Festival of Lights 2022 continues Zagreb’s innovative winter tourism
March 15, 2022 – A March treat for the people of Zagreb, as the 4th edition of the Festival of Lights kicks off tomorrow, with quite the program.
Some things change, and some things stay the same.
I have been writing about tourism in Croatia for more than a decade now, and every year there is little new to write about certain destinations. Many on the coast offer sun and sea, as they have for 50 years, and tourists arrive like clockwork.
(Photo J. Duval)
But there are other destinations that are working hard and investing in new ideas to create successful tourism products from scratch. There is no better example of this than Zagreb, which ten years ago was not really considered a major destination. How times change!
It’s not just the new generation of visitors flocking to the Croatian capital – Zagreb was recently named the world’s 5th most popular city for digital nomads – but also the success the city has had in creating tourism in times of the year when there were none. previously.
(Photo S. Kastelan)
Ten years ago, the concept of Advent in Croatia as a tourist spectacle barely existed, yet Advent in Zagreb has become a global phenomenon, voted Europe’s best Christmas market three years in a row. Without the pandemic, Advent would have become even more established.
And a second – and very innovative – Zagreb Winter Festival kicks off this week, adding plenty of life and color to those dark and colder winter nights, as the 4th edition of the Festival of Lights will take place from 16-20 March, transforming some 30 locations throughout Upper and Lower Town into a myriad of color and light.
(Photo D. Miloslavic)
Organized by the Zagreb Tourist Board and its partners, the city will become a canvas of art through lighting, celebrating art, architecture, design and outdoor entertainment. The festival will be evenly split between Upper Town (16 locations) and Lower Town (15 locations), with a total of 32 light attractions in all. Since its inception, the festival has been part of the Festival of Lights International, alongside New York and Berlin, and this international flavor will be represented by two visiting collaborations from Berlin and Sarajevo, a first for the festival.
(Photo M. Mihaljevic)
An interactive light sculpture called the Heart of Europe will be installed by guests from Sarajevo in the European Square. Thanks to 3D mapping, the Heart of Europe will follow the rhythm of a heartbeat, allowing visitors to write or read their wishes for a better future thanks to AI. The Berlin authors will have two installations of Earth and Mars, both over 4m high, on Preradovic Square and Tkalciceva Street.
And the German capital will also put the spotlight on the culture of Zagreb, as the famous Berlin Festival of Lights will illuminate the Croatian National Theatre, the Museum of Arts and Crafts and the Mimara Museum with 3D mapping, representing the historical and cultural heritage from the city.
(Photo M. Mihaljevic)
One of the things I love about approaching Zagreb to tourism is its sense of inclusiveness, bringing together different aspects of the city’s cultural life. For the first time, a theater will take part in the Zagreb Festival of Lights, with the City Drama Theater Gavella performing at the Observatory. The UNICEF Reality Museum at the Zagreb Dance Center is also worth a visit.
No winter event in Zagreb, it seems, can take place without a healthy look. The Advent Run, where participants run through the city streets dressed in festive costumes, has become one of the top Advent attractions in Zagreb, and the Festival of Lights has its own counterpart, in what might be the most translucent race in the world. Get ready for a very colorful night run with the Glow Run theme, which will take place at 22:00 on Saturday March 19, starting from Marulic Square.
Zagreb has a strong tradition of celebrating strong women who have left their mark on Croatian history, and these will also be celebrated. Head to the Zagreb City Museum to see and hear light music attractions dedicated to Croatian opera divas, or to the walls of the Strossmayer School in Varsavska Street, and see how many women you can recognize who left their mark on Croatian cultural history.
(Photo S. Kastelan)
The amazing light shows will of course mesmerize the little ones, but they can also enjoy their own light experiences, as three light play areas have been specially prepared for their entertainment – Dubravkin Put, Mazuranic Square and east of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts (HAZU).
An entire program. And the light-up celebrations begin long before you reach the center. The Zagreb Tourist Board has organized a promotional agreement with Croatia Airlines for those coming to the festival, and visitors to Zagreb Airport will be greeted with flower installations at two locations.
(Photo S. Kastelan)
It all starts on Wednesday March 16 at 6 p.m. with the Croatian National Theatre. As has become tradition, light shows will take place every evening for 5 days, from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., a wonderful opportunity to stroll through the enchanting streets of Zagreb and see them truly full of life. Particular attention was paid to the problem of light pollution, hence the very precise timing per day.
And the best news is that entry to the festival is completely free. You can learn a lot more about the festival, including a map of all facilities on the official Festival website.
It promises to be a very colorful event, as well as a fitting way to say goodbye to winter. For soon the clocks will be ticking forward, another hour of natural light, as the days get longer and we head into another magical season of spring and summer in Zagreb. But this is another story.
Winters can be long, but if you’re in Zagreb they can be very colorful and action-packed. To join the Facebook event, click here.
Not sure what to expect? Here’s a little teaser from the official Zagreb Lights Festival promo video, above.
And if you want to know a little more about this magical capital, check out the Total Croatia Zagreb in a Page guide.