Darda this past weekend held in the courtyard of Esterhazy castle was the full of cheer and Great Spirit. They festival helped celebrate the 2nd weekend in Osijek Baranja County. Turning back time to a down-to-earth festivities for the whole community and visitors to enjoy. There was plenty of things to do and see at the castle. There was a wide range of music from live bands, folk music, local music groups, and the DJ adding the upbeat tempo. If you came hungry there was plenty of great food to enjoy from the local area. With just a few weeks to Christmas was the perfect opportunity to join in the craft workshops to make something to cherish as memories of the advent. Even with a bit of chill from being in the open area but that did not stop the local people and guest visiting the castle for Advent over the 3 day weekend.
Meeting the Director Bogdanka Cudic Vilic
Director Bogdanka is an incredible person to talk to as she spent time bringing the event together. Her colleague Dragana Lisjak was also responsible in the amazing event. Everything came together with the great team environment. This was the third year hosting the event and every year they try to do a bit more. The incredible part was how the event worked in the Esterhazy Castle. The castle structure is in need of repairs and to be able to use it in the cold weather for activities was tricky. To have heat in the rooms required heaters and lighting as night falls quicker in the winter. Her team pulled it off and did the wiring necessary for safety. In the temporary café bar they wanted to have a wooden fire place, however the chimney was deteriorating. To get around it and make it functional they built a working chimney that would not deter or change the castles structure or appearance. She was very enthusiastic about the arts and crafts, getting people to take part of the activities. The one place she said was very trendy was the café bar and a must see. The whole area of Osijek-Baranja County is gaining international attention through having more events like this.
Arts and Crafts workshop.
It was a bit chilly in the room but that did not matter with the fun of making something. The room was kept warm with a heater to help out with many visitors doing crafts. The picture below gives an idea of some of the crafts that were made over the weekend
The volunteers really made it happen with great ideas for everyone to take part in, from drawing, painting and building things with very little material. The Volunteer instructor’s patience were extraordinary as she helped out the children with sowing and assembling the Christmas decorations. The two circles made of felt cloth were cut carefully and stitched together with thread. The children then stuffed the circular pocket with cotton to make it a Christmas ball. The young ones loved the idea of making something themselves. The parents helped sow with a needle and thread bringing the Christmas ornaments together. It was a hand on experience to make something that was not store bought. A rare moment for most kids to do something made from cloth, string and some bells.
Vilenjačkom caffe baru
The next room of castle courtyard from the arts and crafts workshop was called "vilenjačkom caffe baru” (translation Elves Café Bar). To describe the feeling of being in the room was old and yet very cool with an unconventional Artistic style. The Elves café bar was the ideal place to get out of the cold for some warmth. They transformed the space embraced the room into carefree space that was relaxing and unusual place that you could socialize and hang-out with friends. During the weekend live bands performed inside with the crowd singing along to some classic songs
The café bar hosted an exhibition called “Darda kroz vrijeme’’(Darda through time) with reproduction photos of the Esterhazy history. The director pointed out that some of the photos date back to the earliest parts of the 19th century. Her favourite picture of Estherhazy castle was a photograph of two ladies standing in front of the castle dressed in the fashion of the era. One could see how the castle looked back in the early 19th century before it fell into ruins. (With a lot of work the castle could be turned back into its former glory.)
Food and Drinks
The food was from Osijek-Barnja area with local gastronomy of Kulen and other favourites. There was something for everyone to enjoy. The one drink that everyone talks about during the time of Advent that would make you feel warm is Kuhano Vino. (It is known also as Mulled Wine or boiled wine) This has been part of European tradition in Croatia and neighbouring countries. There are many different recipes that some would swear it’s been in their family for generation. But this is a whole other story.
Tradition classic lifestyle.
The one thing that stands out for Advent in Darda was is its connection with the classical tradition of rural life co-existing in a modern contemporary society. The rural event remained untouched and nothing was painted or glamorized as there was no need for fancy lights or huge plastic candy canes. The castle is really the focal point creating a nostalgic setting full of decadence, wonder and charm. Everything was kept realistic and simple in a non-commercialized environment. They did something which was incredible to witness merging its cultural rich history and making it accessible for everyone to enjoy.There was nothing materialistic to fill the need to consume things but rather bringing the community and visitors to be part of the festivities.
“Advent na Dvoru Esterhazy’’ was put together for the third year, with the Association for Rural Tourism of Đola Organization. In cooperation with the Municipality of Darda and the Baranja Tourism.
For more information about Darda