Halubajski zvončari are a group of men covered in sheep skins who ring the bells tied around their waists to chase away evil spirits. This tradition is widespread in Mediterranean karst areas where sheep husbandry was the main economic activity for centuries.
Halubajski zvončari are distinguished from other bell ringer groups by their masks, which completely cover their faces, and their traditional three-day pageant that always follows the same schedule on Shrove Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. Although this pageant is associated with ancient rituals of summoning up spring and new life, and chasing away winter and evil, in the villages of the Kastav area it still represents an important part of social life and local cuisine, handicrafts and dance. In the course of history, various regimes tried to put an end to this tradition, but just like the phoenix, it always came back stronger and with greater support. Together with other zvončari groups from the Kastav area, this ancient pageant was declared a Croatian cultural asset and was included in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009.
The zvončari and their impressive performance represent a first-class tourist attraction. These guardians of the folklore traditions and identity of the Halubje and Kastav areas are known far beyond the region’s borders and are a perfect example of connecting the local and traditional with the modern and new. The Halubajski zvončari project of Viškovo Tourist Board connects history and the future. This tradition has been brought closer to modern generations by using a multimedia approach. The route of the pageant has been marked as a walking and hiking trail that also has an educational purpose. It leads along historical, cultural and culinary sites of interest, and connects the traditional way of life with the need of modern people to experience something removed from everyday life. The moment when the rocky hills resonate with the ringing of the bells, the soil begins to tremble, and local people await the arrival of the zvončari is probably as close as one can get to a mystical experience in the 21st century.