Advent in Zagreb – the city’s epic Christmas celebrations – returns to Zagreb on Friday 2nd December 2023, running until 7th January 2024. Here’s our rundown on what’s happening during Advent in Zagreb and where, and the best of what there is to see and do.
What is Advent in Zagreb?
Advent in Zagreb is essentially a Christmas market…but in fact, so much more than that! Having first been held in 2010, it is a large-scale celebration of Christmas that takes place in many locations all across the city. So many of Zagreb’s squares, streets, parks, shopping areas, museums, attractions and more will be adorned with beautiful lights or other festive decorations and will be used as venues for Christmas fun. There will be food and drink (oh so much food and drink!), concerts and live music,
The celebrations have received so much positive press and visitor comments over the years, often being called one of the best Christmas markets in Europe. In fact, Advent in Zagreb even won the “Best Christmas Market” category for three years straight (from 2016 to 2018) awarded by European Best Destinations.
Here’s a video preview of this year’s celebrations from Zagreb Tourist Board:
The main fun at Advent in Zagreb
Zagreb’s main square Trg Ban Jelacic will – as to be expected – have a giant, decorated Christmas tree in place during Advent in Zagreb. In fact, the tree is already in place, as of 27th November, awaiting decoration. The main square is also were the traditional Advent candles are situated, around Mandusevac Fountain.
Christmas celebrations aren’t Christmas celebrations without an ice rink, are they? Thankfully, Zagreb will indeed have an ice rink once again this winter with the Ice Park situated on King Tomislav Square – in front of the very impressive Art Pavillion. Open from 2nd December, the rink will be open daily from 10am until 11pm or 12pm (although only until 5pm on Christmas Eve). Should you like to see in the New Year on a pair of skates you can even do so – that day, the rink will be open until 2am!
The very cool Gric Tunnel is often kitted out for various events and this Christmas it will host the Polar Dream, offering visitors the chance to “experience” the Northern Lights.
A wonderful experience would be to join the gas lamp lighters for Advent Under the Lantern. Every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (from 6th to 23rd December) at 4.30pm they depart from the Lotrscak Tower to continue this 160-year-old tradition. They will be joined by vocal groups such as the gospel group The Messengers or the female vocal ensemble Cipkice.
Festive Food and Drink
This will be everywhere, ha ha!
One of the absolute best places to try some Christmas treats (and then some) is at Fuliranje (which translates to “Fooling Around”!). Located on Josip Juraj Strossmayer Square, there is a wide range of food vendors offering up some very tasty, filling grub, and plenty of warming drinks, from mulled wine to brandies. But Fuliranje is so much more besides – there will be live DJs, children’s choirs, magical decorations and Santa himself. Fuliranje is one of the most popular elements of Advent in Zagreb, and is also a top place to see in the New Year.
Sweet Zrinjevac in Zrinjevac Park will have all manner of street food stalls selling hearty and warming winter food and drink. (Sausages! Mulled wine!). Set amongst the beautifully decorated trees of the park, it’s one of the top places to go during Advent in Zagreb. This year, it will be open from 12pm to 11pm or 12am daily from 29th November.
Be sure to head to Zagreb’s main Dolac Market from 6pm on 22nd December for the Christmas Pop-Up of PLACe Market. Local chefs and restaurants will be offering all sorts of tasty treats to go along with the festive and fun atmosphere.
One of the first events of Advent in Zagreb will be a concert performed by the famed Zagreb Soloists at the Okotogon at 12pm on Wednesday 29th November.
The Advent Symphony of the City is a performance that will take place in several locations across Zagreb on different days. First taking place at Trg Petrice Kerempuha (just above Dolac market) at 8pm on 7th December, it will certainly put a smile on your face.
The 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatroslav Lisinski Concert Hall will be celebrated from 28th to 30th December with a very full programme of plays, performances, concerts and even guided tours. The grand concert takes place at 7.30pm on Friday 29th December when the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra Symphony and the Symphony Orchestra of Croatian Radiotelevision will perform.
Advent in Zagreb for kids…and for pets?!
What kid doesn’t love anything Christmas? They’re sure to have a good time just being at the Advent in Zagreb celebrations, but if you’re looking for some activities specifically aimed for the younger members of your family, you’re in luck.
Probably one of the most fun events for kids will be the Ice Fairy Tale at Ribjak Park (from 16th December). Fully decorated in icy style, the Snow Queen will be fulfilling the dreams of all children. But if your kids like all things icy, don’t forget about taking them skating at Ice Park (mentioned above) which they will surely be thrilled with.
The Croatian Chamber of Trade at Ilica 49 will be hosting a Craft Advent (2nd to 31st December) where handcrafted wooden toys and games from days gone by will come to life. “Big kids” (i.e. adults) will surely also delight in this, perhaps reminiscing about their childhood.
Certain museums will also have fun events that will delight kids. The Backo Mini Express Train Museum will be running their model trains daily during the Christmas period whilst the Chocolate Museum will be showing off sculptures made of…chocolate! (Of course!)
And yes, what about pets? The Time Out Heritage Hotel will be holding lectures and treats – for four-legged and two-legged friends – with pets even being able to take a photo with Santa. Altogether now – awww!
Not quite for pets, per se, but for pet lovers – Zagreb’s Cat Caffe will be offering a wonderfully festive hot drinks menu; the perfect way to warm up after enjoying all the outdoor fun.
Advent in Zagreb is so chock-a-block full of happenings that we’ve really only just covered the surface…phew!
You can of course find the full rundown of all the festivities taking place on the official Advent in Zagreb website and we would highly recommend you take a look to learn about all the fun things taking place.
Don’t forget to check out our guide to Zagreb for advice on accommodation, transport, restaurants and cafes, things to do with kids and much, much more!