Saturday, 14 May 2022

Over 400 Participate in Recreational Cycling Tour of Vinkovci

ZAGREB, 14 May 2022 - The third edition of the annual event called "Tour Natur", which was held in the eastern Croatian city of Vinkovci on Saturday, brought together over 400 cyclists who toured the city to get acquainted with its past and its ongoing projects.

Commenting on the event that attracted the highest number of participants so far, Mayor Ivan Bosančić, who also participated in the ride, said that the route passed by the city's landmarks and through parts where EU-funded projects were being implemented.

The mayor announced the construction of 20 kilometres of bicycle lanes throughout the city.

The purpose of the Tour Natur event is to promote tourism and raise awareness of the beauties of scenery in the city.

Since last December, public bicycles have been available at three locations in Vinkovci as part of efforts to make the city cleaner and greener.

Before using public bikes, users need to register in the Nextbike application, scan the bicycle number and pay. Rental prices start at HRK 5 (€0.66) per 30 minutes, and the annual ticket costs HRK 200 (€27).

The value of the project is HRK 656,000 (€87,470), of which 40 per cent was provided by the EU through the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund and 60 per cent came from the city budget.

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

Wednesday, 11 May 2022

Best Beaches in Slavonia - Freshwater Paradise

May 12, 2022 - Summer is on the horizon, temperatures are higher and people are already planning how to cool down in the coming hot months. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford or reach the Adriatic coastline for much-deserved relaxation. However, Croatia has countless beautiful rivers and lakes used for swimming and recreation and Slavonia is full of those. A look into the best beaches in Slavonia.

As mentioned before, some people living outside of regions located near the Adriatic coast can’t afford or travel great distances for the ultimate Croatian summer. Because of those limitations, people needed to find ways to cool themselves and relax in their cities during unbearably hot months. Slavonia is definitely one of those regions. Older Slavonians will remember those summers decades ago when only a few families could afford to go to the Adriatic coast, after saving money all year, and others “less fortunate ones”, would go to rivers and lakes near their hometown. Those swimming places were made up on the go - “beaches” were mostly covered with untouched nature and unexplored terrains. Let’s just say they weren’t particularly safe but after a few accidents and realizations that structured swim places can be profitable and safe havens for families with kids, local authorities started investing in swimming and recreational infrastructure on those lakes and rivers. Water quality began to be reviewed for swimmers and after tests showed that the quality is excellent, the building could start. Without further ado, these are the best beaches in Slavonia.

“Copacabana” on Drava River in Osijek - “Kopika” 

The list of best beaches in Slavonia starts with non-other than “Kopika”. One of the most popular river beaches in Slavonia, this is one of the swimming places in Slavonia that you can’t miss. Beach that offers views of iconic places in Osijek like Tvrđa, co-cathedral of St Peter and St Paul, Hotel Osijek, and the Bridge of Youth? Amazing. Since 2020, the beach and recreation center went through a lot of renovations and “Kopika” will shine in its new guise this summer. Modern pools, showers, cabins, and many more, make this beach unmissable this summer.

 

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"Kopika" beach in Osijek (image credits: Mario Romulić)

Križnica Island on Drava River 

This island is located on the Drava River near the small town of Pitomača, the westernmost municipality in Virovitica - Podravina County. Once the border between the Kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia, this ancient island was the last one in the historic Pannonian Sea and its sandy beach attracts swimmers and recreationalists all over the country. Its bike routes, local cuisine, and natural private retreat make this river beach one of the best in the country and it’s an unmissable place to visit for refreshments and relaxation.

 

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Križnica Island on Drava River (image credits: glaspodravine.hr)

Poloj Sports and Recreation Center 

Apart from the Drava, the Sava River and its Poloj beach takes the crown as one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. During summer, this beach attracts plenty of swimmers in need of refreshments. The white sand beach that can compete with some on the Adriatic coast, offers a lot of content - sandy fields for volleyball, futsal, places for barbecue, bike and pedestrian routes, and many more. Slavonski Brod and its surroundings is an amazing place for Digital Nomads and other tourists because it offers everything for everyone. So, visit this amazing place during summer, you won’t regret it.

 

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Beach Poloj on Sava River, Slavonski Brod (image credits: Alen Vrlazić/tzbpz.hr)

Lakes Banja in Vinkovci 

Once upon a time, these two artificial lakes had different usage. More precisely, it was used for clay excavations for a brick factory back in the day and only brave men would go and swim there. However, in 1997, the realization of the potential these lakes have for sport, recreation and relaxation hit, and since then, Lakes Banja became a popular swimming place for residents of Vinkovci. The amazing quality of water and clean and tidy beaches are a perfect place for fishermen and people who want to have a proper swim. After that, barbecue, beer, and an amazing time.

 

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Lakes Banja in Vinkovci (image credits: Banja Vinkovci/Facebook)

Ada Island on the Danube River in Vukovar 

Ada is a beautiful Croatian river island on the Danube River covered in a sandy beach and it’s a favorite swimming place in the city of Vukovar. Only 10 minutes away from cities center by boat and ranked among the ten most beautiful and interesting beaches in Croatia located along rivers and lakes. All those interested in peaceful vacations or maybe active vacations and adventures will surely find something for themselves. Amazing tourist offer that includes boat tours, volleyball on sand, and a gazebo full of refreshing drinks under the shade of the forest, makes this one of the best beaches in Slavonia.

 

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Residents of Vukovar playing beach volleyball on Ada Island (image credits: Branimir Bradarić/lokalni.hr)

Lake Orahovica near village Duzluka  

Only 1500 meters away from the historic town of Orahovica, this artificial lake is probably the only proper place to swim in its radius. Last year, this famous lake celebrated its 60th birthday and it’s not stopping soon. This lake is a magnet for fun. From the most popular music festival in Slavonia Ferragosto Jam to the rich recreation offer, Lake Orahovica is an unavoidable place to visit and what’s also really important to mention, its water comes from the mountains! Besides its clear natural water, location is idyllic - just at the foot of Papuk Mountain and the historic fortified city Ružica City that, according to one legend, was a gathering place of fairies. It’s truly looking like a fairytale from Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić novels indeed.

 

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Lake Orahovica is surrounded by historic sightings and mountains (image credits: orahovica.hr)

 

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Ferragosto Jam brings the best of Croatian music every year to Lake Orahovica (image credits: screenshot/ferragostojam.com)

Honorable mentions are recently officially opened for swimmers Bajer Lake in Đakovo, Lake Borovik located west of Đakovo, natural Lake Đola in Darda near Osijek, beaches in Batina and Aljmaš where Drava River flows into Danube River, Lake Petnja, northwest of Slavonski Brod and so many more.

All of these places are rooted in Slavonians' lives. Great tourist offers and safe place for families, makes river and lake beach a must-visit during this summer. Yes, summers in Slavonia can be more insufferable than in, for example, Dalmatia (different climate), but for that, these freshwater beaches make every hot summer durable. Furthermore, it makes it the most anticipated season in Slavonia. Hopefully, this list of best beaches in Slavonia will encourage tourists to come - Slavonians will welcome you with open arms.

For more, check out our travel section.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

From Požega to Ilok: Best Bike Tours in Slavonia

24th of April 2022 - A few days ago, the world commemorated Earth Day, so it’s only convenient to present one of the most ecological and recreational ways of transportation - bikes, or in this case, bike tours. A look into the best bike tours in Slavonia.

Spring is in full swing which means a yearly reminder of recreational tourist offers Croatia, or in this case, what Slavonia has to offer. Bicycles are a huge part of Croatian lives. Bike clubs, amateur cyclists, and regular people who want to be part of these events became more and more frequent and stayed part of these movements and events. Of course, with every recreation or hobby, there’s always a potential for tourist opportunities. For example, Dalmatia with its already diverse tourist offers incorporated bike tours, which suit really well with the geographical location of the region. Hilly and somewhat mountainous terrain with the scent of sea salt and a view of the Adriatic Sea, attracts every tourist who wants to experience the beauties of the Dalmatian region recreationally. Even islands like Brač, Hvar, and Korčula where you can transport your bikes with catamarans, have various offers of bike tours. Istria does an amazing job as well and northern Croatia with Međimurje, Zagorje, and Zagreb regions attracts more and more bike lovers every year!

However, the full circle couldn’t be rounded without the region of Slavonia which is doing an amazing job in promoting its land and presents new and creative tourist offers every single year. From Požega and its Golden Valley to the wine roads of Srijem and Baranja, bike tours in Slavonia could easily have one of the best tourist offers in Croatia. So, without further ado, let’s start with the best bike tours in Slavonia.

Vinkovci, Vukovar - Srijem county 

If you want to explore Vinkovci and surrounding places a bit more adventurously, definitely consider these available trails which stretch through the whole Vukovar-Srijem county. There are a few different types of surfaces available - macadam, earth, gravel, grass, and asphalt, which are intended for riding mountain or other types of quality bikes. The trails are marked in blue, red and yellow and they all have one thing in common - the bridge on river Bosut in the center of Vinkovci which is the start of every bike trail. The blue trail is 19 kilometers long and leads from Vinkovci to the village of Borinci to a rural home called “Antin Stan” in Ivankovo and back to Vinkovci. The red one is 15 kilometers long, moving the new dam on Bazjaš canal to the Kunjevci forest and back to the center of Vinkovci. Last official trail is marked with yellow color and is the longest, around 21 kilometers, stretching from bridge on Bosut towards rural house and picnic area Sopot in direction of Rokovci. After that, the trail continues to Kunjevci forest and back to Vinkovci. If you’re ever interested in trying these bike tours, contact the Vinkovci Tourist Board for maps of these routes here.

 

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Apart from these official bike trails, there are a few routes that go further in Vukovar-Srijem county:

  • Danube cycling route (EuroVelo 6) - This one passes along the Danube River and its length is 138 kilometers in Croatia. Probably one of the most popular bike routes in Europe cuts through Vukovar-Srijem county, connects with cycling route Srijem and continues toward the Black Sea. The route can be checked here.
  • Srijem route - Connects the southern area of Vukovar-Srijem county with the northeastern part. Its starting point is the center of Vinkovci near the popular Lamp and goes through Rokovci, Andrijaševci, Cerna, and Gradište towards Cvelferija (9 villages of Županja’s area) then through Gunja, Vrbanja, and Drenovci to the city of Otok.
  • Route Otok - This bike route offers two possibilities: the first one is a ride across Privlaka to the city of Vinkovci and the road from Nuštar and Bogdanovci to Vukovar while the other route is going through the village of Komletinci to Nijemci, towards Tovarnik and Ilok.

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Route Otok and Srijem with other bike tours in Slavonia around Županja area, (Screenshot: tz-zupanja.hr)

Even though the area of Vukovar-Srijem County seems small, it has a lot to offer. Golden fields of wheat and sunflowers that have been just planted, sun in the sky, multiple options for eating and drinking, and most importantly, the people. If you need quick transport, buses and trains are available - most of the time.

Osijek, Osijek - Baranja County 

Besides already mentioned EuroVelo 6 Danube River route that goes through Osijek and its county as well, there is the Greenway Cycling route that connects Croatia and Hungary with the goal of cross border relations, building up tourism and eco-tourism in the area along the Danube-Drava Rivers. There is already a great piece on our dedicated to cycling Total Croatia Cycling site, about the Greenway route and the whole project that took place in 2016. You can read it here.

Another European bike route goes through Slavonia - EuroVelo 13 or “Iron Curtain Trail”. The name stems from the fact that the border was part of the infamous “Iron Curtain”. Beautiful landscape, pristine forests, Drava River in all its glory, and of course gorgeous cities along the way - Beli Manastir, Belišče, Valpovo, Donji Miholjac, Koprivnica, and many more. Of course, great food and drinks for relaxation. For more information about this route, check here.

When it comes to cycle tourism, Osijek and Baranja regions are top-notch. It’s not a surprise that Osijek has the most cycle paths in Croatia which spread through the whole city. If you own a good bike and love cycling moreover public transport, Osijek is a great city for you. Here are a few suggested bike tours exploring Osijek and its surroundings:

  • OSIJEK - UŠĆE KARAŠICE - OSIJEK: This route starts from the city of Osijek and goes to Višnjevac. After that, there is a wooden bridge towards the west that continues through beautiful forests and natural landscapes near the Drava River. The route stretches all the way to fishing house located on mouth of Karašica and Drava rivers. The length of the route is around 20 kilometers and it’s not particularly complicated. Suited for mountain and track bicycles. You can check the details of the route here.
  • OSIJEK - KOPAČEVO - BILJE - OSIJEK: This time, the best city exit is the one towards Podravlje where the ride goes to Kopačevo and the reception center of Kopački rit. Beautiful landscape and the only traffic participants are cyclists, pedestrians, and animals. From there, the route goes through Kopačevo, Bilje in Baranja all the way to Osijek. This bike route is around 32 kilometers long and suitable bicycles are mountain and tracking ones. Visual details can be found here.

A few others are:

  • KOPAČEVO - ZLATNA GREDA - TIKVEŠ - KOPAČEVO, route details
  • BIZOVAC – ČOKADINCI – KOŠKA – LADIMIREVCI – BIZOVAC, route details
  • KNEŽEVI VINOGRADI – KOTLINA – KAMENAC – KARANAC – KNEŽEVI VINOGRADI, route details.

On the other hand, Baranja used its tourist offer of great food, wines, and other products and, most importantly, beautiful wine yards that unfurl through the whole region to the maximum.

Wine roads are the most popular routes in Osijek - Baranja County, so it’s not surprising that out of a total of twelve tourist and wine roads in the county, just in Baranja are eight. During these bike tours, tourists can visit multiple wine cellars along the way and explore beautiful landscapes. For all details about wine bike tours in Baranja, check here. Beautiful nature park Kopački rit also included bike tours recently for an easier and more exciting experience of Slavonian nature and enriched tourist offer even more. Check the website here.

Požega, Požega - Slavonia County 

When we talk about cycling or any other type of recreation, we have to mention the center of Slavonia. The Hilly mountain terrain of old Slavonian mountains Papuk, Psunj, and Krntija, make this region even more exciting for bike lovers. Thirty marked bike trails make Požega - Slavonia County a place for one of the best bike tours in Slavonia. Besides the already mentioned EuroVelo route and other state bike trails, Požega and its surroundings offer an amazing variety of bike trails for everyone. If you thought Slavonia is flat, you’ve been grossly deceived. The landscape around nature park Papuk is a great reason anybody trying these routes needs to have high-level body fitness.

  • The so-called “Green route” that passes through the Požega Wine region - beautiful wine yards (almost similar to Ilok’s or Baranja’s wine roads), hills, and exquisite views of old mountains. Route details.
  • Požega vistas trail is another one that stands out in that region - This trail has all sorts of terrains - from asphalt ones in the old town of Požega to forest trails and open landscapes with dirt roads, all the way to Požeška gora and trails and obstacles that pumps up the adrenaline, passing by old wells and trails of old, ancient life and back to Požega. Route details.
  • The trail through fields and meadows - goes through traditional Slavonian villages and hilly places rich with agriculture. Exciting long upward and downward roads between villages and eventually back to Požega. Route details.

For more details about the most exciting bike tours in Slavonia, definitely check here.

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Papuk (photo credit: Mario Romulić)

To conclude this list, we need to shoutout few honorable mentions that definitely deserve their own article: off-road routes of Virovitica - Podravina County, muddy, exciting forest roads around rivers, sunny fields of Podravina, and glimpses of Western Slavonia, which has probably one of the best bike trails in Croatia. Pannonian bike roads pass through the calm landscapes, across the hills, through the woods and fields, along rivers, streams, and lakes. With the wind on your face, definitely discover the beauty of Pannonian cycling trails. For more details, check here.

Slavonski Brod and Brod-Posavina County with a must-visit to the monumental Brod Fortress, the largest of continental Croatia with its unique Tambura Museum. Posavina villages of Klakar, Donja, and Gornja Bebrina offer even more pleasures and forests that express the greenest places in Slavonia. Lipik, Pakrac and their Lipizzaner and Kuna Trail... What are you waiting for? For more details, check counties official website.

After an exhaustive analysis that can reach five more such articles, it’s only left of us to invite you and visit these beautiful places. From Požega to Ilok, these truly are one of the best bike tours in Slavonia, but not just that - in Croatia as well. For more cycling articles, visit our dedicated website.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Monday, 18 April 2022

Fifty Volunteers Take Care of Croatian Veteran Needs

18th of April 2022 - The Palliative Team was launched which included six Croatian veterans who volunteered together with the staff of the Vukovar Health Center.

As Novosti.hr reports, the president of the association “Defender Helps the Defender” (Branitelj pomaže branitelju) Željko Miškulin, wanted to expand the projects so three months later, they founded an association whose goal is to support the Croatian veteran population.

“I saw the needs of the veterans and their sense of forgetfulness since they fell ill. Veteran health and mortality problems were high, several of us suffer from multiple sclerosis, and most members have the status of Croatian war invalids. It was my path and guidance to embark on an adventure that proved useful and successful”, says Miškulin. The association has 50 members of volunteers and, although at the beginning it gathered people from Vukovar - Srijem and Osijek - Baranja counties, today they come from other Croatian counties as well.

In the beginning, the founding members and President Miškulin as volunteers of the Vukovar Health Center, provided palliative care to veterans in their homes, socialized and talked with them, and enabled family members to perform other tasks. After some time, they secured a visit from a dentist to a veteran who was then a bedridden patient for two years, with clergy and priests later joining the cause. Now they provide psychological support, organize examinations, controls, ambulance transport, free accommodation, and food during treatment for family members in Zagreb.

“We have excellent cooperation with the hospital in Vukovar but also with health institutions in Osijek, Zagreb, Zadar, and the health Center in Vinkovci. We also focused on helping the children of Croatian veterans with developmental and severe disabilities, we provide them with equipment and aids with Caritas helping us”, explained Miškulin, adding that the veterans are delighted that someone thinks about their needs.

 

Behind them are four implemented projects, three more are underway, and new education and an increase of the member numbers are planned as well.

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

Friday, 15 April 2022

Contents of a Slavonian Easter Basket: From Eggs to Green Onions

15th of April 2022 - The most important Christian holiday is almost here which means plenty of food and traditions that have been part of Croatian culture for centuries are in focus. A look at the contents of a Slavonian Easter basket. 

With Lent being over on Palm Sunday, Holy Week and the final days before Easter have begun. Of course, that means believers who participated in relinquishing and fasting during Lent can finally start eating normally, except on Good Friday when fasting is strictly prescribed. Preparations for Easter include a lot of cooking and preparing sweet pastries to celebrate Jesus’s resurrection. Good Thursday is dedicated to the remembrance of Christ’s Last dinner and no one can work on their soils or crops. As already mentioned, Good Friday includes a strict fast with only one proper meal allowed, which symbolizes Jesus’s torment and death. After Good Friday, Good Saturday is reserved for silence and preparations of said meals that have everything from heavy meat to spring vegetables and more. However, the most important part of the Easter celebration is definitely an Easter basket, which contains a variety of foods reserved for blessing and later for Easter celebration, most commonly as a breakfast on Easter itself.

Easter Eggs 

Most things in the basket are definitely Easter eggs (pisanice), or boiled chicken eggs with beautiful handmade designs that differ from family to family. This custom of decorating and gifting eggs was known throughout Europe, especially among Germans, Scandinavians, and Slavs. Even its age is confirmed by archeological grave finds. When it comes to Christianity, the egg is a symbol of the new and eternal life that Jesus made possible for people through the resurrection. In Croatian traditional culture, the custom has remained to this day. In the past, only domestic homemade colors were used for painting eggs and they were obtained from broccoli, onion peel, nettle, various grasses, and many more. Aniline dyes became popular much later. Wax was applied to the egg by a special funnel-shaped pen or pinhead; this technique also made it possible to obtain multicolored ornament. These traditional ways of painting Easter eggs came back - more and more people fall back to old customs because of healthy and more organic ways of painting. On Easter morning, eggs are put to use - children break eggs to determine who has the strongest one.  

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Colored Easter eggs and spring flowers on Easter (photo credit: Private album)

Unleavened bread

As we know a lot of Christian traditions are shared with Jewish customs and unleavened bread is part of that as well. It symbolizes Christ’s body and according to Bible, was present at Christ’s Last dinner. There are a lot of variations of bread throughout Croatia like normal pogača, pinca, however, unleavened bread is a customary Easter bread in Slavonia and represents sacrifice. Its texture is somewhere between hard and soft and has a neutral flavor which fits amazingly well with other Easter basket components.

If you’re interested in making this bread, here is my family’s recipe that’s been used every Easter for decades: 

0,5 kg of smooth flour

1 package of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

4 egg yolks

1 egg

1 tablespoon of pork lard

10 dag of butter

Method:  

Mix with milk so that it is neither soft nor hard. Let it sit for 10 minutes, after that put it in a small bowl with a diameter of 18 cm. Grease the bread really well with lard and put the bread in the oven preheated to 180°C. Bake it for 30 minutes, take it out, coat it with egg yolk and milk mixture using a brush, put it back in the oven, reduce the temperature to 150°C and bake it for 25 minutes more.

There you go! You have a proper Slavonian bread that’s part of every Easter basket.

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 Easter breakfast with food from Easter basket (photo credit: Private album)

Ham

Fragrant-cooked ham is certainly the main star of the Easter table and what evaluates the quality of its preparation is juiciness. The type of meat is really important but the best is definitely pork meat or rather pork leg which is considered the “real” ham. Other than classic cooked ham that we know and love, there is an alternative - ham wrapped in pastry. Again, its preparation varies from family to family and the quality of the meat is determined by the financial status of the people who prepare it.

If you’re interested in the preparation of cooked Easter ham, check this recipe here.

Radish 

The so-called spring queen of health and a vitamin bomb. Although radish is primarily associated with the Easter table, many people buy this vegetable because of its rich nutritional composition and medicinal properties. Indispensable food of every Slavonian Easter basket.

Green onion 

If it's planted before Spring, green or young onions are definitely an unavoidable vegetable for the Easter basket. Strong, spicy, and its intensive smell with ham bring something really special to every Slavonian household on Easter. Like radish, it is a great ingredient in a variety of Easter salads.

Sweet cakes and pastries

Last but not least, cakes and pastries are a must in every Slavonian Easter basket. From usual pies like cakes like mađarica, chocolate pie, white pie, honey pie, so-called Katherine (Katarina kolač), and coconut-walnut cubes that were and still are a staple for Slavonian desserts through decades, small cakes, pastries, and cookies are getting more and more popular in recent years. Likes of išleri, baskets (košarice), rum balls, linzers, triangles and so many more. Cherry or apricot strudel is also a recent pastry baked and consumed on Easter. Breskvice (peaches) as well - signature Slavonian cake. 

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Sweet cakes and popular pies in Slavonia (photo credit: Private album)

 

Salt is also part of the blessed Easter basket with candles that will be lit on Easter breakfast and other various items that believers want to bless.

As said in the beginning, Easter is the most important Christian holiday. It celebrates Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection. Throughout the centuries, Croatians managed to save huge parts of their cultural and traditional heritage and it’s not a coincidence that Easter customs are one of the oldest traditional practices in Croatia’s history. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a believer, everyone is welcome to try the contents of a Slavonian Easter basket, take it, and in the end, try to make these delicious meals for themselves. At the end of the day, this is the time, not just for sacrifice, but for sharing and love as well.

Sretan Uskrs!

For more about lifestyle in Croatia, visit our dedicated TCN page.

Thursday, 14 April 2022

Good Friday With Fasting Meals For Citizens From 10 AM in Vinkovci

14th of April 2022 - The City of Vinkovci, the Independent Trade Union (DZZP) and the Vinkovci Technical School, along with the support of multiple companies from Vinkovci, have announced the distribution of fasting meals for all citizens on Good Friday.

As Novosti.hr writes, the now traditional event that occurs every Good Friday before Easter will have fish and potato salad on the menu this year as well. Future chefs, more precisely the students of the Vinkovci Technical High School will be in charge of preparing the food.

Mayor Ivan Bosančić will also take part and help in the morning food giveaway in front of the Vinkovci Gymnasium (School) from 10:00 on Vinkovci’s main square. He emphasised that meal itself is not the main motive for gathering people together, but that going out to the square and spending time together in the festive spirit is the point, as we celebrate the greatest Christian holiday, Easter.

 

Everyone is happy to respond when it comes to celebrating traditions like this - the Trade unionis, the City, various donors and of course, the hardworking student chefs who will prepare more than one thousand portions of meals for the occasion. Whether it’s Good Friday or Christmas Eve, a sense of togetherness is the most valuable part of it all.

Let us also remind ourselves that Good Friday is one of the two days of strict fasting in the liturgical year, with Ash Wednesday when Lent begins.

Fasting for Catholics means taking only one full meal a day as opposed to fasting when eating the usual three meals except meat. Strict fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday isn't just fasting, but the practice of abstinence at the same time, which means believers on that day eat only one full, modest and simple meal to the brim. Good Friday is a day of renunciation and penance and in that sense, the meal served on the table should be exactly like that.

For more, check out our lifestyle section.

Thursday, 7 April 2022

Traditional Festivities in Slavonia - Unmissable Events

7th of April 2022 - There are a lot of festivities you can visit in Slavonia - from beer and food festivals that became really popular in recent years, to modernized cultural manifestations which teach us something new. However, traditional festivities in Slavonia which are held for more than half a century, are still an irreplaceable staple of this region.

When reviewing the list of festivities in Croatia, a tourist or even a Croatian citizen, is shocked by the variety and content Croatia organizes every year for their visitors. Urban, cultural, and gourmand festivals are in forefront of most tours and offers, especially with summer coming soon and since Croatia became a really popular destination among tourists, they also got more interested in the tradition and cultural heritage of the region they visit. For instance, Dubrovnik, which is a jewel of the Adriatic coast, not only attracts visitors with its gourmand offers or beautiful historic sites like Tvrđava, they also have the Dubrovnik Summer Festival (Dubrovačke ljetne igre) which brings visitors closer to tradition and the way native people of Dubrovnik lived centuries ago. This event brings Dubrovnik back to the golden age of renaissance and baroque, the living spirit of drama and music, and many more, which were bestowed upon Croatian cultural and scholarly history. That’s why Dubrovnik is so good at tourist offers, they bring everything to everyone. 

However, with different tourists comes different tastes and recent years showed an increase in interest in Eastern Croatia, more precisely, Slavonia and Baranja, which are labeled as more “rural, folk” regions. Slavonians and Baranians recognized the potential these regions have and started adapting to tourists' wishes and needs. Yes, they devised and organized multiple new festivals that will be held for many years to come but they realized their traditional festivals, which are really popular with lovers of everything related to tradition and locals, need more exposure. 

Đakovački vezovi - Đakovo 

Today, Đakovački vezovi is a well-known and affirmed manifestation of original folklore. The first manifestation occurred in July 1967, as part of then the International Year of Tourism and from the beginning, the event was a great success with people from Slavonia and beyond. The main event kept its original date and it’s held every year in July. Contents of the festival include original folklore from Slavonia, Baranja, Western Srijem, and other parts of Croatia with accompanying events such as the opening of various exhibitions, equestrian events, and other cultural and tourist events. The entire city participates in the event and in 2005, it received the International Tourism Charter (European Federation of Tourist Journalists based in Rome) Merits for Tourism. Thousands of folk costumes pulled from the chest of oblivion, thousands of participants from Slavonia, Baranja, the whole of Croatia, even Europe, and the world, bring us songs, dances, and customs of their homeland for decades in Đakovo. If you’re a gourmet, you’re settled. Hundreds of different dishes are served and ready for degustation. Wine lover? Multiple winemakers with their best wines are ready to show off their products which are a reflection of the beautiful, rich region of Slavonia. Artists, folk, history lovers, and even animal lovers can come and have the time of their lives which makes it one of the largest and most popular traditional festivities in Slavonia. For more details, check out their official website.

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 The opening of "Đakovački vezovi" in 2019 (photo credit: Photo Gallery - djakovacki-vezovi.hr)

Vinkovačke jeseni (Vinkovci Autumns) - Vinkovci

Definitely, the largest cultural event in the region, arguably in Croatia and some would say, in this part of Europe. The First Vinkovačke jeseni was organized in September 1966 and soon became one of the most famous festivals of its kind in all of Croatia. The foreground of the manifestation is the care of traditional folk dances, costumes, and customs in order to preserve various values of folk and traditional life of Slavonia. What’s really interesting is the fact that the manifestation is organized in September because of autumn - a season that rewards Slavonians for their hard work. After its founding, the festival soon began to connect all lovers of cultural heritage, not just Slavonia, but all the regions in Croatia. So every year hundreds of Folklore Societies from Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, and many more come to Vinkovci to display their culture to visitors. However, they didn’t stop there. Organizers recognized the tourist potential of their event and upgraded it for modern times, so apart from the main event which signifies a closure of Vinkovačke jeseni, the whole week before the opening is dedicated to its visitors! For instance, the opening of the event comes with a big performance by the local theatre with other guests from all over Croatia and in the evening the concerts of the biggest Croatian music stars begin, every evening of the week! Personally, I watched biggest Croatian performers on Vinkovačke jeseni stage like Dino Dvornik, Severina, Jelena Rozga, Klapa Intrade, Giuliano, Prljavo Kazalište and so many more. It truly is for everyone. Then, when the show of the manifestation ends on the last day of the week with the biggest folklore parade in this part of Europe (nationally televised), with the most popular folk and traditional commentator in Croatia, Branko Uvodić, every visitor feels enriched with Slavonian tradition, cultural heritage, food, art, folklore and more. That’s why Vinkovačke jeseni is one of the biggest traditional festivities in Slavonia and one of the best representatives of Croatian traditional, cultural heritage in this part of Europe. For more details, visit their official page. If you want to read more about Vinkovci, check this TCN article.

 

 

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"Vinkovačke jeseni" parade - the main event on the last day (photo credit: Vinkovačke Jeseni - Facebook page)

Aurea Fest - Zlatne žice Slavonije (Golden Wires of Slavonia) - Požega 

In the middle of Slavonia lies the city of Požega, located in the hilly parts of the region where none of the roads are straight - a place where hills are dotted with roads. Surrounded by the old hills of Psunj, Papuk, Krndija, Dilj, and Požeška Gora and home of the famous Croatian poet, Dobriša Cesarić, it doesn’t seem odd that this city is the home of one of the biggest traditional, cultural and musical events of folklore, tamburitza but also pop music, which has been held in Požega since 1969, with a break between 1981 and 1990. Zlatne žice Slavonije today is a four-day event with more than 40,000 visitors and more than 100 accredited journalists from several countries. Songs, top-tier wines, gastronomy events, concerts, exhibitions, art colonies, sports competitions, folklore festivals and other events are slowly making Požega and the Golden Valley one of the tourist destinations in Croatia in September. It hosted multiple Croatian musicians (mostly “tamburaši”) like Gazde, Zlatni Dukati, Miroslav Škoro, Slavonske lole and so many more. CDs and cassettes were pretty popular back in the day, which meant that almost every Slavonian household had a copy of musical repertoire from Golden Wires of Slavonia! So, if you visit Slavonia, definitely visit Požega in September - great content, songs, dances, food, and most importantly, people. The main event, the concert, is nationally televised on HRT every year. For more information, visit their official page.

For now, we’re stopping here. There are a lot of traditional festivities in Slavonia but these three events are staples of traditional festivities in Slavonia and the whole of Croatia. From entertainment to food and sports recreation, these manifestations are unmissable events if you want to visit Slavonia. Slavonian spirit cannot be recreated anywhere else, so if you want to relax further after a summer tour of the Adriatic, come to Slavonia, they’re going to welcome you with open arms.

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

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Poetry As Preservation of Slavonian Cultural Heritage and Tradition

31st of March 2022 - Meet Željko Čuljak, whose poetry and stories about the beauty of Slavonia and its residents aim to preserve the cultural heritage and tradition of his village Cerić and the whole Slavonian region.

We spoke with Željko in his home in the small village of Cerić, which is located near Vinkovci and has suffered a tragic fate. During the Homeland War, Cerić fell and was destroyed to the ground - residents lost everything and inevitably fled the enemy aggression which destroyed everything in their way. Željko, with his fellow fighters and villagers, stayed behind and helped to protect Nuštar, a nearby village that resisted tireless enemy attacks and led bloody battles that lasted for days. On the 5th of October in 1991, just a few days after surrounding villages fell to the enemy hands (Cerić and Marinci), Croatian defenders resisted enemy attacks and, in the end, managed to protect the village from aggressors. This event is forever inscribed in the history books of the Homeland War as the “Battle of Nuštar”, which was one of the biggest wins of the Croatian army in an effort to protect the country of Croatia from aggressors. Why is this event mentioned? Because its consequences left a big scar on Cerić and its surroundings - destroyed homes, displacement of the residents, destroyed the most recognizable symbol of the village, the church and so much more. The identity of the village was shattered by those buildings and still has an impact on the village's atmosphere today. However, returnees to the village and new residents made it their mission to bring back the old glory of Cerić, promote how people lived before the war, and show that their tradition, cultural heritage, and their lives were not erased on that fateful day in 1991.

Thus, join us in meeting Željko, who is at forefront of the mini “Slavonian revolution” which is propelled by his stories and poetry about the past and present and the future of Slavonia as well.

Željko, can you tell TCN readers a bit about yourself? 

My name is Željko Čuljak, a folk poet and a writer, a defender of the Homeland War and a retiree, who in their free time raises pigeons and writes stories about Cerić and Slavonia. I am a father of three children, a grandfather, and a husband. My writing is connected to the exile of our village, ten years of watching my village from the frontlines. To understand my writing and me in general, you need to see where I live.

What is Cerić? If you look at it as an outsider it seems like any ordinary Slavonian small village, so what is so special about it to you? 

We live in Slavonia, a rich and “full” region that through time attracted a lot of conquerors and consequently, misfortunes. People who lived here suffered a lot during a few wars that happened in this region and after those casualties, the number of residents rapidly decreased which led to people all over the country migrating to Cerić. In the beginning, a lot of conflicts occurred between immigrants and the old residents, who felt threatened by the newcomers. However, after some time, harmony and love prevailed and connected these different groups. Love won in the end and those newcomers accepted the village's customs and cultural heritage and traditions of this region. In conclusion, calm people live here.cerić_cultural_heritage.jpg

"Evenings with Poetry" in Cerić, (photo credit: Vedran Čuljak)

When did you discover your passion for writing?  

I don’t talk much, a lot of the things I prefer keeping to myself and we were taught “if you don’t have anything nice to say, it’s better for you to be quiet.” I endured the war better while I was in it than when I came back to destroyed homes and a neglected village, it fuels the anger in you. That site slowly but surely built up anger and rage in me and I couldn’t express it to others nor me. Then, one time at the mass, I heard a priest talking about anger and saying: “Love your enemies, forgive!” How can I do that?! I realized that I need to forgive myself to let go of that anger. When I’m surrounded by so many good people, how can I be angry?! And those experiences fueled my inspiration for writing. Firstly, I started writing for myself. I write about the beauty and happy adventures of our lives and their residents. I felt sorrowful for not sharing my work with anyone, so I started gifting and selling my work to family and friends. When they liked and praised my work, I felt like I was doing something right. Also, I am part of the Folklore Society of Cerić "Slavko Mađar" and they always need new ideas or “old” ideas I realized that war kind of erased part of our history, people who “disappeared” from this place took the tradition and cultural heritage with them. Today, I’m sort of a keeper of memories in Cerić, one of the people who bring those old stories and memories back to residents and it, unfortunately, seems that people forgot most of them. I try my best to save and preserve that cultural heritage for children of the future. We have a very nice combination of us poets who write and the rest of the village who “absorb” everything we make. We give our poetry soul and actors from Folklore give them life.

Željko, do you think there are enough of these initiatives that have the mission of preserving and promoting Slavonian cultural heritage?  

Folklore Societies are keepers of tradition and it’s well represented, not just in our region but throughout all of Croatia. Every village and town have their own Folklore Society. The question is, are people aware of them? Once upon a time, people were actually running away from tradition and it was an embarrassment to even be connected to these groups because everything else foreign was better. Then we realized during War that we miss sitting under the old mulberry tree while the spring sun is shining, harvesting our own crops and so many more things that make this region unique. Simply, all of the residents of Cerić realized that that’s the point - it’s nice to go abroad to a beautiful country or city but in the end, there is no place like home.

Do you have any of your original work published?  

I have a collection of poems called Trace of The Soul (Trag Duše) which came out in 2019. It’s mostly poems about the war we experienced, adventures, and traditions Cerić offered and inspired me to write about. I wrote another book of poetry expected to be published near the end of the year, it should’ve been published before but COVID-19 slowed down the process. It’s easy to write for me since there’s a lot of inspiration around me like children going back from school, the boy who’s a head shorter than the girl but still carries her bag, and those kinds of stories make my writing worthwhile. Everything is simple and lively in this village.


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Original cover of "Pattern of the Soul" (Trag duše), Željko's published work, (photo credit: Vedran Čuljak)

 

Who’s your biggest critic? 

My wife is my eternal inspiration to me haha AND my biggest critic of course. Everything that works and everything that doesn’t work she always tells me. She knows how to read my poem better than I! I don’t know how to interpret it when I write it! To me, it’s a blessing and brings me a lot of joy when every poem finds its own role, every person finds themselves in my poem, my story. We are extremely lucky that our whole village participates with us.

Can you tell us the events or manifestations that you organize every year in your village? 

We have “Evening of Poetry” which is usually held during summertime at the end of June. It’s part of the celebration of our saint of the village, Ivan (John), or how we say it here, Ivanje. Usually held in the evening, residents gather and light up the torches, we sit on bales of straw in the middle of Cerić and recite our poems and stories. Residents and our guests also participate in the event and it’s such a beautiful celebration of Slavonian cultural heritage and traditions. We have one more event, the “Yearly concert of Folklore Society” which is held around Municipality Day of Nuštar. Local people criticized this manifestation since it was held on 2nd of the October which was the day Cerić fell in the Homeland War. We were accused of celebrating the biggest tragedy this village experienced in its history. What they didn’t understand is that we always celebrate life, coming back to our homes, all of those people who were exiled or have left us for other reasons and we do it with songs, socializing, being happy and that’s the most important part.



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One of the manifestations celebrating the cultural heritage of Cerić and Slavonia, (photo credit: Vedran Čuljak)

As we know, Slavonia lost a lot of its residents in recent years, do you think that factor will affect your manifestations? 

I don’t think so. Residents of Cerić notice our work as our guests as well. For example, we had a group of school children coming to our village as part of their trip, it was some kind of Vinkovačke Jeseni program and let’s just say the children weren’t that positive coming here. Why? Because they didn’t know what Cerić is, never heard of it and of course, they’re just not interested in those places, what can Cerić offer to them? However, after we hosted them nicely, organized nice lunch, their teacher, who was in charge, told us that this is the first time in her career that the children didn’t want to go home, they didn’t want to enter the bus and go. I know it’s a small sample but everyone who comes here, goes back home happy and they come back every year. There is still interest and to me, it seems it’s growing in the last few years.

Does that mean that there are successors and willing children to continue doing what you started? Promoting and persevering Slavonian cultural heritage? 

Definitely! More and more children realized villages' worth, their traditions, and cultural heritage. Cerić and its residents are unbelievably close and connected, while other villages talk about the alienation of their residents from their heritage, we prosper every year more and more. When a child puts on our traditional folk costume (šokačku nošnju) and when you look at the photos of their ancestors in the same costumes, those children are vivid pictures of their predecessors, great grandmothers, great grandfathers, only the hair and clothes changed. Everything stayed the same. There are successors and always will be. They will never disappear!

Thank you Željko for your time! Can you recite one of your original Slavonian poems for the TCN readers? 

From the poem "Slavonia, Mother"

"When I leave my homeland at dawn
I carry in my eyes a memory far from
far from the eye, to the heart, it's also hard
I will return once through tears, I said
.....
We'll meet again under the old oak
when the years close my dreamy eyes
until then I love you and always think of you
in my dream, almost every night I dream about you."

Events celebrating Slavonian cultural heritage mentioned in this interview are held in Cerić on the 24th of June "Evenings with Poetry" and the 2nd of October "Yearly Concert of Folklore Society "Slavko Mađar". If you're ever close and for instance, ever come to  "Vinkovačke Jeseni", visit Cerić and their events, Slavonia, as always will welcome you with open arms.

For more, check out Made in Croatia.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

Walk for Life to be Held in Ten Cities

ZAGREB, 27 March 2022 - This year's Walk for Life will be held in ten cities across Croatia on Sundays in May and June, a news conference heard in Osijek on Sunday.

Representatives of the civic group "Walk for Life, Family and Croatia" told reporters that marches would be held in Vinkovci, Varaždin and Slavonski Brod on 7 May, in Zagreb on 14 May, in Split and Imotski on 21 May, in Zadar and Ploče on 28 May, and in Osijek and Sisak on 11 June.

Lidija Blagojević of the civic group said that the Walk for Life was a peaceful walk for every human life from conception to natural death, for the protection of unborn children and their mothers, and for the protection of every family.

The national coordinator of the Walk for Life, Željka Markić, said this year's campaign was taking place in the context of a horrible war in Ukraine, noting that many volunteers of the Walk for Life initiative were involved in collecting aid and providing accommodation for Ukrainian refugees.

"The killing of people we have been witnessing every day makes us particularly sensitive to the need to build the culture of life and fight for every human life, from its beginning to its end", Markić said.

For more, check out our dedicated lifestyle section.

Friday, 18 March 2022

Festivities in Eastern Slavonia: Things To Do in Spring

18 March 2022 - Spring is on the horizon! Ceremonies and events are slowly but surely moving outdoors and since TCN already covered “Five Places You Must Visit During Spring in Croatia”, this is a look into what festivities in Eastern Slavonia are happening during the new season. 

Firstly, we need to start with the biggest city of Eastern Slavonia - Osijek. As usual, the greenest city in Croatia has various events that can fulfill any person's preferences: from music, film, theater, and traditional events to sports and other activities that include all of citizens and guests. Since there is no shortage of events this spring season, we had to single out a few that will happen soon. It doesn't hurt to mention again that Osijek is going to host the 29th Porin Music Awards on the 25th of March. For more details, check the article here.

 

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Antiques Fair, (Photo:Okusi sreće by Pavica/Facebook)

 

Antiques Fair - 2nd of April 

The citizens of Osijek love their culture and heritage so it’s not surprising that the Antiques Fair is one the most popular events in the city. From old gramophone records to lost books and masterpieces from local unknown artists, this festivity is for everyone. Excitement as you pass by a sea of stalls that potentially contain a lost “treasure”? It is guaranteed only at the Osijek Antique Fair that is usually held on the first Saturday every month in the Old Town of the city - Tvrđa. However, the next Antique Fair will be held in King Držislav Park near the famous urban statue The Shell (Školjka) on the 2nd of April. The Park is located just across from Tvrđa, so it is not hard to find it. You can check for more here.

 

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Osijek Ferivi Half Marathon (Photo Osječki Ferivi Polumaraton/Facebook)

18th Osijek Ferivi Half marathon - 9th of April 2022 

This event, as the name suggests, will take place in Osijek, with four different races included: a half marathon (21.1 km), relay (3 x 7 km), citizens’ race (5 km), and a race for the youngest - children. These events will be accompanied by a music festival, instrumental, dance, and singing groups with a goal to entertain the visitors and competitors. Since its foundation, Osijek Ferivi Half Marathon has had an increase in the number of participants every single year and it’s becoming one of the biggest sporting events in Osijek and its surroundings. If you’re interested, the application is still open for everyone - it doesn’t matter if you’re a professional or casual, everyone is welcome!

 

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Craft Beer Festival in Osijek (Photo: Osijek CRAFT BEER Festival/Facebook)

Craft Beer Festival - sometime in May (to be determined) 

How can Spring pass in Osijek without an event for beer lovers? In the last decades, Osijek has become a center for beer connoisseurs, not only in Eastern Slavonia but for beer enthusiasts all over Croatia. This fact is not surprising at all if we take into account that Osijek is also a center of multiple small breweries that produce various types of beers which have become iconic for this part of Croatia. Craft Beer Festival has been held last year during June but this year it’s probably coming back to its original date in May. We still don’t know the exact date. Nevertheless, the event will come back to the famous so-called “beer street” - Sun Street (Sunčana Ulica). For updates check their Facebook page.

If you’re interested in breweries in Osijek, check an article from our intern Toni.

After Osijek, we go further East and present cities of Vinkovci and Vukovar. Two historical Slavonian cities have a lot to offer with the support of surrounding small towns and their own events that enrich the lives of locals in Vukovar - Srijem County.

 

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Flower Festival in Vukovar (Photo: Miroslav Slafhauzer/Turistička zajednica grada Vukovara)

Flower Festival - end of the April 

Flower Festivals are a common event in Slavonia (we already had one in Osijek during Women’s Day). At the end of April every year, a Flower Festival is held in the center of Vukovar which brings together local and regional plant growers, florists, arrangers, related craftsmen, and lovers of flowers and ornamental plants. The Fair has sort of an exhibition and sales character which gives a completely different, colorful, and warmer look to the center of Vukovar. This event is also an overture for marking City Day.

 

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Svi zaJedno Hrvatsko Naj Festival in 2019 (Photo: svizajedno.eu/Galerija)

Svi zaJedno hrvatsko naj - cultural and tourist event - part of Vukovar City Day, 3rd of May 

This festival is fairly new - it was firstly held in 2018, as a part of the European Year of Cultural Heritage. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is the first Croatian festival to present protected Croatian intangible cultural heritage on the national and UNESCO list with the most attractive tourist events, attractions, and destinations from all over Croatia. During the event, visitors have a chance of exploring various manifestations held all over Croatia by tasting autochthonous Croatian dishes and enjoying the offer of the best Croatian wines. Of course, what would be a Slavonian event without traditional music and dance groups? For more details, you can check their website.

 

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"Motorijada" in 2021 (Moto Klub Županja/Facebook)

Motorijada by Moto Club Županja - 10th of April 

Motorijada (Moto Race) is an event that is organized by Moto Clubs all over Croatia. Motorcycle enthusiasts organize these events to promote, among other things, motorsports and use this opportunity to meet with their fellow motorcycle buddies. This April, Moto Club Županja is organizing the 16th Opening of Moto Season of Vukovar - Srijem County with the aim of drawing the attention of other road users to the presence and safety of motorcyclists in the traffic. They will start their tour in the village Rajevo Selo and go through multiple towns in Vukovar - Srijem County with the ending in the host city - Županja. Everyone is invited and if you’re a motorcycle enthusiast or just love looking at the motors, this is a great event to visit. For more information, check their Facebook page.

 

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Logo of the Festival (photo: Festival Glumca/Facebook)

Actor’s Festival - all cities of Vukovar - Srijem County, 13 - 22 May 

The festival was founded in 1994 by the Croatian Society of Dramatic Artists and Vukovar - Srijem County and it is the only festival in Croatia dedicated to the actor and their artistic work. Today, this event has grown into a festival that brings chamber and large ensemble performances to the audience. If you’re interested in the festival full of character, good acting, acting personality, talent, and originality, visit Vukovar - Srijem County from 13th to 22nd May this year. Every city will have its appropriate events surrounding this festival. For more, check their official website.

 

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 Petrovačko Zvono event few years ago (photo: savezrusina.hr)

Petrovačko Zvono - sometime in June, 49th edition 

Rusyns are a national minority in Croatia with most of the residents residing in the village of Petrovci, which is located near Vukovar. Tradition, heritage, and constant maintenance of their culture for more than 40 years made this event one the most important in Vukovar - Srijem County. Rusyns from all over Croatia and other countries, visit Petrovci to connect to their fellow Rusyn people. They have a strong connection to Ukraine and their people, so if you’re nearby, visit this event, learn about the traditions of the people who’ve chosen Croatia as their home, and enjoy Petrovačko Zvono and its celebration of their heritage. For more details, you can visit their website here.

This is it for now. There are a lot more events that need mentioning, however, this article won’t be enough. TCN will bring you stories from some of these events and part two of places to visit in Eastern Slavonia is already on the way. Stay tuned!

Make sure to check out our dedicated travel section.

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