2018 saw the capital city of Croatia light up in spectacular fashion recently with the 2nd edition of Zagreb Festival of Lights.
The festival brought together audio-visual installations all around the city in spectacular form, joining the likes of other world cities who have a tradition of holding such festivals such as Amsterdam, Helsinki, Prague and Berlin.
We headed to the capital ourselves to experience the event and as soon as we landed in the city we were captivated by its charm. Having just left the chaos of London, arriving in a city that felt so clean, safe and calm was a really pleasant surprise.
The festival started at 6pm, with seven main locations in Zagreb’s city centre playing host to breathtaking installations, all themed around “Spring.” This meant each piece symbolized awakening, growth and renaissance, evoking springtime a carefree charm.
We started the tour at the Gric Tunnel – and what a breathtaking place to start. The old tunnel was originally built as a shelter in the war and now is a quick thoroughfare through the city to the forest. It played an ideal host during the Zagreb Festival of Lights, with the stone walls echoing edgy music and allowing the lights to bounce off the blank canvas. It was one of the most atmospheric and magical pieces of the exhibition and a real highlight.
The magic forest just outside featured interactive spring-themed light installations with the sounds of nature. It was bright and beautiful and a nod to what used to be the old vineyards, with strip lighting in a host of different patterns and effects.
The rest of the installation was more in the Old part of the city just up a hill which can be reached by stairs or the funicular railway. Whichever way you climb you are bordered by another installation – Balls in a Waterfall, a visually appealing installation in the look of a waterfall, made from glowing balls with a range of special effects.
Up in the old part of the city, installations included a display on top of the old lighthouse, a laser maze, a disco ball-inspired piece and ‘The Trap’ – an interactive laser maze you need to pass through where you can win a prize. One of the highlights here was a spring-inspired 3D mapping projection on one of the buildings, providing a show and story to a musical backdrop.
To complete the tour, we walked through the Enchanted Forest, a really beautiful installation which felt truly like you were exploring a magical woods. Different lights reflected and bounced against the trees and lit the path, bringing with it an exciting atmosphere and a wish for the walk to never end.
This path led down to the Laser Story- a worthy finale of the tour. Here a laser spectacle took place which was unforgettable and really proved that nothing here was done by halves. Two masked dancers put on a performance to lasers with pumping sounds and music playing and the silhouettes of the forest just behind.
Each and every installation was done to perfection; perfectly executed to enchant and mesmerize and show that Zagreb Festival of Lights truly is a force to be reckoned with. Each place you visited was so different and so unique you felt like the only ones there and there was a true sense of magic to the air.
This is one festival we can only imagine getting bigger and better with each year that comes.
Report by Natasha Coyler from Seen in the City.