I ‘ll freely admit that Croatia is not the first place that springs to mind when you think of a holiday at Christmastime, but hopefully the following attractions and events you can see and experience in Dubrovnik will be enough to convince you of its merits.

backpacking in Dubrovnik Croatia

There is a lot to do on a weekend break in Dubrovnik no matter when you decide to travel, but the city really comes alive in December – and its festive lights are second to none. Imagine the ancient city walls and winding alleys adorned by beautiful illuminations: stunning.

Of course, the lights aren’t the only reason to head to Dubrovnik this winter, so here are a few more of its seasonal attractions.

St Nicholas Day

The first real festive event of the season is St Nicholas Day, which is celebrated on December 6th. This is when St Nicholas visits children and gives them small presents – a tradition in Croatia, as well as other European nations.

However, for Dubrovnik this particular date has taken on another meaning. During the Croatian War of Independence, the city was held under siege by Serbian forces from October 1991 until the beginning of 1992, with the heaviest day of shelling (and greatest number of civilian casualties) occurring on December 6th.

To learn more about it, you can visit the memorial exhibition in the Sponza Palace. Even though there is still revelry around St Nicholas Day, be prepared for some more solemn moments as you wander around the city.

Christmas Fair

From December 1st 2012 until January 6th 2013, you can visit Dubrovnik’s annual Christmas Fair, which will be spread over two locations – Luza Hall and Gundulic Square. At the former, you’ll be greeted by an array of stalls selling all manner of local handicrafts, including seasonal decorations, toys, embroidery, glassware and ceramics – perfect if you’re in need of gift ideas!

Gundulic Square is where you can sample all the flavours of Christmas, as the location is typically dedicated to food stands. Candied almonds and mulled wine are among the offerings, as well as a host of traditional local delicacies, such as hrostule (deep-fried biscuits), kontonjata (quince cheese) and prikle – a type of doughnut.

Christmas carol performances

There will be numerous carol performances throughout December, although one of the biggest and best known will take place on Christmas Eve on the city’s main street – the Stradun.

This is no ordinary carol singing show, though, as the participants will perform a special Dubrovnik Carol that has been sung for centuries as they walk along the street, moving from door-to-door to welcome in the festive season.

If you can make it to Croatia for a short break just before Christmas, make sure you also pay a visit to the Church of Saint Blaise, which is one of the most important and beautiful religious buildings in Dubrovnik. It is dedicated to the city’s patron saint, which makes it a focal point for many events.

On December 24th, a nativity scene is set up on the steps outside the church, with a procession of locals who gather around to see all the pieces put in place. There’s also a carol service at the church to accompany the ceremony, which sees the arrival of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus re-enacted.

If you’ve been to Dubrovnik during December, what would you recommend fellow travellers see and do?

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