Croatian Christmas Magic : Advent in Zagreb

here’s something special about Advent; that anticipation leading up to Christmas. I’ve always loved Advent calendars with their little doors hiding surprises to discover each day. Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, takes Advent to a whole new level with its annual Advent in Zagreb. In 2014, the city-wide celebration begins on Saturday, November 29th and runs through Sunday, January 6th.

The city lights up, the streets are crowed with people, and the sounds of street musicians, and the aromas of holiday foods fill the air. It’s a magical time in this old eastern European city. If you love Christmas, pageantry and the holiday spirit, pack your bags and head to Zagreb in December.

advent in Zacreb ivanvinkovic

According to the city’s Tourist Board, this year’s Advent in Zagreb, the first held since Croatia joined the European Union will bring some new features to this popular celebration that takes part in the city’s squares, parks, concert halls, cafes and other venues. Events include street music, concerts, theatrical presentations, dance performances and great holiday shopping at seasonal fairs and at booths set up along Zagreb’s streets.

Events around the city’s center and beyond

Ban Josip Jelačić, the city’s main square, will be the epicenter for Advent Zagreb with lots of music and more. Food vendors will hawk traditional foods such as sarma (Cabbage Rolls), pecenka (roasted pig on a spit), and kobasice (sausages), mulled wine, and other enticing treats.

Ban Josip Jelačić, the city’s main square

Ban Josip Jelačić, the city’s main square is thesite of ,amy Advent in Zagreb events photo/Coirtest Zagrem Tourist Board

Cvjetni Trg (Flower Square) will offer classical music and jazz performances between December 6th and 28th.

Tkalciceva Street, is another area the hums with activity during Advent in Zagreb (or any time). This centuries old byway, known for its arched bridges art galleries, shops and cafes, connects two of Zagreb old neighborhoods, Kaptol and Gradec.

Street Fair at Advent in Zagreb

Little wooden huts on the street tempt passersby with their wares photo/courtesy Zagreb Tourist Board

Zrinjevac Park, will host music performances, dancing from December 1st through the 23rd. What could be more romantic than dancing the waltz in this city with its Old-World, Austro-Hungarian feeling? Add a little snow, and it will be like dancing in Fairyland. Unique souvenirs and Christmas ornaments will be on sale in the square and vendors will be offering traditional foods such as fried apples, štrukle, krpice sa zeljem (pasta with sautéed cabbage), mulled wine, hot chocolate and more.

Jelačić Square and the streets around it host the traditional Christmas Fair. Vendors sell seasonal gifts, gingerbread hearts, cookies, decorations, jewelry and souvenirs made by Zagreb artists and artisans. Traditional Croatian products from local manufacturers will also be sold..

Other events

Krešo Kapulica at Advent Zagreb

Releasing holiday lanterns at Krešo Kapulica photo/courtesy Zagreb Tourism Board


Meštrović Pavilion in Trg Žrtava Fašizma Square, home of the Croatian Association of Artists, is the site of. Between the 15th and the 24th of December, it will be home to the Artomat Fair of Unconventional Art. The popular event offers unique and quirky gifts directly from the artists. There will also be free, hands-on workshops for fair visitors. One of the highlights is Krešo Kapulica where attendees can create holiday lanterns and release then into the night sky. Magical!

Living Nativity Scene

Advent Zagreb Livint Nativity Scene

Living Nativity Scene in Kaptol District photo/courtesy Zagreb Tourist Board

Kaptolin Zagreb’s upper town (once a small city), home to the Archbishop of Zagreb is the site of the 11th annual Living Nativity Scene. The event, presented by the Cenacolo Community,runs from December 21st through January 6th (All King’s Day). There will be a small stable with live farm animals, and amateur actors from the group portraying the Holy Family, the Three Kings, shepherds and the people of Bethlehem. All will be dressed in period costumes.

New Years Eve and New Year’s Day

The big event New Years Eve is the celebration in Ban Josip Jelačić, the city’s main square, featuring an outdoor concert. There will be food and drink vendors to keep revelers full and warm. The highlight of the evening: fireworks. There are events all around the city. And if you prefer to be indoors, check out some of the city’s restaurants, bars or clubs. Advent Zagreb is officially over on New Year’s Day. If aren’t able to make it this year, the festivities will be back same time next year.

New Years Eve in Zagreb

New Years Eve at Advent in Zagreb 2012 photo Marija and Reberski Courtesy of Zagreb Tourist Board

Have you ever been to Advent in Zagreb

What event(s) would you most want to go to?

Read travel blogger Sarah-Jane Begonja’s post on 2013 Advent in Zagreb on her blog chasing the donkey

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23 Responses to “Croatian Christmas Magic : Advent in Zagreb”

  1. Cathy Sweeney
    November 20, 2019 at 11:32 am #

    I would have loved to include Zagreb in our December travel plans, but couldn’t make it work this year. I love the holiday spirit in many European cities and Zagreb seems extra special.

    • Billie Frank
      November 20, 2019 at 12:03 pm #

      As we said, it will be there next year for you. It looks wonderful. I’m sure whatever you do it will be wonderful.

  2. Janette
    November 20, 2019 at 1:31 pm #

    What a wonderful winter wonderland. It just went onto our bucket list. Thanks for the great post.

  3. Aleah |
    November 20, 2019 at 1:58 pm #

    Christmas seems to be very festive there. Would love to visit!

  4. Linda ~ Journey Jottings
    November 20, 2019 at 7:06 pm #

    Christmas in Europe is so evocative of the season - short days and long nights giving optimum time for lights to twinkle - A long long way from what we experience down under where I still find seeing tinsel sparkling in the brilliant Australian sunshine a little incongruous 😉

    • Billie Frank
      November 21, 2019 at 7:09 pm #

      I once spent Christmas in Florida and it was too weird! I need winter and hopefully snow. I’d love to do a holiday trip to Europe’s Christmas markets.

  5. noel
    November 21, 2019 at 2:11 pm #

    I extended my visit to Zagreb and found this to be a gorgeous capital…it’s easy to walk and visit some amazing monuments, museums and street life. I would have loved to see this during xmas time.

  6. Johanna
    November 21, 2019 at 10:27 pm #

    Zagreb looks an incredible destination for Advent and Christmas. I loved your pictures and they made me feel quite chilly on this hot WA day!

    • Billie Frank
      November 22, 2019 at 10:13 am #

      It does look wonderful. The Zagreb Tourist Board let us use their wonderful photos. Wish we could take the credit!

  7. Edward
    November 22, 2019 at 9:48 am #

    We’ll be in Zagreb in late December and we’re looking forward to the Advent events. Thanks for sharing this and the great photos.

    • Billie Frank
      November 22, 2019 at 10:14 am #

      Our pleasure. Have a great time. Wish we were going. Safe travels!

  8. Agness
    November 22, 2019 at 9:48 pm #

    I have never been to Zagreb, but it reminds me a lot of Christmas in Poland. Tkalciceva Street looks so charming and I guess there are plenty of delicacies sold there such as mulled wine, Christmas cookies and decorations. I didn’t know that releasing holiday lanterns at Krešo Kapulica is a part of tradition. So much like Thailand :). Thank you Billie for sharing such amazing article. It makes me wanna go home for Christmas!

    • Billie Frank
      November 23, 2019 at 12:58 pm #

      Didn’t mean to make you homesick. Maybe next year!

  9. Our Adventure in Croatia
    November 24, 2019 at 5:12 am #

    great post about Zagreb, have shared on FB.

    • Billie Frank
      November 24, 2019 at 8:25 am #

      Have you been to Advent in Zagreb. Checked out your blog- more reasons to go to Croatia.

  10. Dave Briggs
    November 24, 2019 at 8:25 am #

    It looks like I will miss new year in Zagreb this time around, although I had planned to go just to experience something different. Looks like I am missing out on a lot… Oh well, maybe next year 😉

    • Billie Frank
      November 24, 2019 at 8:28 am #

      There’s always next year! Enjoy wherever you end up.

  11. Mrs. Chasing the Donkey
    November 27, 2019 at 3:54 pm #

    What a great round up! We are heading there for NYE this year and have just been making a list of what to do and see. I am extra excited now.

    • Billie Frank
      November 27, 2019 at 4:45 pm #

      I would love to go to Advent in Zagreb. The flying lanterns caught my eye as we have something like them in Santa Fe. If you get great photos of the festivities, let me know. We have a Pinterest board of European holiday markets.

  12. Nicole Lambert
    November 12, 2019 at 8:20 am #

    Loved the video. We’re planning to visit the Christmas Market this year. The small shops and live nativity are definitely on our list. Do you have any other recommendations of Zagreb Christmas Market for young kids?

    • Billie Frank
      November 14, 2019 at 4:39 pm #

      I don’t know- but a great person to ask- she lives in Croatia and has a young child is Sarah Jane Begonja of the travel blog Chasing the Donkey. Tell her we sent you.

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