Croatia is one of Europe's top summer festival destinations, with an ever growing list of events taking place all along the coast. The country's festival scene has exploded in the past decade, with an enormous variety of top quality options that deliver something for everyone, from large pop and rock concerts, big name DJs and wild beach parties to more laid-back concerts and long established cultural events. A sailing holiday in Croatia is not complete without experiencing one of these events, which combine impressive programs and world-class line-ups with stunning beachside locations and historic settings, and draw huge crowds of repeat visitors year after year.
The most popular cultural festivals on the Croatian coast include the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, Split Summer Festival, Rijeka Summer Nights, the International Children’s Festival in Šibenik and the Dalmatian Klapa Festival in Omiš, while the top destinations for music festivals and large beach parties include the cities of Pula and Split, Zrće Beach in Novalja on the island of Pag, and the scenic town of Tisno.
The Dubrovnik Summer Festival, one of Croatia’s best known and most popular cultural events, brings a full program of theatre, dance, music, traditional and other events to the streets of the Old Town and other locations across the city. With about 2,000 performers participating each year, the festival turns Dubrovnik’s romantic old forts, churches, palaces and squares into the focal point of creativity, music and the arts throughout July and August.
The Split Summer Festival is a month-long cultural event staged at a number of open-air venues in Split’s UNESCO-protected historic district. The program includes theatre, opera, ballet, concerts and exhibitions. The festival features several premieres each year and welcomes a number of visiting productions. The open-air events, such as opera performances at Peristil, the central square of Diocletian’s Palace, are particularly popular.
The Rijeka Summer Nights festival turns the city of Rijeka into a large stage in the summer months, with numerous performances of classical and new plays, operas and street theatre, as well as classical and pop concerts at Trsat Castle and various other locations across the city. The festival is held from the end of June to mid-July.
The International Children’s Festival is one of Šibenik’s trademarks and has been a unique event in the world since 1958, when it was first held. The multidisciplinary cultural festival celebrates the best works created for children, as well as the works created by children, and invites participation aiming to encourage children’s creativity and to promote the arts among the younger generation. The festival offers a versatile program delivered in different art forms, including literature, visual arts, puppetry, film, drama and music. It is held in late June and early July.
The Dalmatian Klapa Festival in Omiš is one of Croatia’s most established cultural events. Held since 1967, the festival brings together the best Dalmatian klapas (traditional a cappella groups) to celebrate the region’s musical heritage and treat visitors to performances that reflect Dalmatia’s heart and soul.
The party island of Pag hosts several summer music festivals that have burst on Croatia’s festival and party scene in the past decade. Most of the festivals are held on Zrće Beach, a long pebble beach about 2 km from the centre of Novalja.
Hideout Festival brings a number of top names in electronic music to Zrće and several local nightclubs for a week-long adventure in techno, dubstep and rave. Visitors are also treated to spectacular boat parties that accompany the festival. Each edition is a complete sell-out, attracting an even bigger line-up the following year.
Fresh Island Festival is a must-stop for fans of rap and hip hop, while Barrakud Croatia turns Zrće into a large techno party and Sonus Festival draws crowds of techno and house fans with performances from renowned and new underground stars.
Love Week Festival is the biggest electronic music event held on Zrće, and its unparalleled event design also makes it the most attractive one. The week-long festival combines music and partying with chilling, bungee jumping and other fun activities.
Situated between Zadar and Šibenik, the old town of Tisno has become one of the hottest Croatian festival destinations in recent years.
Love International, the heir to the popular Garden Festival, has already established itself as one of Croatia’s best new offerings, with almost 150 performers appearing on multiple stages and numerous parties held in the beautiful natural amphitheatre of The Garden.
SuncéBeat is a week-long boutique festival featuring disco, soul, house, techno, R&B and funk artists, also held in The Garden. The festival prides itself in welcoming progressive performers and curating an incredibly diverse line-up each year.
Defected Croatia treats visitors to a delightful blend of disco, house and underground electronic music, while Dekmantel Selectors hosts a number of the world’s finest DJs, who perform to a crowd of only 2,000. Various European clubs host boat parties during the Dekmantel festival and revellers dance the nights away under the stars at the outdoor nightclub Barbarella.
Stop Making Sense festival showcases underground electronic music talents in The Garden and takes fans and artists on boat trips for even more intimate and special live performances. The event was included among one of the top 100 music festivals by The Sunday Times.
Pula is the party hotspot in northern Dalmatia, with a number of fantastic festivals taking place during the summer months. Seasplash Festival takes over the city with a unique blend of genres, including electronic, jungle, ska, reggae and dubstep, and performances from top-notch Croatian and international acts. The festival is held at the Fort Punta Christo, a 19th century fortress with a scenic view of the Pula bay and Brijuni National Park. In addition to concerts, the festival hosts a bazaar, boat parties, chill out zones, workshops and various sports and cultural events.
Dimensions festival kicks off with a concert at the Pula Arena and delivers laid-back sessions of soulful electronic music, drum & bass and house on the beach by day and wild raves in a fort setting by night. Partygoers can also go on 3-hour musical cruises with some of their favourite DJs.
Held in late summer, the Outlook Festival is known for its top line-ups and stunning locations, with bass beats echoing through the walls of the city’s Roman amphitheatre, old forts and beautiful beaches. It marks the end of the summer festival season on the coast.
The offshoot of the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Ultra Europe is famous for bringing some of the world’s best DJs for the ultimate electronic dance experience in Split, one of Croatia’s most beautiful coastal cities. More than 150,000 visitors are drawn to the festival’s spectacular light shows at Poljud Stadium, boat parties, and beach parties on some of the most popular Dalmatian islands each year.
For a summer Latin music and dance festival, Rovinj is hard to beat. The Croatian Summer Salsa Festival brings salsa rhythms to every corner of Croatia’s most romantic city. More than 50 artists from different countries around the world take part in the festival, which is held at five locations and hosts a number of additional events, including beach parties, workshops, club nights, concerts and DJ sets.