Monday, 17 January 2022

Carnival Festivities Start in Rijeka with Handover of City Key

ZAGREB, 17 Jan 2022 - The 39th edition of the Rijeka carnival started on Monday on the feast day of St Anthony the Abbot with the traditional ceremony of handing over the key to the city to carnival revelers, who even during the pandemic temporarily took over this seaport. 

At the formal ceremony, which due to the pandemic and epidemiological measures this year took place in the city administration building, present were Mayor Marko Filipović, director of the Rijeka Tourist Board, Petar Škarpa, the Carnival' longtime master Toni, his successor Sandi Pribanić and the Carnival Queen Dora Pilepić.

Director of the Rijeka Tourist Board, Petar Škarpa, recalled that the international and children's carnival parades were shifted to take place in Rijeka this summer because holding those central events of the Rijeka Carnival would now pose a health risk.

News about those carnival parades will be released as soon as their new dates are set, depending on the epidemiological situation.

Mayor Filipović thanked the master of the Carnival Toni for his invaluable contribution to the Rijeka Carnival, and he wished the new master luck.

Master Toni said that it was time for him to retire and that it was time for the Carnival revelers to choose his successor and their representative. Therefore, according to his decision, "the acting master of the Carnival" will be Sandi Pribanić of the Draške Maškare carnival group.

Also, master Toni decided that Dora Pilepić, who was selected last year, would again carry the title of the Rijeka Carnival Queen.

According to the city administration, carnival events will be held with a minimum number of participants and with adherence to COVID-19 protocols.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Thursday, 13 January 2022

Rijeka Carnival Rescheduled for Summer 2022

January 13th, 2021 - Rijeka’s biggest annual event was rescheduled for the summer due to epidemiological measures currently in effect

The city of Rijeka was just about to enter the so-called fifth season of the year - the carnival. St. Anthony’s Day on January 17th kicks off the festive season of carnival parades, costumed parties and related traditional customs such as the burning of the Pust effigy.

However, preparations came to a halt earlier today when the City of Rijeka announced that the two central events won’t be taking place in February as they usually do.

The International Carnival parade and the Children’s Carnival Parade were postponed until early summer 2022, as confirmed by Rijeka City Mayor Marko Filipović.

‘Unfortunately, due to the new strong wave of the coronavirus pandemic and the need to adhere to strict epidemiological measures, the Rijeka Carnival cannot take place in its full scope at present, which is why the central carnival events won’t take place at the time they usually do’, said Filipović.

The two parades won’t be cancelled in full this year, but have instead been rescheduled for early summer, a season in which a better epidemiological situation is expected.

‘The International Carnival Parade and the Children’s Parade are postponed until the beginning of the summer and I hope that the pandemic won’t mess with our plans again at that time. The same goes for the Charity Masked Ball, which was also rescheduled for the summer’, said Filipović.

He went on to add that some of the carnival events haven’t been rescheduled, such as the traditional ceremony that kicks off the carnival season in Rijeka: on Monday, the key to the city will be handed over to the Carnival Master.

Petar Škarpa, the director of the Rijeka Tourist Board, also commented on the City’s decision to reschedule the two grand parades.

‘Even though we all eagerly anticipate the carnival season, we’re aware that the present time is particularly challenging, that we have to be responsible and carefully consider the dangers that holding the Rijeka Carnival at this moment could cause. The epidemiological situation is dire all over the country and as long as that’s the case, the Rijeka Carnival cannot take place in the form that we’re used to. The carnival is a festival of costumes, joy, fun and gathering, and this is exactly what we need to give up temporarily, keeping in mind the health of our citizens and guests, as we hope to return to normal as quickly as possible’, said Škarpa.

The Tourist Board director also said that despite all their efforts to come up with an acceptable alternative way of holding the popular parades within the restrictions of the current epidemiological measures, it became clear that any alternative would mean forsaking the essence of the carnival - a day when people don masks to forget all their troubles and enjoy the festivities in absolute freedom.

‘We hope and believe that things will improve by summer and that we’ll be able to focus on sweeter kinds of worries, e.g. what costume to put on when it’s 25°C outside. Let’s use the months ahead to be even more creative and come up with new ideas that will further improve the quality of Rijeka’s best known tourism product’, said Škarpa.

He added that the Rijeka Carnival is proud to host carnival groups and interested visitors from all over the world each year, and expressed his hope that the new carnival dates will be seen as an opportunity by those who have always wanted to see Rijeka, but perhaps had no chance to visit the city thus far.

Small-scale events are moving forward according to schedule, such as the Carnival Days of Laughter, a programme of 4 attractive comedies to be performed at the HKD Sušak.


Sunday, 12 January 2020

Rijeka Carnival to Take Place from 17 January to 26 February

RIJEKA, January 12, 2020 - This year's Carnival in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka again starts on St. Anthony's Day on 17 January and ends on Ash Wednesday on 26 February, when the Pust effigy will pay for all the evils of the previous year.

The Rijeka Carnival, the 37th in a row, traditionally begins on St. Anthony's Day, when masked revellers blow the horn and start their reign. However, in the wider Rijeka region, the Carnival begins on the first Saturday after Epiphany.

On the first day of the Carnival, which will be held under the slogan "Be what you want!", the key to the city will be formally handed over to the master of the carnival, and the Carnival Queen will be elected.

The Carnival programme will include many parties and various masked events, such as the Masked Paris-Bakar Rally, a snowboarding race in the city centre, a charity masked ball and Laughing Days.

The merry Children's Carnival Parade has been announced for 8 February, while the great finale of the Rijeka Carnival, the International Carnival Parade, in which local and foreign traditional and urban carnival groups are expected to participate with thousands of masks and numerous allegorical floats, will take place on 23 February.

More Rijeka carnival news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Traditional Rijeka Carnival Parade Held

ZAGREB, March 3, 2019 - The Rijeka Carnival Parade, a colourful march which is the culmination of the Rijeka Carnival, was held in that Adriatic port on Sunday, with over 10,500 costumed participants and 67 allegorical floats passing through the city centre.

This year's carnival parade included groups from Italy, Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia as well as from all parts of Croatia.

The seaport was imbued with a festive atmosphere throughout this weekend, especially on Sunday afternoon when floats were passing along the main streets.

The carnival procession attracted a large audience, including very important persons such as Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, foreign ambassadors to Croatia, other diplomats and officials from Rijeka's twin cities.

The children's carnival parade was held on 16 February.

The Rijeka Carnival has been added to the list of the 500 most important events in Europe (Top 500 European Events). Furthermore, the British newspaper Sunday Times has described the carnival as one of the most exotic events in the world.

More news on Rijeka can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

With Elections Approaching, President Attends Rijeka Carnival Ball

The 20th Rijeka Carnival Ball was held at the Croatian Littoral Maritime and Historical Museum building on Saturday evening. The money raised at the ball will be used to purchase the necessary medical equipment for the Clinic for Paediatric Surgery of the Rijeka Clinical Hospital Centre, reports Novi List on March 3, 2019.

The ball featured musicians of the Novi Sad Big Band and SuperCover Band, dancers and singers of the Cabaret a la Carte group, as well as the artist Ana Perišić from the Traumatic Arts Association. The ball was attended by Rijeka Mayor Vojko Obersnel, President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, as well as many ambassadors from a number of countries.

The President arrived in a royal blue dress with airy hairstyle and in an excellent mood. During the ball opening, the introductory speech was first given by Mayor Obersnel, followed by the president who pointed out that she was particularly pleased that Rijeka was continuing the carnival tradition and invited everyone present to have fun during the ball and Sunday’s carnival procession.

All the ladies who were present at the ball were dressed in beautiful dresses befitting the ladies of a court. A unique dress with a message was worn by the Queen of Korzo Ivanka Pavičić, who impressed everyone with her military-style dress with gold accessories and an F-16 fighter jet on her chest. Men mostly opted for royal or church masks, but there was also a Count Dracula costume worn by a Rijeka lawyer.

The musical repertoire was apparently a hit since many guests spent the night on the dance floor, and some of them demonstrated great dancing skills.

The carnival charity ball was organised by the Town of Rijeka and the Rijeka Tourist Board, the Rotary Club Rijeka – St. Vid, in cooperation with the Maritime and Historical Museum of the Croatian Littoral. Sponsors of the ball were Jadrolinija Rijeka, the INA oil company, Zagrebačka Pivovara, Tia Partner and Lidl Croatia.

Translated from Novi List (reported by Šarlota Brnčić).

More news about carnival festivities in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Rijeka Carnival, a Brazilian Comparison to Its Famous Rio Counterpart

It's Carnival time and quite fittingly we welcome a native Brazilian to the ever-growing team of TCN authors. Debora was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and now lives in Split. She has visited 5 continents, more than 30 countries and now calls Croatia home. Debora shares with us her impressions of the Rijeka Carnival versus the famous Rio Carnival. Welcome #124, if you would like to write for TCN, you can email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Rio de Janeiro, land of one of the biggest celebrations in the world, and Rijeka, the main seaport city in Croatia: how does the Rijeka Carnival compare to its famous Rio counterpart?  Oh, Carnival! Such a magical period of the year, when we all wait anxiously to spend time on the beach wearing flip flops, multi-coloured bikinis and light clothes. The kids are on vacation, playing around on the streets with friends and neighbours, parents are also on vacation, preparing for travelling to the seaside and enjoy some time off as well.

Ok, this is exactly how Carnival in Rio looks like, the city that holds the best Carnival in the world, a reference for music and culture. For 5 to 7 days, giant parades and colourful costumes enchant tourist and local people, who never get tired of singing the rehearsed songs all day long, eagerly waiting to see their samba parties fill up the Sambodromo Avenue with energy and a lot of joy.

Rijeka Carnival, sambodromo avenue (800 x 532).jpg

Credit: Wikimedia, Sambodromo Avenue

However, this is not how I will be celebrating as I am not back home in Brazil, I am now living in Croatia. Ironically, Rio and Rijeka both mean "river" and the comparisons don't stop there, the Rijeka Carnival was once considered the third largest Carnival in the world and while they are worlds apart, it seems there are more similarites to consider... if you take a closer look.

Where to begin talking about the Rijeka Carnival versus the Rio Carnival?

Carnival in Rio started in the 1920s, with the first samba schools competing with each other in 1933. But before that, Carnaval (as the original name is spelt) was basically a food festival, as the word derives from carne vale (farewell to the meat), and until today, it is celebrated 40 days before Lent.

The rhythm and music style adopted during Carnival was originally brought from the African slaves who inhabited the poorest areas in Rio, the slums or “favelas”, and it was a way of the less favoured classes to rebel and protest against the injustices and misery faced at that time. However, this idea smoothly changed, as the upper-classes saw in Carnival, a great opportunity to make money. And that is when the samba schools and parades were organized. Nowadays, there are about 30 samba schools belonging to the main group and hundreds of other schools who also participate in the samba parades during Carnival. 

And the history of Carnival in Rijeka? In terms of the calendar, it follows exactly the same period as in Rio, although the celebrations and festivities around the city may start at the end of January. Just like the beginning of Carnival traditions in Rio, the parades and parties were exclusively directed to and organized by the aristocracy (Austrian, Hungarian, German and Russian aristocrats, princes and barons of the European society).    

However, this scenario started to change in 1982, with the presence of three groups on the parades. Things again changed in 2001, with almost 140 different groups and 150.000 visitors. Nowadays, there is a huge Carnival charity ball attended by important politicians, media people and well-known representatives of Croatian society, held in the Governor’s Palace located in Rijeka. As a symbolic opening of the Carnival period, the key of the city is given to the “maestro” Toni, as it means that he will be responsible for taking care of the city during the festival time, a Carnival queen is elected and the festivities start.

Croatians also found a way to ‘rebel against the system’ as the end of the festival is signalled by the burning of the ‘Pust’ – a puppet, often named after a politician. The Pust is blamed for all of the bad things that occurred the previous year, it is read a list of charges and afterwards is burned at sea! In Rio, they do the same, except he is called "Judas", he is also normally a political figure who is blamed for everything, attached to a lampost, hit, and then burned.

Rijeka Carnival 5.jpg

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Rijeka Carnival versus Rio: is the weather a factor?

Well, if I say no, it is a lie. So, yes, it has a big influence when it comes to these two carnival scenes. When I first came here in Croatia to spend Carnival, I thought that because of the cold weather in February and March, Carnival would maybe take place in summertime, as it is in Brazil. But of course, I was wrong to think like that (my Brazilian brain wishing to celebrate it on the beach).

Between January and March, with the cooler days and nights (between 6 and 10°C compared to Brazil with average temperatures between 25 and 32 degrees). I mean, this is the average temperature in the south of Brazil. Now, if we compare Rijeka and Rio during Carnival time, they are really two extremes, as Rio reaches 40 degrees almost every day during summer. It is unbelievable but oh, how I miss this!

In fact, I could live here in Croatia for 20 years and never get used to it. For a girl from Niteroi, 15 degrees is cold enough, plus here there are tons of sorts od winds: bura, jugo, maestral, tramontana…call it what you like, but I would just call them “cold and windy winter days”. So, it seems kind of weird or impossible to dress up in scanty costumes, like the “samba mulatas” and “samba passistas”. In Rio, performers eagerly await the whole year for this glorious moment – to cross the Sambodromo Avenue and be seen by millions of people around the world. Bearing this in mind, in Rijeka, I have still witnessed a few brave girls who pay no heed to the cold weather in order to show their best spectacle and dance samba wearing original costumes. I personally couldn’t do it, but svaka čast (well done) to them.

Rijeka Carnival 3.jpg

credit: Mario Romulic, with blue skies and outfits like these, you would be forgiven for not realising this was the Rijeka Carnival in the middle of winter!

How many people visit the Rijeka Carnival versus Rio Carnival?

When it comes to numbers in attendance, it is unfair to compare the Rijeka Carnival to the Rio Carnival; Rio has visitor numbers of around 2 million people on the streets every day in attendance, comparatively Rijeka has up to 10.000 for the main parade and around 100,000 visitors in total. But, considering the city of Rio has a population of 6.3 million (more than the entire population of Croatia), compared to Rijeka’s humble 120,000 it is definitely not a bad effort. Especially when you take into account that the weather is cooler and Carnival occurs outside of the summer and tourist season. To tell you more, in 2018 the Rijeka Carnival won ‘Simply the Best Award’ for creativity, excellence and inventiveness in the category of Multiday Thematic Events. The Rijeka Carnival is a great bonus for tourists who choose to visit in this period compared to the peak season.

Rijeka Carnival Crowds.jpg

Photo Credit: Wikimedia, crowds lining the streets for the Rijeka Carnival

When does the Rijeka Carnival and Rio Carnival take place?

This year, Carnival in Rio will take place between 1 – 5th March 2019, with an extra parade on the 9th of March (the 8 best samba schools will be once more on the Sambodromo Avenue). In Rijeka, however, the festivities have already started (from January 17 to March 6, ending on Ash Wednesday). If you wish to get more information about schedules, tickets and program, you can take a look at and

Rijeka Carnival parade.jpg

Photo Credit: Mario Romulic, Rijeka Carnival

Rijeka Carnival versus Rio: Food and Drink

While I am here in Croatia enjoying cups of coffee to survive this cold weather and be kept awake, in Rio, my friends and family, along with millions of people from all over the world pack the main streets near the Samba Avenue and beaches, hotels and hostels. There, they enjoy the parades with glasses of cold beer in hands, coconut water or caipirinhas (ahhhhhh), what is important, at this time during Carnival, is to refresh your body and keep yourself hydrated. The days are very warm and, although the sea water can be around 15 degrees, people are encouraged to jump into the sea. I miss that deeply.

In Rijeka, nobody will jump in the sea (I mean, I would not, for sure). But, it does not mean that tourists will find less attractive things to do. For example, food. Yes, food in Croatia is really a thing. For tourists or locals, it is always a great experience to try some of the unique tastes of Croatia, check out this article on 10 Gourmet Istrian specialities not to miss, for an idea of the type of food you can expect in this region.

The Greatest Similarity Between the Rijeka Carnival and Rio Carnival?

What both of these Carnivals have in common is the fact that the traditions, cultural customs and folklore are being preserved and spread through generations, no matter who performs better or not during the parades. It is a time to come together, dance, enjoy and celebrate. The world can be so hard that Carnival can be a time to unwind and enjoy life, hoping for more positive and brighter days.

Rijeka Carnival 4.jpg

Photo Credit: Mario Romulić, Rijeka Carnival, Zvončari from Ronjgi - UNESCO Intangible Heritage Protected

Read more about Rijeka, the City that Flows… in our 25 Things to Know series.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Rijeka Carnival Wins "Simply the Best" Award

The Rijeka Carnival, the largest top event of Croatian tourism in the tourist preseason, has won an award for excellence, creativity and inventiveness. It uses the traditions and customs of the local community to form a unique national manifestation that significantly enriches Croatian tourist offer, especially outside the main tourist season, reports on November 22, 2018.

As part of the 20th PUT Business Travel Exchange held in Varaždin, the Simply the Best Awards were presented. This traditional annual award for creativity, innovation, development and promotion of tourist destinations has been presented for the tenth year in a row by UHPA – Association of Croatian Travel Agencies and the Way to Croatia travel magazine.

221118 rijeka carnival 2

The awards were presented in five categories: catering, events, travel agencies, new tourism projects and individuals who contributed to the tourism development.

Based on the application submitted by the Rijeka Town Tourist Board, three awards were presented in three different categories.

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The Rijeka Carnival received an award for excellence, creativity and inventiveness in the category of Multiday Thematic Events. The particular importance of the event is that it takes place outside of the main tourist season, significantly contributing to the tourist offer during the preseason.

The Travelana Travel Agency won the award in the category Travel Agency - Cooperation with Local Community, for the cooperation with the local tourist board on the development of new tourist products that have contributed to the attractiveness of the particular destination and its greater tourist prominence.

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The Marina Botel has won the award in the category Catering – Accommodation Facilities with Added Content. The award was given for innovative design, quality of service and creative approach to the design and production of programmes which enhance the tourist offer of a destination.

The Rijeka Carnival is held each year before Lent. It was established in 1982 and has since become the largest carnival in Croatia. The main carnival march is held on the last Sunday before the Ash Wednesday. If the weather is good, tens of thousands of spectators may line the streets and attend the carnival.

For more on the Rijeka carnival, click here.

Translated from

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Carnival in Rijeka: 5th Season of the Year Ends with Spectacular Parade (Photos)

Thousands of costumed participants take over the city of Rijeka on February 11, 2018

Saturday, 27 January 2018

4600 Participants at Children's Carnival Parade in Rijeka (Photos)

The children's carnival parade in Rijeka saw 67 costumed groups from all parts of Croatia

Monday, 15 January 2018

Famous Rijeka Carnival Season Begins This Week

ZAGREB, Jan 14, 2018 - This year, the carnival in the seaport of Rijeka will be shorter than usual given that Lent, a six-week period ahead of Easter, starts on 14 February as Easter is celebrated on 1 April.

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