislav Square. Although there is a plethora of stuff to do during Advent in Zagreb, this might be the absolute star attraction.

An otherwise-quiet park, Tomislav Square gets transformed into one giant ice skating arena for the winter holidays. A dazzling show of twinkling lights surrounds you as you slide your way across and around the ice rink.

Christmas music floats through the air, while the scents of mulled wine and freshly prepared food tingle your nostrils. On the sidelines, you will find many cute wooden houses that offer warm drinks, local foods, and traditional Croatian sweets.

Advent In Zrinjevac Park

Advent In Zagreb Christmas_Advent In Zrinjevac

Zrinjevac is, by far, one of my favorite parks in Zagreb. A lovely little park right in the middle of the city, minutes away from the central Ban Jelačić Square, surrounded by lots of timeworn, towering pine trees. Benches offer a very cozy and romantic feel. It is a perfect place to sit, relax, and watch the world go by.

This park transforms into something extraordinary and even more beautiful during the Christmas season. Christmas lights decorate all 220 plane trees, while many cozy wooden houses line the walking areas of the park. Each one offers its own traditional Croatian specialty, from handmade souvenirs and unique Christmas ornaments to local arts, specialty foods, wines, and sweet delicacies.

There is an old musical pavilion in the middle of the park, where some kind of cultural event takes place every night. This includes musicals, traditional dances, children’s performances, choirs singing traditional Christmas songs, and much more.

If anything, Advent in Zrinjevac is the coziest and most homey-feeling place to sip on mulled wine and sample traditional Croatian Christmas snacks. It’s like enjoying Christmas with hundreds of strangers around dozens of Christmas trees, one big, happy family spending time together.

Hilton Winter Garden

The Hilton Garden Inn will once again host its Advent party. Gather in a winter garden, where sweet & savory appetizers along with hot drinks will be on hand, alongside a massive ice rink and beautiful Christmas trees. 

Enjoy performances by DJs, bands and singers, take ice skating lessons and discover a fairytale on the ice with your family. 

Christmas Tale On Ban Jelačić Square

Advent In Zagreb Christmas_ Bike With Lights

Regardless of the time of year, there is always something happening on Ban Jelačić Square, Zagreb’s main square. But it becomes even more special during the Christmas Advent season. For one, every year on the first day of December, a large Advent wreath is put up around the Manduševac Fountain. This happening attracts thousands of people who take pictures or just sit and soak up the Christmas atmosphere.

This central square is one of the focal points of Advent in Zagreb, characterized by imaginative scenes, decorations and ornaments. If you’re looking for a fairy tale feeling, you’ll find that here!

A big Christmas tree is put up near the “clock” with traditional Zagreb heart decorations. In the middle of the square, you will find a large stage, where many concerts and dance performances take place each night. Visitors will also enjoy the treats offered at one of many wooden houses. Such as traditional delicatessens, mulled wine, sausages, treats, and souvenirs.

If you’re sticking around until New Year’s Eve in Zagreb, this is also the largest space in the city to celebrate kicking off 2023.

Zagreb Artisan Advent

There’s plenty going on at Ban Jelačić Square during the Advent in Zagreb, but this particular part of it is worth highlighting. The Zagreb Artisan Advent features a collection of pop-up craft shops.

Housed in small huts that seem to come straight from a fairy-tale land, this is where you can find all kinds of authentic products, from handmade woodwork and cloths to ceramics and glass to old maps, honey cookies, and gingerbread.

Advent On European Square

Advent In Zagreb Christmas_ People Walking

Situated mere steps from Ban Jelačić Square, pedestrian European Square is somewhat less traditional and more “urban.” Some would say it’s a bit more formal, although that statement must be taken with a huge grain of salt. Advent on European Square involves a varied selection of concerts, film screenings, and art exhibits, all spread out throughout the month of December.

Of course, there is also plenty of delicious mulled wine and food to keep you fueled all evening. Not surprisingly, this a much-favored meeting point for young creative people this time of year.

Strossmayer Promenade (West)

Charming wooden huts, the warming scents of traditional dishes, favorite Christmas music tunes and sparkly Christmas trees bring the spirit of Advent to life along Strossmayer Promenade. Eat, slow-dance, and fill your heart with the Christmas spirit, then head to the square or wander to the eastern side of the street for more fun (see below)!

Advent Caffe De Matos

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Photo Credit: Caffe De Matos

On the eastern side of the popular Strossmayer Promenade, a playful street scene reminiscent of the 1950s will bring romance and nostalgia to the forefront. Old dancing shoes, skis, skates and other items will bring this street to life, alongside red huts with tantalizing treats and stunning views of the city. Don’t forget your camera, as there will be loads of photo stops along the way!

Fuliranje – Fooling Around At Strossmayer Square

“Fuliranje” or just simply “Fooling Around” is one of the first and best Advent events in Zagreb. It is simply walking around the city, singing, dancing, talking to, and getting to know strangers, while having a great time. You will enjoy lots of great food, treats, drinks, shops, fun photo booths, concerts, and much more.

The Fooling Around event takes place at Strossmayer Square, in the very heart of the city, between Tomislav Square and Zrinjevac. During the Zagreb Advent festivities, this particular area becomes “Strossmartre” after the charming Montmartre neighborhood in Paris. From the Strossmayer Promenade, you can enjoy amazing views over the city, which is especially magical when all lit up in December.

This particular part of Advent in Zagreb involves some of the best Croatian chefs who present their culinary art on the street and share their life and food philosophy with you.

There’s also a distinct musical aspect to this. At a sizeable open-air disco, music will be dedicated to the disco culture and big music influencers of the second half of the 20th century. Over the past half-decade or so, over 500 concerts, music performances, and DJ gigs have taken place.

When spending the Christmas holidays in Zagreb, go and check it out. It’s arguably the most “Zagreb” of all Advent events in the city. My advice is simple: Be Fun. Have Fun. Goof Around. Fool Around. Be Jolly.

Fooling Around At Oleander Terrace, Esplanade Zagreb Hotel

Esplanade Zagreb Hotel- Chasing the Donkey
Esplanade Zagreb Hotel – Photo Credit Zagreb Tourism

Another great location for a fooling around event has been set. Seven restaurants and two bars will prepare exceptional food and drink, accompanied by live music, DJ beats, children’s programs, artistic programs, concerts and more on the stunning terrace of the Esplanade Zagreb Hotel. Dance, drink, eat and be merry at this funky location!

Stara Vlaška 

Stara Vlaška is a new Advent location this year, bringing festive decor wrapped up in red, green and gold! This famous old Zagreb street will be decorated based on inspiration from August Senoa, a renowned Croatian author, whose many novels were set in the streets of Upper and Lower Town. It’s the perfect place to take a stroll and immerse yourself in an authentic Christmas atmosphere.

Advent In The Tunnel

Christmas In Zagreb - Advent in Zagreb
Historic underground tunnel in Zagreb

This is one of the most interesting and exciting features of the Zagreb Christmas markets. A former World War II tunnel, the Grič Tunnel gets transformed into a winter wonderland for the holiday season. While it’s still a relatively discrete and less-known attraction, it’s totally amazing.

A walk through this historic tunnel in December is an audiovisual experience unlike anything else. There are 3D installations, Christmas music, and video projections, acoustic installations. A truly extraordinary experience not to be missed. This year, the theme of the Tunnel is The Nutcracker.

Marić Passage Advent

Although rather small, the Marić Passage is a neat little attraction during Advent in Zagreb. Running between Gajeva Street and Praška Street in the heart of the city, this is a tunnel created by intertwined tree branches that are lit up by thousands of LED lights. It’s a wonderful way to walk to and from other Christmas highlights in the city.

Advent In The Sisters Baković Passage

Here, you can walk into an old film studio and feel just as if you were the star of a Christmas movie. Additionally, this is a fantastic place to watch Christmas films for all ages, played by the Europa Cinema.

Live Nativity Scene

Advent in Zagreb: Photo Credit: Zagreb TZ
Advent in Zagreb: Photo Credit: Zagreb TZ

The Live Nativity Scene at the Zagreb Cathedral is another Advent in Zagreb highlight to look for. A real-life display of baby Jesus in his crib, the manger, people of Bethlehem, farm animals, shepherds, and three wise men. This is a special kind of experience that will take you back to the time of Jesus’ birth and make you remember what Christmas is all about.

Baš Naš Advent At Gradec Plateau

For all things Christmas, from traditional food to music, the Gradec Plateau in the Upper Town will once again be a popular destination this year. The special Baš naš Advent is fun party filled with lights, colors, decorated pines & cozy nooks. It’s one of the best places in Zagreb for holiday Instagram photos!

Advent In The Oktogon

Returning to this year’s Advent in Zagreb is the Advent in the Oktogon. This urban passageway runs through the historic former First Croatian Savings Bank building and connects Ilica Street and Petar Preradović Square. During the Zagreb Christmas festivities, this will be yet another location sparkling with Christmas lights, featuring amazing decorations and hosting concerts.

Advent In Lantern Light

This events involves the lighting of the gas lanterns in the historic Upper Town of Zagreb. You can join the lamplighters, take part in this tradition and sing along to Christmas carols in this typical Zagreb custom.

The lighting of the lamps happens at 4.30 pm on November 30, December 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, and 23.

Zagreb Advent Cultural & Muscial Events

Advent In Zagreb Christmas_ Lights

Croatian National Theatre

Zagreb’s most beautiful theatre is the setting for many classic plays and operas, including La Boheme, The Magic Flute, and The Nutcracker, which is this year’s theme. This a fantastic place to be for a memorable Christmas concert.

Outside the Croatian National Theatre, you’ll find a stage where numerous cultural events take place. Go and have a look, and enjoy the scent of cinnamon floating through the air, the sweet sounds of holiday music caressing your inner ears, and the all-round magic of the atmosphere.

This year’s opening hours at the Croatian National Theatre are:

  • Every day: 10 am to 12 pm
  • Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Christmas Day and New Year’s Day: 5 pm to 12 pm

Additionally, live concerts will take place every single day during Advent in Zagreb from 6 pm to 7.30 pm.

Concert Of The “Ivan Filipović” Chamber Choir

One of the most successful Croatian a cappella ensembles will delight guests with popular Croatian and international Christmas carols, as well as pieces by contemporary composers at two gala concerts for this year’s Advent.

CHAMBER CHOIR CONCERT DATES, TIMES & LOCATIONS

  • 9 December at 8:00 p.m., Revival Hall of the National Home, Opatička ul. 18
  • 17 December at 7:30 p.m., Church of St. Vincent de Paul, Frankopanska ul. 17

Advent Concerts Of The Zagreb Chamber Orchestra

Enjoy melodies of wind and string instruments, featuring music by Brahms, Vivaldi, Bach, Beethoven and more! It’s a wonderful musical celebration for all ages, and especially for those who love classical music.

CHAMBER ORCHESTRA CONCERT DATES, TIMES & LOCATIONS

  • 2 December at 8:00 p.m., Journalist Home, Perkovčeva 2
  • 12 December at 8:00 p.m., Journalist Home, Perkovčeva 2
  • 18 December at 8:00 p.m., Journalist Home, Perkovčeva 2
  • 22 December at 8:00 p.m., Writers’ Club, Ban Jelačić Square 7

Zagreb Christmas Balconies

During the Advent Season in Zagreb, the six-piece Ad Gloriam brass ensemble will hold various concerts on balconies of some of the most beautiful buildings in Zagreb – a music lover’s delight.

BALCONY PERFORMANCE DATES, TIMES & LOCATIONS

  • 26 November at 4:00 p.m. Balcony of Lav Gallery – Stone Gate
  • 27 November at 7:00 p.m. Balcony Tkalčićeva 33
  • 9 December at 4:00 p.m. Balcony of Lav Gallery – Stone Gate
  • 10 December at 4:00 p.m. Balcony of Lav Gallery – Stone Gate
  • 11 December at 7:00 p.m. Balcony Tkalčićeva 33
  • 14 December at 6:30 p.m. – 7:25 p.m. National Theatre Balcony
  • 16 December at 4:00 p.m. Balcony of Lav Gallery – Stone Gate
  • 17 December at 4:00 p.m. Balcony of Lav Gallery – Stone Gate
  • 18 December at 7:00 p.m. Balcony Tkalčićeva 33
  • 23 December at 4:00 p.m. Balcony of Lav Gallery – Stone Gate

Advent Classic Fest

Three times during Advent in Zagreb, can you enjoy the most ear-pleasing classical music performed by musicians from Croatia. The entry is free of charge and the concerts take place in various locations throughout the city.

ADVENT CLASSIC FEST DATES, TIMES & LOCATIONS

  • December 4 at 8 pm: Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall, Small Hall
  • December 11 at 8 pm: Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua 
  • December 18 at 7.30 pm: Foyer of the Croatian National Theater

Evenings With Brahms

At the Liszt Institute in European Square, master pianists accompanied by a soprano will perform pieces by Brahms. This live musical performance will take place over 3 days – 1, 9 and 10 December 2022 – and is free to all.

Advent At Katarinac Square

The Museum of Broken Relationship, Brokenships Cafe and Katarinac Square will be the site of a retro-style Christmas. Cozy up in blankets, near radiators or with hot beverages and enjoy music from the vinyl era. 

A time machine with music from a retro jukebox will play every day from 26 November until 24 December 2022 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Advent In Museums And Galleries

Various museums and art galleries all across the city also partake in this year’s Christmas celebrations in Zagreb. You can see a variety of shows, exhibits and performances at the following institutions:

PARTICIPATING MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES

  • Ethnographic Museum – attend a workshop to learn how to make the traditional Croatian “Kinč
    • 10 December, 3:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
    • 17 December, 11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
    • 22 December, 4:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
  • Dagmar Meneghello at Krležin Gvozd – Dagmar’s private art collection & world will be unveiled to visitors
    • 2 December 2022 thru 7 January 2023 – Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Croatian School Museum – kids 7-14 years of age can attend workshops to create Advent crafts
    • Magic Of Quilling – Saturday, 10 December from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    • Hlapić’s Boot – Saturday, 17 December from noon to 2 p.m.

Zagreb Advent Postcards

This fun initiative involves professional musicians and singers who perform at popular street corners throughout central Zagreb. During Advent in Zagreb, you can find them on these days, times and locations:

ZAGREB ADVENT POSTCARDS DATES, TIMES & LOCATIONS

  • 26 November at 4:00 p.m. Oktogon Passage & 4:45 p.m. Neboder Passage
  • 30 November at 4:00 p.m. Oktogon Passage & 4:45 p.m. Neboder Passage
  • 2 December at 4:00 p.m. Neboder Passage & 4:45 Sisters Baković Passage
  • 3 December at 4:00 p.m. Oktogon Passage & 4:45 p.m. Neboder Passage
  • 7 December at 4:00 p.m. Oktogon Passage & 4:45 p.m. Sisters Baković Passage
  • 9 December at 4:00 p.m. Oktogon Passage & 4:45 p.m. Oktogon Passage
  • 10 December at 4:00 p.m. Neboder Passage & 4:45 p.m. Sisters Baković Passage
  • 14 December at 5:00 p.m. Oktogon Passage & 5:45 p.m. Neboder Passage
  • 16 December at 5:00 p.m. Oktogon Passage & 5:45 p.m. Sisters Baković Passage
  • 17 December at 4:00 p.m. Neboder Passage & 4:45 p.m. Sisters Baković Passage
  • 21 December at 4:00 p.m. Neboder Passage & 4:45 p.m. Oktogon Passage
  • 23 December at 4:00 p.m. Sisters Baković Passage & 4:45 p.m. Neboder Passage

Zagreb Advent For Young Crowds

For all the young and single people, I would recommend visiting the European Square during the Advent Season (see above). Located in the heart of the city, it has an excellent offering during Advent, including lots of concerts, exhibitions, and attractions to enjoy. So, grab a warm mulled wine and hit the pedestrian zone for some great fun.

Zagreb Advent For Kids & Families

Advent In Zagreb Christmas_ Ice Skating

“The Tale From Grič”

Kids will also enjoy the fun adventure of the Tale from Grič at the Vranyczany Plateau in the Upper Old Town. This program is inspired by the characters from the tale “Stribor’s Forest,” a famous fairy tale by the Croatian author Ivana Brlić Mažuranić.

The decorations are similar to the famous Stribor Forest fairy-tale setting, creating a magical, even mystical, atmosphere. Children and parents can enjoy delicious foods and find fun souvenirs in the nearby wooded stands. Various kids’ workshops take place, along with readings of fairy tales from the author Brlić Mažuranić.

Christmas Story In Čazma

For all you parents out there, this is a must-see for you and your children! This Christmas fairy tale is about an hour’s drive from Zagreb, but it is definitely worth the drive. The Salaj family has been creating a fairy-tale Christmas tradition for the last 14 years by decorating their garden and performing various fairy tales for families and children.

Imagine an atmosphere with millions of stars scattered everywhere, Christmas lights, decorated trees, sounds of mill wind, a waterfall from the River Grabovnica, fireworks, and so much more! Children will feel like they are a part of a real fairy tale, surrounded by lots of love, laughter, and good cheer.

To keep you warm, you can sip on a cup of tea, hot chocolate, or mulled wine. Delicious desserts accompany these beverages to perfection. The family offers a variety of different events and programs to please every visitor.

Other Great Zagreb Advent Events

If you plan on visiting Zagreb during Advent, look out for these great events and exhibitions as well:

MORE GREAT ZAGREB ADVENT EVENTS

  • Backo Mini Express: a massive set-up of hundreds of model trains traveling throughout a magical miniature winter landscape
  • Advent Run 2022: participate or cheer on runners in this festive and colorful race
  • Advent Digital Nomad Very Merry: a program where digital nomads can connect and mingle
  • Advent in Marija Bistrica: take a day trip to experience Advent concert performances here
  • New Year’s concert
  • New Year’s changing of the guard with horses, performed by the company of Kravat regiment

With all of these exciting Advent exhibitions, it is no surprise why Zagreb is the new Advent superstar in Europe. The city offers a unique, must-experience atmosphere for all ages. More and more tourists from all over the world are making Zagreb their top destination to spend the winter holidays, especially during the Christmas season.

Having experienced this incredible event myself, I have to tell you it is one of a kind! It is fun, safe, vibrant, enchanting, and life of joy. Every corner you walk makes you feel very warm and cozy inside. It’s simply an incredible experience that you must have yourself.

How To Get To Zagreb Christmas Markets

If you’re traveling internationally, the best way to get to Zagreb is to fly into Zagreb International Airport. Be sure to organize your private transfer from Zagreb Airport to Zagreb in advance, so as to avoid those pesky taxi cues in the middle of winter. The bonus is you will have a professional driver greet you at the airport arrivals and help you with your luggage. This way, you’ll be on your way to your accommodation in no time.

If you’re planning to spend more time in Europe, this list of European Christmas markets is just what you need – although if you do not have the time to cross borders then these other great Christmas Markets in Croatia, including those in Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, and Rijeka will suit you just great.

MORE BALKANS WINTER HOLIDAY TRAVEL BLOGS

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