Balinjerada: Small-Scale Costumed Race Held in Opatija, Main Event Pushed to Summer

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Video screenshot / Novi list

Balinjerada, the iconic costumed soapbox race held each year in Opatija during the carnival festivities, had a preview of its 2022 edition on Sunday.

This year’s event was toned down significantly in comparison with its usual scale, only featuring a handful of costumed racers who took their handmade builds for a spin down the main street in Opatija.

Just as the International Carnival Parade in Rijeka was rescheduled for the summer because of epidemiological measures, so has the regular edition of the popular race in Opatija. Balinjerada will be back in its full glory later this year, as reported by Novi list.

And yet, one cannot ignore tradition. There’s a local saying that warns it’s ‘better to bring down the village than forsake old customs’, and so a few fervent carnival lovers donned colourful attire and brought a smile to all faces in town when they showed up with their makeshift vehicles in Opatija earlier today:

Video: Novi list / Marko Gracin

It was a ‘light’ Balinjerada, an informal version of the popular racing event, to carry us over until June 11th when the real thing is supposed to take place.

Balinjerada is a costumed race featuring homemade vehicles that run on ball bearings alone; they’re called balinjera in the local dialect, hence the name of the event.

It’s a manifestation rooted in creativity and enthusiasm, with the hilarious fleet proving year after year that imagination really knows no bounds. From simple scooters and tricycles to shaky carts of elaborate design that fit a dozen people, the vehicles are known to elicit roaring laughs from the delighted crowd of spectators lining the street.

Naturally, it’s much more entertaining in its traditional format, one that features ambitious builds and numerous racing teams in themed costumes. Watch the video below, filmed at the 2016 edition of Balinjerada, to get a better idea of what happens in Opatija during the carnival season. If nothing else, it has to be admired that most of these didn’t crash at the first turn:


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