Much has been said about the glorious Advent month of December on Zagreb’s streets. But this being my blog I get to say what I like. And what I like are the megawatts of Christmas lights strewn all around the Zagreb’s streets and squares. The lights and the amazing variety of mulled wine that’s on offer practically everywhere until the end of January.
The Christmas market stalls are laden with arts and crafts merchandise and street food and drink – from German-style sausages and mini doughnuts fritule to world cuisine combining Continental, Mediterranean and Eastern flavours and ingredients. The majority of stalls are located around the Ban Jelačić main square (also accommodating a large stage showcasing classical and rock music events), the Flower Square a few hundred metres away and a stretch of parks just south of the centre. The park Zrinjevac and its 19th century Music Pavilion stage a great variety of food, drink and live music events, ranging from evergreen and jazz to rock, classical and Christmas tunes. Nearer the main train station, Tomislav Park is transformed into the most remarkable setting for a winter open-air skating park with a magnificent backdrop of the Art Pavilion in purple, blue and orange hues.
The streets are brimming with people, music and art and Zagreb’s perfectly manageable size means that everything is accessible on foot, even for young families and those of advanced years.
And it is those people that you see – ordinary families, kids with grandparents and groups of youngsters stopping on their way from school or to the party that really set Zagreb apart from your typical “tourist stuff”. The fact that it is not made up for tourists alone. You are not taking part in some staged Christmas show with fake backdrop scenery or smiles. Rather, it is you who are especially invited to join in the wonderful and joyful Christmas celebration with the Zagreb people. Merry Christmas!