Culture and history in the glow of festive lights

The gradually diminishing daylight is replaced in December by thousands of holiday lights. The magic appeal of fairy-tale lights inspires us to walk streets filled with stories to festive celebration venues and small boutique shops. The stories can also be found in museums that excite with adventures set throughout the different historical periods of Slovenian towns that are justifiably proud of their heritage. 

The situation in 2020 will change the usual holiday atmosphere and may reduce the number of events and December gatherings, but it will not affect the beauty of town architecture. In the embrace of winter and festive lights, many urban features are accentuated even more. Responsible social distancing has not changed the desire to purchase original gifts that are easier to find in small boutique shops than in large shopping centres. This is also one of the reason for visiting the historic and cultural towns in Slovenia in December.

Ljubljana – Let it live!

The decoration of town streets and squares is a unique homage to life, from the creation of the universe, development of the first creatures to face current problems and the optimistic outlook on the future. Ljubljana’s decorations make us contemplate on the vulnerability and simultaneously the resilience of life. The author of the installation, Let it live!, is Urban Modic, who reimagined the layout and sculptures of his father, Zmago Modic, and added some of his own elements.

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Magical Maribor

Magical December with a Fairy City is weaving holiday dreams in Maribor. Town streets and squares are lit up by festive lights. The Lumina light sculptures add further charm, as do the decorated photo opportunity spots with small urban forests that invite citizens to decorate small trees. In the past, you could find something nice for yourself or your loved ones at market stalls, but now as plan B you can also visit the websites of small local shops in the Maribor area.

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Fairy-tale Celje

In December, the town of the Counts of Celje, situated next to the Savinja River, is usually transformed into a fairy-tale land with characters from children’s books, fairies, horses and the good men of December (St Nicholas, Father Christmas and Grandfather Frost). Fairy-tale characters light up right before the eyes of delighted children. While strolling the streets of the old town centre, you’ll find countless ideas for original gifts when you see what the local providers and small boutique shops have to offer. Or you may even end up in a museum.

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Merry Kranj

The town considered the cultural capital of the Slovenian Alps is particularly proud of the poet France Prešeren (whose surname means merry in Slovenian). Verses from his poems are projected onto buildings in the old town centre during the holiday season. While admiring the holiday lights, you can visit small shops offering original souvenirs and gifts ranging from creations by renowned Slovenian designers inspired by ethnological motifs to handicrafts produced by social enterprises. You can even find replicas of jewellery from the first millennium, the golden era of Carnia.

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Photo: Jaka Ivančič

Fantazima in Koper

You may not experience winter in the true meaning of the word in Koper, but you can experience Fantazima (fantasy winter). Holiday lights and illuminated elements enrich the main town venues and attractions. Children will be excited to see light images of animals in Hlavaty Park between Koper Marketplace and Semedela Promenade, while adults can admire the tallest environmentally friendly Christmas tree at Kardeljeva ploščad.

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Sweet Radovljica

The town known for its beekeeping tradition is transformed into a fairy tale during the holiday season. The town centre is fragrant with the tempting aromas of the Taste Radol'ca delicacies, which are also linked to the lighting of the festive illuminations. The venue is surrounded by picturesque houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, which look especially stunning when illuminated. They house the Museum of Apiculture, pottery arts, products and activities showcasing the over 250-year-old honeybread tradition, and the Pharmacy and Alchemy Museum. The town centre is embellished with original hand-made decorations crafted from natural materials under the supervision of a local gardening expert who also decorates St Peter’s Basilica for the Vatican City Advent celebrations.

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Kamnik with architect Plečnik and craftsmen

At the beginning of December, St Nicholas usually visits the town that lies in the embrace of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps under the renowned Velika planina Plateau. He looks down upon the illuminated town from Mali grad. While learning about traditional crafts on Šutna, the scenic Kamnik street, you can find many original gifts such as Kamnik majolka wine pitchers. In the town where the famous Jože Plečnik left his mark, you can find products which in their way pay homage to the great architect, for example, Advent candles adorned with Plečnik’s motifs.

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What is festive Slovenia like?

In a word: wonderful! Festively decorated towns chase away the bleakness of the long winter nights by being clad in bright and cheerful colours reminiscent of a fairy tale. Holiday shopping and enticing aromas wafting from kitchens also add to the holiday spirit.

Typical Slovenian Dishes Found on Holiday Tables

Enjoy the Slovenian holiday culinary delights!

Typical Slovenian Dishes Found on Holiday Tables

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Made and bought in Slovenia

Buy something to remind you of Slovenia.

Made and bought in Slovenia

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Holiday decorations and Slovenian customs during Advent

Learn about the tradition of Christmas decorations and creating a holiday spirit in Slovenia.

Holiday decorations and Slovenian customs during Advent

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Potica, the delicious queen of festive dishes

Prepare a walnut Potica using the traditional recipe!

Potica, the delicious queen of festive dishes

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