This list will have you salivating and licking your lips, so don’t read if you don’t think you can handle it!
This festival has been around since 1997, and is organized every year in the beautiful town of Hrvatska Kostajnica, located on the River Una (situated southeast of Zagreb).
The town name is actually related to the word chestnut (kostanj) because since ancient times, the Hrvatska Kostajnica area has been rich in chestnut forests. You can only guess who long chestnut baking has been happening in the area!
The festival takes place over a weekend at the beginning of every October and it is very well visited.
Many exhibitions by authors, choir performances and presentations of all sorts are organized throughout the festival.
Throughout the city center, there are many varieties of homemade products from local farms. The nearby castle/old town Zrinski also becomes a place for entertainment and learning: knights, brave warriors, blacksmiths and other members of ancient times depict how people once lived as they defended themselves against Turkish attacks.
Lastly, it is important to say that Hrvatska Kostajnica is very proud of the fact that the European Commission has included Kestenijada on the map of “Flavors of Europe” which promotes European food and beverages of the highest quality!
Štruklijada is a regional competition and festival of the traditional Croatian dish, Zagorski Strukli. Štrukli is a very traditional pastry in Hrvatsko Zagorje which can be prepared in two ways: cooked in water or baked.
Strukli is basically a dough filled with cow’s cheese, but the way it’s prepared makes it a unique dish, worth salivating over! Strukli is usually served as an appetizer but can be served as a main dish or even dessert (they make some that are a bit sweeter for this reason).
The festival has been organised every year since 2009. The first couple of years it was held in May, but recently was moved to July.
This popular festival attracts many visitors each year. Visitors can buy Zagorje strukli at a promotional price, follow culinary shows and enjoy an entertaining cultural program and tastings to get a real taste of the region.
Zagorje wooden toys, pumpkin oil and kernels, top quality Zagorje honey, wines, cured meats and other local products are part of the standard offering at the Struklijada each year!
Strudel Festival takes place in the village of Jaskovo, near the town of Ozalj (southwest of Zagreb). The festival takes place in the beginning of September every year and it’s definitely the biggest festival of our favourite dessert in the region.
The Strudel Festival was born after the longest strudel (1479.38 m) in the world was made in Jaskovo near Ozlje on September 6, 2015. With that, a Guinness Record was set!
If you come with kids, there are a lot of fun things to do! There are games, creative workshops (related to strudel, fruit, autumn etc), music, dance and more.
At Strudlafest, local family farms and business exhibit their products, souvenirs, and prepare wonderfully authentic & traditional dishes.
The pumpkin festival is the perfect place to visit if you find yourself in the Zagreb area in October! The festival takes place in Ivanić-Grad, which is only about 45 minutes from Zagreb by car. The festival is very well visited and really fun, especially for kids.
Bucijada offers a vast variety of pumpkin products like pumpkin oil, pumpkin pies, pumpkin beer, pumpkin cakes, and more!
During the festival, the city center and streets become a place of inspiration for artists who set up their installations and sculptures in the theme of pumpkins.
There are special awards for the largest, smallest and most original pumpkin, the most beautifully decorated booth and the most beautiful installation and sculpture of pumpkins.
The festival also offers a cooking show which chefs attend and prepare various pumpkin dishes.
There is even a tourist train called “Bucko Express” that goes from Zagreb throughout the time of the festival, so you can leave your car at home and enjoy the day (and indulge in some pumpkin beer!).
Truffle Days (Festival of Truffles), Istria
This event goes from the beginning of September until almost the end of November. It’s the longest truffle festival in the world, and it’s located in the heart of Istria (Buzet, Motovun, Livade).
This is a wonderful event and exhibition of truffles and other scrumptious truffle products.
Istria is a very well known region in the world for white truffles, and also produces large quantities of black truffles.
An interesting fact is that in 1999, Giancarlo Zigante and his dog, Diana, found the biggest white truffle in the world (at the time), in the Motovun forest, near Livade. The truffle weighed an incredible 1310 grams and it was included in the Guinness Book of Records.
Throughout the festival, visitors can enjoy typical local truffle dishes like fuži/fusi (a traditional Istrian pasta), pljukanci (a traditional, handmade Istrian pasta made by rolling the dough between the palms of your hands), gnocchi, fritaja with truffles (an Istrian dish made with eggs and truffles as the main ingredients), and various combinations with meat.
Culinary shows and various tastings are held where guests can try truffle-based specialties. There are also exhibitions and fairs of indigenous Istrian products from small local and foreign farms.
A really interesting part of the whole festival is when they choose the largest and most beautiful truffle. Once chosen, it is then up for sale at a public auction, and sold to the highest bidder.
The International Prosciutto Festival is organized every year in the town of Drnis (since 2014).
The festival is usually held at the end of August or the beginning of September each year, and hosts many producers from Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro, who offer the sales-exhibition of their products.
The Drnis area is renowned for its prosciutto in Croatia because of its micro-climate and bura wind. These special climate conditions produce a prosciutto unlike any other around the country.
Throughout the two-day festival, visitors can expect to try delicious, classic prosciutto, along with bacon, cheese, wine, soparnik, honey, rakia and other local products offered directly from the producer.
In addition to superb local gastronomy, the festival also brings with it a handful of cultural and entertainment events. Tourist sightseeing (with certified local guides) of Drnis was organized for the last two years.
Visitors learned stories about the tumultuous history of the area, they saw Gradina, churches, the Old Mill, as well as the works of renowned Croatian sculptor, architect and writer, Ivan Meštrović.
One interesting fact is that although other countries like Spain, Slovenia, France and Italy also have famous prosciutto products, only Croatian and French prosciutto is smoke dried.
Every March on St. Joseph’s Day, Maloston’s oysters are celebrated in Mali Ston (a town located about an hour drive from Dubrovnik). On this day, all shell-fishermen from Maloston’s Bay come together and offer their sea treasures to visitors.
Tastings of these fresh oysters and Peljesac wines are held on the waterfront in Mali Ston. All visitors can enjoy this “sea aphrodisiac” and a glass of premium wine from one of the best wine regions in Croatia.
Ston's hosts also keep those who don’t like fresh oysters in mind. They grill instead grill them, bread them, and even wrap them in prosciutto - and doesn’t everything taste better wrapped in prosciutto? We think so!
Kulen Festival (Kulenijada), Pozega
Kulenijada is a festival celebrating the most well known and traditional Croatian sausage, called Kulen. Kulen is the most prestigious type of mildly spicy sausage, made of pork meat.
The festival is usually held in June every year in the Slavonian city of Pozega. It has a very long tradition of almost 40 years, so it’s definitely a classic and a staple festival in Croatia!
Kulenijada gathers producers mostly from eastern Croatia and Vojvodina. The festival is a place where producers present their own gourmet work and compete for a cash prize. Of course there are also kulen tastings for visitors, as well as sampling of the local Slavonian wine.
Once you’ve sampled and sample some more, you can also browse the charming antiques fair that is held at the festival.
Croatia is a small country that lines the salty Adriatic Sea, but what some might not know, is that it’s also rich with freshwater and freshwater fish.
Throughout the year there are many fish festivals in the continental part of Croatia. The biggest freshwater fish festival is organized in Beli Manastir in a region called Baranja (which is located in the east of Croatia).
The festival is organized in September each year and is generally a competition between local masters, of who will prepare a better fish stew (fish paprikash). Aside from the fish stew, the festival also represents Croatian tradition, culture, music, and other delicious food and drinks.
A well known secret is that good fish paprikas requires as many kinds of fish as possible. It’s prepared in a cauldron and cooked over an open fire for many hours.
The main spice is paprika, hot and sweet. “Šaran u rasljama”(Carp cooked over an open fire) is another popular dish visitors can try, along with some other delectable, native Baranja products.
Every September, a small town in the heart of Istria, Svetvincenat, organises a festival which brings together the best cheesemakers from the region, cheese lovers and other foodies alike.
The festival usually lasts for 3 days where visitors can enjoy a very rich program suitable for all ages. There are games, creative workshops, traditional Istrian dancing and music, and of course various samples and tastings!
Apart from all of this, there is also a selection of the best goat (a fun and cute tradition), as well as a trekking race called the “Cheese Trek.
They all offer wonderful experiences of food, drinks, culture, tradition, learning and fun! What better way to see a country than visiting local festivals for products the area is known for? You get the best, freshest, and most unique offerings you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re a music lover and planning a trip over here, maybe you’d be interested in checking out our article on the top music festivals in Croatia each year!
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If you’re interested in reading a few of our other posts about Croatia:
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