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
The first day of Advent came to Osijek on Friday 1st with many people coming to take part. After three years absents in Downtown Osijek the event came back. For some, they thought that Advent would lose its nostalgia and antiquity due to it not being at Tvrđa this year.
This will be the first year in history that Osijek has a real ice skating rink in Ante Starčević square. Located around the fountain the city had been working very hard to make it a reality for Osijek. City worker did it in stages of first creating a temporary base that would make it a level surface adding a mixture of sand. The next step was adding the plastic tubing for the system to keep the ice frozen as temperatures hovered above 0 Celsius. With Friday being the opening day the ice rink was set to go accompanied by Ice rental hut on the side.
The city of Osijek brought in Christmas trees to the urban environment to bring a little Christmas charm. However Osijek did a unique theme once again with Coca-Cola bottles stacked in cone shape giving it the appearance of 4ft Christmas tree. As night fell the decorative ornaments were lite up given it ambiance and nostalgia of Christmas past.
The kick off for advent would not be the same without a well-known band called “Big Banda Požega.” They played a bit of everything from Christmas classics to Croatian songs with the backdrop of Osijek Gothic Cathedral. The talented group of musicians and singing artist pleased last night’s crowds singing in Croatian and English.
The food on the main strip could be smelled miles away with some of the well-known favourites of the region to name every vendor on site would take another article to write about. There was something for everyone in the many different styles of food.
With so much food to choose from as advent was in full swing, it does get some visitors thirsty. There was plenty of good spirits in the air with an assortment of wine to choose from at the Essker Shopping Center of Osijek. WineOS festival was a two-day event (Dec 1st, Dec 2nd) bringing in a good number of leading wine producers from all over Osijek and neighbouring countries came to Osijek. They had their best wine and leading experts to showcase pairing with amazing gastronomy. It was a chance to explore Croatia wines and learn about the many different styles and experience of tasting.
There was something for the little kids as the city brought in an old-fashioned carousel, swing ride, and a mini Ferris wheel. The glimmering of lights from the rides was incredible to see even for adults, it brought out the fun for everyone. The Christmas tram made its stop right beside Osijek’s oldest tram on display. The tram is almost a permeant fixture advent in Osijek.
It all finishes up the on New Year’s Eve with a big bash and concert ringing in the New Year beside Osijek’s Gothic Cathedral. The many sights, sounds, and great food brings out the best in the spirit of Christmas. Osijek’s Advent is the ideal place to spend time amongst family and friends enjoying the fun.