Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Spectacular Start to 10th Anniversary Šibenik Dance Festival

July 20, 2021 – The streets of Šibenik are overflowing with life this July. On town squares, streets and in parks, different events appeal to every generation and demographic. On Monday 19th, the opening of the Supertoon animation festival sees families gather to watch feature-length cartoons in the Old Town streets. Above their heads, in St. Michael's Fortress, a much more startling evening's entertainment is taking place. It's the opening of the 10th anniversary Šibenik Dance Festival.

'Burning Water' by renowned Greek choreographer Andonis Foniadakis is not always easy to watch. Commissioned specifically for the ballet company of Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in Rijeka, the dancers have had a year to perfect it since its Capital of Culture premiere.

REreIMG_9266.jpgA spectacular backdrop of Šibenik, the Adriatic and sunset greet attendees at the opening of the 10th annual Šibenik Dance Festival © Marc Rowlands.

The audience takes their seats at sunset. But, as the performance begins, everything is enveloped in black. Minimally lit, androgynous dancers arrive on stage in a most unorthodox manner, their bodies twisted and contorted beyond regular, recognisable movement.


“That is the signature style of Andonis Foniadakis,” says Šibenik Dance Festival director Zorana Mihelčić. “Everybody knows it because he's so well established; very nervous, interrupted movements. I personally love his work and right now he's one of the most frequently requested choreographers in the world.”


Having helmed Šibenik Dance Festival from its start to this, its 10th anniversary, Mihelčić is more than satisfied with its progress. And, so she should be. In the seats on opening night, German, English, Slovenian, Croatian, and at least one Scandinavian language are heard. On the stage, an international touring ballet troupe and world-renowned choreographer. This is a far cry from the festival's beginnings.

Evolution of Šibenik Dance Festival

“We started Šibenik Dance Festival 10 years ago as a small review of dance studios and awarded dancers. But not, professionals,” says Mihelčić. “At that time, it was held in the square just in front of Šibenik cathedral. It grew steadily each year until 2014 when the first of our fortresses was renovated. Within a month of St. Michael's opening, we secured permission to hold our opening night there. That really put us on the map and we've been there ever since.”

“We now have two programmes running simultaneously; we kept the amateur and student dancers programme, which was our foundation. But, now we have professional, international dance companies as a major part of each event.”

relabby1.jpgIlijana's dancers, part of the student / fringe programme of Šibenik Dance Festival © Mladen Božičković

Continuing throughout this week, Šibenik Dance Festival manages to entertain everyone currently in Šibenik. Committed fans of contemporary dance and art will visit more spectacular venues like Barone Fortress. On Wednesday 21st, a visit there by Zoltán Fodor's Inversedance – an incredibly well-respected dance company from Budapest. They arrive with a new performance 'You and the World'. Its premiere was just one month ago. The next night, Thursday 22 July, jazz and hip hop dancing, again at Fortress Barone and the Association of Ballet Artists of Serbia.

In Arsen Art House, conceptual and contemporary pieces by Rita Gobi from Hungary and regional star Isidora Stanišić on Tuesday 20th. The festival concludes in the same venue on Friday 23 with a conceptual piece called 'Body Shots'. It's a co-production between Germany's CocoonDance Company and Zagreb Dance Center.

Research-BODY-SHOTS-CocoonDance-Zagreb-Dance-Center-ZPC-photo-by-Neven-Petrović_1st_10.jpg Body Shots by CocoonDance / Zagreb Dance Center © Neven Petrović.

Although, for many visitors, the highlight of Šibenik Dance Festival is still the public performance on the city streets by youngsters and amateur dancers.

“This year, it's a really exciting mixture, accessible to everyone,” says Zorana Mihelčić, clearly excited about the performances to come. “20 minutes of great tap dancers from Dubrovnik, then 10 to 15 minutes of very young students from the ballet school in Split. After that, contemporary dancers from Požega, also salsa, hip hop fusion, classical and contemporary ballet. It will be great.”

re20210720_031136.jpgAs shown above, final applause for the 2021 festival opening night. Festival director Zorana Mihelčić can be seen in the bottom right-hand corner. 

The free public performance of youngsters and amateurs at the 10th anniversary of Šibenik Dance Festival takes place at Poljana square, just in front of Šibenik National Theatre on Wednesday 21 and Thursday 22 July between the hours of 19.00 and 22.00.

All photos © Šibenik Dance Festival unless otherwise accredited.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Over 10, 000 Attend Music Festivals in Sibenik In 2020 - Zero Infections

September 22, 2020 - For six consecutive weeks this summer, the Martinska venue alone welcomed over 10, 000 international visitors to its music festivals in Sibenik. Zero cases of Coronavirus occurred.

Over recent years, three things have firmly placed Croatia on the international stage – Game Of Thrones, the World Cup and music festivals. Running for over a decade now, music festivals are the oldest of these. They have elevated places like Pula and Tisno to become among the most-Googled destinations in the country.

So popular now are Croatia music festivals, that many say the summer season of music festivals in Croatia has supplanted the famous hedonistic holidays of Ibiza as the hippest place to go. Incredible disappointment was therefore felt by tens of thousands of expectant party people earlier this year when most of the international Croatia music festivals decided to cancel their 2020 events. They did so in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

One venue stood alone – Martinska, a 20-year-old site for music festivals in Sibenik. Over six consecutive weeks, all of their 2020 festivals took place. They did so under strict adherence to epidemiological guidelines. And, following a wait of two weeks after the final event (to cover any potential Coronavirus incubation period), site organisers Pozitivan Ritam have released their results - zero cases of Coronavirus.

Seasplash foto Ivan Buvinić.jpg

“It's not only the five festivals and one concert event that we did,” Pozitivan Ritam director Vedran Meniga told TCN, “The Fortress of Culture in Sibenik had more than 30 events this summer and Project Vojarna in Sibenik had two parties this year with over 4000 people. On one RTL television show, they described Sibenik as the Croatian Wuhan when 3000 people were in the town for one techno party there. But, at the end of the season, none of these events resulted in a single Coronavirus infection. Not one.”

Following a successful lockdown earlier in the year, cases of Coronavirus were limited in Croatia at the start of the season. Yet, some were understandably hesitant to come. Music festivals in Sibenik still managed to attract visitors from Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany to Martinska. Even after the middle of August when cases began to appear in other regions and international visitor numbers dried up, the festival site was still busy with Croatians and partygoers from near-neighbouring countries. At the end of August, there were no more than five infected persons in Sibenik. None were music festival or music event attendees. Throughout much of the summer, Sibenik recorded zero cases.

Slurp 03 foto Valerio Baranović i Mislav Gelenčir.jpg

“The music festivals in Sibenik are proof that it's possible to work doing events during the era of Corona,” Meniga tells TCN. “Of course, all of our events were open-air and no doubt that helped.”

"When cases started to reappear elsewhere at the end of July, I went to the civil authorities and epidemiologists immediately, before they came to us,” says Vedran. “The civil authorities and the police grant the license for the events. I presented them with a plan and they were satisfied. They allowed us to continue.”

“It helped that Martinska is across the bay from Sibenik. Festival attendees don't even need to go into the town to come, they drive here straight from the Magistrala (Croatian coastal highway). Also, Martinska's capacity is five times bigger than the numbers we were going to cater for. The site can accommodate six to seven thousand. We expected no more than 1500 daily. That was more than enough space to maintain physical distance. We carefully took all contact details for each attendee at the entrance, in case something appeared and we (or authorities) had to later contact people. We also took everyone's temperature. And in addition to the required epidemiological sanitization, we also installed disinfectant pillars at every single point where money or goods exchanged hands. All our staff wore not only masks but also gloves. Four times the civil authorities made surprise visits to the site for inspection along with epidemiologists and police. Each time they were completely satisfied.”

Current forecasts for the Coronavirus response predict that a vaccine will not be available to cover everyone until the autumn of 2021. This has serious implications for at least one more tourist season. Yet, with the incredible achievements seen this summer at Martinska's music festivals in Sibenik, we can all take hope that events, tourism, and even life itself may continue to be enjoyed in the near future, as long as we're all smart about it.

Blast foto Ernest Mazarekić (1).jpg

All photos 2020 Martinska © Seasplash / Pozitivan Ritam. 

For the latest travel info, bookmark our main travel info article, which is updated daily

Read the Croatian Travel Update in your language - now available in 24 languages

Join the Total Croatia Travel INFO Viber community.

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Sibenik Remains Festival Destination Even in Coronavirus Era

As Morski writes on the 14th of July, 2020, the second season of the festival programme is starting at the popular Martinska location near the historic Dalmatian city of Sibenik. At the location that came to life last summer in the very heart of beautiful Dalmatia, six festivals and events will still be held during July and August, despite the pandemic.

As such, Sibenik remains one of the few cities in Croatia and indeed across all of Europe where festivals are still being held.

The 2020 season opens with the 18th edition of the Seasplash Festival, which will take place from July the 16th to the 19th, followed by the ŠI Guitar Festival on July the 25th, the Slurp! festival which will be held for the first time outside Pula from July the 31st to August the 1st, the Membrain festival which is on the cards for August the 7th and the 8th, the Blast fest which will be held from the 14th to the 18th of August, and the programme closes with the Martinska Punk festival on August the 21st and 22nd. All of the festivals are held with the coordination of the production agency Positive Rhythm.

''We're glad that this year Martinska will be a place for the getting together of lovers of good music, as well as for people to come and enjoy the natural beauty with a view of the City of Sibenik. All of this is taking place in the specific conditions of the COVID-19 epidemic, but I believe the organisers have taken all of the necessary steps to ensure visitors have a safe stay on Martinska.

It should certainly be noted that the City of Sibenik has ensured the functioning of the Sibenik-Martinska circular ferry line, which received numerous positive reactions from our fellow residents and our guests last year, and I believe that this summer it will be a hit and contribute to a successful summer on Martinska,'' stated the Deputy Mayor of Sibenik, Pasko Rakic, at a press conference.

Individual programmes of all of the events that will take place during the summer on Martinska were presented at the end by representatives of all festivals, and you can view the entire programme here.

For more, follow our lifestyle page.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

59th International Children's Festival Officially Opened in Šibenik!

As Morski wrties on the 16th of June, 2019, with the traditional raising of the festival's flag on the square in front of the cathedral of Sv. Jakov in the heart of Šibenik, and the performance of the much loved classic ''The Jungle Book'' by Theater Baj Pomorski from Torun in Poland, the 59th International Children's Festival in Šibenik was officially opened.

It's interesting to note that back in 1963, the very first of the foreign ensemble in Šibenik was from Poland, giving the prefix ''international'' to this Šibenik festival, according to the local news portal ŠibenikIN.

''Welcome to the centuries-old city of Šibenik, one of the most beautiful squares in the world, and the best festival in Croatia. This is something we look forward to every year, because in two weeks the city's small, narrow streets, stairs and squares will be taken over by children, who will become creators and artists. Let's hear what they have to say, because we can learn a lot from them!'' said Šibenik's mayor Željko Burić.

The festival's story began this year with great success even before the opening itself took place. Thanks to the online registration (yes, you read it right, something actually happens online in Croatia) for the first time ever for the festival, and 99 percent of the workshop programs were completed on the very first day of registration.

Some of the workshops will be attended by world-renowned artists from Japan, Italy, and neighbouring Montenegro. Numerous theatrical performances were sold out on the first day

The film program is also very rich, and begins with the screening of the first ever Croatian children's SciFi movie with the appearance of the film crew.

The artist's program was enriched by Polish artists with their own graphics. Famous artist Melinda Šefčić will paint the bus station in Šibenik with the kids, as well as the children's playground on the nearby island of Zlarin. This year, in the name of the environment, there is a distinctive ecological component to the festival, and it's symbolic that the opening of 2019's Šibenik Children's Festival has coincided with World Wind Day.

For two entire weeks, the beautiful and historic Dalmatian city of Šibenik will become the playground of children's endless creativity and imagination, reminding us all of the need to keep the child within us alive and happy.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.