Every year, when Christmas time is coming, many people all around the world start to research about the best places to go during Advent. Experienced Christmas travellers will definitely rave about the most popular winter destinations in Europe, which attract hords of tourists specifically when winter holidays roll in.
In terms of Advent atmosphere and Christmas magic Dubrovnik is a relatively new destination. But countlesss events, spectacles, celebrations and concerts won't leave any one bored! In fact many people find Dubrovnik even more attractive during the winter holiday marathon, thanks to a more local and heartwarming vibe, minimum tourists and beautiful decorations all over the cobbled streets. All the decorations are chosen very thoroughly and form the architectural and aesthetic harmony with the facades of the Old town, giving it an almost fairytale-like feeling and therefore making it a big magnet specifically for families and their children.
Every part of Croatia has its own Christmas traditions. The Mediterranean style Advent, unique customs, and the warmth of the family like atmosphere are the main characteristics of Dubrovnik's winter holidays. Take part in the traditional Dubrovnik's Winter Festival, and join locals in their preparations for the main holiday of the year!
You can feel the real Christmas spirit already on the morning of Badnjak – the actual Christmas Eve morning, when locals, beautifully attired, gather together in the Old town to catch up with their freinds, relatives and colleagues and greet them with traditional „Nazdravlje“ over some mulled wine. Badnjak – the day of Christmas Eve. Actually refers to a log brought into the house and placed on the fire on the evening of Christmas Eve, a central tradition in Croatian Christmas celebration symbolising the end of Advent and start of Christmas.
The lovely traditional Christmas markets are actually sprinkled all over Dubrvonik riviera, including Zupa Dubrovacka and Slano. You can have a stroll around the various stands and have a look at the traditional craftsmanship, decorations, and delicacies offered.
Several years in a row the main Holiday Market takes place in Dubrovnik's Old City, where the streets become full of many vendors selling gifts, snacks and drinks.
The most crucial part of the Badnji dan is definitely the traditional Dubrovnik kolenda which starts at noon – the joyfull Christmas singing to gitar and accordion fills the streets of the Pearl of the Adriatic. In the afternoon young kids continue with kolenda visiting their neighbours. ˝Good evening, we are knocking ....˝ are the opening lyrics of the children's singing. The tradition includes giving them some small treats or coins.
Speaking of holiday treats, Christmas in Dubrovnik brings in some very unique culinary highlights, like dried cod (bakalar) – a strictly Christmas dish, served in a thick stew with potatoes, onions and olive oil. Meat or more fatty foods are not eaten for Badnjak family meal.
Those of you who enjoy sweets more should definitely check out small snacks like prikle or fritule (doughnuts), hrostule (sweet fritters), sweet almonds and arančini (candied orange peels). These taste especially good with some kuhano vino (mulled wine).
Every traditional Dubrovnik Christmas usually includes visiting polnočka – the midnight mass in any of the local churches.
New Year’s Eve in Dubrovnik is quite busy too. The inner city is transformed into a large scene so anyone who can manage to extend their Christmas holiday until New Year's Eve, can enjoy a great concert on Stradun together will locals, drinking champagne and having fun. Fortunately in most cases the weather conditions still allow you to stay outdoors most of the time.
For those who prefer a more quiet and calm New Year’s Eve program, some Dubrovnik hotels that remain open during winter time, provide many lovely offers for the turn of the year.
In conclusion you won't find any luxurious decorations or glamorous Christmas windows in Dubrovnik, like in world's biggest metropolises - Advent here is quite simple but elegant, with Mediterranean warmth and hospitality. The main street Stradun has become almost exclusively a touristic spot in the last 10-15 years and Christmas time in Dubrovnik is probably the only opportunity to blend in among locals, who meet up with their friends and family for freshly made mulled wine and some snacks. And don't worry that much about presents – it's definitely not the most important thing about Christmas in Dubrovnik.