Zagreb

A Parade of Carnivals!

07 Jan 2019
The flair, the glare, the excitement and the dazzling costumes are just some of the elements we consider to be a part of any carnival. Well, behold, dear readers, as your traditional carnival in Croatia includes not only these glittering essentials but also something different, something spooky, something quite hair-raising, in fact. You may be scared right now but let us tell you that this is a great time to be in Croatia, as you can join the locals in scattering evil ghosts and releasing a year's worth of frustrations all under the cover of fancy dress. This is, indeed, taken to be the norm, a ritual intended to cleanse your soul before the warm season of spring arrives. You see, carnival season is connected with ancient traditions from these areas that go back to the Middle Ages. According to Slavic pagan customs, carnivals would begin closer to the beginning of the year when locals would parade the streets, marching and cheering, they’d attend masquerades, fancy dress balls, wear costumes and sing to drive away evil spirits. This would carry on all the way to Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent - the time of fasting, a time of moving away from our wrong doings and preparing for Easter. Quite often the final day of celebrations finish with the ceremonial judgment of an imaginary character blamed for everything bad that has happened over the past year. In the Zagreb region this individual is styled on a prince and is named the fašnik, though his moniker is different in other parts of the country. But wherever you go, he is the one who represents all our problems, troubles and miseries, who takes the blame and is then symbolically burned in a blazing bonfire. A little harsh, you say? Not in the least! Nowadays, carnivals around the country intertwine the customs of old with the fun and glamour of the present day. Everyone is welcome as the carnivals include all generations, with some wholehearted devotees preparing for the show all year round. You’ll see the evidence of this in the magnificent costumes that are worn, some traditional and others so wacky that they would make fashion designers dance with glee.
Most of the carnivals take place at weekends and consist of a plethora of activities ranging from masquerade balls, carnival parades, exhibitions, tours, sporting events, dandy rituals and other celebrations. Needless to say, the amount of food and drink consumed at such events is astonishing, but at least you get to taste an array of gastronomic delights. Every region has its own customs, so wherever you happen to be, why not join in the fun, embrace the spirit of carnival and experience it in a unique way. Let’s get an insight into what’s happening and where...

In Zagreb
2 March - 3 March: Living Pictures 
Reinvigorate the past! Relive some tales of Old Zagreb during the last weekend before Lent at this costume party held at the Zagreb City Museum. Don’t be surprised when you come across some famous characters from the city’s earlier period who will tell you their own stories. Zagreb City Museum C-1, Opatička 20, www.mgz.hr.

Zagreb County
The idyllic little town of Samobor is just a few kilometers away from Zagreb and has one of Croatia's most popular and longest-running carnivals. Festivities begin on 22 February and run through to 5 March. Good old Prince Fašnik is blamed for all the misfortunes in the region and is of course punished by being burnt in a bonfire. It’s witty and political as there is a judge and lawyer who defend the Prince by satirising current affairs in a highly humorous way. There will be food and mulled wine on the square, competitions, fancy dress parades, a costume ball - and lots of wild behaviour!
Samoborček buses leave from the Zagreb Bus Station, Črnomerec and Ljubljanica every 30-40 minutes, departures begin in the early morning from 05:00 through to 22:00 or 23:45. There are no night bus lines, however come Friday and Saturday evening, the buses ride all the way to Podsused where you can catch ZET night city transport. A one way ticket will cost you 28kn. For further information, visit the Samobor Tourist Office at Trg kralja Tomislava 5, www.fasnik.com.
 
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