It may not have the samba-fuelled antics of Rio de Janeiro or the giddy opulence of Venice, but Rijeka wins at carnivals when it comes to sheer stamina: with the Croatian port town staging an entire month of festivities through February. A recent revival of a medieval tradition, the highlight of the carnival is the 10,000-strong parade, with locals marching through the town’s grand Habsburg-era avenues, dressed variously as crabs, bananas, Vikings or simply wearing masks – a legacy of Venetian rule over the city.
International Carnival Parade is only one of the programs of this important event which every year brings together larger number of participants and audiences both from Croatia and from abroad. Rijeka Carnival is also called „Fifth season“ , as a way of life of inhabitants, and the program is designed so that anyone can really find something for themselves in a multitude of events.
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. Same day, there is an election of the carnival queen. She will participate in all formal Rijeka Carnival presentations. Within the program, by means of the ceremonial handover of the town keys by the Mayor to the hands of the „Carnival Mayor“ with an adequate entertainment program, the Rijeka Carnival will formally be opened. From that moment on, the mask rule and all worries are forgotten. The celebration and the rich cultural and entertainment program begin!
Before the main event there are two other events held — Rally Paris — Bakar, a traditional event organized by the Automobile club „Rijeka“. This rally is a parody of the world famous rally „Paris – Dakar“ and has been a supporting sport event of the Rijeka Carnival since 1990. Masked auto – rally „Pariz – Bakar“ is a unique event of its kind in the world, with motorized masks from different regions, where all participants – drivers, their co — drivers and the judges must be masked, and their masked vehicles are amazing.
The other one is The Children’s carnival parade, a carnival event in which the younger generation from Croatia and abroad take part. The children’s parade takes place before Sunday’s International Carnival Parade and brings together numerous children who cheer up the town’s Korzo promenade with their colourful masks.
The Grand Finale is where it all happens though; on the final day of the Carnival some 10,000 participants play music, dance and sing for well over 100,000 spectators. Of course the party doesn’t stop once the final float has crossed the parade’s endpoint – you’ll find parties and after-parties in bars and clubs all over the city that will continue into the smallest hours.
For more details check: http://www.rijecki-karneval.hr/en/