Matjaz is a translator from Slovenia who enjoys traveling, writing, reading, and watching movies. He believes that a person's character grows and becomes richer by meeting new people and discovering new cultures and places.
Latest posts by Matjaz Drobne (see all)
- Potica – Traditional Slovenian Sweet Roll with Walnuts - December 30, 2017
- Traditional Slovenian Dishes Served on Christmas - December 23, 2017
- Popular Slovenian Christmas Traditions - December 20, 2017
Slovenia and its capital – Ljubljana, have fully relinquished themselves from the shackles of the old post-Socialistic society, and have risen on the tourism popularity scale drastically in the recent past. Countless visitors not only from Europe, but from all over of the world come to explore this charming gem. Most people visit Ljubljana either in the late Spring or during the hot Summer months, though December is becoming a growingly popular month to visit Slovenia’s capital as well.
I love Ljubljana in December. I always did, ever since I was a little boy and my parents took my brother and me to see St. Nicholas or Father Christmas. As a kid, I did not pay much attention to how beautifully decorated the city was. I was just in it for the candy, cakes, and the holiday fun. Now, I go to the city centre several times a week in December, to admire the decorations, the lights and the magnificent atmosphere, sparked with the scent of mulled wine, apple cider and the roasted chestnuts.
Below you will find some of the most popular activities in Ljubljana, which you can only find here during the New Year and Christmas’s holidays.
❄️ Ice Skating Rinks
Ljubljana has finally acquired its very own ice-skating rink – that you can now visit during the Christmas holiday season. And not only one… but three for that matter! In the past few years, Ljubljana’s main square (Kongresni trg) saw just one small ice-skating rink, where usually only the locals crowded themselves. However, this year in 2017, there is enough room for all ice-skating enthusiasts to enjoy this wonderful activity.
The main ice-skating area is set on the Kongresni trg square. You will find two large rinks there actually, plus a long ice-skating pathway spreading across the entire square. Together these rinks comprise over 2,000 square meters of ice skating surfaces. Another ice skating rink was set up in Ljubljana’s largest park – Tivoli, while a third one is located in the vicinity of Ljubljana’s central train station.
❄️ Outdoor Stands
Probably the most popular winter “activity” in Ljubljana is meeting up with friends and family in the late afternoon or evening, to drink some mulled wine, eat pancakes or waffles, chestnuts or anything else on offer, around the numerous stands spread along the Ljubljana River.
It seems that every local comes out to drink and have fun, especially if the weather is nice and it’s not too cold. You can see bars and stands packed with people of all ages, from an early afternoon to the wee hours in the morning, drinking mulled wine and enjoying themselves. Especially during the weekdays – it’s as if time stops for them in the second part of December.
❄️ Musical Performances
Every year in the period between Christmas and the New Year’s – Ljubljana’s city centre comes to life. Not only does the city look majestic with all of its Christmas lights, but also the numerous musical performances by different Slovenian (as well as Croatian and Serbian) popular bands and artists, ignite the nights, contributing to an overall festive atmosphere. It seems that all the locals come out to party, even though the temperatures at night may fall under 10C degrees.
Each year, there are at least four to five stages, offering a different type of live music. The main stage is usually set up in Ljubljana’s main square Kongresni trg, where a number of popular local and foreign artists perform their songs. While, on the Prešernov trg square, the stage is reserved mainly for the Slovenian folk music artists. The stage in the Trg Francoske Revolucije square is reserved for more alternative music – from metal to techno. A number of other stages offer a setting for various indie and up-and-coming artists.
❄️ Christmas Ljubljana is Perfect for Family Outings
December is also a perfect time for families to visit Slovenia’s capital. There are several events planned and organized especially for children, such as the St. Nicholas festivities and a parade, plus the appearances by Father Christmas and Santa Claus. The city also offers kids’ workshops where the little ones can learn more about Ljubljana, its history or simply play amongst themselves.
In the early afternoons, the kids (plus their parents) can enjoy performances by various musicians, clowns and jugglers doing their special acts – all to bring smiles to the faces of the small bundles of joy.
If your children enjoy winter fun in the snow – you can also take them to the nearby hills around Ljubljana for sledding. In addition, you can enjoy a nice afternoon skating in Tivoli or in the Ljubljana’s city centre.
Furthermore, if you want to go for a skiing daytrip, the Krvavec ski resort is just half an hour drive from Ljubljana. Finally, if you are more interested in cross-country skiing, simply find a place to lease some skis and then take one of the treks on the outskirts of Ljubljana, especially northward of the city.
❄️ Theater Performances at Špica
Špica is located along the Ljubljanica River, near the Botanical Gardens. Over the past few years, this area became a popular hang-out spot among the locals. The city authorities even plan to set up an artificial beach there for the residents to enjoy in the Summer.
For the first time, Špica will be included in the Christmas and the New Year’s outdoor celebrations in Ljubljana this year. So if you are a theater fan or if you just like to watch performing artists, like jugglers, street singers, mimes, clowns, or acrobats, then you should visit Špica during the daytime to enjoy some fun performances.
Visiting Ljubljana at the end of the year can be a truly magical experience. The relaxed atmosphere, kind and happy people, magnificent architecture, perfectly accentuated with the blue and yellow Christmas lights, popular music, delicious dishes and treats, along with invigorating red wine, make Ljubljana a perfect city to visit during the Christmas and the New Year’s holidays.
Although Ljubljana hosts more and more tourists with each passing year, if you decide to have a night on the town, you will surely find a table in the city centre. That is, except if you are looking to party on the New Year’s Eve, when the city centre is packed with more than 30,000 people.
Pro tip: If you do decide to spend the longest night of the year in Ljubljana – be sure not to miss the spectacular fireworks at the Ljubljana Castle at midnight.