The lights are on but, even last night, a Saturday, the streets weren’t all that crowded for the season, and you could walk around and enjoy the scene without being overwhelmed. In the days and weeks ahead this will change, though, as the tourist season ramps up again and folk from around the world come to Ljubljana and see what’s new this year. If you’re looking for Christmas action in the capital then it’s easy to find, just follow the lights and music. And if the temperature drops and you need a hat, scarf and gloves, or some candy, dried meat, or gifts, then take a look at the stalls along the river and behind the cathedral, where there’s a stage set up for oompah music.
Miklavž, aka St Nicholas, will also be making his annual appearance in town on Wednesday, starting at 17:00 in Krakov trg – by the Puppet Theatre and Castle funicular – then heading towards Prešeren Square, with his devils hanind out candies amid music, noise and light, as see a few years ago below. (And you can learn more about the tradition, and where else you can see it in Slovenia, here.)
With regard to festivals, fans of animation, for both children and adults, should scroll down to learn more about the Animateka festival, while a month-long festival that starts this week is the Decembrrr Festival at the former Tobačna factory complex, with 36 free music, entertainment, culinary and social events by Slovenian and international artists. The Facebook for that is here, but otherwise there’s not much online about it.
As ever, clicking on the venue names in the list below should get you more details with regard to the time, price and location, as well as other events on this week in the same place. Finally, if there's something you want to promote in a future edition of What's on in Ljubljana please get in touch with me at flanner(at)total-slovenia-news.com
Getting around Ljubljana
If you want to get a Ljubljana Tourist Card, which gives you travel on the city buses and entry to a lot of attractions, then you can read more about that here, and if you want to use the bike share system, as useful for visitors as it is for residents, then you can learn more by clicking this. Visitors with reduced mobility will be pleased to find that downtown Ljubljana is generally rated as good with regard to accessibility, and that there’s a free, city-sponsored app called Ljubljana by Wheelchair highlighting cafés, attractions and so on with ramps, disabled bathrooms and Eurokey facilities, which you can read about and download here. If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to part, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is here.
Want / need cigarettes but the stores have closed? Here's an incomplete list of bars downtown that will satisfy your craving for the demon weed. While if you’re having trouble with the ATMs then here’s a guide to the Slovene you’ll see on screen. If you get a hangover then find out where to get paracetamol (and prescription drugs) in Ljubljana here, while details on emergency birth control can be found here.
Ljubljana is a small and relatively safe city, but if need to contact the police then there’s a special number for foreigners, and that’s 113.
Photo: JL Flanner
Want someone to hold your hand while you're reading Slovene? Check out our weekly Slovene-English dual texts.
Cinemas and films playing in Ljubljana this week
You can read about all the cinemas in town here, while a selection of what’s playing this week is below, and note that kid’s movies tend to be shown in dubbed versions, so do check before driving out to a multiplex and dropping off the young ones if they can't understand Slovene. That said, parents should pay attention to Kinobalon, which is Kinodvor's regular weekend series of film screenings and events for children, from babies on up, witrh special parent/child events, "first time in a cinema" screenings, and babysitting. Learn more about it here, and see the current schedule here. (And if you like watching trailers with subtitles as a way of learning Slovene, then catch up on some from earlier this year here).
Animateka, the International Animated Film Festival, is back for it’s 15th edition, running from Monday to Sunday. This is mostly happening at Kinodvor and Kinoteka, and will include features and shorts from around the world, aimed at both children and adults, with a special focus on Hungary. There are also workshops for children, masterclasses and panel discussions for adults, a related exhibition of VR and 360-degree gaming. More details can be found here.
Kinodvor – The arts cinema not far from the train station, which has a nice café with books and magazines, seems to be given over to Animateka this week. For this we’ll highlight the Japanese Mirai of the Future, to be shown with English and Slovene subtitles, and Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. On Thursday you can see Ce Magnifique Gâteau! and then attend a Q&A with the directors. On Saturday there’s Stereo Expanded: National Film Board of Canada, a presentation of various shorts that play around with 3D.
Kinoteka – The revival house at one end of Miklošičeva, a street that’s worth walking up for the architecture alone, is also taking part in Animateka, with some, but not all, films shown with English subtitles, so do check. One that will be supported with both English and Slovene is The Breadwinner.
Kolosej - The multiplex out at BTC City Mall is playing all the big movies, which this week include Robin Hood, The Grinch (with both subbed and dubbed versions), The House that Jack Built, Widows, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, El mayor regalo, Little Italy, Bohemian Rhapsody, Halloween, Johnny English 3, A Star is Born, Gajin svet, The Grinch (in subbed and dubbed versions), Robin Hood and Widows. New this week are Fahrenheit 11/9, Michael Moore’s Trump movie, Hannah, and Pat in Mat znova v akciji; while starting Wednesday is Mortal Engines and on Saturday a dubbed version of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Bohemian Rhapsody, The Grinch (dubbed), and Fahrenheit 11/9.
Clubbing in Ljubljana
Compared to some European capitals it can seem that nightlife in Ljubljana ends rather early, especially along the river, but there are still bars that stay open late and clubs were you can dance until dawn, and perhaps the best place to stumble across something interesting is the legendary Metelkova. Be aware it's a grungy kind of place and not for all tastes, but also that there's consideable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay caberet to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here.
Channel Zero – Monday night is Dub Lab, and this week the show’s being run by Šlagwerk. The on Friday there’s a night called Everything GOES, with a team of DJs made up of Rope, Jerry, Sunneh, Fogy, and Stojc, none of whom seem to have mix online.
Gala Hala – Breakbeat Pressure is the name of the game on Friday, with an all-nighter featuring DJs Pips, Dado, Zhe and Woo-D. A fun mix by the last name on that list is below.
Klub Cirkus – The more commercial end of clubland has what I’m sure will the first of many student Christmas parties on Wednesday, with an all-nighter offering “electronic dance music”. Friday it’s the turn of R’n’B Explosion, featuring fresh anthems and classics cuts with DJ Dey and DJ Martee. Saturday then offers something a little different, with Gramophonedzie #3 LIVE!, featuring a DJ, live singer and live trumpet.
Klub K4 – The legendary klub 4 kool kids has two all-nighters this week. On Friday there’s K4 Temnica with DJs Labud, Stojan, Nulla and Gojc, while on Saturday there’s Just A Dance, with DJs DEN7EL, Elovetric and Rinçage Énergique, and visuals from VJ 5237.
Orto Bar – Friday night there’s Shadowtime, playing alternative, dark 80's, industrial, gothic rock, and synthpop.
Drogart is an organization that aims to minimise harm on the party scene, and offers drug-testing services and reports on their webpage. It’s in Slovene, but you can Google translate it or work things out yourself, andout story on the group is here. One thing they recently warned of were pink Pharaoh pills with around twice the normal MDMA content (measured at 261 mg). See pictures and learn more here, but do remember that all the usual drugs remain illegal in Slovenia, while our in-depth profile of the group is here. We've also heard increasing reports - albeit anecdotal - of women's drinks being spiked in the city, so take care and let friends know where you're going.
Things to do with children in Ljubljana
You can find our Top 12 list of things to do with kids in Ljubljana here. If want to read more about the philosophy behind the wonderful House of Experiments look here, while our trip to the Museum of Illusions is documented here, and there’s always riverside walks, ice cream and pizza.
Photo: JL Flanner
December at Ljubljana Castle
The city’s main attraction, the Castle, has a lot planned for December, including an innovative projection on the walls at 17:00 each day. Learn more about what’s going on up on the hill this month here.
Live music in Ljubljana
Cankerjev dom – Tuesday evening there’s a live show from Autoryno, as part of a series curated by John Zorn.
Gala Hala - Wednesday night there’s Kočevje u Lublan, with live performances from Pankeroschi, Septic Order, Movemental and Nika&Nejc. Thursday there’s then the Croatian band Šumski. On Saturday there the second dub night of the week – the first is at Channel Zero – starts with a live show from Hornsman Coyote, and then goes on until 06:00 with the sounds being supplied by Jahmessenjah Sound and Selektor Ohoroho.
Klub Gromka – It’s a busy week at this club in Metelkova. On Tuesday there’s Kvartet Accademia, playing chamber music. Thursday there’s Noites Do Brasil, from 19:00 until after 04:00, with live and DJ music from Brazil, with the line-up including Sherzer Brigade, Denise Dantas Trio and DJ Yors Truli. Friday there’s then another mix of live and DJ music at an all-nighter called Kornet, with the live side of things being take care of by Haiku Garden, Mint, Koshava, Ujma and Lynch, while the DJs are ZORKOW, LE_EN_ART, Kaluza8, and LNLN. The week ends on Saturday with metal from Sober Assault, Veil of Deception, and Obnounce.
Kino Šiška – Friday, 20:00 on, there’s a free to enter battle of the bands for student groups, Špil liga, with voting by SMS.
Ljubljana Castle – Thursday night, starting at 21:00, there’s Nina Strnad & the Jazz Club Gajo Quartet.
Orto Bar – A packed week at Orto begins on Wednesday with death metal from Revocation, Archspire, Soreption, and Rivers of Nihil. The metal continues on Thursday with another Kadilnica of Death production, featuring doom, groove and sludge from Mist, Deep Down Bellow (sic), and Mutism. Saturday brings yet more metal, this time from Ensiferum and Trio de facto, with the headliners – and perhaps the support – putting on an acoustic show.
Pritličje – Thursday night there’s electronic music from OVAL Live! and Luka Prinčič Live!
If you want to learn more about Ljubljana Pride, then take a look at our interview with its president here. If you're looking for more general links on "gay Slovenia", including a history of the scene and various projects, then you can find that here, while our stories about the community can be found here.
Klub Monokel – This lesbian bar in Metelkova is open every Friday night, and this Friday there’s music all night from DJs Kieran Loftus, Felis Catus, DVMIR and Lil Ris.
Klub Tiffany – The gay bar next door to Monokel is also open every Friday, and every Monday until June 2019 there's tango at 18:00. Tuesday evening, 20:00 to 22:00, there’s a talk on chemsex. Thursday, 20:00 to 22:00, there’s a café night on video games and geek culture.
Pritličje – This is the closest Ljubljana comes to a "gay bar" so it's a good thing this LGBT-friendly cafe / bar / events space is such a good one, and open from morning to night.
Museums and galleries in Ljubljana
Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum.
Plečnik's desk. Photo: JL Flanner
Plečnik’s House is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the architect who gave Ljubljana much of its character. Read about our guided tour here. Something on for a limited time is Plečnik and the Sacred, showing here until January 20, 2019.
Cankerjev dom – Running until the end of February 2019 is an exhibition titled Ivan Cankar and Europe: Between Shakespeare and Kafka. This is “An examination of Cankar’s art through an analysis of influences and interpretations, and juxtaposition with contemporary European writers. The visually elaborate architectural and graphic layout, supported by audio-visual media, installation art and diverse visual highlights, offers a vivid account of Cankar’s excellence, his comprehensively exquisite aesthetic and artistic vision.”
City Art Gallery – Drago Tršar recently had a show at the main Moderna looking at his monumental works, and now this smaller gallery in the Old Town, not far from Town Hall, is showing some the sculpture’s erotic works, on until January 20, 2019. It’s being promoted with the following example.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square has an exhibition on the writer Ivan Cankar that’s on until the end of February 2019, with pictures, books and manuscripts, all presented in Slovene and English. It also has a very interesting permanent exhibition on the history of Ljubljana, from prehistoric times to the present day, with many artefacts, models and so on that bring the story alive.You can read about my visit here. Until March 2019 there's a show highlighting the work Elza Kastl Obereigner (1884-1973), a pioneer Slovenian sculptress, with an example of her work shown below.
Photo: M Paternoster
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
Galerija Vžigalica – Saša Spačal has a show here until January 6, 2019 called Earthlink, “working at the intersection of intermedia art, exploration of living systems and audio frequencies, links Earth to the post-human present, that includes both a seed of the future as well as a shadow of the past.” A promotional image is what's shown below.
Simbiom – ekonomija simbioze, 2016 © Dejan HabichtArhiv Moderne galerije
Galerija Kresija – Showing in the City Hall’s right atrium until December 13 is an installation, Gorazd Krnc: Tod in Ondod (Worth Not Knowing Where Knowington Is), which includes video projections
International Centre of Graphic Arts – Running from Friday until March 3 2019 there will be a show of posters from Milton Glaser, with the poster for the show shown below.
Ljubljana Exhibition & Convention Centre – Just outside the centre of town, at Dunajska cesta 18, you can see a lot of plasticized bodies at the Body Worlds Vital show, running from October 20 until January 20 2019.
Photo: Body Works Vital
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design is showcasing Slovenian designers in a show called Made in Slovenia, lasting until the end of 2018: “The selling exhibition aims to present good practices of Slovenian designers and companies in the creative sector.”
Sam, 1966, fotografija na srebroželatinskem papirju. ©Stojan Kerbler
Moderna galerija – The main branch of this gallery, to be found near the entrance to Tivoli Park, has a good collection of modern art, as well a nice café in the basement, and it's latest exhibition focuses on the photographer Stojan Kerbler, which runs until January 13, 2019, and shows rural live in Slovenia for the recent past.
Museum of Contemporary History – The museum in Tivoli Park has two new shows. One is called Museum's (R)evolution 1948-2018, marking the place's 70th anniversary with an exhibition tracing its evolution through artefacts, photographs and personal stories and running until January 6 2019 (details here). There's also In Search of Freedom: 1968-2018, looking at the 1968 student protests.
National Gallery – The country’s main gallery has “the best” of what’s on offer from the Middle Ages to non-contemporary modern visual arts, and is in a great location for exploring other areas, just by Tivoli Park and opposite the main branch of the Moderna galerija. Running until February 10 2019 is a show called Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926): But Of Course, Painting Is Something Beautiful!, featuring works like the one below. You can read about our visit to the room containing scared art from the Middle Ages here, and see a picture from our trip after the two girls.
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more, with the big draw this season being the exhibition of over 140 items of gold from Ming Dyntasy China, as reported here, and with an example below. This runs until February 15th.
Photo: Wang Wei Chang
Meanwhile, the museum's Metelkova branch, located between one branch of the Moderna galerija and the Ethnographic Museum has some rooms on Church art, furniture and weapons, with the latter including more guns than you'll see anywhere else in town, and quite a thrill if coming from a nation where such objects are not household items.
Natural History Museum – On until the end of June 2019 is Our Little Big Sea, which takes a look at the oceans.
Slovene Ethnographic Museum – The museum currently has a temporary show on Bees and Beekeeping, on until June 16 2019, as well two permanent exhibitions. One of these is called Between Nature and Culture, and has a great collection of objects from Slovenia and around the world, well worth the trip up to the third floor to see it (as recounted here). This place is located near the newer branch of the Moderna galerija and Metelkova.
Union is "the Ljubljana beer", but now both it and Laško are owned by Heineken. There are many local brews on offer, though, if you want to explore IPAs, stouts, wheatbeers, sours and so on Photo: JL Flanner
Union Experience – The Ljubljana-based brewer has a museum showing the history of the company, with the ticket also including access to part of the factory and a few samples of the product. You can read about our visit here.
It's not a formal museum, but if you're interested in "Yugo-stalgia" then you'll enjoy a trip to Verba, a small, privately run space that's crammed with objects and pop culture items from the era, and is conveniently located at the start of one of the short walks to the castle. It's also a great place to take pictures, if you leave a donation, and you can read more about it here.
Verba. Photo: JL Flanner
Alternative Ljubljana isn't a museum or gallery, as such, but instead turns the city streets into a museum and gallery. Learn more about their tours of street art, history and LGBT Ljubljana here.
Photo: JL Flanner
Opera, theatre and dance in Ljubljana
Gledališče IGLU - IGLU Theatre – Saturday night this group is usually putting on an English improv show somewhere in town, but it’s generally promoted after this is written, so check the Facebook before putting on your shoes.
SNG Opera and Ballet – Swan Lake will be performed from Wednesday to Sunday, although most shows seem to be sold out. Note that it continues to be performed throughout the season, so maybe book now to avoid disappointment.
From November 2 to 30 there’s the Gourmet Ljubljana Festival, with a full programme of culinary events, as detailed here.
If you'd like to spend an evening painting with others, then take a look at Design with Wine, which organises painting parties on Trubarjeva cesta,
Breg Embankment, just opposite the Old Town and by the river, has a small flea market open every Sunday morning. Learn more about it here.
If you can't make it to Breg on Sunday morning, but still want to see some antiques, then check out the wonderful Antika Carniola, as discussed here. The man behind it, Jaka Prijatelj, has a fine eye for life on this street, as you can see at the top of this page, with more on his Facebook account.
Photo: JL Flanner
If you’re in town and want to go jogging or walking in nature, why not take another look at the Castle, with a brief guide to the trails here. If you want something bigger, head to Tivoli Park.
And if you're bored with the Old Town, why not take a walk, cycle or boat ride to nearby Špica and enjoy the riverside life. Learn more about that here.
maxpixel.net, public domain
Want to stretch and breath? Then check out our list of drop-in yoga classes for tourists, visitors and the uncommitted. If you're heading to the coast, check out our interview with a yoga teacher who offers breakfast sessions there, while if you're staying in town (or nearby) and want to try some "family yoga" then you can learn more about that here and maybe get your kids to calm down a moment or two.
There are some golf courses near Ljubljana, but even ones further away are not far, as seen in our list of all the golf courses in Slovenia. Note that these close when the snow starts.
Photo: maxpixel.net, public domain
Daytrips from Ljubljana
Most of Slovenia is only a few hours from Ljubljana, and you can easily visit Lake Bled, Lipica Stud Farm, Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, the coast and other locations, while if you'd like to take a photo of from that bench in Bled, then you can learn how to get there here. If you’re looking for something more ambitious, then check out our recent guide to the 17 members of the Association of Historical Towns of Slovenia
Photo: Google Image Search
Photo montage: JL Flanner