Saljske užance

16 Apr 2018
Saljske Užance

08.08 Thursday - 10.08 Sunday
The Saljske Užance (Sali Festival), is a festival which has been taking place, at Sali, on Dugi Otok (Long Island), since 1959, during the first weekend of every August. It was created in order to preserve the traditional customs, folklore costumes and cuisine of the local islanders.The festival begins on the Thursday and lasts until the Sunday, on which day they hold traditional ‘donkey races.’ In addition, at this unique event, you can listen to performances by, Tovareća mužika, a famous musical group from Sali, which made the 2012 list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Republic of Croatia.

On the first day, Thursday, boats, filled with members from the Tovareća mužika group, sail to Zadar where they perform in the center of the old city to open the festival.

On the second day, Friday, ‘Fisherman's Night’ takes place. Local cuisine from Sali is offered, such as fish stew, grilled tuna and sardines, along with traditional sweets. As well, there is an entertainment program featuring famous vocal groups, called Klape.

On the third day, Saturday, sporting events and competitions take place during the day and in the evening a ‘Sali Night’ is held and the docks and boats are adorned with lights. An entertainment program takes place along the waterfront.

The fourth day, Sunday, is the closing day. The morning begins with a traditional reveille. In the afternoon, the famous 'donkey races' are held, a spectacular event, not to be missed. At the end of the race there is an awards ceremony and entertainment program on the waterfront.

The Development of Local Customs: Tovareća mužika draws its musical roots from a collection of random sounds made to create a noise, called batarela. This sound has been present in Dugi Otok for many generations. Originally, batarela calls were used to chase away the evil spirits during the long and cold nights, and also celebrated and mocked widows who were getting married again. However, in 1959, at the wedding of an older woman, a structured noise was introduced in order to create a recognisable tune to the disordered sounds. Gradually, over the years, drums and horns were added and eventually an impromptu orchestra was formed.

Outfits: The Tovareća mužika have two combinations of outfits, which they officially chose in 1963, as their uniforms. These outfits worn at festivals and during performances were selected to represent the clothes that fishermen wore from the early 20th century. The first outfit, consists of a fisherman's hat, called a rašketa, a white shirt without a collar, a black vest, black trousers with a belt, white socks and black shoes. Optionally, a gold earring can be worn on the right ear or a pocket watch can be used to accessorize. The conductor of the orchestra, wears a top hat instead of rašketa, a black bow tie or a scarf around his neck, a white vest and if he wishes, white shoes and may carry a cane. The second outfit, the groups ‘navy’ uniform, was chosen because of the connection of the island and it’s most famous instrument, the horn, with the sea. It also consists of a rašketa, along with a blue-and-white striped sailor’s shirt, blue fishing pants tied with white rope or nets, and traditional footwear, called škarpini. Again, optionally, a gold earring can be worn in the right ear and it is not mandatory to wear the škarpini. The conductor wears a top hat instead of rašketa, and a long-sleeved shirt, instead of a short-sleeved one.

New Members: The training of future Tovareća mužika members begins during elementary school. They are called, Pulići, and they perform at smaller events and children's folklore festivals. Since the ensemble was created, hundreds of boys and young men have joined. It is common to hear, throughout the year, boys learning to play the horns and drums. When a senior members of Tovareće mužike goes into retirement, a Pulići, which is in high school, can become a ‘real’ Tovareća mužika group member.

Dugi Otok, the seventh largest island in Croatia, is located off of the Dalmatian coast, west of Zadar. It is full of sparkling beaches and picturesque villages, set against a background of magnificent vineyards, orchards and cliffs filled with lush vegetation. The island can be reached daily by ferry from Zadar, as well as neighbouring islands.

Don’t miss out on experiencing this spectacular unique event and seeing the Tovareća mužika group in action!

Sali Tourist Board, (+385-23) 37 70 94,, Open 08:00 - 21:00.
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