May 7, 2023 – An historic month in Hvar Town, as Croatia’s premier island prepares to showcase some important anniversaries – a divine time to visit.
In many ways, I think that Hvar Town is the complete destination in Croatian tourism, and I am not just saying that because that magical island was my home for 13 years.
It literally has EVERYTHING. From the most UNESCO island heritage of any island in the world, and the oldest public theatre in Europe, to the most sun in Croatia and the birthplace of organised tourism in Europe. Oh, and THOSE Pakleni Islands. Whether you are looking for culture or wine (this, the island with the most indigenous grape varieties of any Croatian island), vibrant nightlife or lavender festivals, this is the place to come.
But, as much as Hvar Town enjoys an embarrassment of tourism riches catering to all kinds of tourists, from family to party, it is also a very versatile destination throughout the year. July and August are obviously the busiest, where the beaches, bars and restaurants are packed, and the town is buzzing. But shoulder season Hvar is a much different proposition, and one where the slower pace of life and smaller crowds allow you to explore the rich heritage and culture of this incredible island.
And there is no better time to visit than May if you want to explore the finest that Hvar has to offer. Especially May, 2023, a month of culture, tradition and gastronomy, while celebrating some rather important anniversaries.
When I first started writing about the island on my Total Hvar blog back in 2011, May 10 was known as the unofficial start of the tourism season in Hvar Town. for this was the feast day of the patron saint of the town, St Prosper, a day of festivities, including Mass and a religious parade through the centre, a fair showcasing domestic products, and a competitive gastro show, where local restaurants come together to prepare dishes in friendly competition for tourists to enjoy.
Times change, and the Hvar season is already in full swing, and the St Prosper celebrations this year have been extended to incorporate two significant anniversaries for the town.
Some 155 years ago, on May 15, 1868, the Hvar Health Society was founded, with the first hotel on the site where today’s luxury 5-star Palace Elisabeth hvar heritage hotel stands. It was the birthplace of organised tourism in Europe, just across the square from the Arsenal building, whose top floor houses the oldest public theatre in Europe, dating back to 1612.
Did I mention that this is a destination that has it all?
A destination which has it all must be known for its gastronomy, and Hvar certainly is. Indeed, this year, the island will be celebrating 10 years of inclusion – along with Brac and 7 other destination around the region – of its Mediterranean Diet listed as intangible UNESCO heritage. Along with the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Stari Grad Plain, intangible heritages of the Za Krizen procession, Benedictine lace, art of dry stone walling, and the klapa of southern Dalmatian, Hvar’s six UNESCO heritages are the most of any island in the world.
All these anniversaries and events have combined to bring a spectacular cultural start to the season for this outstanding destination, with a celebration of the Mediterranean diet, theatre and 155 years of organised tourism. And the festivities have already begun. Here are the key things that should be getting you onto a catamaran to Hvar Town this month:
Celebrations of St Prosper have now become and 8-day affair, starting with the salting of the sardines last Friday. You can see the programme above, with the main day being the 10th as usual, including a kids dance in front of the loggia.
The Mediterranean Diet’s 10th anniversary will be celebrated as part of the St Prosper festivities, with a special two-day programme celebrating the island’s food and wine. You can see the full programme here.
There will also be another anniversary, as the historic Hvar theatre will be hosting the 50th edition of Hvar Theatre Days from May 16-19, a unique chance for you to enjoy live performances inside the oldest theatre in Europe. You can see the programme here.
And, on the anniversary of 155 years of organised tourism, the opening of a rather excellent initiative, which will run until July 20 – the Made in Croatia exhibition inside the Arsenal and below the theatre.
One of the things I have noticed about Croatian tourism over the years is the tendency to just promote the immediate area, and so I am delighted to see that this multi-media exhibition covers the whole country, inviting visitors to get to know the greatest Croatian minds, exploring their inventions and achievements of civilisation, and to see the impact that they have had on the world. A superb addition of quality content for the town for over two months of the season. Among the Croatian minds represented will be the inventor of the pen, the parachute, and the godfather of dactyloscopy, Hvar-born Ivan Vucetic. As well as a certain Nikola Tesla… More on this here.
From culture to sport, and Hvar is known as an activity island. It was here, for example, that Bahrain Merida chose for its cycling winter training. But the sporting focus on May 20 and 21 will be on pro basketball, with Hvar Town chosen to kick off a new Olympic sport on the island.
In the beautiful surroundings of Hvarska Pjaca, enjoy the moves of 3×3 basketball masters. Great fun is guaranteed! After the spectacle in 2022, when the PRO 3×3 Tour was organized in the attractive locations of 10Croatian cities, this great story continues in the period from the second half of May to the middle of August 2023, and the first stop is precisely the sunniest island. You can visit the official PRO 3×3 site here.
An excellent few weeks of quality entertainment in store, showcasing the very best culture, tradition and gastronomy that Hvar has to offer. With free sunshine, beaches, as well as the availability of the Pakleni Islands thrown in.
Is there a destination in Croatia which offers more diversity?