Thursday, 2 December 2021

PHOTOS: Spectacular Kaleidoscope Lights of Osijek City Day and Advent 2021

December 02, 2021 – A spectacular light show exploded across Ante Starčević square in Osijek this evening, welcoming hundreds of visitors to Osijek City Day and to the opening of Osijek Advent 2021. Among those gathered to witness the colourful display was the Croatian Prime Minister, Andrej Plenković.

263403535_4677350128969693_4353480490300971166_n.jpg© TZ Grad Osijek

In recent times, Osijek's Ante Starčević square has seldom looked so thrilling. It is a wide and open city square - the only place in Osijek where the city tram lines all meet. Except for one modern sculpture and a statue of Ante Starčević, the square is floored with featureless concrete. The fine facades of surrounding Austro-Hungarian buildings have seen better years. In many instances, these historic frontages are cheapened by gaudy branded signage and advertisements.

PXL_021221_90938596_1.jpg© Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL

But, tonight, all the unsightly modern scars were hidden as an ocean of patterns and colours danced across the square. Children skipped along new pathways created by the brilliant lights' design. Now in its third year, these bright embellishments are part of the Kaleidoscope Festival of Lights. The arrival of its magical scenes heralds not only the start of this year's Osijek Advent but also marks Osijek City Day 2021.

Osijek City Day - 2 December

Mario_Đurkić_Horizont_solutions.jpgFrom above, Osijek's Tvrda and the Drava river © Mario Đurkić / Horizont solutions / TZ Grad Osijek

People have lived on this part of the Drava river for millennia. But, quite often, the modern life of Osijek city is only viewed as having begun after the Ottomans were removed by the Battle of Mohács. From 1687, Osijek and the eastern part of Croatia were part of the Habsburg Empire. But, Osijek remained close to the border of the new encroachment on Ottoman territory. Defensive fortresses were built along this line of defence, in Stara Gradiška, Osijek and Slavonski Brod in Slavonia and in Petrovaradin in Syrmia/Srem (Serbia).

Today, Osijek's fortress - Tvrđa – contains the largest collection of Baroque buildings in Croatia. It is a fantastic and picturesque location. There, Osijek's old city walls spectacularly overlook the Drava river. But, back when the city's defence was all-important, these walls made it difficult for Osijek to expand. Progress and growth proved impossible to hinder and, with the threat of the Ottomans becoming ever smaller, the population of Osijek simply began to settle outside the walls of Tvrđa. Indeed, today, residents of the city regard Osijek as having three centres – Lower Town, Tvrđa and Upper Town aka Ante Starčević square.

PXL_021221_90938602_1.jpgLights in Upper Town turned on as part of Osijek City Day 2021 © Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL

At the beginning of the 18th century, separate magistrates resided over Osijek's Lower and Upper Towns, effectively marking them as independent city municipalities. In order to gain status as a free and royal city, local authorities were eventually persuaded to unify the different municipalities on 2 December 1786. Since then, 2 December has been celebrated as Osijek City Day.

Kaleidoscope Festival of Light and Osijek Advent 2021

lampice47.jpg© TZ Grad Osijek

The incredible light show on Ante Starčević square is just one part of an Advent manifestation that, like the city itself, stretches long down the side of the Drava river.

262257854_4665415346829838_5031405380697064902_n.jpg© TZ Grad Osijek

The first candle of Advent 2021 was lit by the Archbishop of Đakovo-Osijek Đuro Hranić on Sunday 28 November. Osijek City Day celebrations are the second key milestone of the Christmas holiday season. City-wide Christmas lights were formally turned on today at the Croatian National Theatre Osijek.

PXL_021221_90938521_1.jpg© Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL

Osijek Advent 2021 includes the return of the Kaleidoscope Festival of Light and Osijek Advent Tram - which is visited by almost 15,000 people each season. Christmas lights extend down European Avenue, passing some of the city's most grandiose Austro-Hungarian architecture. Thereafter, the trail comes 'off road' and takes you through the trees of King Tomislav Park. Next, Tvrđa assumes the focal point of Advent, with a Winter Lookout on the roof of the Cultural Centre, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Sokol ice rink and the tallest Ferris Wheel in Croatia being key highlights.

grada2.jpgPhoto from Osijek Advent 2020 © TZ Grad Osijek

If you want to read more about Osijek, see the Total Croatia guide here. And, if you want to keep up with news from Osijek, bookmark Total Croatia News's Osijek pages here

grada.jpgPhoto from Osijek Advent 2020 © TZ Grad Osijek

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Not Just the Coast: Osijek-Baranja County 2021 Tourism Numbers Rising

August 15, 2021 - The coast isn't the only part of Croatia that is busy this year. Osijek-Baranja County 2021 tourism numbers are rising with an increasing number of Polish tourists. 

The 2021 tourist season is not only successful on the Croatian coast. And on the continent, tourist boards are recording better results than those achieved last year, marked by numerous restrictions and measures in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, reports HRTurizam.

According to eVisitor data, in the first seven months of this year, there was an increase in the number of overnight stays in Osijek-Baranja County by 36%. If we look at the same pre-pandemic 2019 period, this year’s results are at 70%.

This is the reason for the cautious optimism of Osijek-Baranja County tourism workers. In the Baranja area, there is an increase in the number of guests from Poland who stay for two to three days before heading to the Adriatic. They enjoy eno-gastronomy the most and are mostly from Warsaw and Krakow.

"The good news is that cruisers are moving again in the Croatian Danube region, which is an additional indicator of the sector's adaptation to restrictive business conditions and also a reason for optimism," said Ivana Jurić, director of the Osijek-Baranja County Tourist Board.

Along with good announcements, this year's support in tourism to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic also contributes to optimism. Namely, Osijek-Baranja County, just like last year, awarded grants intended for family farms, crafts, and companies registered for accommodation activities in the County.

Grants per beneficiary amounted to HRK 40,000, a total of 21 beneficiaries responded to the call, and HRK 600,000 was spent on this grant.

"These grants aim to help our family farms, and other tourism workers overcome the pandemic time and return as soon as possible to the improvement of continental tourism, which has recorded positive trends in our county. The latest data on tourist arrivals and overnight stays speak in favor of this because the number of overnight stays is increasing compared to the last "Covid" year, and we are approaching the record numbers from 2019," said the prefect Ivan Anušić.

However, this is not the end of the Osijek-Baranja County subsidies, which provided HRK 2.62 million to the tourism sector through the Administrative Department for Tourism, Culture, and Sports in four models.

"We are still open to the Public Call for grants for the organization and participation in events until we hit the funds planned in the Budget or by October 31, 2021, at the latest," said Tatjana Roth, Head of the Administrative Department for Tourism, Culture, and Sports. 

Support is awarded for the organization and participation in events that are important for developing rural tourism and presenting the tourism potentials of the County, which promotes and represents the County as an active participant in the development of rural tourism.

Family farms, crafts, and companies registered for catering and tourist services in rural tourism, associations registered for activities related to selective forms of rural tourism, and other natural and legal persons residing in the County have the right to apply for support.

For more, make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.