For all the time I have lived in Dubrovnik, I have scratched my head at the sight of the sheer amount of tourists who flock into this tiny city in summer, and only in summer. Temperatures soar to intolerable heights, traffic jams stretch as far as the eye can see and walking in the Old Town resembles walking through a snake pit. Come Autumn, all those people are gone, come winter, its a ghost town. Visit in winter and enjoy Dubrovnik for what it really is, no Game of Thrones, no Star Wars, no cattle herdi …sorry, walking tours, and much less crowds.
From 18.11.2016 – 01.03.2017, Dubrovnik’s winter festival will present you with a rich programme and a variety of things to do in order to not only enjoy, but experience Dubrovnik in an entirely different manner. Here’s what you can expect this year…
1) Advent in Dubrovnik
Advent u Gradu / Advent in the City begins with the ceremonial lighting of the first Advent candle. Dubrovnik is timelessly unique, and this is made apparent during the month of giving. 2016’s Christmas market will be set up on Stradun, one of the most beautiful streets in the world, where craftsmen will present traditional handicrafts, Christmas decorations, and Christmas sweets local to the area will be on offer, with the harmonious backdrop of Dubrovacka kolenda (Dubrovnik carols), which have been sung on Christmas Eve and on New Year’s Eve for centuries.
The New Year will be greeted by a rich music programme which will begin in the morning of December 31st, New Year’s Eve. The New Year program includes a diverse, entertaining three-day event plan. The New Year will begin with the traditional New Year’s Day 10 km race, which you can read about here: http://www.total-croatia-news.com/item/14615-run-dubrovnik-applications-for-durun10k-are-now-open and contact me regarding here: http://www.durun10k.com/en/ and a special addition will be a concert of Dubrovnik’s Symphony Orchestra, paired with oysters and champagne, beginning on New Year’s Day at noon.
2) The Festivity of Saint Blaise
The Festivity of Saint Blaise, the Day of Dubrovnik’s patron saint – who holds the City in his hand and whose statues proudly adorn the city walls and gates – is an incredibly important day that has been celebrated ever since the year 972. Saint Blaise is woven so deeply into life in Dubrovnik, even in the modern era and this annual cultural celebration is extremely meaningful. A series of concerts, exhibitions, book presentations, and theatrical performances will be dedicated to the patron saint of Dubrovnik, who is believed to eternally watch over and protect the city. The festivities begin with Candlemas on February 2nd, with the most important and indeed impressive event being the religious procession on the actual Day of the Festivity of St. Blaise, which occurs on February 3rd.
3) The Dubrovnik Carnival
A proverb you will likely hear in Dubrovnik during the carnival period is ”I nasi su stari ludovali, pa mozemo i mi!” (Our ancestors also had fun, and so should we!”) and I think we can all agree that those are words we should always aim to live by. People of all ages and walks of life have one day to create and prepare masks, on the last day of carnival a big masquerade party takes place. Who wouldn’t enjoy being in the company of fairy-tale characters, fairies, and elves, (who are probably going to serve you in the bakery the following day, little do you know…) while listening to live music and relaxing in the atmosphere of laughter, light-heartedness and satire?
4) Valentines Day in Dubrovnik
Love it or hate it, Valentines Day rolls around every year and its unavoidable. Whether you’re a lover of Saint Valentine, or you think he is merely there to take your money for no good reason, Dubrovnik’s indescribable atmosphere is sure to change the opinion of even the most passionate protester of Valentines Day. It isn’t exactly news to say Dubrovnik is romantic, in fact it is one of the most romantic cities on earth, and it offers its unique charm, rich culture, history and its timeless beauty 365 days per year, but Valentines Day in such a special atmosphere is priceless. Dubrovnik has earned its title as one of the most romantic places in the world, and with all rights.
So there you have it, just four of the many good reasons to visit Dubrovnik in the winter. While the summer sun is nice, the crowds and the increasing amount of film productions chipping away at Dubrovnik’s soul are not a friend to this city. If you spend all your time trying find GoT filming locations, buying Star Wars merchandise, avoiding walking into someone else, battling with selfie sticks and running for shade, are you really experiencing Dubrovnik? Come in winter and I think the above question will answer itself.