Zagreb Cultural Radar

03 Jul 2024

Zagreb offers a conveyor belt of cultural attractions that just keeps on running, with events leading right through the summer and on into the autumn. It's traditionally in September that the serious stuff - the theatre, classical music and exhibition seasons - kicks into gear, although there is a surfeit of things to do in summer when the arts scene takes on a much more informal, outdoor guise.

Get out and meet the people

One of the most exciting things in Zagreb is the growing number of music, food and mingling festivals taking over the city's parks and courtyards. Zagreb summer was when the cultural scene traditionally went off for a snooze and didn't wake up until autumn, but those days are coming to an end. 
Running from (June 28 – July 27) Summer at Matoš's (Ljeto kod Matoša) features food-and-drink stalls, DJ action and Habsburg-era decor recalling the world of writer Antun Gustav Matoš on Mažuranić Square.
Baš Naš Festival (June 14 – July 14) is happening around the same time. It involves drinking, dancing, and mural painting in the grassy open spaces of Bundek Lake.
Bringing a sense of summer-evening abandon to the tranquil backyards of Zagreb's Old Town is Dvorišta ("Courtyards"; July 12-23), which introduces a laid-back party vibe to historical spaces that the public does not always see. On the festival calendar is the summer-long Green River Fest (June 20 – September 15), which features live bands and DJs while promoting sustainability ideas through workshops and upcycling fairs. It is held on the banks of the River Sava near the Hendrix Bridge.

Catch a flick

We usually think of going to the movies as something we do at home rather than on holiday, but it actually represents an excellent opportunity to merge with the local culture crowd in some great locations. Prime amongst these is the Tuškanac open-air cinema (Dubravkin put bb) in the leafy northwest of the centre, which hosts a summer-long season of films ranging from current hits to vintage classics. The summer program also includes the Fantastic Zagreb Film Festival from (June 27 - July 7). Another Zagreb institution is the intimate Kinoteka cinema (Kordunska 1), which runs seasons of classics throughout the year and also runs the Kino Kino programme of films for kids. The major film event of the year is the Zagreb Film Festival or ZFF, a massive programme of new releases and themed classics that hits the city on November 4 -10. The summer days of the Zagreb Film Festival are held on the Tuškanac Summer Stage (Dubravkin put bb) from (July 17 – 20).

Check out the visuals

Goran Trbuljak’s “If I Was An Artist, I Would Be A Genius” (July 2 - September 8) might just be our favourite exhibition name in recent memory, and the art more than lives up to the charm of the title. This is Trbuljak’s first showcase at the Museum of Contemporary Art, making this something of a big deal, and the influential conceptual artist’s commitment to questions, curiosity, and creativity is on show throughout. There is plenty of creativity in Aleksandar Srnec’s centenary celebration, with many of the 20th-century dynamo’s finest works on offer at MSU.  Zagreb-born Srnec was one of Croatia’s most influential avant-garde artists, and the full scope of his exploration will be on show at “70/100” (June 26 - August 25), covering everything from drawings and paintings to collages, graphic designs, cartoons and more. Also at the MSU, “Remember: Picelj and Friends”  (September 19 - November 17) celebrates the life and work of painter, graphic designer and sculptor Ivan Picelj. A must-see for art lovers this summer, Matija Čop’s progress and blending of soft sculptures and steel structures will captivate visitors, making “In The Meantime” (June 25 - August 25) a seriously hot ticket at the Bačva Gallery. At Klovićevi Dvori, “One For All — All For One” (September 5 - November 3) celebrates the creativity and trailblazing magic of Croatia’s first women’s fine art association, established in 1927. Finally, the “Fortezza” (September 10 - November 10) exhibition will shine at Klovićevi Dvori this autumn.

Croatia's architecture and design traditions come to the fore at the combined ArchiBau and Zagreb Design Week festivals, which will be held at the Jadran Film from September 25 - 29. This will be a vast showcase of contemporary creativity and promises to provide a significant spur to the imagination.

Get gigging

Zagreb has always been a rock-and-roll town and boasts a live music scene that would be the envy of many a Central European city. Grassroots acts and medium-level touring bands can be regularly seen at live music clubs such as Močvara and Vintage Industrial Bar. Tvornica caters for bigger local and international acts. Peti Kupe is the place to go for DJ action and live pop-rock. There is an outdoor gig season at the Šalata sports complex (this year featuring Grace Jones on July 4 and Thievery Corporation on July 6).
Among the other significant summer visitors, leave spaces in your diary for José Carreras will be in the Lisinski Concert Hall on September 23 and Andre Rieu & Johann Strauss Orchestra in Zagreb Arena on November 15. On into the autumn, neighbourhood contrarians Laibach do their thing at the Boogaloo on October 5, while the domestic Papandopoulo Quartet at Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall on October 5.
There is also a significant jazz tradition in Zagreb, never better showcased than at the Zagreb Jazz Festival (September 29 – December 12) that brings local and global performers together every autumn.

Street Art

With murals popping up all over the city, Zagreb's street art scene has emerged as something of a local calling card over the last decade. Moreover, there is little likelihood that local painters will be hanging up their brushes to dry. This year's Zagreb Street Art Festival (September 19 - 22) will be a truly city-wide affair, with the commissioning of murals in Opatovina and Martićeva near the centre, as well as in suburbs such as Dubrava, Knežija, and Bundek Lake.
Two excellent street projects taking place in Zagreb are Mali Zagreb and Okolo /Around. Mali Zagreb (Little Zagreb), which starts in June 22 and should run until October, is a collection of miniature installations in frequent and interesting city locations. Search for locations at Okolo/Around takes place in August from 20 - 30 and brings a series of interesting art installations.


Whether you're ready to folk or freak, Zagreb has always had an enormous amount to offer when it comes to dance. Offering a fantastic opportunity to enjoy traditional song and dance in a fantastic outdoor setting, the Lado na Mažurancu ("Lado on Mažuranić Square") festival (July 5 - 7) features the country's leading folklore troupe whirling and whooping their way through a Croatia-wide repertoire. More lore is on show at the International Folk Festival (Međunarodna smotra folklora; July 17 - July 21) when folk societies from all over Croatia and beyond strut their stuff in city-centre spaces.
For those in search of something a bit more cutting-edge, the Sounded Bodies Festival (September 19-21) brings together some of the world's best performers at Zagreb Dance Centre (Ilica 10).

Classical Music

The festival Evenings on Grič (July 11 - 22) brings as many as nine musical delicacies hosted by a multitude of top artists who will surely provide an unforgettable experience to all visitors.
Between July 6 and 9, a selection of special musical performances will take place outside the Croatian National Theatre at Klovićevi Dvori Gallery. Operas by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari (“Il Segreto di Susanna”) and Jakov Gotovac (“Stanac”) will surely steal the show. Also for opera lovers, the premiere of “The Beggar’s Opera” (a co-production between Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill, directed by Lenka Udovički) takes place at the Gavella Theatre on September 19 (Frankopanska 10). From October onwards, tickets to all the theatrical performances can be purchased at the box office inside the Theatre.
Apart from the Croatian National Theatre, the main venue for these classical concerts in Zagreb is the Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall, which has been synonymous with the finest musical performances for almost half a century. Make sure to secure your tickets online or directly at the box offices.

Fun with Kids 

For kids of all age groups, PIF (13 - 19.9.) (International Puppet Festival) is definitely THE place to be. The plays performed by puppeteers from all over the world will be held in numerous theatre halls, as well as in the streets and squares of Zagreb.


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