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Zagreb Christmas Market (Advent in Zagreb)

Published on 13/12/2019 by Jozo Suton
Zagreb Christmas Market (Advent in Zagreb) (Photo by: Branko Radanović)

Christmas Fairs in Croatia

Christmas is a wonderful time to travel to Croatia. It provides the perfect opportunity to see firstly how the most popular places in Croatia are decorated for Christmas. Secondly, learn about the traditions and customs of celebrating Christmas. Lastly, do some Christmas shopping for your family and friends.

The biggest and most outstanding attractions to see at Christmas are Christmas fairs that spring up in every major city. They tend to bring the locals and tourists closer together while they enjoy the Christmas atmosphere mixed with comforting food, mulled wine and irresistible Christmas music.

In general, the Christmas fairs start from the end of November or the beginning of December and end in the middle of January. There are so many Christmas fairs to visit in Croatia. However, if you wish you to experience the real spirit and magic of Christmas in Croatia, the best place to visit is the Zagreb Christmas Market, popularly known as the Advent in Zagreb.

Zagreb Christmas Market (Advent in Zagreb)

Zagreb Christmas Market (Advent in Zagreb)
Zagreb Christmas Market (Advent in Zagreb) (Photo by: Miroslav Vajdič)

The Zagreb Christmas Market or Advent in Zagreb is the best and biggest Christmas fair in Croatia. It is held in Zagreb, the capital and largest city in Croatia.

From November or December to January, the Zagreb Christmas Market offers a rich programme which includes candlelight, colourful displays, festive food and drinks, concerts, choirs and much more.

Because of the event’s size, rich programme and excellent presentation, the Advent in Zagreb was voted three times in a row as the best Christmas Fair in Europe according to European Best Destinations.

Location

The Zagreb Christmas Market is organised in the city of Zagreb. It is the capital city of Croatia and the largest in the country. Zagreb is located in the continental part of Croatia, on the banks of the Sava river and underneath the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain.

Zagreb, Croatia - The Location of the Zagreb Christmas Market (Advent in Zagreb)

For a large city, Zagreb offers plenty of tourist attractions to see from (e.g. the Zagreb Cathedral, Ban Josip Jelačić Square, Zrinjevac Park, the National Theatre, St. Mark’s Church and Square, the buildings of the Croatian Government and Parliament, the Tkalčić Street, the Maksimir Zoo, etc.). The most popular attractions are located in the very centre of Zagreb which is divided into three parts: The Upper Town, Kaptol and the Lower Town.

Anywhere you go in Zagreb, you can feel the charm of a little European city. This is because Zagreb was under the influences of different sovereignties which left a heavy mark in the city’s architecture, culture, traditions and customs. The special European charm is brought up and emphasized during Christmas when the traditional Christmas Market is opened. Twinkling Christmas lights. Green tall Christmas trees. Colourful Christmas decorations. The smell of delicious food and warm beverages coming from surrounding tiny wooden cottages.

Therefore, if you wish to experience the true European charm of Christmas like in Vienna, Mnuchin or Paris, Zagreb makes the perfect alternative to visit for Christmas.

Christmas Tram

Christmas and the Zagreb Christmas Market provide the perfect time to explore Zagreb by foot. For instance, from King Tomislav’s Square to the Ban Josip Jelačić Square. However, because the Advent in Zagreb is so big, it might seem to be too exhausting for you to do so. Because of that, we suggest taking the Christmas tram.

Riding on a Christmas Tram at the Zagreb Christmas Market (Advent in Zagreb)
Riding on a Christmas Tram at the Christmas Market in Zagreb (Photo by: Matjaž Mirt)

The trams in Zagreb are an iconic and essential way of transport in Zagreb. Like buses or taxis, they connect the whole city and help people to conveniently get anywhere in Zagreb. For Christmas, the trams become turned into special Christmas trams, decorated with Christmas lights, helping you to reach any of your favourite Christmas attractions at the Advent in Zagreb without breaking a sweat.

Dates

Like all Christmas Fairs in Croatia, the Zagreb Christmas Market is usually organised around Christmas, between the end of November or December and early January. This season, the Christmas Market in Zagreb starts from the 30th November to the 7th January. Around this time, Zagreb occasionally can become very cold and snowy which just brings up the special charm and cheerfulness you can sense when visiting Zagreb for Christmas.

Key Spots at the Zagreb Christmas Market (Advent in Zagreb)

The Zagreb Christmas Market is the biggest Christmas fair in Croatia and offers a rich programme on every corner of the city. Because it may be hard to choose what to see first at the Christmas fair, we selected some key sites that we think might be worth for you to visit.

  1. Ice Park on King Tomislav’s Square
  2. Fooling Around at Strossmayer’s Square
  3. Advent at the Zrinjevac Park
  4. Advent on the European Square
  5. Live Nativity Scene at the Zagreb Cathedral
  6. Christmas Fair at Gajeva and Bogoviceva Street
  7. Zagreb Christmas Tale on the Ban Josip Jelacic Square
  8. Advent on the Strossmayer’s Promenade
  9. Snow Queen Trophy Zagreb

Ice Park on King Tomislav’s Square

Our first key attraction at the Zagreb Christmas Market brings a classic Christmas fairy tale that awaits you in Zagreb. The magical Ice Park. It is located just a few steps from the Main Train Station on the beautiful King Tomislav’s Square in front of the Zagreb Art Pavilion.

Ice Park on King Tomislav's Square (Advent in Zagreb)
Ice Park on King Tomislav’s Square (Photo by: Matjaž Mirt)

The Ice Park offers a truly unique and romantic experience with a large ice-skating rink. Around the ice rink, there are wooden stands which offer delicious comforting food, warm beverages and lots of cheerful Christmas music. It is the place where people go skating and have fun. Therefore, if you wish to experience a true Christmas fairy tale, we invite to come and join the fun.

Fooling Around at Strossmayer’s Square

When you had all the fun at the magical Ice Park, let’s walk away towards our second attraction of the Zagreb Christmas Market. It is called Fooling Around. The Fooling Around is located at Strossmayer’s Square just a block away from King Tomislav’s Square. It is an interesting spot to be for Christmas in Zagreb.

Merry-Go-Round at the Fooling Around
Merry-Go-Round at the Fooling Around (Photo by: Miroslav Vajdić)

The Fooling Around is represented as an innovative and modern cultural gastronomic event where some of top chefs from Croatia serve the best food and drinks just for you. Talking about juicy succulent sausages, meaty burgers, warm filling cabbage rolls (sarmas) or sweet honey fritulas. Of course, the place offers also live music, souvenir shops and a fair with fun arcade games and pretty merry-go-rounds where family and friends can have fun while visiting this place.

Therefore, if you are looking for the best place to hang out and fool around for Christmas in Zagreb, then the Fooling Around attraction is the place to be.

Advent at Zrinjevac Park

Going a block away from Fooling Around, we arrive at the loveliest spot in Zagreb for Christmas, the Advent in Zrinjevac. Located at the beautiful Zrinjevac Park, this place is where you can experience the real spirit and magic of Christmas in Croatia.

Advent at Zrinjevac Park
Advent at Zrinjevac Park (Photo by: Silverije)

At night, you can admire thousands of lanterns and Christmas lights being shone above the trees, transforming Zrinjevac into a wonderful enchanting Christmas park. Moving towards the middle of the park, an old music pavilion stands shining bright like a glistening palace with twinkling Christmas lights. Live music is played there every evening and morning on Saturday and Sunday.

Old Music Pavilion at Zrinjevac Park

Around the pavilion, you may find lines of tiny wooden huts where you can stop by to try Zagreb’s Christmas delicacies like baked strukle, a warm baked pastry dish stuffed with soft cheese, mulled wine, hot chocolate and special Christmas heart-shaped biscuits.

Advent on the European Square

Approaching closer to the main city square, Ban Josip Jelačić, we come across a lovely pedestrian area in the heart of city. It is called the European Square. Positioned just near the lovely main city square and overlooked by the Zagreb Cathedral, the square was specially designed for the celebration of Croatia becoming a full membership of the European Union in 2013.

Advent on the European Square
Advent on the European Square (Photo by: Silverije)

Therefore, the Advent on the European Square offers a great chance for anyone to the experience the European charm of Christmas in this little European city with various food outlets and beverages, concerts, attractions, exhibitions and kiosks for purchasing handcraft souvenirs and Christmas decorations.

Live Nativity Scene at the Zagreb Cathedral

Christmas is the most wonderful time of year. Certainly, when we think of Christmas, we think of jolly old Santa Claus, lushly evergreen Christmas trees, colourful Christmas decorations, Christmas presents as well as traditional and modern Christmas carols.

However, all of this would be nothing without reminding us what Christmas truly means. Christmas is a time when we celebrate the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who was sent on Earth by his Father to bring us salvation, redemption, peace, hope and new life.

Live Nativity Scene at the Zagreb Cathedral
Live Nativity Scene at the Zagreb Cathedral

In reverence of Jesus’ birth, many towns and villages in Croatia organise Live Nativity Scenes. They are live acting performances which depict the scene when the Virgin Mary gives to Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem, together with her husband Joseph, the Three Wise Men, the shepherds and the animals.

In Zagreb, there is also a Live Nativity Scene located next to the Zagreb Cathedral. Therefore, before arriving at the Ban Josip Jelacic Square in Zagreb, why not take a small detour and attend this magically live acting performance. See the live actors and actresses playing the roles of Mary, Joseph, the Three Wise Men, shepherds and live animals in a manger full of dried grass and straw which depicts the manger in Bethlehem where Jesus was born.

Christmas Fair at Gajeva and Bogoviceva Street

Descending back to the city centre, we stop at a small Christmas Fair just before the Ban Josip Jelacic Square.

Located on an intersection of Gajeva and Bogoviceva Street, this Christmas Fair offers visitors to experience the beautiful charm of Christmas on a smaller scale with wooden houses rich with souvenirs, fritulas, sweet almonds and mulled wine.

Therefore, if you are ever in any chance of passing here, be sure to stop here and find yourself something special for this Christmas.

Zagreb Christmas Tale on the Ban Josip Jelacic Square

Advent Wreath Fountain at the Zagreb Christmas Tale on the Ban Josip Jelacic Square (Photo by: Branko Radovanović)

Finally, after a long walk from the Ice Park on the King Tomislav’s Square, we arrive at the huge main city square. A real Zagreb Christmas Tale awaits you on the Ban Josip Jelačić Square. Everything is sparkling brightly with live music and concerts on an open-air stage, food marquees and a children’s programme.

Huge Christmas Tree on the Ban Josip Jelačić Square (Photo by: Branko Radovanović)

Located in the middle of the square, there is a magnificent Christmas tree standing tall and fully decorated. On the far side of the square, there is a lovely dubbed fountain. It is transformed into a big Advent Wreath with four candles burning brightly as Christmas passes. A few steps from the fountain, there is a cosy, heated, covered conservatory. Inside of it, you may indulge yourselves in tasty food, warm drinks and jolly Christmas music, making your Christmas a true fairy tale.

Advent on the Strossmayer’s Promenade

Advent on the Strossmayer’s Promenade

When you have finished exploring the Christmas Market in Zagreb’s downtown, it is time to go uptown to the romantic Advent on the Strossmayer’s Promenade. It is a big Christmas Fair of its own located in the Upper Town of Zagreb, on the popular Strossmayer’s Promenade.

It is comprised of 4 sections: Advent on the Vranyczany Plateau, Advent on Stross, Cafe de Matoš and Advent at the Klovićevi Dvori Gallery. Each of them offers great food, warm drinks, live music, souvenirs and amazing panoramic views of Zagreb.

Panoramic View of Zagreb (Snowing in Zagreb)
Snowing in Zagreb (Photo by: Miroslav Vajdić)

Therefore, altogether, the Advent on the Strossmayer’s Promenades makes one of the most romantic spots to be for Christmas. Also, it is the perfect place to end your daily tour of the whole Christmas Market in Zagreb.

Snow Queen Trophy Zagreb

The Snow Queen Trophy is an alpine skiing race that is held each year in Zagreb. As part of the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup championship, the race is organised in the first week of January. This year, The Snow Queen Trophy starts on 4th and ends on 5th January 2020. It takes place on the Medvednica mountain top Sljeme, just north of Zagreb. The Snow Queen Trophy is one of the most visited races within the championship, where men and women from all over the world compete in slalom discipline.

Snow Queen Trophy Zagreb

During the main event, in Zagreb, there are many complementary events that help visitors to entertain themselves while waiting for the race. On the day before the race starts, 3rd January for women and 4th January for men, there is a public draw at the Ice Park on King Tomislav’s Square where skiers receive their starting positions. Also, you will be able to catch a few glimpses of the fabulous Christmas Market. The winner of the race is crowned with a crystal crown, dressed in a cloak and sat on the throne as the snow queen or snow king of the tournament.

Because the Snow Queen Trophy is traditionally signified as a closing event for the Advent in Zagreb, it acts as a wonderful way to finish your Christmas and winter holidays in style.

Conclusion

Christmas is a wonderful time to travel to Croatia. It provides the perfect opportunity to see how the most popular destinations in Croatia are decorated for Christmas and visit their outstanding Christmas fairs. The best and biggest of them all is the Christmas Market in Zagreb (Advent in Zagreb).

With a rich programme and lots of attractions to see on every corner of city, the Advent in Zagreb offers you a great chance to explore the whole city of Zagreb and experience the real spirit and magic of Christmas right in the capital city of Croatia.

Therefore, if you are planning to go somewhere for Christmas, come visit Zagreb, its award-winning Christmas Market and have yourselves a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in the heart of Croatia.

Category: Blog, Destination, Events

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