Morana Udatny, Silvija Vidovic
Regardless of how we define and categorise culture, it is a living organism. It breathes and grows with its environment. In Nietzsche’s words: "Culture can grow and flourish only from life”. A good-quality tourism offer, one that will attract future guests and keep permanent guests interested, cannot only rely on natural beauties. Just as important, or sometimes even more important, are the entertainment, sports and cultural events that give visitors a complete holiday experience.
In the summer, Zagreb often resembles a city from Richard Matheson’s book: abandoned and slightly spooky. Those who remain in the city start living at night, wondering what to do. Despite the critical mindset of Croatians, it must be admitted that in the past few years the offer of events has been more diversified and of better quality.
The Assets of Zagreb
Again this year, The International Street Festival Cest is d Best brings music, dance and performance acts on the streets of Zagreb. The largest and oldest street festival traditionally takes place at the beginning of June, this year for the 14th time in a row! In the second part of June, from June 20 to June 29, 2009, fans of modern theatre will be able to enjoy Eurokaz, the International Festival of New Theatre. Eurokaz has hosted more than 300 international theatres so far, and it is considered the most significant theatre event in this part of Europe.
The fact that the respectable The Times has listed the INmusic festival as one of the twenty must-see European festivals speaks enough of its quality. The festival will again take place at the Jarun Lake on June 24 and 25, and bring on stage prominent musicians like Moby, Franz Ferdinand, Kraftwerk, Lilly Allen...
Zagreb Summer Evenings is a traditional music event that introduces international musicians and various music styles. This year, from July 1 to July 31, the citizens of Zagreb will have the opportunity to experience the Portuguese Fado, fusion of traditional flamenco, reggae, funk and hip-hop, classical jazz and many other music styles of musicians from all parts of the world. The rising bands from the budding rock and urban scene, including some of the leading rock musicians, will perform at the Rokaj fest open-air festival between July 3 and 5, 2009. The International Folklore Festival is taking place between July 15 and 19, 2009, and this year the focus will be on the Istrian folklore.
Cooling Down in Samobor And More
PIF – 42nd International Puppet Theatre Festival must definitely be mentioned. The festival will take place in the period between August 28 and September 4, 2009. In September, ZKM (The Zagreb Youth Theatre) will be the venue of the 7th World Theatre Festival whose aim is to draw the Croatian theatre closer to European cultural trends. Also in September, the Student Centre will host the 4th ZG etno festival. During the seven days of the festival, the visitors will be introduced to various cultures and nations through music that marks their tradition.
Cinematography lovers will be able to develop their potential in two filmmaking workshops in the vicinity of Zagreb: Film festival in Tabor (TFF), a short-film festival held in Zabok, and the Media School at the Croatian Film Clubs’ Association, taking place between August 22 and 31 in Varazdinske Toplice. The school includes lectures, educational workshops, video-workshops, film screenings group discussions on film.
Since Samobor is only about 20 kilometres from Zagreb, it will definitely be worthwile to leave Zagreb asphalt from time to time, for a two-degree cooler Samobor. Besides beautiful promenades, Samobor offers the 17th Evenings of Croatian Love Poetry "Vrazova Ljubica”, as well as the Days of Creme Custard Slices during the entire month of June. Tambourine evenings are held in June and July, and in July there are also the "Days of the rudarska greblica”, a traditional cultural event where salty cakes rudarska greblica are served.
Velika Gorica’s Festival of urban culture – FUK, held in June, is a solution to the summer heat. Musicians, actors, dancers, showings of short films, cartoons and animated films, as well as different workshops (film, music…), all are part of this festival. Goricke veceri (Evenings in Gorica), held in the first half of June, offer plenty of theatre performances and concerts, and during June there is also the International Folklore festival.
Varaždin also offers interesting cultural events. In the period between August 21 and 30, 2009, Varaždin turns into a global empire of music, modern theatre, entertainment and top gastronomy as part of another Spancirfest. Last but not the least, on August 15 and 16, the Croatian Association of Artists of Varaždin organises the Days of Croatian Performance. This artistic expression encompasses various areas of contemporary creation: from body art to conceptual art and multimedia projects.
Off to the Sea
Every summer on the Adriatic we have more and more cultural events, although many believe that the tourism offer should still improve. It seems that this summer the cultural and entertainment offers will most probably be based on the already established festivals and manifestations. Although some of these events have longer, and some have shorter tradition, their recognizability and quality increases with every summer, while their programme is enriched with a greater number of international guest appearances.
The oldest and the most respectable Croatian cultural manifestation Dubrovnik Summer Festival is celebrating its 60th year. The long and rich tradition of the Summer Festival will be accentuated by a programme emphasizing the constant of the Festival; the audience will see new productions of classics like Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Vojnovic’s "On the terrace” (Na taraci). One of the most significant festivals on the Adriatic, the 55th Split Summer Festival, will return to the old Split core, and its accent will be on opera as usual. For music aficionados, there will be plenty music events on the Adriatic this summer.
Music, More or Less Classical
In the field of classical music there is the prominent festival Music Evenings in St. Donat, a manifestation that has been cultivating Medieval, Renaissance and the Baroque Music for almost half a century, in the appropriate ambiance of the famous Zadar pre-Romanic church. Another, older music festival of particular interest to fans of traditional music forms and tourists who wish to acquaint themselves with the characteristics of culture of the Croatian coast is the Festival of Dalmatian klapa in Omis. The festival is celebrating its 43rd year of existence and offers an opportunity to both eminent artists and debutants to experience this type of singing. Interesting music can also be heard in Rijeka at Rijeka Summer Nights and the Summer on Gradina, which is primarily a music event held at the picturesque Trsat castle. This summer, for the 4th time, it will also offer a rich programme, from concerts of serious music to appearances of jazz bands and some more popular Croatian rock and pop performers. It is interesting that on the Adriatic during the summer months jazz festivals, whether smaller or larger, are by no means lacking; Jazz festival Losinj, Jazzart festival in the city of Krk, Liburnia Jazz Festival, OFF Jazz Festival in Sibenik and the Jazz Evening at the Porec Lapidarij. These are some of the interesting events that try to attract jazz fans by gathering respectable Croatian and international performers.
More and More Rock
But fans of more popular music forms can also have their way this summer. Although most of the events are still in the negotiating phase, several of interesting popular performers of various genres have confirmed their arrivals and there will also be surprise concerts. Amongst the summer rock festivals this year on the Adriatic there is the Viva la Pola! in Pula and the increasingly popular Hartera in the ex-paper factory in Rijeka that has grown from a rock concert of local character into a two-day event of contemporary rock and electronic music. Besides local musicians, Hartera started to attract international performers, so this year the norvegian duo Royksopp, the British indie band Klaxons and the famous Welsh DJ Sasha confirmed their appearances. This summer, fans of reggae music can look forward to the seventh Seasplash festival, festival of reggae music in Pula, and the performance of the legendary British reggae band UB40, whose show is announced for the end of June in Zadar. For fans of electronic and dance music the most attractive destination will certainly remain the beach in Zrće on the island of Pag, the so called "Croatian Ibiza”, which hosts more and more impressive names each year - this year’s Papaya Day & Night Summer Festival will open with the famous German DJ Paul Van Dyk, while the appearance of the Dutchman Armin van Buuren is expected on July 30, a trance producer who was proclaimed the best world DJ two years in a row.
And the 7th Art is Flourishing
There are plenty events related to the seventh art as well. Among film festivals with shorter tradition there is Libertas Film Festival in Dubrovnik, an independent film festival that is celebrating its fifth year of existence with a novelty – open-air screenings. Enjoying movies in a picturesque ambiance will also be possible at the 56th Festival of animated film in Pula from July 18 to July 25 in the famous Arena in Pula, the castle Kastel and the newly decorated cinema Valli, where one will be able to see new Croatian films competing for acclaim, a programme of international films and more significant names in the movie business who traditionally come every year. The cult Motovun Film festival is taking place at the end of July. This festival has been attracting film lovers to its celebrated five-day event for the past ten years. Besides the rich programme of films from small cinematographies, Motovun festival also offers concerts, exhibitions, discussions, entertainment and other events, and not a single minute in Motovun is wasted.
Definitely the offer of entertainment and cultural events on the Adriatic during the tourist season is more ambitious, but still remains to be seen whether and in what scope it will satisfy the expectations of the guests..
Like ancient hordes that in the past travelled and raided the continents, so does the rock tribe rise every summer to go on its round journey throughout mother Europe and the now less distant America in search for rock events that will be talked over during the cold winter days and even narrated to future grandchildren. Rock festivals, a market spectacle by themselves alone, have become a very profitable tourism product.
Summer is a period when most people take their vacation, but also a period when the machinery that works for the rock festivals` backstage gets into full swing. The bands tour Europe and America and servers of low budget airliners (their existence has given additional zest to European festivals) become completely red-hot from rushes for reservations of flights and hostels. Places in the vicinity of festival camps host most of the visitors of the festival, but they are fully booked months before. Beer brewers and manufacturers of light drinks are very satisfied, just like countless other sellers of CDs and records, shirts and fast food. Yes, rock festivals are a profitable form of urban tourism.
There are many factors that make some festival famous, but one of the most significant and definitely the most interesting feature is the performers. Going through programmes, one can notice that often the best of the greatest are not there – U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bruce Springsteen or Madonna. They are institutions whose individual stadium concerts are visited by a much greater number of people than the number of people that gathers at one average festival. Still, there are some exceptions like huge gatherings at Glastonbury or Roskilde. The main stars of the festivals are bands that are sufficiently prominent to attract a larger number of visitors and whose price, and it is not a small amount, is still acceptable and will not force the organiser into bankruptcy. On the other side, for such a profile of bands an appearance at a festival is an opportunity to earn more than they would earn at their own concerts.
Still, a good festival does not consist of only the main performers, but also of those countless ones, not so prominent, of groups for whom an appearance at a festival is an excellent opportunity for their promotion and with travel and accommodation expenditures covered, a quite sufficient motivation. Some festivals, like, for example, the Estrella Damm Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona are based more on such an approach, because despite always having several "stronger“ actors (this year Neil Young, Bloc Party and Sonic Youth), the philosophy is to bring new trendy names. Perhaps to an average music consumer The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Wavves do not mean too much, but there is quite a sufficient number of music lovers to whom their concerts mean the best option for entertainment during the summer vacation.
The organisation of a large festival definitely means strong marketing outside the boundaries of the place/state where the festival is taking place. Most often in the location where the festival is taking place, there is an insufficient number of spectators who would buy tickets and cover the expenditures of the organisation. Also from the aspect of tourism, the outside audience is much more grateful – it additionally spends money on food and accommodation and when to this fact, we add the number of about 30,000 visitors in average, the story acquires a clear financial frame. From the phenomenological aspect, music tourists are much more interesting characters. Usually they represent the urban nomads in their twenties and thirties who are often students.
The festival offer in Europe is very diverse. From the festivals that are genre specific like Wacken in Germany (heavy metal) or Sonar (electronics) in Spain, to large ones at Glastonbury in Great Britain, Pinkpop in the Netherlands and Roskilde in Denmark that regularly host some of the greatest names of popular music. The map of Europe from the end of May to the beginning of September is lined with numerous small and large cities that, during the mentioned period, will sustain sieges of audiences that are live, numerous and yearn for good music. At that same time Great Britain will feature Bruce Springsteen and Fleet Foxes (Glastonbury) and Radiohead and Kings of Leon (Reading), Kanye West and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Eurockeennes) will be appearing in France, whilst fans will be able to hear Neil Young and Bloc Party (Primavera) and The Killers and TV on the Radio (Benicassim) in Spain. The North offers nothing that is of less interest. Arctic Monkeys and Faith No More confirmed their appearances at Pukkelpop, Belgium and the Roskilde festival in Denmark will host Lil Wayne and Nick Cave. Depeche Mode and Franz Ferdinand will drop at Pinkpop in the Netherlands and The Prodigy and Placebo confirmed their appearances in Sziget, a location very popular with Croatians. And this is only the top of the offer, because smaller specialised festivals, for those yearning for more exotic things, occur daily.