All posts by Paul Bradbury

Ultra Europe 2019 in Split: A Big Success in Numbers

It is the biggest festival in Croatia and for the last seven years, Ultra Europe Music Festival has put Split on the global map as no other event in the city’s tourism history.

The festival, which started in 2013, moved from its home of six years at Hajduk’s Poljud stadium this year to Park Mladezi, and fans took to the new location very well. A look at some of the numbers from this year’s Ultra festival:

Over the seven-day experience, more than 155,000 fans arrived from a record 143 countries to Ultra Europe this year, mostly from Spain, the United Kingdom, Norway, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Austria, the US, Canada and the Netherlands. There were more than 35,000 local fans, which is the highest ever, and the festival’s millionth visitor was recorded this year, making it by far the largest international event in Croatia. More than 2,000 people took part in the organization, more than 250 DJs played on 12 stages in 4 destinations, and more than 300 accredited local and foreign journalists closely followed the event.

Ultra Europe saw a total reach of 10,000,000 + on social channels. More than 20,000,000 impressions were generated, over 500,000 likes, and official hashtags were popular – #UltraEurope was used over 150,000 times. The festival was also live-streamed on Facebook and YouTube, recording over 300,000 minutes of views, and the best moments can still be viewed on all official channels of the festival.

Meet the Indigenous Grape Varieties of Central Dalmatia, Home of the Original Zinfandel

Did you know that Central Dalmatia is famous for its wines? Indeed, it is the birthplace of one of the most famous grape varieties of them all, and a great favourite in America – Zinfandel.

Back in 2001, the University of Davis found that there was a 100% match between Zinfandel and Kastelanski Crljenak, the original variety which grows in the vineyards around Kastela and Trogir.

But while the ‘original Zin’ may be the best known of the 130 indigenous varieties in Croatia, there are plenty more which are fascinating to try, particularly on the islands.

Hvar leads the way with its indigenous varieties, as it has several. Arguably the best known is the early-drinking white variety called Bogdanusa – which literally translates as a ‘Gift from God’ – but there are other whites you can only find on Hvar, including Mekuja, Prc, Kortolaska and Kuc.

Plavac Mali, an offshoot of Tribidrag, is the main red variety throughout Dalmatia, but Hvar also has Darnekusa, which grows best above 470m above sea level. With the island’s peak being at 621m, that does not leave many vineyards, but the only Master of Wine making wine in Croatia produces an excellent Darnekusa rose each year.

If you would like to meet one of the parents of the original Zinfandel, then head to the island of Solta, where the powerful reds of the Dobricic grape await, while the island of Vis has its own indigenous white, Vugava.

There are less indigenous varieties on the mainland in Central Dalmatia, but one not to miss is the local white Kujundzusa, which is mostly produced by small family growers these days, but was one the second largest cooperative production in former Yugoslavia.

Trying local wines with local dishes is all part of the holiday experience. Ask your waiter for the best local wine recommendations and find out why more international wine experts are landing at Split Airport these days.

Learn more about the wineries of Central Dalmatia.

Frano Ivkovic Wins 304th Sinj Alka

All eyes were on Sinj on the first Sunday of August, as the 304th Alka Knights tournament took place, an event which is always filmed live on national television and attended by the Croatian President and other dignitaries.

The last remaining knights tournament, the Sinj Alka has taken place every year since the early 18th century to commemorate the famous Siege of Sinj in 1715, when the town’s brave defenders managed to repel an overwhelming Ottoman army.

To become an Alkar is a huge honour, and one must be born in Sinj to qualify, and to triumph at the Alka is a magnificent achievement.

Congratulations to this year’s winner, Frano Ivkovic. You can see how Franjo came out on top in the report on national television in the video below.

To learn more about the destination of Sinj, click here.

Central Dalmatian Islands Feature in Croatia’s Most Heartwarming Project of 2019


Okrug Gornji was the place to be last week, as the most heartwarming project of 2019 ended on the Central Dalmatian island of Ciovo.

Rokotok is a 3-year project to honour the promise of a father to his late son, who died tragically at the age of 12. Not having enough money to take his son to Disneyland, popular Croatian blogger Ribafish promised his son, Rok, that they would explore Croatia instead, including visiting all 50 of Croatia’s inhabited islands.

They had visited 8 by the time of Rok’s untimely passing, and having spread Rok’s ashes near his favourite beach, Dad Ribafish decided to fulfil that promise by swimming between all 50 inhabited islands over a 3-year period.

Phase one was 17 islands starting from Dubrovnik and the most southern island of Kolocep. Over 24 days, Riba fish swam, taking in Vis, Hvar, Brac and Solta along the way. At every destination, he was met by between 30 and 200 kids who came to listen to his message of spending more time interacting with parents, nature and the environment, and less time on modern gadgets. There was a treasure hunt, and then Ribafish gave each child a copy of the book he had written about his conversations with Rok.

Below is the final leg, arriving at Okrug Donji on Ciovo, and you can listen to Ribafish’s message in the video above.

To learn more about Okrug Gornji, click here

And the Best Beach in the World is in… Central Dalmatia!

Yet one more recognition for the beauty of the beaches of Central Dalmatia as iconic Zlatni Rat in Bol on the island of Brac has been named the best beach in the entire world. And who are we to disagree?

Big 7 Travel put Zlatni Rat on top of the world after calculating the top 50 using readers votes, aggregating previous media coverage, Blue Flag locations and some editorial input. You can see the full list here, and this is what they had to say about Croatia’s most famous beach:

Zlatni Rat is the most spectacular of all Croatia’s beaches. It’s not just its shape that makes it so beautiful and unique. The pebble beach is surrounded by crystal clear sea, that goes from turquoise blue to dark blue in just 10-20 meters.
Decades-old pine trees provide shade, but you won’t want to get out of the warm waters here. It’s clear to see why this is the best beach in the world for 2019…
Zlatni Rat was not the only Central Dalmatian beach to hit the top 50, as Jagodna on the shores of southern Hvar came in at number 32:
Hvar has plenty of picture-perfect beaches, but this especially beautiful cove is a highlight. It’s located between Sveta Nedjelja and Ivan Dolac, and has pebble beaches, crystal clear waters and thick pine forests.
The water is warm and the sand squeaky clean – perfection.