Japanese Cultural Flair Adds Colour and Style to Varazdin Baroque Evenings

Total Croatia News


September 22, 2018 – The old town of Varazdin oozes additional charm with a decidedly Japanese flair. A wander around the streets of the old town on the opening night of this year’s Varazdin Baroque Evenings. 

From the moment I first visited Varazdin three years ago, I realised I had stumbled upon one of the true underrated gems of Croatian tourism. Located just an hour’s drive from Zagreb, and a short drive from Hungary, Slovenia and Austria, this former capital of Croatia is perfectly located for a wide catchment area of tourists. Its old town is one of the most beautiful towns I have seen anywhere, and when there is a special occasion, such as the Spancirfest street festival every August, the old town of Varazdin is even more magical.  


Since moving to the area a couple of years ago, I have learned that one of the nicest times to hit its ancient streets is the opening night of the Varazdin Baroque Evenings festival, which has been taking place every year since 1971, and which each year celebrates the festival with a partner country. Last year it was Hungary, and it was a joy to wander around Varazdin Castle and enjoy the Hungarian-themed Varazdin Flower Exhibition, before enjoying a young Hungarian children’s folklore group performing on the streets of the old town. 


This year’s partner country is Japan and – perhaps hoping for a sample of sushi somewhere along the way – we headed off into town. We did not have tickets for the opening concert at Varazdin Cathedral, but the concert was shown live on national television. And if you didn’t have a television, simply head into the old town, where it was screened on the facade of Varazdin City Hall.  

While the square looked glorious as always, we were here for the famous Japanese Kiyo Kito Taiko drummers, who put on quite a show (see above).  


My passion for benches is well-documented after 13 years of living in Dalmatia, and I was impressed with this Japanese-themed bench, as we headed to the castle to check out the floral displays. 


Japan and Croatia are celebrating 25 years of diplomatic relations in 2018. 

A tour of the palace interior with all the Japanese-themed flowers and bonsai trees before the official reception began. 


We even found our sushi – sort of. A superb floral arrangement depicting Japan’s most famous cuisine. 

We retreated to the castle grounds to watch some quite superb Baroque string music, and then something altogether different with a modern twist – have you ever heard The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony performed quite like this? (see above). 

Varazdin Baroque Evenings continues until October 3.. 


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