Jelsa Wine Festival Heralds End of Peak Season on Hvar, Croatia
The annual Jelsa Wine Festival was a jolly affair on a busy night on Croatia's Premier Island, as Prince Harry jumps into a pool in Hvar Town.
The Jelsa Wine Festival, one of the highlights of the Hvar social calendar, concluded in the early hours of Sunday August 28 2011, as the island's third biggest town put on a show to remember for the numerous tourists and visitors from the mainland.
Jelsa Wine Festival: A Community Event
The two-day festival, a community event which involves the entire town, attracts thousands of visitors from the mainland, and is one of the most anticipated events of the summer. From donkey races and climbing a rope in the Adriatic to win a ham, to an impressive array of concerts, street food and wine, the town puts on an impressive show.
Jelsa, which is connected by daily catamaran to Split, thereby making it an accessible option to the island, is one of Dalmatia's most attractive resorts, nestled as it is around a picturesque harbour, and whose main focal point is a charming cafe-laden main square.
As the last of the revellers headed home, the clean-up operation was well underway by the time the 7am catamaran left for the mainland. The boat was packed, transporting tourists and mainlanders alike back from the festival. In stark contrast, the returning boat which arrived from Split at 1740 that evening was almost empty, and new arrivals were greeted by a tranquil and relaxed town, with few clues of the previous night's action.
September on Hvar, a More Relaxed Affair
Traditionally, the peak season tends to end with the wine festival, as Hvar enters perhaps its most attractive tourism phase, the September shoulder season. With all restaurants open, the sea warm enough for swimming and both the crowds and prices much less, it is an ideal time to visit the island which was recently voted best tourist destination in Croatia by local media.
While the wine festival is one of the undoubted highlights of the summer, it is not the most important in the Jelsa calendar. The 500 year-old, UNESCO-protected Easter Procession is the town's most well-known event, as a cross bearer undertakes a 22km procession, accompanied by acolytes, churchgoers and tourists throughout the night on Maundy Thursday, carrying a heavy wooden cross. The procession is unique in the world and is an important event in the country's religious calendar.
Wine Festivals, Swimming Marathons and Royalty in Pools: Peak Season on Hvar
Jelsa was not the only venue putting on a show on Saturday night. Neighbouring Stari Grad was hosting its own festival, celebrating the 36th Faros Marathon, a 16km swim in the Adriatic, while all the tabloid headlines were saved for the antics in Hvar Town nightclub, Veneranda, where a certain British Royal jumped into a pool fully clothed.
Hvar has enjoyed a busy peak season, with plenty to offer partygoers, and September is traditionally a more relaxed and quieter affair, and an ideal time to explore the beauty of what Forbes Magazine called "one of the world's sexiest islands."