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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. In the embrace of winter and festive lights, many urban features are accentuated even more. This is also one of the reason for visiting the historic and cultural towns in Slovenia in December.
How to spend the festive season in Slovenia more sustainably?
In a country where we put a lot of emphasis on sustainability in everything we do, let's not stray from our path, even during the festive season of December. When it comes to decorations, the focus is on more economical lighting, green groves and natural materials. Handicrafts and local delicacies dominate the festive fairs. Festively decorated towns can be reached by more sustainable means, such as the train.
The New Year's decorations in Ljubljana, which have been provided by the Modic family of artists for several years now, are characterised by a special message each year. The title of this year's New Year's decorations is "They are Us". As the author of the decoration concept, Urban Modic explains that it reminds us that today we are aborigines, tomorrow we might be refugees, today we may be Earthlings, tomorrow we might be Martians, and that we were all once simple single-celled beings, whereas today we are complex organisms. In addition to the original sculptures by Zmago Modic, this year's decorations will be enriched by several new sculptures, largely made from recycled elements of past installations and parts of discarded public lighting fixtures.
In Magical Maribor, the city's streets and squares glow with countless fairy lights, while the Lumino light sculptures and the festively decorated photo spots of the Magic Gallery add to the charm. The decoration of the main streets with magic threads symbolises the connection between people. On Glavni trg square, you can stop by the Christmas Village, where you can find beautiful gifts for your loved ones, and a special attraction is the panoramic, decorated Ferris wheel. Let your imagination run wild in Fairy Town and catch festive glimpses at the Magic Gallery stations.
In December, the town of the Counts of Celje by the Savinja River transforms into a fairy-tale land with children's heroes, fairies, rocking horses and good men. The streets of the Old Town are filled with the smell of festive treats, the Gift Treasury invites you to visit and buy creative gifts, shop windows are transformed into lively dance venues, concerts give pleasure to music connoisseurs, and the North Pole, the Fairy-tale Biscuit Factory and Fairy-tale Land enchant and transport the youngest visitors into a fairy-tale world. On a stroll through the city, you'll be seduced by the stunning flavours of the Taste of Celje culinary event and other various pop-up events. The mighty Old Castle of Celje also takes on a fairy-tale appearance, where the knight Parsifal delights with a lantern adventure and an invitation to the first medieval winter day in Slovenia.
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. Wooden sculptures by master florist Matjaž Beguš wind through the old town centre, among which the wooden nativity scene in the canyon of the Kokra River is particularly delightful. In December, the garden of Khiselstein Castle transforms into a luminous zoo that children especially enjoy. While admiring the festive lights, you can stop by the wooden houses of the festive fair or visit one of the shops with original souvenirs and gifts – from creations by renowned Slovenian designers inspired by ethnological motifs to handicrafts produced by social enterprises.
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. Romantics at heart can join organised Advent walks around the city in the glow of the magical festive lights. Ice skating just steps away from the sea is also a special experience.
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 further beautified by the unique green decoration of the town with handmade ornaments of willow and wicker and wreaths made of spruce, created by the talented hands of local craftswoman Tanja Legat. The festively decorated town will be further enlivened by beautiful, knitted balls and chandeliers and a fairytale adventure through the town. All this is a wonderful scene for a festive fair and a colourful December event embraced by the scents of the Tastes of Radolca.
In early December, the town that lies in the embrace of the Kamnik-Savinja Alps under the renowned plateau of Velika planina is usually visited by St Nicholas, who looks down upon the illuminated town from Mali grad hill. The magic of the town is brought to life by festive decorations, an outdoor skating rink and the prettily decorated wooden stalls of the Christmas market. On Kamnik's picturesque Šutna Street, you can find original gifts, such as the Kamnik "majolka" pitcher, and also learn about traditional crafts. In the town where the famous Jože Plečnik left his mark, you can find products that pay homage to the great architect. Volčji Potok Arboretum features a one-of-a-kind experience, an evening walk among the lights. A special light tunnel with changing colour lights is one of the latest light elements.
In December, the streets and squares of Ptuj create a fairy-tale backdrop where strings of lights and decorations illuminate the historical buildings and the charming old city centre is adorned with Christmas trees and figures. In such a setting, the Ptuj fairy tale comes to life, offering everything you need for a magical December. An ice skating rink is set up on the decorated City Market and a fairytale roundabout makes visitors smile and be merry on Miklošič Street. Just a hint: you can also visit Santa Claus here. The main venue for December celebrations will be in front of the City Hall. There will also be holiday stalls where local delicacies and delicious mulled wine will be served.
During the festive season, Novo mesto also lights up with thousands of lights. The large ice rink on the Main Square, illuminated by LED lights in the ice, has its own charm. There are special locations in the city that are perfect for unforgettable festive photos. And, of course, there's the Advent fair, with a wide range of local artisans and producers, and a variety of events for all ages – from puppet shows for children to evening concerts.
Flashes of imagination on the streets of historical towns
The streets of most historical towns are usually bustling in December with people visiting Advent markets and looking for handicrafts and other goods typical of the local environment. The festive spirit is further enlivened by nativity scenes set up in churches and outdoors, or recreated by actors.
Discover the December fairy tale in other towns as well
Every large town or city creates their own holiday fairy tale in December. Festive market stalls where everyone can find something delightful for themselves or their loved ones are set up by the light of unique decorations reflecting the character of an individual town or city.
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.
Potica, the delicious queen of festive dishes
Prepare a walnut Potica using the traditional recipe!
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