The Summer food festivals in Istria, Croatia

Join me today as I explore four wonderful places along Croatia’s Adriatic coast: Umag, Novigrad, Verteneglio and Buje. This part of Croatia is called Istria and it is known for its beaches and crystalline sea, the colorful fishing villages and the quaint villages rich in culture and history.

We’ll head to the northwestern part of Istria, the one closest to the Italian border. An area rich in natural wonders, with a fantastic culinary tradition, luxury resorts and spas, anything that can make a holiday special. A kaleidoscope of colors, aromas and flavors!

This time, however, let’s not dwell on history and landscapes but let’s focus on food instead!  You know that food is one of my greatest passion, don’t you? (no jokes, please! 🙂)


Even though there are food festivals all year round, today I’ll tell you about the ones taking place in summer, with an imposing castle as a backdrop or the ones celebrating seafood and local delicacies.

Authentic food festivals that liven up the Istrian villages, allowing you to learn about their traditions.

Let’s get started!



Verteneglio is a landlocked village but, at the same, close to the coast.

The threshing festival kicks off the festivities and the seafood festival closes the season.

  • The threshing festival is an event dedicated to Istrian traditions, a throwback to a past time. The inhabitants showcase the local ancient crafts and tools, while visitors can taste the authentic flavors of this region and discover how each dish is prepared and paired to local wines. Demonstrations range from bread baking to woodwork and sewing. The highlight of the festival is when the 100-year old threshing machine is turned on, something both grown-ups and kids will enjoy.
  • The seafood festival, where grilled fish is paired to excellent Istrian wines and other local delicacies. Enjoy live music and the romantic atmosphere of the Carigador marina, near Verteneglio. A great opportunity to explore the area surrounding Verteneglio, with its woods, vineyards and olive groves as well as a sea rich with fish. Drive for 6 km and you’ll find a completely different environment, with turquoise water and beautiful beaches.
  • The feast of Saint Rocco, from 14th to 16th August. Visitors and tourists gather together to relive ancient traditions with the procession through the streets of the town and a big celebration in the main square, with good food, good wine and handicrafts to bring back home.

Those who like to keep active will enjoy the many sports events happening at this time, like the San Rocco Bike & Wine bike tour, the race with flying targets, soccer matches and traditional Istrian games.



Every Summer, the beautiful town of Buje, with its medieval castle, is home a Moscato wine festival.

Dry and sweet, with an intense golden color, it’s got a pleasant aroma with notes of wild carnations, rose and sage. This typical Istrian wine is a real delicacy with a long history in the area near Momiano. It pairs well with desserts and it’s best enjoyed at 12 °C.

Wine enthusiasts will have the opportunity to taste it in its different varieties, the so-called “Momjan’s Moscatieri”: Kozlović, Markežić, Sinković, Prelac and Brajko. There are also other cultural events during the festival.



The first event of the Summer season: the Tomato Days!

A food festival dedicated to the most popular vegetable of the summer, as the tomato harvest is in full swing in Istria at this time. In the main square of Umag you can taste the different types of tomato and the numerous dishes made with this vegetable. The šalša is probably the most famous and an integral part of the Mediterranean menu. During the Tomato Days, the people of Umag organize a singular beauty contest: the best tomato type competition!

The Sepomaia Viva festival is a throwback to a past time. This historical event celebrates the period when Istria was dominated by the Romans, when white wine was served with honey and red with rose petals and decadent parties were thrown at the local rustic villas. The event portrays the period between the 1st and the 4th centuries AD, when this tiny corner of Istria, not far from Umag, was known as Sepomaia, hence the name of the festival. At this two-day festival, you’ll find dishes of the Roman age, prepared according to the recipes of the cookbook by Marcus Gaius Apicius “De re coquinario”. There are dancers and gladiators and you can also visit sculpture, mosaic and ceramic workshops. For the occasion, the Museum of Umag sets up an exhibition of ceramics unearthed in Catoro, near Umag.



According to ancient Celtic beliefs, August 1st is the first day of summer and it’s called Lunasa. For this reason, in July, the town of Cittanova is home to the Astro Party Lunasa. Lovers of magic and ancient civilizations come here every year to attend the numerous events and conferences, but, above all, to observe the sky with expert astronomers. To make everything even more special, the town turns off the lights to better see the stars, while music is played in the background.

Every year in August, the feast of San Pelagio is a four-day celebration with many events, concerts, sports competitions and an excellent food market with fresh seafood and local delicacies.

And if you’re sad because summer has ended, the Sardelafest of Novigrad, in September will definitely lift your mood. This food festival celebrates sardines, which are rich in omega 3, healthy, nutritious, tasty and cheap. Sardines have provided nourishment for many generations of Mediterranean families and they are now making a comeback. Thanks to the local, fertile lands, there will be no lack of native olive oils and local wines too. The Sardelafest is the perfect occasion to take a stroll along the town’s promenade, looking for original handmade souvenirs. Find your inner artist by attending the many workshops, as the beautiful melodies by local musicians play in the background. During the Sardelafest, it will be possible to taste great dishes made with sardines at any of the town’s restaurants, including ‘sarde in saor’, anchovies, fried and grilled sardines, as well as mackerel and tuna.

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