Nestled between dramatic coastal mountains and the Adriatic’s turquoise waters, the historic city of Split comes alive every summer as it plays host to one of Croatia’s favorite cultural events. The Split Summer Festival, which runs from July 14 to August 14, converts this picturesque city into a giant theater, much to the delight of its residents and visitors.
Originally dedicated to drama only, the festival now features different art forms and genres – opera, ballet, jazz concerts, puppet shows, modern dance performances, film screening, exhibitions… With many established artists from home and abroad performing daily at various venues and locations across the city, it’s no wonder this event has become so popular over the last few decades. And since this summer’s edition marks its 60th anniversary, you should be in for a treat.
No need to worry about the language barrier: just soak up the incredible atmosphere inside the walls of the ancient Diocletian’s palace in the old town. Built by Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the 4th century, the palace – now a UNESCO World Heritage site – is in the very heart of Split, and makes a spectacular setting for street entertainment. Take a stroll through the city’s maze of pedestrian-only cobbled streets: you will be able to admire a beautiful mixture of architectural styles, as you walk past numerous churches, museums, art galleries, lively bars, traditional restaurants and charming cafés. Along the way make time to stop and sample some delicious Croatian food or enjoy a leisurely coffee (just so you know, Split is also renowned for its delicious ice-cream!).
The festival’s grand opening is certainly one not to be missed: taking place under the stars on Republic square – an elegant open square surrounded by neo-Renaissance buildings, with magnificent views of the harbor front – it promises to be a delight! In past years the festivities have kicked off with a bold ballet-opera performance of Carl Orff’s majestic Carmina Burana and more recently with The Mariner’s Return, an operetta by Split-born composer Franz von Suppé. This year, the festival opens with a performance of Verdi’s classic opera, Aida.
Over the course of a whole month (visit the website for a daily calendar of events), visitors to the region get a fantastic opportunity to combine a relaxing beach vacation on the gorgeous Split Riviera with a spot of cultural exploration in a city with a 1700-year old tradition. This summer, why not make the trip to experience the magic of the Split Summer Festival for yourself.
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