The ‘Rijeka Carnival’ has built its reputation based on the past-times of its citizens who had lived in and around the city hundreds of years ago.
It dates back to the Middle Ages where locals indulged themselves in fancy dress parades and masked balls. Hmm… a good way to get rid of the winter blues but that’s not all they got rid of; according to Slavic pagan tradition the carnival also represented redemption, a way in which the evil spirits and all the bad things that had happened over the past year could be erased, forgotten and diminished. So groups of people would dress up in colorful costumes, others would play instruments and a special lot called the Zvončari – men who dressed up with animal skins and masked with fearsome intent, would dance and cavort while ringing deafening bells.
People paraded the streets marching, cheering, eating and drinking in order to relinquish their rather immoral past. The event would deliberately coincide with the holy Season of Lent, a time for fasting in preparation for Easter. So as you can see, this was last minute pampering before the big diet kicks in.
This spectacular event is what many of the locals prepare for the entire year; wait till you see the traditional costumes worn by regulars as they are outrageously extravagant. The highlights are undoubtedly the Children’s Carnival parade (February 4, 2023), the Carnival Snowboard Session and the pinnacle being the International Parade through the city centre.