Kvarner newsletter / no 24

The Rijeka Carnival
Be what you are!

Based on the multicentennial carnival traditon, the Rijeka Carnival - entering the 27th year of its existence – from 17th January to 17th February 2010 announces a lot of joy, fanciful masks as well as the coming true, at least temporarily, of our dream to be what we really are – during these thirty days here, in this place.

Ever since the Tourism Office of the Town of Rijeka organized the Rijeka Carnival for the first time, in 1982, the manifestation has recorded a steady ascent from year to year and has established itself as one of the biggest Carnival manifestations in Europe. Its recognizability - confirmed in 1995 when it became full member of the Federation of European Carnival Cities (FECC) - is characterized by a specific mixture of European civil carnivals (primarily Venetian and Austrian) and elements of Old Slavs' folklore and mythology.

This year's „Fifth season“ – called as such due to the many peculiarities it carries and that distinguish it from other parts of the year – shall start on 17th January and shall abound in numerous events. Thus, the election of the Rijeka Carnival Queen will be held on 22nd January as well as the handing over of the keys of the town of Rijeka, marking the beginning of the masks' full rule of the town. Of the other manifestations let's mention the 3rd 2010 Croatia Carnival Snowboard Session to be held on 30th January, while on 6th February the 19th masked Pariz – Bakar car rally will be held from Rijeka to Bakar. On the same date the 14th Children's Carnival Parade will be held while the culmination of all Carnival festivities will be held on 14th February. This will be the 27th International Carnival Parade with the participation of numerous groups the masks of which represent much more than just inventive performances: they are an inspired, witty and daring parody of our everyday life. All visitors of the Rijeka Carnival but also those coming to Rijeka by the 15th of March will be able to see the Documentary photo exhibition of the 27th Rijeka Carnival manifestation.

Otherwise, it is no coincidence that the area has been hosting such a large and successful manifestation for almost three decades. This has also been confirmed by UNESCO that has recently included the bell-ringers from the Kastav area in its list of world cultural heritage. By tradition, during the carnival festivities, the bell-ringers go around the villages of their native region in big groups, according to a long established order... The custom goes as far back as prehistoric times, and reportedly the bell-ringers used to chase Tartars and Turks away with their frightening appearance and noises. Therefore they represent an interesting phenomenon for ethnologic studies as keepers of folklore tradition and the native identity of Halubje and the Kastav area and are a great tourist attraction at the same time.

The bell-ringers are regular and unavoidable participants of the Rijeka Carnival of which they've become the first-class tourist attraction owing to their impressive stage appearance. At the Rijeka Carnival procession they are always one of the loudest carnival groups because the sound of their bells is far louder than all the noises spreading all over Rijeka during these days.