If you feel like taking the family to Croatia for the winter holidays and you’re a chocolate lover (and who isn’t?), then the first weekend of December is the weekend for you. That’s because every year, December’s first weekend heralds the start of Opatija’s chocolate festival. |
Opatija is a well-known tourist destination in western Croatia on the Adriatic coast. As well as the sea and a pleasant climate, the small city offers some stunning scenery and hikes in the mountains behind it. It has been a favourite holiday spot for over 150 years, and its Chocolate Festival is yet another reason to come for a visit!
So Where Does the Chocolate Come In?
December the 6th is St. Nicholas Day and signifies the “official” start to the festive season. Saint Nicholas of Myra (a bishop in Greece during the 4th century AD) has been popular with children across Europe for centuries – mainly because he is supposed to bring gifts! In fact, our own Father Christmas has his origins in the legends of St. Nicholas.
But why chocolate? To be honest, there’s no special reason. But who needs a reason to eat chocolate? Especially when we’re talking about some of the finest chocolates from around the world, as well as amazing chocolate cakes and other delicious dishes. But if you really need a reason, think about the pleasure we get from a fine bar of chocolate or a cream filled chocolate éclair – what better way to start the run-up to Christmas?
A Month of Celebration
Even though the official “Chocolate Festival” lasts over the first weekend of December, you’ll find that chocolate is celebrated across the city throughout the month. Many hotels have special events and even menus just to celebrate chocolate. Bars, restaurants and coffee shops offer chocolate-based cocktails, variations on hot chocolate, mouth-watering chocolate cakes and pastries, and all sorts of different chocolate sweets and ice cream.
But it’s much more than just eating. There are lectures about chocolate, chocolate workshops where you get to become a chocolatier for a day, tastings, exhibitions and even concerts – all revolving around that wonderful super food – chocolate.
Imperial Cake and the Opatija Paradox
During your winter holidays to Croatia and especially Opatija, look out for the renowned “Imperial Cake”. This decadent cake is based on the famous Imperial Torte from the Café Imperial in Vienna. For the ultimate chocolate experience, this one is hard to beat. Bakers around the city compete to produce their own unique and delicious interpretation of this sumptuous cake.
Another highlight, especially if you’re a wine lover, is the Opatija Paradox, where fine wines from the region are combined in many ingenious ways with chocolate – the nectar of the gods taken up a notch.
And in between chocolates, enjoy all the other attractions that this small but vibrant city has to offer. You and the family won’t regret having chosen to come to Opatija for your winter holidays to Croatia, even though you may put on a few ounces here and there. But believe me, it’s worth it!
John Dixon is Managing Director of Prestige Holidays and visits Croatia at least twice a year. He has been providing luxury holidays to Croatia as well as luxury holidays to many other destinations worldwide for over 30 years.
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