National holidays and cultural festivals in Croatia
Croatia has a rich and much-storied history, with much of its long life marked by invasions, occupations and shared culture.
In those early years, the country was ruled by the Roman and Byzantine Empire, the Republic of Venice, and then the Hungarians and Habsbergs, as well as the ancient Greeks, Illyrians, and the Ottoman Empire. All this rich history has helped to shape the nation that Croatia is today, and the country’s remaining traditions and national holidays reflect this long and fascinating antiquity.
Before we take a closer look at what you might expect when you visit Croatia in the future, here’s a full list of the country’s national holidays.
April 12 Easter Sunday (Uskrs)
April 13 Easter Monday (Uskrsni ponedjeljak)
May 1 Labor Day (Praznik rada)
May 30 National Day (Dan državnosti)
June 11 Corpus Christi Day (Tijelovo)
June 22 Anti-Fascist Resistance Day (Dan antifašističke borbe)
August 5 Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day (Dan pbjede I domonvinske zahvalnosti)
August 15 Assumption of Mary (Velika Gospa)
November 1 All Saints’ Day (Dan neovisnosti)
November 18 Remembrance Day (Dan svih svetih)
December 25 Christmas Day (Božić)
December 26 St Stephen’s Day (Sveti Stjepan)
December 31/January 1 New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day
Aside from the national holidays, Croatia also boasts handfuls of cultural festivals throughout the year that showcase authentic traditions and celebrate its bounty, whether it be wine or chocolate.
Here are some of our favourites.
St Martin’s Day (official first day of wine season)
St. Martin’s Day in Croatia celebrates Saint Martin, who was a bishop from Tours in France and is worshipped all around Europe as the patron saint of winemakers. In Croatia, the day is recognized as the end of the agrarian year and the beginning of harvesting, which means food and wine are centrepieces of this festival. At this time, roasted goose is traditionally served at many restaurants in the area as is Beaujolais nouveau, Svatomartinské víno, a young wine from the recent harvest. The festival is typically held on November 11.
The International Folklore Festival
This life-affirming festival and celebration of Croatian culture has been held in Zagreb since 1966. It features concerts, exhibitions and workshops, all aimed at spotlighting the intangible cultural heritage of the region and its people.
Dubrovnik Summer Festival
This celebration of abundance and new life is staged across 70 open-air venues in the Renaissance-Baroque city of Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic. Visitors can experience a program of classical music, theatre, opera and dance performances all under the warm summer sky. Dubrovnik’s Old Town is a magical backdrop to the world’s most illustrious musicians, dancers and composers, who flock to the city to take part in this special annual event.
This street art festival is one of the country’s most visited festivals and provides something a little different. It features both classical and contemporary music, children’s performances and street artists as well as give visitors an ideal opportunity to explore Varaždin and its gorgeous architectural history.
Pula Film Festival
The Pula Film Festival, which has been held for the over 60 years in the town’s world-famous Roman amphitheatre, screens Croatian movies as well as global hits. Each year the program includes around 20 movies from the most prestigious film festivals around the world, including Venice, Cannes, Berlin, Rome and others.
International Pršut Festival, Drniš
Drniš, in Dalmatia, will be the place to be for lovers of food, klapa music and traditions from the Zagorje region when the sixth International Pršut Festival takes place in the town’s main square. This year some of the best pršut producers – the Croatian version of prosciutto – from Croatia will be exhibiting their products at the festival. Along with pršut, visitors will be able to try some of the best cheeses, wines, pancetta, bread from under the bell, honey, soparnik (savory pie) and lots more.
Varaždin Baroque Evenings
The 50th Jubilee of the Varaždin Baroque Evenings will present a collection of the finest music which has been presented over the previous half-century. Award-winning Baroque soloists, ensembles and orchestras from across Europe will be joined by the finest Croatian Baroque ensembles and orchestras. Around twenty concerts will take place in churches, palaces and castles in Varaždin and the surrounding area and will be accompanied with the ‘Totally Baroque’ all-day catering and tourism programme in the City centre’s squares and restaurants.
Zagreb Film Festival
Croatians are fond of their film festivals, and this one in late fall is one of the country’s cultural highlights. The Zagreb Film Festival (or ZFF as it’s commonly known) features the best of newer independent international and local film productions, as well as screenings, panel sessions and, of course, movies.
Zigante Truffle Days, Istra
Held over seven weeks and into November, this amazing festival is perfect for lovers of truffles and the whole culture that surrounds them. Apart from the opportunity to explore and taste truffles, visitors will be treated to a host of various events during the festival, including an exhibition of truffles, educational discussions, and truffle cooking demonstrations from top chefs. Besides truffles, Istrian wine, olive oil, cheeses, honey, brandy-herb and other traditional products will be available.
Opatija Chocolate Festival
The Habsburg-era resort town of Opatija has remained a popular haunt for vistors from overseas for centuries. Its cute, picturesque rows of houses – surrounded by lush, verdant pine trees – mean that the town is the perfect place to hold this celebration of all things chocolate. Domestic producers are well-represented at the festival, with plenty of opportunities to gobble a free sample or two.
Advent in Split/Zagreb
The lead-up to Christmas in Croatia is a magical time, and two of its best-known cities really come to festive life during this period. Surrounded by the snow-blanketed Dinaric Alps, Split looks gorgeous during wintertime, and its market stalls, quirky shops and cobbled streets are an enchanting place to go Christmas shopping. Zagreb also likes to pull out the Yuletide stops, and its Christmas markets feature sausage vendors, mulled wine stalls and igloo-shaped rakija bars. Zadak and Dubrovnik also boast evocative holiday markets.
To find more about our tours that give a true and authentic flavor of Croatia, simply speak to a member of our friendly and knowledgeable team. Our regional experts – many of them on the ground in Croatia – provide a bespoke level of service that is second to none. With their in-depth local and regional knowledge, our team looks after you from start to finish, delivering itineraries tailored to you and your needs, helping create an unforgettable experience for you and your companions.