Virtual Christmas Windows: How AR is Augmenting Advent in Zagreb Reality

Total Croatia News

December 11, 2020 – The pandemic has necessitated a fresh approach for Advent in Zagreb. Meet Virtual Christmas Windows, a new AR approach to the festive season. 

The uncertainty caused by coronavirus has entered every aspect of our lives this year, nowhere more so than event planning.  

Big events necessarily need to be planned in advance, and with the uncertainty of a fresh outbreak, the challenges of adapting to late changes are considerable. Nowhere has this been more true than the award-winning Advent in Zagreb, which has become one of the defining tourism spectacles of the Croatian capital in a short space of time, after Zagreb was voted Best Christmas Market in Europe three years in a row. The city in December was transformed from a relatively quiet winter metropolis to a beacon of light and festive cheers, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists and providing a late-season boost for the Croatian tourism industry. 

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The tourism chiefs decided that Advent in Zagreb 2020 would go ahead, albeit in a very different format to previous years. With a strong emphasis on art and culture, a rich programme of concerts can be enjoyed virtually, and efforts were made to give the city its festive feel without the crowds gathering for their traditional mulled wine and sausages in the wooden stalls dotted all over the city. 

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One of the most innovative ways of achieving this is the Zagreb Virtual Christmas Windows project, the first time that Augmented Reality (AR) has been used in such a way at Advent in Zagreb.  For many people, this will be their first experience with Augmented Reality, allowing them to see and interact with virtual, 3D objects, inspiring and heartwarming art, all of which can be accessed with your smartphone.

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The project has been developed in partnership with AR specialists Equinox XR, which is run by Ivan Voras, co-founder of the popular Surove Strasti podcast. The artwork was inspired by the holiday season, by the need for people to stay safe indoors, and by the stylised look of some of the old town buildings. Equinox received the 2D artwork envisioned by Zoran Djukic and drawn by Mateja Kovac, which was then transformed to a 3D experience by 3D designer, Igor Puskaric. The artwork depicts windows in wintertime, with people staying safe in their homes. Viewers can peek into the windows and see a slice of life, accompanied by appropriate sounds and music specific to each window.

It is a very atmospheric and immersive experience, an art form which enriches a location with visual and auditory cues and pulls the viewer into a certain mood, while being present in familiar places.

The AR artwork can be found in 20 locations all over Zagreb, in parks and squares. 

In order to access the content, simply download the Equinox XR application, which is available on Google Play here, and in the iStore here. Once you have opened the app, go to ‘Advent Zagreb’ and get started! The app will then display information on what is available in the immediate vicinity. Simply click on the icon which appears on your mobile phone screen, and you will be guided to the exact place where the exhibition is located. By rotating your mobile phone, as if you are to take a photo, you can go through the exhibition and interactively participate in it – take photos or share content on social media. You can get a teaser in the video below.

If you are unable to make it to Zagreb this Advent, you could still have the opportunity to experience Virtual Christmas Windows in your home town. There are plans to expand this service to locations around Zagreb, other cities in Croatia, and even internationally. More information as we get it, but as you can see from the map above, Pula, Split, Rijeka and Osijek have also been included. 

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A nice festive touch in these socially distanced times, and a great example of how technology and tradition can adapt to the unique challenges of 2020. 

To learn more about the Advent in Zagreb 2020 programme, visit the official website

For the latest news from Zagreb, visit the dedicated TCN section

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And some images from Split…

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