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Can't-miss Winter events in Dubrovnik

Isabel Putinja

Contributor

Dubrovnik is Croatia's best-known tourist destination, thanks to its picturesque walled old town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Winter is a great time to visit this Southern European city: temperatures rarely dip below zero degrees Celsius and the usual crowds of the summer cruise ship season can be avoided. Another good reason to visit between November and February is because of the many fabulous cultural events and festive happenings taking place during this time. Here's a round-up of some of Dubrovnik's best winter events:

Winter Saturday Mornings in the City: 9 November 2019 – 28 March 2020

Starting on November 9th and continuing until the end of March 2020, the Dubrovnik Tourist Board will be hosting a free guided tour in English of the city's old town every Saturday morning. Dating back to the 10th century, Dubrovnik's old town is one of the best-preserved walled cities in Europe and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. The entire old town is open to pedestrians only – perfect for a walking tour through its narrow cobblestone lanes, past historic churches, palaces, fountains and monasteries. Get your walking shoes on and head to the Tourist Information Centre at Pile Gate (one of the gates to the old town) at 1 sharp to join the tour.

Dubrovnik Old Town

Credit: Dubrovnik Tourist Board

The Dubrovnik Winter Festival: 30 November 2019 to 1 January 2020

During the Advent and Christmas season, Dubrovnik gets decked up in festive lights and the city's squares and streets become the setting for concerts, theatre, exhibitions, a Christmas market and gastronomic events. The annual Dubrovnik Winter Festival will be declared open with the lighting of the first advent candle on November 30th. This will be followed by a concert on the square in front of the church of Saint Blaise by the female pop group, The Frajle. Other cultural and musical highlights include a performance of The Nutcracker by the Ukrainian Classical Ballet on December 10th and a Yuletide concert on December 21st at Hotel Lacroma by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra accompanied by guest choirs and soloists. Then at noon on December 24th, Saint Blaise's church will provide the backdrop to a concert of Christmas carols by the folk ensemble Linđo, the Libertas choir, and the Dubrovnik Brass Band. 

Dubrovnik Winter Festival

Credit: Dubrovnik Tourist Board

New Year's Eve Celebrations: 31 December 2019 – 1 January 2020

Celebrations in Dubrovnik to ring in the new year will begin on the morning of December 31st with a traditional 10-km race through the city streets. Meanwhile, the Stradun, the much-loved cobblestone thoroughfare that slices through the old town, will be the atmospheric setting for a concert of klapa music. This is a traditional style of singing performed a cappella in a group which has been included on UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. A concert by pop singer Mia Dimšić follows at noon, while the evening's count-down to the new year will be kicked off by popular Croatian singer Ante Gelo, followed by the rock band Parni Valjak. Another Dubrovnik new year tradition is an annual outdoor concert on the Stradun on the first of January by the Dubrovnik Symphony Orchestra.

New Year's Day Concert on the Stradun

Credit: Dubrovnik Tourist Board

The Feast of Saint Blaise: 2 – 9 February 2020

The 3rd of February is celebrated across Croatia as the feast of Saint Blaise, but as the patron saint of Dubrovnik since the year 971, this is the city's most important annual event. This feast day has also been recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage because of the unique ceremonial rituals that are performed each year. Festivities begin on the night of the 2nd of February when white doves are released from the church of Saint Blaise as symbols of peace while all the city's church bells ring simultaneously. During Mass on the feast day, priests bless the throats of parishioners as a gesture meant to protect them from illness. The highlight is a ceremonial procession of the relics of Saint Blaise carried by the city's bishop and priests that winds its way through the city's streets followed by citizens dressed in folk costumes. As an extended celebration of the event, a series of special events is in the works from February 2 to 9, 2020 which include concerts, exhibitions, and theatre performances dedicated to the patron saint of Dubrovnik.

Church of Saint-Blaise

Credit: Dubrovnik Tourist Board

The Dubrovnik Carnival: 14 – 25 February 2020

February is carnival time in many parts of Europe, and the period running up to Lent is one reserved for merry-making before the 40-day pre-Easter period of fasting. Dubrovnik's carnival is the city's most vibrant and colourful annual festival. Starting on February 14th and continuing until Shrove Tuesday on February 25th and the official start of Lent, Dubrovnik's streets will be alive with grand costumed parades, masked balls, concerts and fireworks. According to local legend, the costumes, masks and merry-making drive away evil and summon new life and the arrival of Spring. 

Dubrovnik Carnival

Credit: Croatia Tourism Board

How to travel to Dubrovnik

During the winter season, there are direct flights between Dubrovnik and the following European cities: Athens, Barcelona, Frankfurt, Istanbul, London, Rome and Warsaw. Dubrovnik is also connected domestically via flights to Zagreb, Rijeka and Split from where there are connections to European and international destinations.

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