Aromatic June: Hvar Lavender Fields and a Velo Grablje Festival

By 2 June 2019

June 2, 2019 - Welcome to June, the most aromatic month on the lavender island of Hvar, which will celebrate its 11th Hvar Lavender Festival in Velo Grablje next month.

One of the many natural delights of a summer on Hvar is getting out into the fields of the surrounding inland villages in late June and early July. Apart from the picturesque views, sunshine and natural beauty, this is the time of year when one of the island's best-known harvests taken place. 


Like many Brits, my knowledge of lavender harvesting was less than zero before I moved to Hvar, but it did not take me long to learn more about this wonderful aromatic treasure. 

Driving the old road from Stari Grad to Hvar Town in late June is a delight, and it is not uncommon to find cars abandoned at the side of the road as drivers and passengers head into the fields to take photos next to the aromatic bushes. 


In truth, the lavender fields today are just a fraction of what they were in their heyday. Emigration and fire have sadly depleted the number of fields one can visit. 

There are signs of rebirth, however. My friend Jadran Lazic, for example, has replanted 300 lavender bushes on top of the island on his estate, and it has become an annual tradition for me to get up at 04:30 each year to help out with the early morning harvesting. The fields look divine pre-harvest.  


The centre of the Hvar lavender story, however, is the village of Velo Grablje, a few kilomotres from Hvar Town on the old road. Once the centre of lavender production for all Dalmatia, Velo Grablje was hit hard by emigration, and its population dwindled to just five people over a decade ago. 


Since then the village's fortunes have changed for the better. A group of enthusiastic young locals with family ties to the village founded an association called Pjover, whose stated intentions were to resurrect the traditions and heritage of Velo Grablje. The highlight of this was an annual lavender festival, which will this year take place on June 28-29, for the 11th consecutive year. 

Far from being a dead village of over a decade ago, the population of Velo Grablje has grown from 5 to 14 at last count, and there is an excellent restaurant (Zbondini) and even a winter pub which is popular with many from Hvar Town. 


The lavender festival is a popular celebration of all things lavender, including harvesting the oil. There is a chance for tourist participation, something which I took advantage of a few years ago after I was invited to jump on top of the bunches of harvested lavender in the steel vat in order to compress them. My feet smelled of lavender for days. 

Of course, for the real lavender experience, you can't quite beat joining the harvest itself. Why do they start so early? It is hard physical work, and the summer heat arrives quickly, and it is already too hot by 07:30. Check out the harvest in the video of Jadran's field a couple of years ago above, then spare a thought for previous generations who did not have the benefit of roads and air conditioning when planning the harvest. 

To learn more about Hvar, check out the Total Croatia Hvar in a Page