Traditional Events Worth Attending on the Adriatic Coast
Pula Film Festival
This film festival has more than 60 years of tradition, and the Golden Arena award, given to the most successful actors and films screened at the festival, is considered one of the most prestigious in this part of Europe. The festival venue itself is the Roman amphitheatre in Pula, about 2,000 years old. The films are watched under the open sky, while the smell of freshly popped popcorn spreads around on a summer night, because this is the largest cinema stage under the stars in Croatia. In this very same place, people had fun 2,000 years ago, but in a much bloodier way. Screenings are held during the festival at several other attractive locations in the city, because the Arena is by no means the only thing Pula has to offer. During the festival, the whole city breathes and lives a happier, more glamorous life, and the best time is associated with the Ambrela beach.
Dubrovnik Summer Festival
This festival, with more than 70 years of existence as well, is one of the most prestigious festivals of its kind in Croatia and it mainly features renowned local and foreign artists. Every summer during a month and a half of the festival, numerous dance, music and drama events take place in the unique ambience of the historical locations of the old Dubrovnik. If you are a fan of the Game of Thrones series, you will surely enjoy walking on the city walls and through the towers of Dubrovnik, and easily find a bit of yourself in the characters from the plays of the Dubrovnik Summer Festival. Namely, the impressive medieval walls, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to Dubrovnik every year with their beauty and posture, are a trademark of this ever so interesting city.
Motovun Film Festival
Another historical location in Istria with another film festival – the town of Motovun, surrounded by centuries-old protected walls, rises on a hill above the river Mirna and the truffle-rich Motovun forest. Thousands of film lovers attend it every year, and the festival is also known for its excellent accompanying entertainment program, which takes place every night and lasts until the wee hours of next morning. They call it a festival without the usual glamor, because you don’t sleep in expensive hotels here, and you don’t spend your days on lascivious beaches. In addition to a unique film program, visitors have the opportunity to experience a rather unusual festival accommodation: camping at the foot of the Motovun hill. Although this modest campsite opens only during the festival, whoever spends at least one night in it will definitely know why it is a special experience: with the first morning sun luring you to get your first morning coffee, the view of the town rising above the campsite leaves you breathless. Motovun is often wrapped by a ring of fog rising from a nearby river in the summer months, creating a mystical impression that the town is somehow floating on a cloud. All in all, this is a festival that undoubtedly has a soul.
In memory of the pirate history of Omiš, but also with the aim of preserving the Neretva boat, an amateur boat (lađa) competition has been taking place for years at the mouth of the river Neretva. The marathon was held for the first time in 1998 and has been popular ever since. Apart from attracting thousands of visitors to Omiš and Metković every year, a significant number of faithful spectators gather in front of their TVs, as this competition is broadcast live every year. The atmosphere at the start and finish is equal to welcoming a national sports team, and why wouldn’t it be when the boatmen have been preparing for this event for months.
Korčula’s sword dance Moreška
Moreška is actually a knight sword dance performed by men, also characterized by a short dramatic action. It has been performed on the island of Korčula since the 17th century, although it does not originate from Korčula. This tradition came to Croatia from other Mediterranean countries, where generally it is no longer nurtured. The Moreška Cultural Society from Korčula performs this dance at least once a week during the summer season due to a great interest. And while its name is reminiscent of the expulsion of the Moors from Europe, the theme of the Korčula’s moreška is actually a fight between the White and the Black King for a girl named Bula. Through specially crafted dance moves using swords, the White King ultimately wins, thus symbolizing a medieval victory over the Moors.
Although Sinj is not situated by the sea, every August it attracts lovers of horses, tradition, but also political and social elite from all over the country. This 300-year-old competition takes place during a few days. A horseman rides his horse in full gallop down the race track and tries to hit with his spear the central ring called alka, hung above the race track. The race takes place in memory of the victory over the Turks and is one of the oldest competitions of this type in this part of Europe. A very similar but slightly older competition known as Trka na prstenac can be seen in the Istrian Barban near Rabac, where it takes place every third weekend in August.