February 13, 2020 – While the carnival season lasts in Croatia until Shrove Tuesday, the highlight of this year’s carnival celebrations in Opatija will take place this weekend, February 14 – 16.
Three of the main carnival events in Opatija will take place: a concert by numerous local klapa choirs will happen on Friday night (which is also Valentine’s day evening, so it’s obvious that love songs will be the focus of the evening). On Saturday a dance party will be held in the Gervais club, announced as the traditional old dance party for the carnival, and the organisers expect that the dance floor will be filled for the entire evening.
On Sunday, you’re invited to visit Opatija and their traditional Balinjerada race. The name of the race comes from the local term for a ball bearing and can be translated as an “exhibition of ball bearings”.
But, it’s much more fun than what it sounds: it’s a race in which only the vehicles built to run on ball bearings are allowed to participate! This year the costumed race will take place for the 37th time.
The Opatija Tourist Board have protected the trademark Balinjerada, so now Opatija is the only place in the world where such a race should take place. It’s often said to be the craziest race in the world, and even visitors are invited to participate.
There’s a part of the program called Taxi Balinjera, in which the visitors, helped by experienced riders, can take a spin on the ball bearings of the carts made for just that purpose on the course that runs from Paris Hotel all the way down to Slatina. The race itself of the “professionals” running the carts will take place at midday, and after that a procession of the masked groups and colorful carts will entertain the visitors.
With the race and all of the events taking place in the centre of town, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the traffic will be forbidden there on Sunday between 9am and 3pm.