There is a lot of traditions on Rab, but “Rabska fjera” brings in more than 10.000 tourists evey year. During those days (25-27. 07.) streets of Rab become a stage for a medieval festival, where artisans show their craft and produce, crossbowmen their skills and sharpshooting and everybody else just enjoys themselves.
Another great date comes around the last Sunday in April, when all citizens of Rab and Lopar celebrate Križi, an ancient pilgrimage custom started after a devastating plague outbreak in the 15. century, when it was thought that only God can save them from death. Pilgrims walk across the island all the way to the Cathedral of the Assumption in Rab, where they celebrate.
The first and largest medieval summer fair in Croatia, Rabska fjera is based on tradition started 21st of July 1364, when the City Council of Rab decided to celebrate and honor King Louis the Great who freed them from the Venetian rule, as well as holiday honoring St. Christophor, patron saint of the town of Rab. Fjera used to last for 14 days celebrate and praise the saints powers that supposedly saved the town from destruction.
The entire island goes back in time during those days. Small artisan stores move to the streets, so you can have your belt or a perfumed pomade made infront of your eyes, while your hair is being braided with tiny flowers into a typical do from the medeival times. Freshly fried šulčići are served and at the beach an entire fishermen village is built altogether with the traditional tools, machines and even toys for children. Air is filled with the song and music, while tuna, fritule, cheese and wine are served to passers by.
Kantuni – Corners
In the historic centre of Rab, beneath its four bell towers and in its narrow lanes, you’ll find the ancient corners – the kantuni.
These have always been places where people would meet and get together. It’s here that they would meet or fall in love with each other, where they made new friends, and where daily life took place.
The old town of Rab is full of such corners characterised by their unique ambience and beauty. In the period from 25 to 29 JAugust, you will all have the opportunity to enjoy a new cultural and tourist attraction entitled KANTUNI which features events taking place at different corners in the old town!
From Dorka to Pjaceta and from Sveti Ivan to Mahačeva Villa – along the entire length of Gornja Ulica (‘Upper Street’), right here in the corner of the old town of Rab, we’ll all enjoy the fantastic atmosphere of music, urban entertainment and traditional food and drink.
Founded in 1995. Island of Rab Crossbowmen Association has since organized more than 140 tournaments (and counting) on the island, as well as in many other Croatian towns and abroad.
Association counts 248 members: crossbowmen, trumpeters, buglers, flag bearers, dancers, music players, gunners and squires, who participate in the tournament in the town of Rab under a flag simbolizing various fraternities of Rab, i.e. the villages and town of Rab. Their crossbows weigh from 18 to 25 kg and they use them hit a cocoon-like target (called Tuljak) from a distance of 36.5 m using a 0.15 kg arrow. Weapons were made by the crossbowmen themselves with assistance of crossbowmen of San Marino (balestrieri).
Rab Crossbowmen Association show is regularly held on May 9, June 25, St. Christopher’s Day (July 27) and Feast of Assumption (August 15).
Island lamb festival
The preserved nature, abundance and variety of vegetation and the closeness to the sea are the ideal conditions for the breeding of Rab’s top-class lamb. The meat is traditionally prepared on a spit with roast potatoes, boiled with sauerkraut, or in a soup. However, this delicious meat deserves much more. For this reason, in the period from 16 to 30 May several of Rab’s restaurants will be offering specialities prepared with this tasty meat. We won’t tell you the names of the dishes but will leave it up to you to discover them for yourselves. We invite you to visit Rab and enjoy the tasty specialities prepared with the island’s lamb.
The Island Lamb Festival ends with an exhibition of Rab sheep. The exhibition will take place on 30 May in the Padova III Campsite. The diligent islanders will gladly present their sheep from which they make the top-class meat and excellent cheese. Of course, you will also have the chance to taste roast lamb, tripe and sheep’s milk cheese. We feel confident that after this festival you will gladly return to our island to treat your palate with Rab’s tasty lamb again.
Rab Cross Procession
The origins of the tradition of Križevo are somewhat disputed. According to some authors, this is a renewed antique custom of celebrating the end of agricultural work and praying to the gods for rain, which on Rab falls only rarely in the period between May and August. The tradition as we know it today has been practised since the 15th century after a terrible plague that ravaged the area between 1449 and 1456 and nearly destroyed the island’s population, which could only pray for salvation. Križevo is a votive feast on the island of Rab.
On the last Sunday in April, people from all the parishes on the island come in processions to the town. Each parish has its own flag. The participants meet at the entrance to the town, where they are joined by local parishioners led by the priest carrying the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Rab. The picture is associated with a 15th-century legend about the recovery of a Benedictine nun from the monastery of St. Andrew, Luchina de Dominis, who was healed thanks to her faith and the Mother of God. Singing across the town, the participants enter the cathedral, where they attend a Eucharistic celebration.
After mass, the picture of Our Lady of Rab remains in the cathedral until the last day of May, when it is returned to the monastery of St. Andrew.
Lovers of classical music have been enjoying exclusive program of Rab Music Nights since 1986. and every year they would get to listen to 12 or more amazing classical concerts. Over 200 performers and solo acts, ansambles and orchestras of world reputation have graced us with their presence, like Dunja Vejzović, Ljerka Očić, Orkestar Hrvatskog narodnog kazališta Ivana Pl. Zajca iz Rijeke, Collegium pro musica sacra etc.
One of the things you will not see or hear anywhere else in the world, but here in Croatia are klape, small groups of male or female acapella singers, performing traditional local songs. Rab cherishes this tradition with their 4 male and 2 female klapa and the new emerging mixed choir. Harmony singing vocal groups will often set the mood in taverns or waterfron restaurants, but since they don’t have scheduled performances, you should wander around the the City Lodge and the Old Town and let them surprise and delight you with their music.
Asparagus is one of the most highly appreciated wild growing plants that thrive on our island. This April many restaurants on the island of Rab offer various specialities prepared with the young shoots of this extraordinarily healthy plant of a slightly bitter taste. Asparagus is also the inspiration for an educational culinary workshop that will take place at the Grand Hotel Imperial. The series of events dedicated to asparagus will finish on the 1st of May with a party on St. Christopher Square where a giant asparagus omelette will be prepared at 6 pm and distributed to the visitors around 8 pm. We invite you to visit our island during the Asparagus Festival, take a walk over its meadows and through its woods, and enjoy the taste of asparagus specialities.
Every village on the island has their own fishermen’s nights during the tourist season, so there is one almost every week. It is an oportunity for fishermen on Rab to demonstrate ancient fishing and cooking tehniques and entertain the guests. As the old Croatian proverb says a fish swims three times: In the sea, in olive oil and in wine. Enjoy Rab fishermans night!