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Carnival Madness in Rijeka

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By Sara Z

Carnival in Rijeka is a truly special celebration. It’s serious business for the people of Rijeka and its adjacent towns’ citizens…

Creating the perfect costumes and carnival floats takes months of thorough preparation and everybody is more than happy to lend a hand. Days before the parade you can feel the anticipation and positive energy everywhere you go and once the day of the parade comes, people lose their minds!! Welcome to Rijeka’s Carnival!

This year I decided to take a few days off and witness the craziness first hand, after many years of my absence during these festivities. I love carnival and I love that sense of community that forms around what seems to be the most anticipated event of the year for all locals. Let me try to describe how one feels on the day of the carnival parade in Rijeka: you wake up already feeling like you’ve downed 10 macchiatos, your adrenaline is pumping and you feel like you’ve just run a race and could punch someone in the face just because you are SO HAPPY. You just know you are going to have the best time ever. Basically you are ready to take over the world. Nothing can ruin your mood!

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You step out of the house and can hear loud music everywhere and weird creatures on the street dancing, singing, and…of course…DRINKING! Oh and by the way it’s around noon – that’s when the parade officially starts. As there are around 90 to 100 groups in the parade, each counting around 100 people it finishes around 8pm. After that people continue partying in nearby cafés and tents set up only for the event.

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During the weeks of carnival season in Rijeka the mayor symbolically hands the “city’s keys“ to the citizens and that’s when the madness starts. From that moment on until the parade everybody seems so careless and gets along perfectly well. You can feel the happiness and positivity everywhere and that’s what I love about carnival season. One thing that Croatians are super talented in is forgetting about any issues they might be dealing with and just living in the moment, not thinking about tomorrow.

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As if every care in the world just disappears. I mean…#yolo, right? Even though they eventually have to return to reality, they do so with a big smile spread across their face, anticipating next year’s carnival.

(photos: rijecki-karneval)

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