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Guide To Christmas & Advent In Zadar, Croatia 2019
You might think that Zadar, sitting pretty on the Dalmatian Coast, is only a summer destination. Wrong!
My hometown has loads to offer all-year-round; it’s just that you may never see that side on those ‘lists’ that do the rounds on social media.
Be sure to jump on a plane and enjoy Zadar outside of summer. There are way fewer people in your way, and there are fun things to do, other than swim at the beach.
Winter in Croatia, and especially in Zadar, is quiet. There is no question about that, but that’s the charm if you ask me. During advent, the city comes alive with lights, scents of delicious mulled wine and Croatian sweet treats in the air, music plays in the square, and, you can don your ice-skates. There is an air of fun for everyone!
This year’s Advent in Zadar program is set to be bigger than ever before. This is the fifth edition of the Zadar Advent, and the organizers have spared no money or effort to make it the very best one so far.
See below for an extensive overview of what to do during the Zadar Advent and Christmas celebrations.
Zadar Advent Activities
This is a six-week-long program of events that will entice even the Grinch to come out and play.
Lasting between the end of November and the very beginning of January every year, there is a fun-filled feel around the entire city. This year (2019), the celebrations will start on November 22 with an ice skating rink opening ceremony and continue through January 1, 2020. That’s no fewer than 40 days of winter holiday fun!
Pass the mulled wine.
You can expect children’s workshops, sweet treats, local delicacies, music, concerts, dancing, face painting, all served with a side mulled wine and craft beers.
2019 looks set to be bigger and better than last year, which will certainly take some beating! Maybe you’ll find Santa handing out delicious candies and having his photo taken with eager children.
Most of the events take place in Petar Zoranic Square; however, you will find celebrations spreading out across the rest of the city too. The square lights up almost like a fairy tale, and it’s undoubtedly an Insta-worthy snap for your collection!
Zadar Christmas Market At Petar Zoranic Square
Arguably the main event and location during Advent in Zadar is the Christmas market at Petar Zoranic Square. Decorated with countless atmospheric Christmas lights, this square in the Old Town really is the place to be in Zadar at the end of the year.
There’s also an extensive musical program at the Zadar Christmas market, which will satisfy all tastes. From traditional Croatian bands to DJs, pop singers, and soul musicians, there’s no lack of musical choices here.
Indulge In Amazing Food
The Christmas market in Zadar’s Petar Zoranic Square is so amazing because of its typical Christmas atmosphere. It features cozy lights and a welcoming vibe, but also lots of sensational food.
Pass the fritule.
There, you’ll find dozens of booths where you can buy various gastronomic delights, from warm smoothies and mulled wine to ćevapi, smoked bacon sandwiches, homemade appetizers, and lots of different sausages (this is Croatia, after all!).
You better start getting hungry already! Here are some of the food options that we recommend at the Zadar Christmas market (listed by location):
- A1 Gourmet Kalelarga: codfish balls, breaded codfish balls, and codfish in bianco, as well as churros
- A6 Santa Fe: game sausages and tramezzini tuna sandwiches
- A10 UNUSUAL Winterhouse: slow-cooked beef cheeks brioche sandwiches and Blacky Burger (voted the best burger of 2018)
- A12 Mala kućica: beans and divenica (blood) sausages, seasoned with winter spices, and a Premium Burger, as well as Sliders, pulled pork sandwiches and fish and chips
- B1 Crisogono: smoked bacon sandwich with special sauce and cabbage, deluxe sandwich with homemade sausage in sweet mustard and cabbage sauce, beef with gnocchi and kids burger surprise
- B2 Plan B: oš-neš fritule (traditional fried-dough balls) and stani-pani crêpes
- B4 Kiara: sarma and homemade sausages
- B7 Tri praščića: grilled chicken, ćevapi, hamburgers, and homemade sausages served with cabbage. Also some sweet treats like crêpes and fritule
- B11 Viking 2: 100 % natural warm smoothies with the flavors of ginger, lemon, orange, honey, chokeberry, and cranberry
- B12 Slavonska čarolija: homemade Slavonian sausages and ham hock, both served in warm buns with various sides
Festive Fun At Kampo Kastelo
Head towards the historic quarter and visit Kampo Kastelo, where you’ll find another program of events, mostly aimed towards keeping the children occupied during the run-up to the biggest day of the year.
You’ll find interactive games, music, and plenty of delicious treats. Check out the small wooden huts, most of which serve one particular local specialty to try – fritule!
A Sweet Feel to The Forum
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure to head to the Forum where you’ll be able to enjoy Nasi Mali Gusti, which basically means “our delightful little treats.” You’ll be able to try sweets, cookies, and other candies while enjoying the Christmas music and lights. Of course, you can do a little Christmas shopping whilst you’re there!
Zadar Christmas Market For Kids
Advent in Zadar is not only amazing fun for adults. Children, too, will have a blast during the Zadar end-of-the-year festivities. There are numerous children’s activities through November and December.
Starting on November 23, with the opening of the 2019 Children’s Christmas Market program in Zadar, these entertaining events will continue until December 31, which is when the “Kids Welcome Zadar 2019” New Year’s Eve event takes place.
Other noteworthy kid-friendly activities include the Arrival of St. Nicholas on December 6 from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., and the Arrival of Santa Claus on December 24, also between 10.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. On other days, the Little Elves’ Christmas Factory is sure to entertain all the younger visitors.
Ice Skating at Visnjik
No need to be a pro skater to enjoy this. Ice skating and Christmas go hand in hand in Europe, so don your skates and attempt to glide around this huge 600 square meters open-air rink at the Visnjik Sports Centre.
The rink is open for adults and children alike, and particularly magical during the evening. You can rent everything you need – including ice pushchairs for the littlest of guests.
The rink will open November 24, until January 15, 2020.
- Monday – Thursday: 11 am – 8 pm
- Friday: 11 am – 9 pm
- Saturday and Sunday: 9 am – 9 pm
Grab Your Walking Shoes
Put on your best travel shoes, as the Advent period is when Zadar’s businesses all join forces and offer the “Stroll Around The City” initiative. This aims to get visitors and locals mingling, enjoying everything the city has to offer, doing a spot of shopping and checking out the local sights you might otherwise miss.
Coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, and museums all offer something fun-filled every single day, with music, lights, and general merriment. Foodies, especially, will enjoy this initiative since various Zadar restaurants will participate once again this year. They’ll offer daily menus for only HRK 60 – 75 until 6 p.m. every day (or until they run out of ingredients).
This town-wide walking event starts on November 22 and lasts until January 15, 2020.
Catch A Play Or Concert At The Zadar Theatre
Until the end of the year, Croatian National Theatre in Zadar hosts a wide variety of musical and theatrical programs. This is their well-filled schedule:
- Thursday, December 5, 8. p.m. (premiere, CNT Zadar): Yasmina Reza, Tri verzije života (Trois versions de la vie / Life x 3)
- Friday, December 6, 8 p.m. (play, CNT Zadar): Yasmina Reza, Tri verzije života (Trois versions de la vie / Life x 3)
- Saturday, December 7, 8 p.m. (concert): Đani Maršan and klapa (traditional a cappella singing group) Kaleta, Zadar u srcu (Zadar in Our Hearts)
- Wednesday, December 11, 7 p.m. (play): The Zadar Theatrical Association Igrajmo se, Ivica Bednjanec, Durica. Directed by: Matija Šango Šimurina
- Saturday, December 14, 8 p.m. (concert): Gradska glazba and Vodička glazba (the brass bands of the City of Zadar and the town of Vodice), Filmska večer (A Film Night). Free entrance
- Monday, December 16, 8 p.m. (play, CNT Šibenik): Miroslav Krleža, Leda
- Tuesday, December 17, 8 p.m. (concert): Traditional Christmas Concert of the CNT Zadar, South Carolina Mass Choir
- Thursday, December 19, 8 p.m. (play): Drama Plus, H. C. Andersen, The Little Match Girl
- Friday, December 20, 7 p.m. (dance performance): The Dance Section of the “Blagoje Bersa” Music School, Božićna čestitka (A Christmas Card)
- Enjoy Special Holiday Programs At Zadar Museums
In addition to many restaurants in Zadar, the city’s museums also have various fun, informative, and entertaining programs going on during Advent in Zadar. Most of them involve discounted prices for souvenirs and tickets.
The museums that are participating in this year’s Christmas celebrations in Zadar are the Zadar National Museum, the Zadar Archaeological Museum, the extraordinary Museum of Illusions, the Antique Glass Museum, and the Zadar Puppet Theatre. Many of them have special exhibitions,which you can visit for a discounted price.
This year certainly looks to be bigger and better than anything that has passed. So grab your Santa hat and look forward to Advent in Zadar 2019!
Main photo credit: Like Zadar Tourist Board Facebook Page
Other Ways To Enjoy The Holidays In The Balkans
- What To Do In Slovenia In Winter
- Christmas In Croatia: Traditions & Markets
- Best Christmas Markets In The Balkans
- Croatian Recipes – Christmas Cookies
- Advent In Zagreb – Ultimate Guide
- 7 Best Ski Resorts In Serbia