This year’s Advent Zagreb combines these two things – Christmas and toys. But not any toys. During Advent, over-dimensioned toys will greet visitors at various locations in the city and visitors can also learn about famous Zagreb toy manufactures and enjoy in interactive and augmented reality toys, exhibitions, workshops and more.
This year’s Advent is taking visitors of all generations back to their into a childhood and evoking the most beautiful childhood memories. Below are some of the highlights not to miss and also some great Zagreb-made toys which make the perfect Christmas gift.
Empire of toys on King Tomislav Square
Located in the centre of town between the main station and the main square, King Tomislav Square is impressively decorated again with lights and art installations. On the grass area of the park you will find ice-skater silhouettes, over-dimensioned toys, all illuminated by a magical Christmas lights that will awaken your imagination and take you to another world. A great place to experience the magic of Christmas among the empire of toys with festive music playing.
The most unusual Christmas tree in Oktogon Passage
Connecting Petar Preradović Square with Zagreb’s main Ilica street, the recently-renovated Oktogon passage home this Advent to an impressive Christmas art installation. The pine tree-shaped installation at the Oktogon reflects modern civilisation and technology on the outside, whilst the toys and Christmas tree ornaments inside under the impressive stained-glass dome create the warmth of tradition for this magic time of year.
Toy themed ornaments on Ban Josip Jelačić Square
Zagreb’s beautiful Ban Josip Jelačić Square becomes even more beautiful during Advent. Graced with a large colourful Christmas tree, illuminated by Christmas lights, and the famous Manduševac fountain and spring, which is decorated by toy-themed ornaments, the main square once again encompasses the magic of Christmas.
Toys in Augmented Reality
This years Advent in Zagreb built a special link that connects the old, traditional, tangible way of life and the new, virtual one. Traditional toys, once manufactured in Zagreb, are the them of this year’s Advent in Zagreb, and now visitors have a unique chance to experience them in augmented reality.
These classic toys are lead into the future by the app Equinox XR that turns them into virtual toys that can be placed at any other location in the world, gifted or shared on social networks.
The virtual toys can be be found at 10 locations in the centre of Zagreb: Kurelčeva Street, Republike Hrvatske Square, Bana Josipa Jelačića Square, Petra Preradovića Square, Zrinjevac Park, Strossmayer Walk (East), Kralja Tomislava Square, Katarina’s Square, Antuna, Ivana i Vladimira Mažuranića Square and Britanac Square.
More information on Toys in Augmented Reality is available via link: https://www.adventzagreb.hr/toys-in-augmented-reality
A look into the past of Zagreb Advent Toys
From wooden toys manufactured in Zagorje, to the legendary toy manufacture Biserka from Ilica street, Zagreb and Croatia have a rich and colourful toy design past. The story of first wooden toys takes us to the village of Laz in Marija Bistrica. In the second half of the 19th century, the production of wooden whistles “Žveglice” emerged and later on continued with a wide range of wooden toys. You can check some of the best examples of wooden toys on display in Obrtnički prolaz.
Founded in 1946. Biserka were the first producers of vinyl dolls with production starting on Ilica 118 in Zagreb and was the only factory outside the USA licensed to produce Walt Disney characters, thus generations of kids grew up with hand painted Mickey Mouse, Bambi and Smurfs characters. Biserka toys are on display in Little Museum of Wonders on Ilica 92 until 31 December.
Another Zagreb toy manufacturer also caught the eye of Walt Disney. Ružica Vavra was one of the most famous plush toy manufacturers in Croatia, whose shop Vavra Toys opened in 1960 on Petrinjska street.
Mrs Vavra patented her version of a teddy bear with mobile arms and legs and had a name for every toy model produced, such as Nikica the Cat, dogs Cuki and Pufi, Lambert the lion and ducks Gaga, Suzi and Vlatkica to name some. Walt Disney wanted Mrs Vavra to make plush toys after his designs. Another producer of toys worth mentioning is Krateks (Krapinska tekstilna industrija), founded in 1924 whose most famous toy is the famous squirrel Zagi, produced for Univerzijada in Zagreb.
Toys made in Zagreb are a perfect Christmas gift
Toy-making in Zagreb today is just as rich as it was in the past. The city has a number of local craftsmen and craftswomen who specialise in making authentic and unique toys which can be the perfect Christmas gift for children.
From classic teddy bears and soft cuddle toys made by small Croatian brand Nena dolls, charming crochet toys, dolls and rattles by Mala igra (Little Play), to mannequins, puppets and dolls, created with lots of love, effort and creativity in Lutak workshop. Those in love with traditional design will fall in love with bright-coloured toys decorated with classic Croatian patterns: wooden horses, trains, cradles and flapping butterflies from Mikuš family workshop, Kištra manufacture that follows famous Vavra family tradition of wonderfully designed handmade toys, or HAI (Croatian Authentic Toys) producer of didactic toys inspired by Croatian cultural heritage.
You can find the complete Advent guide to Croatian manufacturers here: https://www.adventzagreb.hr/made-in-zagreb-6192380bee9a0.