Varazdin Comes Alive as Spancirfest Comes of Age: Great Festival!

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The fabulous creative festival of Spancirfest opened for the 18th time in picturesque Varazdin on August 19, 2016. TCN was there.

It is surely one the most walkable city in Croatia, and certainly one of the prettiest – the delightful old town of Varazdin in northern Croatia, just a short drive from Zagreb, Slovenia, Austria and Hungary opened its streets for the 18th time for one of Croatia’s best festivals, and one for all the family. A festival which celebrates art, culture and creative expresssion literally in every corner of this gorgeous setting.

The tone for the festival was set at the official opening at 21:00 on Friday, with a spectacular 3D mapping of the town hall. Watch most of the show in the video above. 

Spancir comes from an old word for walking, presumably derived from the German ‘spazieren’, and the compact old town of Varazdin has always been a joy to amble around, with wonderful sights at every corner. 

Nature. How many city centres offer this level of beauty and tranquility? 

Striking historic buildings at every turn, all easily accessible in the large pedestrian zone, and the absence of cars undoubtedly adds to the old world charm.  

One of the things that always strikes me on a visit to Varazdin is just how safe it is, and also a paradise for children. If I had to name Croatia’s most family friendly city, I don’t think there is one that would beat Varazdin. 

After morning rain, the sun came out and locals and the many visitors took advantage of the festival atmosphere to relax in the city’ Baroque beauty.  

There are some 400 acts performing over the 10 day festival, which lasts until August 28. While the official headline concerts are very impressive – see them here –  the real soul of the festival is on the streets, with performers seemingly on every corner. 

Here are a couple of examples on the morning of day two, as we went in search of a late breakfast.

The focus on family fun is strong, and there is plenty of entertainment laid on for kids of all ages. 

And there can be few settings prettier than this for a kids park…  

Up she goes… 

And down she comes. 

A friendly, relaxed, family atmosphere. 

This year’s event has a new feature – a dedicated food stall section close to the castle.  

With some caterers offering something a little different. Venezuelan, anyone? 

But to get to the food, the kids need to have a little fun first. 

And then a bit more. 

There were a string of illustrious visitors, included President Kolinda, who seemed to be enjoying herself, flanked by a plethora of men in dark suits. 

She engaged with several of the crowd, including greeting this young child. 


Wherever you went, there was a different choice of music, allowing you to really find the spot for you. 

And Varazdin’s artisan traditions were very much in evidence, with this blacksmith moulding a souvevir you his young client. 

One of my favourite attractions was Vinski Grad (Wine Town), a wonderful collection of some of Croatia’s finest wines available for sampling in a charming central environment. A separate feature will appear shortly on our Total Croatia Wine website.  President Kolinda beat me to it, and was rewarded with a glass of Zlatan Otok’s Posip. 

There were stalls aplenty, including the fabulous OPG Franic – I am a big fan of their unusual honey vinegar. 

And Varazdin of course it the City of Angels. 

With oceans of traditional charm.  

Many local – and not so local – small businesses lined the streets with their stalls, providing excellent choice and quality, and adding significantly to the already fabulous atmosphere. 

Plenty of opportunities for selfie souvenirs. 

And the streets were decorated nicely to add to the party atmosphere. 

Did I mention there was music at every corner? 

These guys were great, some excellent Oasis covers. 

While much of Croatia’s peak season tourism is understandably centred on the coast, events such as Spancirfest offer a totally different dimension to Croatian tourism.  

Tradition, heritage and creativity at every turn. 

And on the way to dinner, it was hard not to stop on several occasions to marvel at the numerous street acts. 

And delight in the pretty streets in the early evening light as the crowds began to arrive. 

But there were quiet spots too in the evening, and smaller attraction which attracted the attention of the younger generation. 

Spancirfest is a REALLY great family occasion, with something for everyone. I encourage you to visit. To learn more about the festival, visit the official website.

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