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Sunday, 22 January 2017

The 2017 "Rijeka Carnival" Becomes A Croatian Mecca Of Entertainment & Events From January 17th To March 1st







A scene from the annual International Rijeka Carnival main parade which closes out the 6 weeks of festivities. Official Rijeka Carnival website at www.rijecki-karneval.hr.





This is an interesting and cool event that probably many people have never heard of and/or didn't have any clue about previously at all, and so worth mentioning again. I've come across plenty of instances of people not knowing what goes on down the street, next door or even in their own backyards, so how the heck would they know about this topic. On that note, the 2017 edition of the Rijeka Carnival (Croatian: Riječki Karneval, Rijeka is pronounced "Ree-ye-ka) this year is from January 17th until March 1st and continues a carnival tradition from the Middle Ages and even earlier. Fortunately I touched upon this topic previously so I don't have to write hardly anything, all the below information and images is reposted and will pretty well explain what it is and what goes on for 6 weeks in and around the city of Rijeka.

Basically, today's official Rijeka Carnival festivities date from the Middle Ages, at first lasting just a few days and becoming more elaborate during Imperial and European Renaissance times, especially from the 19th century when local Croatian aristocrats, princesses, barons, earls and countesses, would put on various carnival balls, festivities and parades, also attended by nobles from other parts of the Habsburg Monarchy and at times even other parts of Central Europe also. The Masquerade Balls became especially popular in those times, and some of the festivities and traditions during the 6 weeks date back to the early middle ages and from even earlier pagan times in antiquity. There is the first official evidence of a carnival tradition in this region in a prohibition document from 1449 – a provision of the City Council that prohibits the covering of the face with a mask (with the exception of guests of the masked ball in Kaštel Trsat), which at that time was severely punished. There are also simlar carnivals/fašniks simultaneously going on in other Croatian cities and towns also, Opatija, Split, Dubrovnik, Osijek, Čakovec, Samobor, Biograd na Moru, Varaždīn and others but the Rijeka Carnival is the largest one. Rijeka became a full member of the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FCCC) in 1995 and the Rijeka Carnival is also on the list of the 500 most important events in Europe - Top 500 European Events. It's also something different from the more common folklore costumes and events that I already posted about before, (such as the very well known Dubrovnik Summer Festival), so the Queen's Pageant, Carnival Balls, Burning of the Pust, the Carnival Snowboard Session, Children's Pageant and Parade, grand finale Carnival Parade, numerous concerts and weeks of Carnival Parties which take place in bars and cafes throughout Rijeka are just some of the ways to declare war on the post-holidays January blahs, get all the Jerry Springer and Maury Povich show reruns out of the system and cleanse the doldrums before Spring arrives and the Summer events start.




The rise in the industrialization economy of especially the port city of Rijeka and surrounding region created the basis for the newer Rijeka Carnival that we see today. Up till then the Central European Lenten Carnival season festivities revolved mainly around the main Masked Ball attended by the various nobles and guests, and the first floats of the parade were few. Above an image of one of the first floats from 1892. (The float reads "Vatrogastvo u godinu 2000" which in Croatian means "Firefighting in the year 2000")




(It's sort of apropos actually that Rijeka holds this annual event, because for many centuries it's been a geopolitically strategic area and important in Croatian history, as well as a strategic port town when the Croatian crown lands were part of other various political unions through the centuries. For instance as a brief synopsis: the city of Rijeka (prononunced "Ree-ye-ka" in Croatian and having the meaning of river after the Rječina river which flows into the Adriatic Sea through the city of Rijeka) has a long history even from times that the town/city didn't exist yet, just mainly the early Trsat stronghold fort. Croatian Duke Višeslav fought an important historical battle at the end of the 8th century near Rijeka's Trsat Castle, (more specifically near today's Trsat neighbourhood and vicinity which is part of Rijeka and the location of ancient Trsat, hence the castle name), from which the later city of Rijeka grew and expanded around, it was a precursor battle and event that eventually directly effected a continuum and expedited soon rising better organized and independent Croatian realms as well as other Dukes, Princes and Kings after him. (Although the Croatian tribes are recorded in sources as arriving to ancient Dalmatia, Illyricum and Pannonia and where we are today from the north in the 6-7th centuries, it wasn't until the late 8th and early 9th century that more efficiently ruled early duchies and military/political organization became more pronounced and evident in historical written records by historians, (the Croats still remained Pagan up to that time), strategically situated between and bordering the Bulgarian/Byzantine empires and the Lombard kingdom/Frankish Carolingian empire, and coincidentally interesting even well before the formation of Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and others btw, ie; early duchies and then an officially recognized kingdom named specifically after our own name including our own Kings, Queens and royal dynasties...just some less well known supplementary information which is pretty interesting, ie: we didn't just pop out of nowhere in the 20th century). Through the centuries its location within the Kvarner Gulf especially made it a very strategic area to control and possess as enemy land forces or ships could be more easily spotted from the hills. Rijeka/Trsat and further Istrian peninsula areas were part of the early Croatian Duchy of Duke Branimir in 879, the Croatian Kingdom during the reign of King Tomislav in 925 and to the time of King Zvonimir in the late 11th century sources record. It was near the crossroads where Croatian culture and historical sphere bordered at first with the Lombard kingdom, then the Frankish Carolingian empire, then later the Venetian empire, later also in conjunction with Austrian and Hungarian political frameworks when the Croatian crown lands were part of the House of Habsburg empire, (even Napoleon occupied the city for a short time in the early 19th century for a few years). Trsat/Rijeka and most of the Istrian peninsula was still a part of the medieval Croatian Kingdom from 925 right up to the time that Croatia joined in a union with Hungary around the year 1100. Rijeka and much of the surrounding area was then administered by powerful Croatian Princes, Counts, Lords and Bans (Viceroys/Governors) and some of them are even buried at Trsat Castle today, most notably Vuk Krsto Frankopan of the House of Frankopan as well as the Croatian Duke, captain, soldier and Defender of Klis and Captain of Senj, Petar Kružić, who were important Croatian nobles and military leaders from medieval and renaissance times along with the House of Zrinski and House of Šubić noble family lines. A number of important defensive battles against marauding eastern invaders in 1241 and Muslim Ottoman, Saracen and Moors naval attacks and kidnapping expeditions were fought and repelled here in the middle ages also, mainly attempting to carry off women and children. (writers at the time called them "battles that saved civilization", so they were important events of not only Croatian history). In the famous medieval Croatian Law Codex of Vinodol from 1288 it was mentioned as the stronghhold of Tarsatica (ie: today's Trsat) and part of the larger Vinodol župa/county, it was in the possession of the Dukes of Krk and especially the Croatian House of Frankopan nobility, in the late 13th century Trsat started to be known in sources as Rijeka with towers, shops and streets. During the 16th and 17th centuries Rijeka came under attack from both Turkish and Venetian forces, and it became a local base for irregular Croatian Habsburg troops known as the Uskoks (in Croatian having a meaning similar to "the Jumpers"). As recently as the early 90's the Serb controlled Yugoslav army (which was already just strictly a Serb army by that point) was on alert and prepared to attack the city like in other parts of Croatia, but then they retreated to other areas to continue attacks with other Serb church supported and armed irregulars there instead. (during the Serb shelling and attacks on Dubrovnik in 1991/92, it was actually members of Rijeka police units who arrived first greatly contributing to unblocking and the liberation of the city of Dubrovnik and surrounding area in April 1992), so the various medieval Croatian dukes and nobles through the centuries actually had an important large part to play in the Rijeka Carnival existing today. Even the oldest existing large circulation Croatian language continuously daily published newspaper Novi list (In Croatian literally meaning "New paper") was published in the city of Rijeka in the year 1900 and it's still publishing today. (I know what you're thinking..."Narodni list" founded in the city of Zadar in 1862 is still the oldest existing continuous Croatian language newspaper still publishing today, however it's weekly editions). Basically, that's a very brief synopsis that there's plenty of history and historical things in the background of the city of Rijeka that are part of the modern day carnival festivities).




Here's an interesting map related to the topic, a map of the Croatian lands dedicated to Petar Zrinski, who was the Ban (pronounced like "Bahn" meaning Viceroy/Prince & Governor) of Croatia during the 17th century, and showing the location of Rijeka and nearby area. The map was created at the workshop of Joannes Blaeu in Amsterdam as an addition to the work by Croatian historian Ivan Lučić, (Latin: Johannes Lucius) "De Regno Dalmatiae et Croatiae libri sex", Amsterdam, 1666. (On the Kingdom of Dalmatia and Croatia in six books) Blaeu had included the map in Atlas Maior in 1667, and dedicated it to the Croatian Ban Petar Zrinski. At the bottom of the map in the middle it reads..."To the most illustrious and noble Lord, Prince Peter of Zrin, the Ban of the united Kingdom of Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia, (Triune Kingdom) hereditary Ban of the Littoral, hereditary captain of the Legrad fortress and Medimurje peninsula, master and hereditary Prince of Lika, Odorje, Krbava, Omis, Klis, Skradin, Ostrovica, Bribir etc.., Master of Kostajnica and the sliver mine at Gvozdansko, councillor and chamberlain to his anointed imperial majesty, master Ioannes Blaeu dedicates this map". The map highlights the Croatian lands including its regional divisions and the location of the fort town of Rijeka and surrounding area during the time of Peter Zrinski. Image: obeliscus.hu.




Over the last few weeks I mentioned the 2016 Zagreb Advent Christmas Holiday Markets and the Zagreb 50th FIS World Cup-Skiing Anniversary & Slalom Races, which just goes to show that it's not all that boring during the winter months. (an added bonus is that the various foreign televangelist floats and bookmobiles aren't in the parades which is great news also, and when you factor in the world drinking-homicides statistics then the Rijeka Carnival just could be the funnest and safest place on the entire planet, ie: the spinning dirtball in space we call Earth) These below images were just too cool and interesting with some creative costumes to leave just on the internetworld websites, so I'm spreading them around for the benefit of the reader. The festivities just started up a few days ago and basically there's lots of things going on and to see and do during the next few weeks. The previous posts links below have more information and you can also visit the official website www.rijecki-karneval.hr or facebook.com/Rijecki.karneval for more up to date happenings and media.


*(If the reader has never heard of and knows absolutely nothing about the city of Rijeka but wants to know more, click onto the post croatian-city-of-rijeka-to-be-european-capital for a short fact-filled synopsis with interesting background information)



Related posts/information: photos-of-day-2015-rijeka-karneval

rijeka-carnival-2012-just-around-corner

photo-of-day-into-wild-photoshoot-zvoncari

over-100000-people-enjoyed-2011-rijeka

photos-of-day-evening-of-ri-dance-trsat

festival-of-myths-legends-at-trsat-rijeka

rijeka-carnival-starts-its-27th

rijeka-carnival-snowboard-session-2009

6th-burn-carnival-snowboard-session-in-rijeka

rijekas-kantrida-stadium-unusual

rijeka-karneval-celebrates-30th-anniversary

wikipedia.org/wiki/Rijeka_Carnival

wikipedia.org/wiki/Zvončari

www.carnivalsnowboardsession.com

www.halubajski-zvoncari.com

www.unesco.org




The Rijeka Carnival is held each year before Lent in Rijeka, Croatia. A mecca of entertainment and events, it is one of the biggest carnivals in Croatia and in 2013 it celebrated its official 25th anniversary









History



About a century ago Rijeka lived its carnival life more intensively than any other town in this part of Europe. Carnival parades were organized as well as carnival balls with the presence of Austrian and Hungarian aristocrats, Russian princesses, German barons, earls and countesses from all over Europe. The rebirth of the Rijeka Carnival started in 1982. It had only three performer groups in its parade and it was neither famous nor popular. The groups were "Lako ćemo", "Pehinarski feštari" and "Halubajski zvončari". All three groups have participated in the carnival each time since the beginning. The largest event happened in 2001 with 144 groups participating. Because of the restrictions that have been made regarding the number of participants in each group, the 2008 carnival had only 99 groups. Nonetheless, 150,000 visitors attended it.






Every year there are numerous events preceding the carnival itself. First the mayor of Rijeka gives the symbolic key of the city to Meštar Toni, who is "the maestro" of the carnival, and he becomes the mayor of the city during the carnival, although this is only figuratively. Same day, there is an election of the carnival queen. As all the cities around Rijeka have their own events during the carnival time, Queen and Meštar Toni are attending most of them.

Also, every year the Carnival charity ball is held in the Governor's palace in Rijeka. It is attended by politicians, people from sport and media life, as well as a number of ambassadors.

The weekend before the main event there are two other events held. One is Rally Paris - Bakar. (after the Dakar rally). The start is a part of Rijeka called Paris after the restaurant located there, and the end is in city of Bakar, located about 20 km south east. All of the participants of the rally wear masks, and the cars are mostly modified old cars. The other event is the children's carnival, held, like the main one, on Rijeka`s main walkway Korzo. The groups that participate are mostly from kindergartens and elementary schools, including groups from other parts of Croatia and neighboring countries.






The main carnival march is held on the last Sunday before the Ash Wednesday. It usually starts at noon. In the front there are the real mayor of Rijeka, the carnival Queen and Meštar Toni. The route of the march has several stages where the hosts present every group, and the main stage is situated in front of the city hall. The mayor, the queen and Meštar Toni stand in front of this stage and they greet all the groups coming afterward. The queen leaves this position only when the group, which she is originally from, pass the route of the carnival. Spectators usually gather to see the march all along its route. If the weather is good, up to 100,000 spectators may attend the carnival. Traditionally, the last group are Halubajski zvončari, and when they pass the march is over. Depending on the number of participants, this usually happens between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.






  
A scene from the annual Carnival Snowboard Session that also takes place. The competition itself lasts one day and into the evening, when thousands of spectators are able to watch some twenty top-notch snowboarders from Croatia and throughout Europe compete for prize money. It's a unique location literally just meters away from the sea and finishes with live concerts and festivities. The event has become a regular feature during the Rijeka Carnival. More information at www.snowboard-nine.hr and www.carnivalsnowboardsession.com.



A scene from the choosing of the children's Prince and Princess.






A short but cool highlight video of some images from this years 'Rijeka Carnival'.



A television spot announcing last year's 2016 Rijeka Carnival.





Of course, the march does not mark the end of the carnival. On the same evening, there is an event called the burning of the Pust. Pust is a puppet, that has some satiric name, very often after some politician, and he is blamed for all the bad things that happened in the preceding year. This event is held in Rijeka harbor, and before he is taken to the sea, a reading of charges is held, where a spokesman reads all of his sins. Afterwards, a boat takes the Pust to the sea and it is burned there. This tradition is held in all places around Rijeka, but it is held on Tuesday or Wednesday after the carnival.

In the last few years there are several parties held on various locations in Rijeka, some starting day before the carnival, and end in the night after the carnival. The most known is a carnival party held on Korzo, where various DJs perform.





Lots of music entertainment.



The choosing of the new Rijeka Carnival Queen.



All kinds of zany jester costumes are always a thrill for the crowds.



Lots of pirates.



There's pom-poms believe it or not.



Even the children get their very own official costumed parade and events, example:









The popular Zvončari (Bell Ringers) are a folk tradition with roots that goes back to even pagan times in antiquity. Germany's leading indie Art & Fashion KALTBLUT Magazine included them in a cool photoshoot previously along with Croatian fashion designs, see interesting photo-of-day-into-wild-photoshoot.




Although the same or very similar in customs, rituals and dress including the all important big brass bells, the costume can vary from village to village in the areas outside of Rijeka, see Zvončari for more about that.





The average reader will probably notice the Rijeka Carnival turbaned Moorish character on many banners and as costumed characters these days, which is also a little known history but interesting too. Numerous stories, folk songs and legends have been handed down and sung over the centuries which eventually led to the trendy Rijeka Carnival character we see today. The most heard and prevalent legend is from the centuries of the Muslim jihads into Europe and was described by the renowned Rijeka archaeologist and art historian, Radmila Matejčić. It dates back to the 16th century when the attacking Ottoman Muslims imported African Moorish slaves, and soon the Ottoman Moorish troops were advancing across large parts of Europe, even finding a route to potentially threaten the very city of Rijeka. Eventually it was learned that the Ottoman led Moor troops were leaving their base at Sanjak of Smederevo and attempting to set up a camp at Grobnik Field and prepare an attack on Rijeka also. The people of the city were afraid because the Croatian soldiers were already defending at other fronts and battlefields and especially because they already knew about the rapes and cruelty of the Moorish warriors. So the women and children of the city prayed to the heavens, and soon it came to be that a heroic Zrinski nobleman killed the Ottoman pasha leader with an arrow in the temple, while the rest of the invading army were killed by rocks which came tumbling down from heaven. All that remained was a single, white turban atop a large boulder, so Zrinski picked it up and then brought it to the women of Rijeka. To commemorate the miraculous turn of events and victory over the invaders, they then created the Morcic ornament, a Moorish character with a white turban on it's head. Later in Baroque times various folk jewelry, earrings, bracelets, pins and ornaments were made by Rijeka goldsmiths as reminders from those dangerous times, eventually finding their way to Venice as well as to the Habsburg royal court and even becoming an ornamental luxury jewelry for Mariana of Austria and her royal court and acquaintances. For this reason later some sailors and fishermen in the area occasionally used the shiny cheap decorated talismans as lucky charms for similar protection of their boats from misfortune. Today the cretinous looking kitschy, painted shiny blackmoor ornaments can be seen in jewellery stores or at trinket stands as souvenirs for visitors during the Rijeka Carnival. 



Masquerade balls, floats and more costumed parades.







Croatian Carnival Guide




Source: www.cd-croatia.eu


Carnival in Croatia is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent, the main events are usually during February. It is also known as Maškare or Karneval and takes place in various cities across the country. 

 
Croatian Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party. The culmination of every carnival celebration is a mock trial to an effigy called Fašnik or Pust, that represents the evil-doers and negative energy in general. After the trial Fašnik is usually sentenced to burn or hang and his execution represents a new and healthy beginning.

Both universal Carnival traditions and local traditions are practiced during this festival in Croatia. One of the most famous authentic Croatian carnival costume are Zvončari (the bellmen). They are traditionally dressed in white trousers, striped sailor shirts and wear a sheepskin throw. It is believed that they scare away the evil spirits with ringing their bells.

Rijeka is known as the Carnival Capital of Croatia, but Carnival festivities can be enjoyed in Samobor, Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Split, Kastav and elsewhere in Croatia. There are also summer carnivals. One of the most famous is the Senj Summer Carnival - the first was in 1968 and the tradition remained. Many other towns in the surroundings also organise Summer Carnivals (Mali Lošinj, Pag, Novi Vinodolski, Fužine, etc.)





Look at all the balloons.



Every year the Baroque to 19th century era themed Carnival charity ball is held in the Governor's palace in Rijeka. It is attended by politicians, people from sport and media life, as well as a number of ambassadors. There is the first official evidence of a carnival tradition in this region in a prohibition document from 1449 – a provision of the City Council that prohibits the covering of the face with a mask (with the exception of guests of the masked ball in Kaštel Trsat), which at that time was severely punished. Over the later centuries the masquerade balls became more popular and frequently attended by Croatian aristocrats, princesses, barons, earls and countesses and nobles from other parts of the Habsburg Monarchy, other parts of Central Europe and even Russian princes were known to have attended also. The weeks of colorful showcases, refined taste and dazzling creativity revive the spirit of traditional medieval carnivals which were celebrated both in the streets and in noble palaces. It recalls the historical and allegorical spectacle of the festivities, which were held in Rijeka and the Croatian lands during the Middle Ages, similar to the Carnevale Praha/Prague Carnival masked balls and events.




Wider view of more balloons.





RIJEKA CARNIVAL (January 21 - March 31)


Rijeka has a six-century-old Carnival tradition reaching all the way back to Venetian and Austro-Hungarian times. The rebirth of modern Rijeka Carnival began in 1982. Today, with over 20,000 participants and over 600,000 domestic and foreign visitors it is by far the biggest Carnival in Croatia and, arguably, 3rd largest in the whole world.

Every year there are numerous events preceding the carnival itself. First the mayor hands over the town keys to the Master of the Carnival, at the same day the Rijeka Carnival Queen Pageant is held. There are many concerts, exhibitions, shows, masquerades and parties being held until the final culmination - the huge masked parade held on last Sunday of Carnival with many international participants. A similar procession for children takes place on the previous day.

Also, every year the charity Carnival ball is held in the Governor's palace in Rijeka. It is attended by politicians, people from sport and media life, as well as number of ambassadors and consuls accredited in Republic of Croatia.

Detailed program of Rijeka Carnival http://www.ri-karneval.com.hr/en/welcome




SAMOBOR CARNIVAL (February 26 - March 6)


While Rijeka is best-known for its large-scale Carnival celebrations, Samobor is known for the local flavor of its festivities. Samobor Carnival traditon is 185 years old. During the Carnival not only the people change their looks , but also the bars, restaurants and the streets. Since 1974 ceremonial trial is held, in which the Prince of Carnival (Fašnik) is tried and found guilty for all evils. After his incineration there is a big celebration and the visitors can ease their suffering over this „tragic" event with famous Samobor doughnuts (krafne) and custard slices (kremšnite). Children's masked parade is taking place on March 5th .


Detailed program of Samobor carnival http://www.samoborci.com/samoborski-fasnik/40-samoborski-fasnik-2011/241-program-samoborskog-fasnika-2011





ZAGREB CARNIVAL AND MASKED BALL IN LISINSKI (February 24 - March 8)


Zagreb Carnival is being held from 24 February to 8 March, main festivities will be held in the tents near Bundek Lake. Among many other interesting events, an intriguing manifestation called „Live pictures„ in Zagreb City Museum will be opened on 5 and 6 March. Museum staff, dressed as famous historical figures will reenact some of the scenes from their lives.


More details at http://fasnik.net/zimski-karneval/39-fasnik-u-zagrebu/60-program-zagrebackog-karnevala-2011

Lisinski Concert Hall is organizing a Masked Ball on March 5th, more information at http://www.lisinski.hr






Rijeka - the largest carnival in Croatia




Wearing sheepskin cloaks, elaborate headwear of horned masks, cattle skulls or tall hats - the men of all ages carry wooden clubs and wear huge and heavy cowbells tied around their waists that clang loudly. Their mission is to drive out evil spirits that may have gathered over the winter months and to usher in the beginning of spring, a tradition that dates back many centuries and has pagan roots from antiquity. Beng similar to the Carnevale Praha/Prague Carnival and some other Shrovetide processions in Slovenia, Austria, Bohemia Czechia and elsewhere in Central Europe, the bell ringing Zvončari were added to UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.




Source: www.suite101.com


Did you know that the city of Rijeka on the northern coast of Croatia hosts one of the largest international carnivals in the world?




Every February the world goes carnival crazy with the lead up to Lent: Rio, Venice and also in Croatia, where the spirit of Mardi Gras is alive and kicking. The Kvarner Riviera attracts over 150,000 revellers from all over Europe. The 2011 event was the largest in its history with again over 100 floats and troupes of 'zvoncari' bell ringers coming from all over south east Europe filling the city with music, noise and festivities: the Rijecki karneval!






I had spent a couple of days on the beautiful island of Cres, off the Kvarner coast and was joining in with the preparations for the big carnival. People were busy building amazing floats, extravagant costumes and masks whilst others were rehearsing music and dance, which would fill the streets of Rijeka in the final procession on Sunday.










Pagan Bell Ringers - the Zvončari 








In villages all over the region the local young men were preparing themselves to ‘drive-out winter’. Early one morning I travelled up to the idyllic hillside village of Matulji just outside Rijeka. Here I was met by the colourfully dressed mayor and his small ‘oompah’ band. I guess they were very pleased to see me as they pressed a glass of the local brew, a heady mix of grappa and mountain herbs, locally known as 'rakija', into my hand. While this warmed my cockles he told me about the tradition of the ‘zvoncari’ which means ‘bell ringers’.

In ancient times, the evil spirits of winter were banished by these fearsome characters dressed in sheepskins, brandishing wooden clubs and bones whilst yelling and gyrating the cow bells hanging from their waists. But this hadn't really prepared me for the spectacle I was to experience later on that day.






Some live on the scene footage







Meeting of the Troupes with UNESCO Status




After a hearty, wholesome lunch of bread, cheese, ham and local wine I wandered into the crowds of people starting to line the streets. What was going on? Little did I realise, that Matulji was the village where the zvoncari were meeting before the big Sunday procession in Rijeka and already the square was filling with bright costumes and brass bands. Men from all over the area and indeed some coming from as far away as Poland and Slovakia as well as neighbouring Slovenia were arriving and getting into character. What a sight?

Each ‘tribe’ had a different outfit, some full sheepskin garbs with long red tongues and huge horns, some with outrageous head dresses and some even with real animal skulls over their faces. Real demonic versions of England’s own Morris Men! Once gathered together, each tribe began their exorcism of the ‘devil’ – winter.




What a Tremendous Cacophony!



Bells clanging, shouting and yelling, whips cracking and drumming all followed through the village by brass bands and a costumed children’s parade. Leading up to the final Sunday grand parade in Rijeka, these troupes carry out their traditional ritual through all the towns and settlements of the Kvarner region, sometimes without rest, whilst the local people provide them with food and copious amounts of beer and wine.

Many zvoncari begin their path as toddlers and these littl'uns sometimes tag along in their tiny versions of their fathers full costumes, very cute. In 2010, to prove how significant they are, these pagan bell ringers gained international UNESCO status so as to be protected as a part of the region’s cultural-heritage.




Carnival Introduction



This was a perfect introduction to the full carnival spirit of Rijeka. The city is steeped in history. A place where mid-European culture and the Mediterranean climate meet. All around you spy the various influences of the Venetians, Italians, Austrians and Hungarians from the architecture to the customs, a real crossroads of culture.

Throughout the carnival period other festivities take place. From classical music concerts to masked balls and everyone is involved. Tens of thousands of people converge on the city every year. Over 120 floats and groups portraying everything from the Romans to political parodies to modern day environmental issues all vibrantly decorated, partying and parading through the city. www.ri-karneval.com.hr/en/

One of my fellow spectators told me that it takes nearly six hours for all the floats to pass by, but I was enjoying the atmosphere so much that time didn't matter! I even spotted the mayor - he was having a whale of a time dressed as a huge beer barrel leading his merry brass band! He gave me the biggest grin, probably because he had drank the contents before climbing into it!




Masked Car Rally



Although the roots of carnival go back centuries this event is always evolving for the last few years it has featured the Pariz-Bakar masked car rally. No this isn’t a spelling mistake! In Rijeka there is a region known as Pariz and nearby is the town of Bakar (once a leading Croatian town) and one of the countries best known racers Tihomir Filipovic, recognising the connection after completing the famous Paris-Dakar Rally, started the trend and now up to 200 brightly painted vehicles make the tour between the two points into Rijeka for the end of party banquet.




Visit Rijeka and Venice Carnivals



It is hard to believe that the Rijeka International Carnival is probably one of the largest in Europe and yet few people in the UK have heard of it. You could easily travel to the Venice Carnevale di Venezia and then come to Rijeka and do it all over again!














A scene from the final parade of the 2012 Rijeka Carnival.





I did a post yesterday about Croatia's 1st Woman President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, (who actually grew up in the city of Rijeka coincidentally), complete with images from the inauguration in the capital of Zagreb, and since today is a holiday around here, I was going throw in some images of carnival dances/activities that took place throughout the day yesterday afterwards. Then I decided to instead do the Rijeka Carnival again. It's sort of a tradition for me, even if not there in person I still like to make the internet readership aware once a year about what went on and what it is. (I also like to dispel misleading rumours and lies that in Rijeka this time of year they kidnap foreign journalists and then make human sacrifices to Zalshabaroth, partake of cannibalism, hold diabolical ritualistic ceremonies praising Lord Disney, eat deep fried rabbit heads and cricket burgers, etc) There are other similar carnivals and winter events that take place across Croatian cities and towns, (The Samobor Fašnik being just one example that I posted about before) but the Rijeka Carnival is by far the most popular one with the most events and attendance, the most well known Croatian carnival in Europe.







For weeks before the grand finale main carnival parade that took place yesterday, there are a variety of activities, events, competitions, dances, masquerade balls, contests, races, children parade and more, that take place throughout the city and local area leading up to the popular final parade. Zany electrifying fun, food, music for all ages and more dressed up zaniness. It's just crazy costumed zanny fun I tell you, and so much more than just the final parade. I've been to Rijeka 4 times but not during the winter season. (I think when I eventually go there during the Rijeka Carnival, I'm going to dress up as a medieval count or some kind of 18th century duke or aristocrat with a tall hat, walking around with a snifter of cognac or absinthe and a walking stick, probably a pocket watch with chain hanging from my vest too) Below are some images from this year, not including the final parade, which I took from the official website www.rijecki-karneval.hr. (Hit my previous post links below for much more information and media from previous years)...




A view of Rijeka when it was a small walled fort town and the nearby medieval Trsat Castle from a 1689 drawing.




(I should add that many of the traditions and events that go on for the weeks leading up to the final parade actually go very far back. Many of the the events, smaller parades, masquerade balls etc, date from Renaissance times and when the Croatian lands were a part of the Habsburg Empire for centuries, just as some other European countries were also part of Austria-Hungary back then. (Some of them also have similar carnivals also) As for some of the other folk customs and events of the Rijeka Carnival, (the Zvončari (Bellmen) for instance), they go even much further back, their traditions date from the early middle ages and even earlier pagan times when the Croat tribes first arrived, all a part of historical events and legends from centuries ago. (According to some legends they even scared away Ottoman Muslim soldiers from the area when they were advancing to Vienna, the men and boys all donned cowbells to make more noise and since then the bells have become a standard attire of the bellmen costumes) They were also customs and traditions used to ward off dangerous spirits, bad crops and weater or invaders, as well as welcome in the spring and abundant crops. So 2015 is only the 32nd "Internationally recognized" official version of this annual carnival, the continuing traditions and history actually goes much further back)



Related posts/images: rijeka-carnival-2012-just-around-corner

over-100000-people-enjoyed-2011-rijeka

rijeka-carnival-starts-its-27th

rijeka-carnival-snowboard-session-2009

6th-burn-carnival-snowboard-session-in-rijeka

rijekas-kantrida-stadium-unusual

rijeka-karneval-celebrates-30th-anniversary

wikipedia.org/wiki/Rijeka_Carnival

wikipedia.org/wiki/Zvončari

www.halubajski-zvoncari.com

www.rijeka.hr

www.mojarijeka.hr

www.visitrijeka.eu

www.rijecki-karneval.hr

extravagant.com.hr

samobor-festival-fasnik-taking-place






Rijeka Carnival - 101. The Nuts & Bolts of Rijeka's Electrifying Annual Festival





The Rijeka Carnival (Croatian: Riječki karneval) is held each year before Lent (between late January and early March 1st) in Rijeka, Croatia. Established in 1982, it has become the biggest carnival in Croatia.

About a century ago Rijeka lived its carnival life more intensively than any other town in this part of of the Croatian lands. Carnival parades were organized as well as carnival balls with the presence of Austrian and Hungarian aristocrats, Russian princesses, German barons, earls and countesses from all over Europe. The rebirth of the Rijeka Carnival started in 1982.

Every year there are numerous events preceding the carnival itself. First the mayor of Rijeka gives the symbolic key of the city to Meštar Toni, who is "the maestro" of the carnival, and he becomes the mayor of the city during the carnival, although this is only figuratively. Same day, there is an election of the carnival queen. As all the cities around Rijeka have their own events during the carnival time, Queen and Meštar Toni are attending most of them.

Also, every year the Carnival charity ball is held in the Governor's palace in Rijeka. It is attended by politicians, people from sport and media life, as well as a number of ambassadors.

The weekend before the main event there are two other events held. One is Rally Paris - Bakar. (after the Dakar rally). The start is a part of Rijeka called Paris after the restaurant located there, and the end is in city of Bakar, located about 20 km south east. All of the participants of the rally wear masks, and the cars are mostly modified old cars. The other event is the children's carnival, held, like the main one, on Rijeka`s main walkway Korzo. The groups that participate are mostly from kindergartens and elementary schools, including groups from other parts of Croatia and neighboring countries.




"Smite the ghouls with thine wonderous wand and magical crown, let the wine and absinthe dipped sceptre and costumed armour destroy the invading infidel philistines back to Hades whence they came." (2 Chronicles of Hjorvarth the Caped Jester of Narvia, 5:7-13)




The main carnival march is held on the last Sunday before the Ash Wednesday. It usually starts at noon. In the front there are the real mayor of Rijeka, the carnival Queen and Meštar Toni. The route of the march has several stages where the hosts present every group, and the main stage is situated in front of the city hall. The mayor, the queen and Meštar Toni stand in front of this stage and they greet all the groups coming afterward. The queen leaves this position only when the group, which she is originally from, pass the route of the carnival. Spectators usually gather to see the march all along its route. If the weather is good, up to 100,000 spectators may attend the carnival. Traditionally, the last group are Halubajski zvončari, and when they pass the march is over. Depending on the number of participants.

The march does not mark the end of the carnival. On the same evening, there is an event called the burning of the Pust. Pust is a puppet, that has some satiric name, very often after some politician, a stinky fat gnome who never stops talking or some ghastly green ghoul being who is full of flies and steals from the people and country, he is blamed for all the bad things that happened in the preceding year. This event is held in Rijeka harbor, and before he is taken to the sea, a reading of charges is held, where a spokesman reads all of his sins. Afterwards, a boat takes the Pust to the sea and it is burned there. This tradition is held in all places around Rijeka, but it is held on Tuesday or Wednesday after the carnival.

In the last few years there are several parties held on various locations in Rijeka, some starting day before the carnival, and end in the night after the carnival. The most known is a carnival party held on Korzo, where various DJs perform.





2014 Rijeka Karneval highlights. 




A synopsis report about the 2014 Rijeka Carnival. The related humanitarian charity masquerade balls over the years which harken back to 18th century imperial times (at the 18:53 minute mark) have been especially popular with visitors attending all the way from Japan, Finland, Italy, Hungary, Austria, Macedonia, Belgium, Australia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Slovenia, Latvia and even Italy just to name a few.  




A highlight video from the 2011 Rijeka Carnival.






Photos from various events over the last few years in no particular order.

















The Crveni Nosevi - Klaun Doktori (Red Nosed Clown Doctors) also make an appearance.





















Every year the Baroque to 19th century era themed Carnival charity ball is held in the Governor's palace in Rijeka. It is attended by politicians, people from sport and media life, as well as a number of ambassadors. There is the first official evidence of a carnival tradition in this region in a prohibition document from 1449 – a provision of the City Council that prohibits the covering of the face with a mask (with the exception of guests of the masked ball in Kaštel Trsat), which at that time was severely punished. Over the later centuries the masquerade balls became more popular and frequently attended by Croatian aristocrats, princesses, barons, earls and countesses and nobles from other parts of the Habsburg Monarchy, and at times even other parts of Central Europe also, The weeks of colorful showcases, refined taste and dazzling creativity revive the spirit of traditional medieval carnivals which were celebrated both in the streets and in noble palaces. It recalls the historical and allegorical spectacle of the festivities, which were held in Rijeka and in the Croatian lands during the Middle Ages, similar to the Carnevale Praha/Prague Carnival masked balls and events.






























I better quickly throw in this pic to clear things up. I've come across it numerous times on the interwebs and usually with the mistaken description of it being a scene from the Rijeka Canival but it's not, it's from the Rio Carnival. I can also assure the general readership that it definitely is not from the Rijeka Carnival because as I've already explained, the Rijeka Carnival and some of the other Croatian carnivals have origins from medieval times and even before, which would be centuries before Brazil was even discovered, so it's impossible. (besides compare his costume to the Croatian costumes and events) This is the blog of truth after all remember, all the carnival scenes shown in this post are guaranteed to be from the Rijeka Carnival.

















































I might as well throw in this fairly recent pic of a bunch of happy Serbs being Serbian at the Serb Carnival in Ukraine doing Serbian things while outside of Serbia but still beings Serbs because it's still Serbia or should be or something like that. I can guarantee again this pic is not from the Rijeka Carnival or from any other Croatian carnival taking place. (supplementary information for the benefit of the reader)















The Rijeka Carnival slogan "Budi što želiš" (Be what you want) written on the bus just about sums it up, meaning you can be a hybrid Batman-Ninja Turtle-Chef-Clown-Giraffe or a Mickey Mouse-Spiderman-Giant Carrot-Pirate-Wolf etc. There's no costume rules.













Members of the Canadian Military Elite Cowboy Special Ops Patrol from Calgary were also present providing security and looking out for jihadists, terrorists and other subversives trying to sneak in from the middle east and elsewhere to steal the carnival beef jerky . (Identities protected due to Nato privacy protocol)




























I came across this pic just by chance while doing this post and thought it amusing enough to throw in here. It's Prince Charles in Saudi Arabia doing the sword dance not long ago, but he's not wearing a costume. Because you see, the guy in the previous pic at the masquerade ball is dressed similarly but here in this instance the Prince is not in a costume, so it's ironic and all that. (especially upsetting the tabloids crowd because of that whole state sharia beheadings thing which is another topic though) Anyway just an observation, back to the Rijeka Carnival pics...



























Just to be fair I thought I'd throw in this footage of a Serbia Carnival I came across from a few years ago. 































































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