folklore festival zagreb

International Folklore Festival, Zagreb

The International Folklore Festival at Zagreb is a famous cultural fest that sees participation by several folklore groups from across the globe. They perform their traditional dance forms, music, and also workshops on their form of art. Started in 1966 the Zagreb Fest has gained the approval of UNESCO and is now part of their cultural heritage preservation program. 

Every year this fest is conducted in the July-August months. With the backing of UNESCO, the fest has helped popularize several art forms of the ethnic minorities in several countries. The Croatian Parliament has given a national status to this fest and it is conducted under the care of the government. 

What happens at the International Folklore Festival?

The IFF showcases the dance and music forms of several ethnic groups within Croatia and those from other countries. It serves as a platform where they can come, perform, teach, and enjoy for a few days and also get a push for their art to become more popular. 

The fest is a 5-day affair where the ethnologists and folklorists collaborate with the Croatia Ministry of Culture to find, recognise and document the various dance forms, music, songs, costumes, etc of the minor ethnic groups. Without such involvement, many of those smaller groups would have been extinct or unknown to the outer world. 

Here, they all come together, express themselves, mingle with others, conduct workshops and exhibitions to reveal their cultural heritage. 

When is it conducted?

As mentioned, the IFF is conducted in July or August, which happens to be summer in Croatia. This year’s fest was conducted from July 29 to August 1 with various programs on each day. Entry to the fest is free with no tickets required. It is conducted in the city centre so people can watch the performances. 

The dates of the International Folklore Festival 2022 are 20th July to 24th July 2022. But one may expect a change in these dates due to the pandemic. The venue is set to be the Cultural Centre Travno. 

Usually, an average number of 2000-20,000 people visit each day during the festival. The fest targets the age group of 25-50 but people of various ages come together to enjoy this grand fest every year.

How to reach Zagreb for the IFF?

The International Folklore Festival is happening in the heart of Zagreb city so it will not be difficult to reach the venue. There are buses, trains, and other travel options to reach here. Needless to say, buses are the cheapest and one can easily find a seat on the bus at an earlier date itself. The bus tickets are available online so you can book the tickets easily. The easier bus routes are,

  • Zadar to Zagreb: The Zadar to Zagreb bus is available at a rate of EUR 15 and it takes around 4 hrs to reach Zagreb. The bus starts from the Zadar bus station and arrives at the bus station in Zagreb. 
  • Pula to Zagreb: Pula to Zagreb bus journey takes at least 5 hr 30 min. Buses are available from 3.45 am till 4 pm with an average bus fare of EUR 21.  

In addition to these, there are some Split to Zagreb buses that one can easily book online. Trains are available to arrive directly in the city from other neighbouring countries. Depending on the country there will be 1-5 trains that arrive at Zagreb daily. 

Flights and cars are the other options but they are on the costlier side. 

Accommodation at Zagreb

During the IFF, accommodation for all can be tricky as there will be quite a huge crowd. The various hostels and nearby hotels serve as the host to the visiting performers and the visitors. Booking the rooms in advance may be necessary during this time, whether or not you are coming to attend the festival. There are partner hotels for the performing groups. 

Tourists may need to ensure their accommodation during this crowded time or find alternatives before arriving here. 

Food at the festival

Visitors need not worry about the food and nutrition at the IFF venue. There will be plenty of healthy food available at the centre. There will be snack bars, Resto bars, vegan or vegetarian food, gluten-free food, or lactose-free food as needed. 

Places to visit in Zagreb

An artist playing traditional music during the Folklore Festival in Zagreb

The IFF is a part of cultural tourism that attracts several visitors during its time. All those visitors can have a few days here to enjoy the various other tourist attractions at Zagreb. Zagreb is known for its Austro-Hungarian architecture so there are several buildings to visit. Here is a small list of interesting places. 

  • The Cathedral of Zagreb is the neo-Gothic church in the heart of the city. It also happens to be the second tallest building in the country. The spires on the church are its major attraction which is visible from most parts of the city. 
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art is the biggest museum in the country. Other than being a marvellous architectural design, the building houses several contemporary art pieces in the form of paintings and sculptures. 
  • Ban Josip Jelacic Square is where one can see the oldest building in Zagreb. It used to be a marketplace a few centuries back. Now, the square has several incoming roads and is better connected to the other parts of the city making it a busy place. 
  • Museum of Broken Relationship: The museum is as amusing as its name suggests. This is completely dedicated to broken relationships where people donate various pieces of items that signify their former relationships. It is so popular here that it counts around 11,000 visitors per day and happens to be one of the most visited museums in the whale world!

The International Folklore Festival, Zagreb is a world cultural fest. It may have started as a means to preserve the cultural heritage of the smaller groups in Croatia, it is now an important world festival that is always looked forward to. 

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