From ancient religious traditions to international sporting events, Easter is a busy time on Croatia's premier island, as Beyonce reveals her Hvar inspiration.
With the highlight of the island's Easter religious programme now complete, attention has turned to the tennis courts at the Gariful Tennis Center on April 7, 2012, as the Women's Hvar Tennis Open began with opening qualifying.
The event, part of a three-part WTA women's tennis tournament on the Croatian coast known as Pearls of Dalmatia, carries a $10,000 first prize and 12 WTA points for the winner of this year's 100 entries. It is sandwiched between the Solaris Sibenik Open and the Bluesun Bol Open on the neighbouring island of Brac.
"We are proud to be hosting the 17th Hvar Tennis Open," said Ivan Gospodnetic, owner of the event's main sponsor, Restaurant Gariful. "It is important for us to promote sport on the island, and to produce other tourist events on the island outside of the main tourist season. Events like this are exciting for the children of Hvar, and we are keen to promote sport at every opportunity."
As part of that effort, Gariful also hosted a kids day on the main square of the town, which was an opportunity for children to meet some of the players, and to play with them. There were free tennis racquets for the children, games and music from Gego.
The final of the Hvar Gariful Open will be on April 15
Restaurant Gariful is better known as Hvar's most exclusive, with 2011 diners including Prince Harry, Giorgio Armani and Roman Abramovich, but the restaurant is also the most important benefactor in the town, with a particular focus on events for children, which this winter included free horse riding and tennis lessons, which are hosted at the Gariful Sports Center, where the tennis tournament will take place.
The tennis tournament is in stark contrast to the main tourist attraction of the Hvar Easter weekend, an event which was covered by Digital Journal. At 10pm every Maundy Thursday, six simultaneous processions leave Jelsa, Pitve, Svirve, Vrisnik, Vrbanj and Vrboska, following a barefoot cross-bearer 22km through a unique 500 year-old Easter Procession known as Za Krizem (Behind the Cross). According to tradition, the procession - which is now under UNESCO protection - finishes with the cross-bearer running the final steps, before handing the cross over to the priest. Digital Journal caught the end of the Jelsa procession after a very long night in the video below.
Hvar never stays out of the news for long with its celebrity draw, however, and Croatian media were reporting on the Hvar connection between Beyonce and the naming of her daughter, Blue Ivy, which was inspired by a tree on Hvar during her infamous visit last year, as Beyonce explains in her own words in this video.