Advent in Zagreb 2022: Global Promotion, Global Media Hit

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Zagreb Tourist Board
Zagreb Tourist Board

Of all the Croatian tourism events that I have followed over the last decade writing for TCN and Google News, none has impressed me as much as the story of Advent in Zagreb. From extremely humble beginnings on Ban Jelacic Square with just a few stalls, it was rebranded as Advent in Zagreb in 2010. Just six years later, in 2016, Advent in Zagreb was named the Best Christmas Market in Europe, a title it went on to defend in 2017 and 2018. You can read the story of the rise of Advent in this feature story on TCN – From Zero to European Champion: a History of Advent in Zagreb.

As Croatia talks about 12-month tourism, here was an example of how to take an event from nothing and make it one of the major events of the year, with almost every town in Croatia following suit with their own Advent offerings. I remember when I first came to live in Croatia back in 2002 in Jelsa on Hvar. The Christmas tree would go up on the main square on December 15, and that was that. Now there is a programme of events and gathering places throughout December in most bigger communities all over the country.  


Five years ago, Zagreb Tourist Board won a FIJET award at the Croatian Association of Journalists for their promotion of Advent in Zagreb, and they gave an excellent presentation of the work behind the scenes promoting this new international event ,which I covered in detail in Advent in Zagreb: The Campaign Behind Europe’s Best Christmas Market. The numbers quoted presented back then of the growth in tourism were certainly impressive, even more so when you look at the bigger picture from 2010 – 2019, below.  

  • In December 2010, the number of arrivals and overnight stays increased to 34,824 arrivals and 59,023 overnights, a 6 percent growth in arrivals and 5 percent growth in overnight stays compared to December 2009;
  • In December 2019, 134,078 people visited Zagreb, staying 251,645 nights. Compared to December 2018, the statistics indicate a 9 percent growth in arrivals and a 9 percent growth in overnight stays.

What impressed me at that presentation back in 2017 was how visible Advent in Zagreb was on international markets, with its campaign both online and offline – the trams of Milan, below. 


Then came the pandemic, and the world closed down for much of 2020, with big events still not back in 2021. But Advent in Zagreb continued to maintain a presence, albeit it largely in hybrid form for two years, until this year. 

And, reading the international media, one could be forgiven for thinking that the pandemic had never happened, as Zagreb continued exactly where it left off in 2019 – with a raft of international promotion and media column inches. 


Welcoming images of a lively Zagreb in December appeared once more in some of the major publications around the world.  The Guardian, for example, chose a welcoming image of Zrinjevac as its headline image of Santa shops here: 10 of Europe’s coolest Christmas markets. That recognition of Zagreb’s prominence on the Advent stage in Europe has so far been echoed in additional articles in CNN, The Mirror, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, The Independent, and Conde Nast Traveller.

Martina Bienenfeld, CEO of the Zagreb Tourist Board, gave a little more detail on the international efforts and success of the promotion of Advent in Zagreb in a recent statement last month:

“Just as in the article itself it is written – Zagreb’s Advent has recently strengthened itself among the best in Europe, so we are especially happy with announcements like this because additionally position our city on the European map of Christmas markets. Also, I would point out that and the news about Advent Zagreb, in its monthly newsletter, was also reported by UNWTO, which includes 160 member states and more than 500 associated members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourist authorities. And we can see by checking the platform itself that the capacity occupancy in Zagreb for the first weekend of Advent is already more than 82., Therefore, I expect that Advent in Zagreb, after two pandemic years, will again show that it is one of the most important events for Zagreb and Croatian tourism.

“Let me remind you, in the Tourist Board of the City of Zagreb, we started with international offline and online promotion via Google, social networks, native articles as well as of mobile advertising in Europe, the USA and Canada, in a total of 21 markets. This year, we are especially promoting Advent on the well-known tourist portal Expedia on the US market, as well as on the Smithsonian portal as part of the multi-month destination campaigns. We also achieved our traditional promotional cooperation with Croatia Airlines, Turkish Airlines and Croatian Railways with whom we secured special prices tickets for visiting Zagreb Advent.”

The atmosphere around Zagreb at the moment is fantastic, with Advent and Croatia’s incedible World Cup run proving to be a winning combination. You can learn more about Advent in Zagreb 2022 and its programme on the official website


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