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Joining the Party at Dubrovnik’s Winter Festival Kickoff

Last updated Dec 13, 2019 | Published on Dec 13, 2019

Saturday, November 30 to Sunday, December 1, 2019
Vagabonding Days 61-62
Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Daniel and I sit at a table in the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, sipping mulled wine and watching passersby. Stradun street is festooned with twinkling lights and lined with holiday booths selling traditional food and drinks. The street is packed with families and we have difficulty making our way through the crowds. We begin to get an idea of what it must be like to visit Dubrovnik in the busy summer months. But this crowd is primarily comprised of locals, not foreigners.

We arrived in Dubrovnik a few hours ago by bus from Kotor, Montenegro. We hadn’t planned to return so soon when we left the previous week. After leaving Kotor, we intended to go to Albania and then travel through North Macedonia and Kosovo en route to Bosnia & Herzegovina. But it was proving challenging to figure out reasonable travel options via public transportation. I suspect this will get easier with experience, but we are still fairly new at this and learning as we go.

When a massive earthquake struck Albania during our stay in Kotor, we decided it was time for a new plan. Coincidentally, Dubrovnik’s Winter Festival was scheduled to kick off the same day that we planned to leave Kotor. It seemed like too good of an opportunity to miss. So we got on a bus and headed right back to Dubrovnik to check it out.

The Dubrovnik Winter Festival (Dubrovački zimski festival) is a joyful affair, featuring market stalls with holiday treats as well as concerts, caroling, lights, and fun events for all ages. Festive events are held in neighborhoods all across town for an entire month. Apparently it is considered small as far as European Christmas festivals go, especially in comparison with bigger cities such as Zagreb. But we were absolutely delighted.

The festival kicked off on November 30th this year with the lighting of the first Advent Candle and illumination of all the holiday lights. Daniel and I arrived as the holiday market stalls were opening their doors for the first time – selling sausages, doughnuts, mulled wine, rum punch and other goodies. We managed to miss the switch-on of all the lights as we were drinking mulled gin with some locals at one of the market stalls, but we did catch the end of the programme. A group of children sang (or, more accurately, yelled) traditional Croatian Christmas at the top of their lungs on the steps of The Church of St. Blaise. It was absolutely adorable.

The evening ended with a concert by Croatian band The Frajle, an upbeat ladies quartet which is apparently quite popular as the entire audience sang right along. They performed on a stage set up in front of the Church of St. Blaise, with Dubrovnik’s 15th century clock tower providing an elegant backdrop. I’ve always wanted to see a concert in some sort of ancient historic location. I guess you can’t get more historic than Dubrovnik!

As we continue our travels through the Balkans and Eastern Europe, Daniel and I plan to visit more holiday markets and Christmas festivals. Stay tuned!

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Photos from our visit to the 2019 Dubrovnik Winter Festival

The first holiday stalls open their doors.

Hanging our next to a holiday stall at the Winter Festival.

Waiting for our rum punch to be heated up.

Rum punch? Yes please! Photo by Daniel.

The rum punch. It’s like warm mulled wine but with rum and spices and other stuff.


More sausages! Photo by Daniel.

Soparnik, traditional Croatian chard pie. Photo by Daniel.

The Church of St. Blaise. When we were here last week, it was walled off due to a construction project.

CHRISTMAS TREE!!! Photo by Daniel.

Rector’s Palace decorated for the holiday season.

A wedding procession walked through Old Town complete with the bride and groom, band, flag bearer and guests dressed to the nines.

The crowds came out in force as it got dark.

Daniel samples some doughnuts drizzled with chocolate.

Mulled wine and a cappuccino.

Hanging out in Old Town.

This stall specialized in mulled gin. It was surprisingly tasty!

Ceremony for the lighting of the first Advent Candle.

The first Advent Candle.

Orahovac is a sweet liquor made from walnuts that I became quite fond of. This one is wearing a cute Santa hat. Photo by Daniel.

This sparkly giant bear mascot walked around the crowd all night so kiddies could have pictures taken with him. Photo by Daniel.

Photo op time for Daniel!

Photo op time for Katy!

The Frajle concert on Stradun street.

Lights create some cool effects on the clock tower during the concert.

As evidenced in this video, I was feeling no pain by the end of the night…

The next day. Hungover? Who’s hungover? Not meeee!!!!

Where are we now?

We are in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

View the map here: Dubrovnik, Croatia

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  1. Brian Lotze

    Is Soparnik the same as Spanakopita?
    On Fri, Dec 13, 2019 at 8:10 AM a rambling unicorn wrote:
    > Unicorn posted: “Saturday, November 30 to Sunday, December 1, 2019 > Vagabonding Days 61-62 Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia Daniel and I sit at a > table in the heart of Dubrovnik’s Old Town, sipping mulled wine and > watching passersby. Stradun street is festooned with twinkling” >

    • Unicorn

      That’s an interesting question. They appear to be a little different. Soparnik traditionally has a filling of mangold (Swiss chard), onions and parsley. It is said to be the prototype of pizza which the Romans brought to Italy. Spanakopita traditionally has a filling of feta cheese, spinach, egg, and onions.


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