Author: Slavica Mrkić Modrić
Rijeka, a unique city in many ways, has a unique way of saying farewell to the old year. Each month in Rijeka is special in its own right, but December – well, December is a fairy-tale told in the streets, shops, by the sea and on the beach by the people and the city they live in. The moment Rijeka steps into December and starts to shine in all its holiday splendour is the moment everything in it becomes magic. It is done in accordance with tradition on the Day of St. Nicholas, and the moment thousands of lamps send the dark scurrying away is a sight that has to be seen. During that month, under those very same lamps, the imagination forged out of numerous events for all ages comes alive. It is a time of singing, dancing, music, laughter and joy in Rijeka. It is a time of giving and helping. It is a time when Rijeka displays all its diversity.
The Christmas and New Year fair, a long-lasting December manifestation in Rijeka, offers various flavours and aromas, not only from Rijeka, but also from its surroundings. The lovely wooden houses located on and next to the city promenade have something to offer even the most demanding shopper. Whether the shopper is looking for food, drinks, sweet food, savoury food, souvenirs, Christmas decorations, warm woollen clothes, art or everyday items, they will find what they seek at the Rijeka fair.
The December stages of the city that flows, as we like to call Rijeka, are a story in their own right. The singing, music and dancing start at the beginning of December and do not end until the old year is replaced by the new one. On the stages, the holiday atmosphere is enriched through the skills of numerous cultural art associations, folk and dance groups, choirs, theatres, klapa choirs, pop and rock performers, and the programme fulfils the needs of both children and adults.
Rijeka has a “culinary chapter” in its December story. It is written in the RI gastro culinary days by numerous city restaurants, taverns and cafés that offer authentic dishes on menus and tastings at the stalls. To be in Rijeka and not to participate in the traditional humanitarian breakfast on Christmas Eve is a grave shame. Cod goulash, fried squid and other fish delicacies with the essential fritters are just a fragment of what the city of Rijeka has to offer its citizens and guests at the joint breakfast with the help of the Rijeka's entrepreneurs.
And is December loved by the little ones or what! As soon as Santa Clauses from City Music Trsat start to sing, the little ones know the adventure is on. First, they have Saint Nicholas and his faithful companion, the Krampus, followed by the Santa Clause train, a train that drives every day playing music and is never ever late, so that Santa can arrive at Korzo and each stall has so much candy... Such pleasure can only be dreamed of. And if we add to that the various carousels at the amusement park, followed by the “The sea flake” (“Morska pahuljica”) ice skating rink in Rijeka right next to the sea, it truly is wonderful to be a kid in Rijeka.
And there are numerous events during the week when December bids farewell. We would like to mention the traditional Christmas concert called “Božić je, judi” (“It’s Christmas, people”) and the New Year's Eve concert at Rijeka's Ivan pl. Zajc Croatian National Theatre. The promenade and surrounding roads will play a street melody where music can be heard from each café and merges into the grand finale of Advent in Rijeka – the traditional New Year's Eve Party under the stars, a manifestation where, under the lights of magnificent fireworks, tens of thousands of people kiss, saying goodbye to the old and greeting the new year.
And what else is there left to say, except that you must not miss out on Advent in Rijeka because being a part of Rijeka's December fairy-tale is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. Each year it grows more fun and filled with more events.