Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Advent in Zagreb, or Madvent? Scratching Below the Surface

December 11, 2018 - Advent in Zagreb, voted the best Christmas market three years in a row. But what is behind the scenes?

While most were full of euphoria at the sudden ascent of Croatia's capital city conquering Christkindlmarkt in Germany and other established Advent destinations in Europe, only one news portal went a little deeper and looked at the story 'behind the story'.

That was back in 2016, and while the story behind the story has not gone away, media coverage of it has. As is so often the case in Croatia. 

Until now, perhaps. 

An intriguing YouTube video on the official Gong.hr channel on Sunday brought Advent in Zagreb - the non-tourist version - back into focus.

Legendary Croatian political satirists Borna Sor and Domagoj Zovak, best known for their work at Newsbar, have teamed up with Gong.hr to bring an advent in Zagreb with a twist - a video every Sunday over four weeks to take a closer look at aspects of Advent in Zagreb which do not make it into the glossy tourist brochures. 

In their own words:

"Merry International Anti-Corruption Day to all from GONG, Domagoj and Borna.

"When it comes to Christmas markets, they say the best European one is in Zagreb. During December thousands of people are flocking to the Croatian Capital. But is everything really so nice, pleasant and honest as one would expect from the holiday season? In this short four-part series satirist Borna and Domagoj, are trying to explain the secret formula behind Zagreb advent."

I am learning not to comment on such things, as these lawsuits in Croatia can get pretty tiresome, but I think I am safe in commenting on the video that this is not the first time I have come across this. I look forward to the next installment. 

Borna, of course, is running the TCN podcast - you can catch up with his writing on TCN here

For more on Advent in Zagreb, follow the dedicated TCN page.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Croatian Dome Producers Export to Finland, Czech Republic, Japan

As Novac.hr/Jasmina Trstenjak writes on the 9th of December, 2018, two Croatian dome producers have managed to conquer the often overlooked world of domes. Yes, domes. From very humble beginnings, they now export their products to countries including Finland, the Czech Republic, and even Japan.

ever noticed that most large events nowadays use some type of dome shaped structures, and not tents? If you've not paid attention to that, you're probably wondering what domes we're talking about. You know those structures that look a bit like oddly shaped balloons? You may have noticed them at Advent in Zagreb or at some concert. Well, they're the domes in question.

Specifically, those currently being used at Advent in Zagreb, eight of them to be more precise, are original domestic products, made by Croatian dome producers. It may come as a surprise, but Croatia boasts one of a dozen serious dome producers in the whole of Europe, and this type of typically entirely overlooked genius exists in a form which allows for easy adaptation to all roles and different event-like circumstances. These domes, as adaptable as they are, can play the role of a concert roof, a bar, an advent stand, and they can also be used for exhibitions at fairs or for glamping among other similar things.

Behind the innovative and interesting product stands the Croatian dome producers, more specifically their company - Domes (Kupole) better than a tent, and the story of the company's name is a short and rather charming one. Marko Matošić and Jakša Borić, the two Croatian dome producers, say that the company should have just been called Domes (Kupole), but they received a rejection to that name, a rather common occurrence on the long and ridiculous road of opening any type of company in Croatia. As they told Novac.hr, they sat across the street from the Commercial Court itself upon rejection and had to quickly think of a new name.

"We wondered what we were, actually, and we concluded that we were better than the tent, and so, that's the name. We figured it sounded a bit stupid and ungainly, but I'm convinced that out of the ten people who noticed it, at least four of them went on Google to search for what it is,'' joked Borić, who ended up as one of two Croatian dome producers from the advertising industry, while Matošić came from the club scene.

That's probably not too far from the truth because being unusual and unique isn't a bad tactic, and both of those words could easily be used to describe their domes. As they describe themselves on their web site, "the geodesic dome is the most stable structure ever imagined, at the same time, the most moderate and the strongest." And definitely better than a tent!

Domes like these are a luxury niche on an otherwise big marketplace, and it isn't that much of a cheap business. There is definitely a future for it despite any obstacles, however, as over the last couple of years, these domes have managed to become the "industry standard".

It's interesting to know just how the two succeeded in recognising the value of that niche at the right time, how they entered into it, how much capital they needed, and are they able to make a real living from it all.

"We worked on a festival at Bundek (popular park in Zagreb), where a dance group from Israel had a gig, they used a similar construction as part of the scenography, but it was made from wood. That's when we saw it for the first time.

The gig they had before coming to Zagreb was somewhere far away and they needed to bring that construction to Croatia, which cost a lot. Their technical director then suggested that he would give us a draft for us to make it [a dome] for them in Zagreb because it would be cheaper than to obtain one from far away. We did this and agreed to it. It was a construction made of wooden sticks that had to be cut and then tied together. But on the day of the show, it started to rain, so we had to cover it up and wrap that structure with the foil. It looked awful, but it worked. They danced and didn't get soaked by the rain, we stood at the side, watched them dancing and that structure, and concluded that it would be nice when done as a type of a tent,'' Borić recounts.

They began to explore and discover that some people are already engaged such business in a pretty serious manner. Then the game started, Matošić added, in which he was initially helped by the knowledge of a now retired professor from the Zagreb Faculty of Civil Engineering, Zvonimir Žagar, who is a great fan of geodesic domes. He helped them with advice on the first dome, as well as the first prototype. At that time, they did not have nine employees or their own designer like they have today, and they were helped by the professor, and the first dome, named 3v14, left the confines of ideas on paper and became a reality back in 2008.

"The initial investment was about 40,000 kuna, that was all we had and spent it all on the prototype, but that's completely irrelevant in this type of business. That was money we literally took and then threw out of the window. We used it all up on making mistakes, to figure out how it all works. We didn't get any loans, but we made the first dome, we rented out it for a while, and we did it all with great abdication. We didn't pay out any wages, we just always invested in new products. The more there were, the more we made, and then we started to hire the first people. We've grown organically, bit by bit,'' explains Borić.

Matošić added that all of that work was put to good use at the Gričevanje festival during the advent period back in 2011, when Advent in Zagreb was far from developed, which was organised in Zagreb's Upper Town (Gornji Grad) to promote their product. They wanted the main star to be the dome, of course.

"We invested a huge amount, set three domes up, got exhausted and frozen, but people saw the domes. They'd heard of them. Then we got our first clients,'' says Matošić.

"In fact, every gig in which our products appear is worth more than 100 ads, because our customers don't bother with it unless they've seen and felt what it's all about. Nobody is going to spend one hundred thousand kuna because they've seen a picture of a dome,'' adds Borić.

Up until this very day, these two Croatian dome producers have continued to develop new domes of varying dimensions which can be used for a variety of purposes.

One of them on offer is the 2v5 bar, a semi-open dome of 18 square metres with a bar, total length of 17.5 metres, and a dome that can easily be turned into a stage, a bar, a store... The Croatian company have specific domes on offer for various festivals, both the corporate and promotional type, and in its portfolio today, there are more than 20 in different sizes of five, seven, nine, twelve and fourteen metres.

Their selling prices vary depending on the model: some are 50,000 kuna, some 60,000, some are 250,000, some are 280,000. Rent, however, is invoiced per term, and one term consists of four days: from five thousand to thirty thousand kuna, depending also on the dome model in question.

The monthly costs for the Croatian dome producers are extremely high, usually above 100,000 kuna, but they are okay, although sometimes they themselves admit things can be a bit tight. They live well, and their top priority is to reinvest everything they make back into the company to continue on its already very successful path.

Make sure to follow our dedicated Made in Croatia and business pages for more on Croatian companies, products and services, as well as info on the business and investment climate in Croatia.


Click here for the original article by Jasmina Trstenjak for Novac.hr/Jutarnji

Sunday, 9 December 2018

ADVENTurous Women of Zagreb: A New Way to Explore the Capital

The Zagreb Tourist Board decided to refresh their internationally-awarded mobile application, Zagreb Be There, for this year’s Advent festivities. 

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Advent in Zagreb: Free Public Transport at Weekends

December the 5th, 2018 - Advent in Zagreb is well and truly bringing the Croatian capital into the joyous atmosphere of the festive season, and the three time winner of the best advent destination in Europe is offering what it usually does at this time of year, once again - free public transport use at weekends.

As studentski.hr writes, the City of Zagreb has provided Zagreb's residents and tourists alike with the free use of the city's public transport every weekend for the duration of Advent in Zagreb, which will last until January the 6th, 2019.

Zagreb's long standing mayor Milan Bandić confirmed for a previous HRT radio show that the capital's trams and buses operating in zone 1 will not charge for their services on weekends during the period of the current advent festivities in the Croatian capital. The move comes as no surprise and has been the norm during advent.

Nevertheless, a small change is that one of Zagreb's most popular attractions, the Zagreb funicular (Uspinjača), which will be transporting passengers to midnight, has to be paid for as normal for the entire duration of Advent in Zagreb, which has otherwise not been the case over the past few years.

To be more specific, Zagreb's public transport will be free during the period from Friday at 12:00 (midday) to Sunday at midnight. It should be noted that during this period, traffic will be prohibited in certain otherwise busy areas, those areas are Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square (Zrinjevac), Strossmayer Square, and King Tomislav Square, where only public transport vehicles may be used during the aforementioned periods.

Make sure to stay up to date with our dedicated travel and lifestyle pages for further information like this, and much more. If it's just the capital you're interested in, give Total Zagreb a follow.


Click here for the original article by Anton Smrekar for studentski.hr

Source: HRT

Monday, 3 December 2018

Stan Lee Honoured by Fuliranje Street Art at Advent in Zagreb

December 2, 2018 - Advent in Zagreb's most innovative stand does it again! A street art tribute to Stan Lee at Fuliranje by Here Be Dragons. 

There was a time in the not-too-distant past that Advent celebrations did not really exist in Croatia. The tourism season was all about the three months of sun and beach on the coast and that was it. 

Then came Advent in Zagreb, which started from very humble beginnings a decade ago, only to be voted the very best Christmas market in Europe for the last three years in a row. 

And then came Fuliranje, a fun section of Advent in Zagreb, where all the cool people tended to hang out with their innovative stands. Out with the boring old mulled wine and sausages and in with a little flair. 

And then one day, about a year ago to the day, Croatia's ultimate geek shop, Here Be Dragons, joined the Fuliranje team, putting up a fantasy Enchanted Village, which included - among other things - the original throne from THAT HBO series. 

One year later, what would those geeks get up to at Fuliranje 2018? Well, it is only Day Two, but what a fun afternoon and evening, as the Here Be Dragons team hosted the first-ever Fuliranje street art tribute. And a tribute to none other than the great maestro and recently departed Stan Lee.  


Legendary street artists Modul Osam, Chez 186 and Sarme answered the call to pay tribute to the superhero legend. Hundreds turned up to watch them in action from the announced 16:00 start, and 8 hours later, this year's Enchanted Village has been transformed.  


Using a combination of spray paints including UV, for use under black light, several thousand onlookers throughout the day took photos of the artists and posed with the life-sized Marvel characters.  As the sun went down, the exteriors of houses were swept with massive, LED wash lights typically used in major concerts and theatre production. Several large wood fire pits were lit, and some guests even brought marshmallows to roast over the fire. 

And this is only Day 2 of the Here Be Dragons presence at this year's Fuliranje... Check out more photos from today's action below.










To follow the latest crazy stuff from Here Be Dragons at Fuliranje, click here.

For more on Advent in Zagreb, follow the TCN dedicated page

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Stan Lee Street Art Tribute Tomorrow: Here Be Dragons is Back at Fuliranje, Advent in Zagreb

December 1, 2018 - Advent in Zagreb is back, and so too is Fuliranje's most innovative team - don't miss the Here Be Dragons street art tribute to Stan Lee tomorrow. 

Inspiration comes to people in different ways, but I guess if you have five superheroes standing in your living room and their creator had recently died AND you had a stand at Europe's best Christmas market, the idea of combining all three might come to most of us mere mortals. 

Of course, not all of us have the kind of lifestyle or geekiness that would result in five superheroes standing in our living room. 

Welcome to a sneak peak into the private world of Croatia's geekiest and - dare we say it - one of its more successful stores, Here Be Dragons. 

We have reported on these geeks a little over the last year or so. How they crowded out Tkalca opening their new store earlier this year


Or how they took Advent in Zagreb by storm last year with their Enchanted Village, going the extra mile and even bringing an original throne from THAT HBO series. 

It was too much to expect the geeks to take this December off, and Here Be Dragons are back at Fuliranje with an improved enchanted village and lots more fun and games over the next few weeks. 

Starting tomorrow, as the geeks themselves explain:

"Here Be Dragons, Croatia’s premier geek shop, invites you to join us for the opening of our latest installation and retail outlet at Fuliranje on Strossmayer Square. Many of you came to our Enchanted Village last year which featured The Iron Throne from Game of Thrones and was powered by HBO GO. This year we're excited to announce an all-new presentation which opens with a street art tribute to the late Stan Lee, legendary creator of Marvel Comics, and characters such as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk and so many more.


"Our advent celebration will kick off with our opening party on Sunday, December 2nd and will feature the works of three of Croatia’s most talented street artists, Miro Modul Osam, Chez 186, and Sarme. The event begins at 4pm, at which time you’ll be invited to watch our team of amazing artists transform Here Be Dragon’s village with UV-painted graffiti murals in homage to Lee and his Marvel Universe.

"We’re excited for Fuliranje 2018 and can’t wait to see you there throughout this year’s epic advent celebration.

For more on Here Be Dragons, follow them on Facebook

For more on Advent in Zagreb, click here.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Advent in Zagreb Has Begun! Spectacular Ice Opening (VIDEO)

December 1, 2018 - Advent in Zagreb 2018/9 has begun in spectacular style, with an ice show to remember. Check out the videos from the opening night.

And so begins one of Croatia's most prominent tourism success stories once again - Advent in Zagreb has begun!

Voted the best Christmas market in Europe three years in a row, Zagreb in December has been transformed in recent years with the success of its Advent offer, so much so that other towns are also catching on, and Croatia today has a rich and varied Advent programme, which was well summarised recently on Croatia Feeds

While many were surprised when Advent in Zagreb was voted Best Christmas Market in Europe three years ago, much has been done to improve and expand the offer, and this year's Advent in Zagreb is one more step forward for an event which attracted hundreds of thousands of tourists last year. 

Some great footage of the opening night from our colleagues at Index.hr, with the early Advent focus on the central parks between the main train station and Ban Jelacic Square. Check out the wonderful ice skating opening in the videos below.


For more pictures from the opening evening, check out the original Index article.

For more on Advent in Zagreb, click here

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Advent in Zagreb Who? 4 Million Lights at SalajLand Year 17

December 1, 2018 - Advent in Zagreb kicks off today, but the place to be yesterday was a little east of the capital, as SalajLand 2018 got underway, complete with 4 million Christmas lights.

I love following private events in Croatia and watching them grow. The dream of one person or family, trying to do something different, often little or no official support, begins. And then starts to grow. And grow.

And, in the case of the Salaj family east of Zagreb, grow.

Advent in Zagreb has become world famous in recent years, the three-time winner of the title Best Christmas Market in Europe. And deservedly so, the city in December has become transformed in recent years. But 17 years ago, when Advent in Zagreb was still a long way from being born, one family had the idea to celebrate the Christmas season by decorating their family home with Christmas lights. The celebration grew year by year and finally received official support. Last year's event at SalajLand attracted more than 120,000 visitors, and this year's event promises to be even bigger.


This year's SalajLand opened yesterday, with a staggering 4 million Christmas lights, some 1.5 million more than last year - just part of the attraction of this wonderful event, which this Christmas will take place from November 30 until January 13.  

Yesterday's grand opening included this spectacular firework display, uploaded to the official SalajLand Facebook page.  

You can learn more about the SalajLand tourist experience through the eyes of some visitors to last year's event in the vlog above, and if you are heading to Advent in Zagreb this year, it really is worth making the extra journey to the village of Cazma, about 15km from the Ivanic Grad motorway exit from Zagreb to Slavonski Brod. 

To learn more about SalajLand, visit the official website.

For more about Advent in Zagreb, click here.

Monday, 12 November 2018

Advent in Zagreb: Less is More This Festive Season?

Could less be more for Advent in Zagreb this year? This year's five-week-long Advent celebrations in the capital are set to have a smaller offer and less ''cottages'' in order to reduce consumerism and improve the overall quality of what is on offer.

As Marta Duic/Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 11th of November, 2018, at the presentation of this year's Advent in Zagreb, which has held the title of the best in Europe for three years now, it has been announced that the emphasis of the event, which will last from the 1st of December to the 6th of January, will be placed more onto cultural events in order to reduce the atmosphere of consumerism and restore the true Christmas spirit.

The novelties this year will be the city's various locations,  Advent in Maksimir, Advent on Old Tkalča, where traditional crafts will go hand in hand with the spirit of some of Zagreb's oldest townhouses in Gradec and Kaptol, and the ''Film Advent'' in Kino Europa will be presented. As they say from the Zagreb Tourist Board this year, there will be three locations less than last year, and although they couldn't precisely quantify the number, there will be a decrease in cottages in the city.

During last year's Advent, 110,707 people spent up to half a billion kuna in Zagreb alone, with most of them spening as much as 139 euros per day, the number of overnight stays and arrivals was also 23 percent higher in the first thirty days of Advent in Zagreb than in 2016. Poslovni Dnevnik asked those who earn their money during Advent in Zagreb what they think about reducing the number of cottages, but it seems that everyone involved understands the good intentions of the organisers, as they themselves think the crowds are by far the biggest problem.

Saša Frid, who for three years at Advent in Zagreb recalls that the sheer wave of people is what is causing "chaos" for those working, and most of those with stands and/or cottages simply cannot produce the right quantities to meet the wishes of all of those visiting.

"The first three weekends are a real hit, and only when that crowd goes down is there any room to improve the offer, since it was physically impossible and technically hard to do before then. It would be great to have as few industrial and as many domestic products as possible, but I think it will be difficult to change all of that because to most, Advent still looks like a chance just to make money,'' noted Frid.

Matej Đorđević, co-owner of the Time restaurant, who will also take part in Advent in Zagreb this year, argues that the problem is not really to do with stands or Advent cottages, but the fact that this event in Zagreb brings "a sea" of people into Zagreb from all over Croatia and Europe.

"Our city is simply incapable of dealing with such a massive inflow of people and it's therefore necessary that the city infrastructure itself is gradually adapted. However, the fact remains that Advent in Zagreb has ''made'' the city (in touristic terms) and that's an immense tourist achievement for this city, for which the leadership of the Zagreb Tourist Board is the most deserving,'' stated Đorđević.

Want to keep up with what's going on across Croatia for Advent this year? Make sure to follow our lifestyle page. If it's Zagreb you're interested in, make sure to follow Total Zagreb.


Click here for the original article by Marta Duic for Poslovni Dnevnik

Friday, 9 November 2018

Advent in Zagreb Programme Presented: Movies, Fairy Tales and Concerts

The first Advent stalls will be opened in 18 days, while the official start of the Advent in Zagreb is December 1. The festival will conclude on 6 January, and here is an overview of the events taking place in the city during the most festive part of the year, reports Index.hr on November 9, 2018.

One of the new programmes this year which is certain to draw a lot of attention is the Film Advent at the Baković Sisters Passage, which will be decorated like a set of a Christmas movie, providing countless opportunities for taking Instagram photos. When you get bored with taking pictures, you can enter the nearby Europe Cinema where favourite Christmas movies will be screened.

091118 advent 2

Another new location is Stara Tkalča, which will give visitors an opportunity to get to know old crafts. That will witness the skills of old Zagreb clockmakers, hatters, butchers and bakers, with plenty of opportunities for taking photos.

The third new programming element is the Advent in Maksimir and the Zoo, which will allow the visitors to discover what the animals are doing even outside of the official ZOO opening times. The programme will include interactive workshops for whole families.

When it comes to old, well-known Advent locations, they will be decorated in the fairytale style this year. The Advent will have three themes. The first is the famous Croatian author Ivana Brlić Mažuranić, and this theme will run through most of the festival sites.

091118 advent 3

The second theme is music, so the classic Christmas soon will be heard throughout the city centre. As many as eight special festivals will be held: Adventfest in the Cathedral, Advent Classic Fest, Festival of Advent and Christmas Songs in Zagreb, Concerts in the St Catherine Church, the Zagreb Soloists Concert Programme, Advent in the Parish of St. Blaze, From the Christmas Balconies, and Christmas with the Kids.

The third theme is ecology, meaning that plastic straws, cups and plates will not be used this year. The city authorities have appealed to caterers to replace them with paper cups and straws, or with products made of recycled materials.

Everything else will be quite similar to last year. The festivities begin with the lighting of the first Advent candle at 5 pm on December 1, continuing with the opening of the Ice Park and the lighting of the Christmas lights at Zrinjevac at 8 pm.

091118 advent 4

The Advent will also take place from Ban Jelačić Square to the Flower Square, while the urban atmosphere will be felt the most on the European Square. The Marić Passage will be decorated in the Christmas spirit, just like Zrinjevac, while the Strossmayer Square will host the Fuliranje event. The southern endpoint of the Advent is the Ice Park on Tomislav Square.

The Grič tunnel will host the Museum of Reality, in cooperation with UNICEF. The Vranicani Meadow will host photo points, and the very successful Cafe de Matoš will return.

The Museum of Arts and Crafts, the Ethnographic Museum and the Archaeological Museum will organise special Advent exhibitions.

For more articles on Zagreb, click here.

Translated from Index.hr.

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