First Opatija Camellia Festival Paints the Town (PHOTOS)

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Slobodan Kadic
Slobodan Kadic

Again, these fragrant flowers in the first days of April beautified the already fabulous Opatija. The Association of Camellia Lovers organized the traditional 14th exhibition, which has grown into the Camellia Festival this year.


The J. Šporer Art Pavilion in the heart of Opatija was the scene of this unique event that is being talked about throughout the region. In addition to choosing the most beautiful camellia, a carousel of various events dazzled the city. According to Mira Shalabi, president of the Association, they have been thinking about the festival for the past years, but the coronavirus atmosphere prevented them from doing so.


“Many helped, from the City of Opatija to the Opatija Tourist Board and Kvarner and others. Angiolina Park also looks magnificent, and altogether it has completed the tourist offer,” says Shalabi, emphasizing that they currently have about a hundred valuable members. 


Katica Dražić, a camellia expert at Opatija Kindergarten, presented a camellia bush and flower to the children. A workshop on camellia cultivation was held in the Angiolina Park nursery and the topics were agrotechnical measures, transplanting from cuttings, marcotting, protection, and care. Lectures were given by Jan Bernd-Urban, founder of the Association of Camellia Lovers and an expert in the history of camellias and Opatija, and Romana Lekić, advisor to the Dean for Tourism at Edward Bernays Zagreb in Villa Antonio, presented the symbol of love camellia and magic of Angiolina Park.




The musical performances at the opening featured Olga Šober, national champion of opera and maestro Nada Matošević Orešković with the aria “E strano” from the opera La Traviata, guitarist Natko Štiglić, the choir of the elementary school R.K. Jeret and young accordionist Dorian Rubesha.


“On Saturday, a guided walk through Angiolina Park was organized, a visit to the exhibitions in the Sporer pavilion, voting for the most beautiful camellia flower, and a presentation and tasting of green tea “Camellia sinensis” in the nearby town of Veprinac. The Zora ensemble delighted the audience with their dances, and Vivien Galletta, Goranka, and Marin Tuhtan from HNK Rijeka sang several popular arias,” added Shalabi, thanking many members of FIJET, the Association of Tourist Journalists and writers in tourism on arrival.


The most beautiful camellias were awarded to Boško Lukić, Nada Grizilo, and Vesna Komadina.

All photos by Slobodan Kadic

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