The weather’s been great the last few days, with clear skies and relative warmth bringing a touch of Spring, and the tables outside café bars filling up with people enjoying the sun, the city and friends. While we’ll always make a case that you can get to know Ljubljana by just walking the streets and seeing what happens, which is how we mainly enjoy it, in truth that’s just half the story, if that, with the city’s museums, galleries, concert venues and so on providing a solid foundation to the quality time you can spend here. What follows is thus a selection of happenings and events over the next seven days, with the stand out, to these eyes, being the Mountain Film Festival. You can find out why it’s such a big deal here.
Something new we added this week was a write-up of the Balassi Institute, which brings Hungarian culture downtown with many free events. We’ll put these in the regular listings next time, but for now check out the events page here.
If you're not in town for the week of this guide (Feb 19 - 24, 2019) then you can see all the editions here, and you can enhance your stay in the city and impress or annoy friends and companions by learning some obscure facts about the city here, and the Castle here.
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 at this place in whatever week you're here. 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
- Cinemas and films
- Live music
- Opera, theatre and dance
- Harm reduction and drug testing
- Things to do with children
- LGBT+ Ljubljana
- Ljubljana Castle
- Museums and galleries
- Other things to do in Ljubljana
- Getting around and other things
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. Parents should also pay attention to Kinobalon, which is Kinodvor's regular weekend series of film screenings and events for children, from babies on up, with special parent/child events, "first time in a cinema" screenings, and babysitting. Learn more about it here, and see the current schedule here.
Kinodvor – The arts cinema not far from the train station is showing, among other features, Green Book, Beautiful Boy, Maria by Callas, Dogman, Cold War and If Beale Street Could Talk.
Kinoteka – This revival cinema isn’t far from Kinodvor, at the train station end of Miklošičeva, is having a mini Lars Von Trier season, including Nymphomania, parts 1 and 2, and The House that Jack Built, with viewer discretion advised for all three. There’s also Fish Tank and Paul Thomas Anderson’s outstanding There Will Be Blood.
Kolosej - The multiplex out at BTC City Mall is playing all the big movies, which this week include Papillion, Taksi bluz, a dubbed version of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Green Book, Vice, Mary Queen of Scots, The Upside, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (dubbed), The Grinch, A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Escape Room, Lego Film 2, Cold Pursuit, Alita: Battle Angel (2D and 3D), Qu'est-ce qu'on a encore fait au bon Dieu? and Happy Death Day 2U. New this week are Berlin, I Love You, Beautiful Boy, Dumplin' (starts Tuesday), and Instant Family (starts Wednesday).
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Qu'est-ce qu'on a encore fait au bon Dieu?, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (dubbed), Beautiful Boy and Green Book.
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 considerable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay cabaret to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here.
Božidar - Friday there’s an all-nighter with Charlie Bones (Do You Records, NTS Radio / UK) b2b Illum Sphere (Ninja Tune, NTS / UK).
Channel Zero – Friday there’s also an all-nighter at this Metelkova-based venue, with DeepEnd! - winter showcase, presenting sound system music culture with Dub/Step/Grime/Jungle.
Gala Hala – Friday it’s Swaguljčica, with DJs Cookie, Toljo, Borka and White AF playing hip hop and trap. Saturday the beats turn to techno, with sets from DJs Deja Visitore and Shekuza.
Klub Cirkus – Monday the klub will be full of students from all the EU, with the Erasmus WELCOME PARTY / Biggest & Loudest. The next night it’s a part for all the students, with Poizpitni žur vseh fakultet, playing house, disco and party music. Things are then quiet until Friday, when it’s Crazy Cirkus ft. Clay Clemens, playing EDM. Then on Saturday it’s One Hit Wonder - Premiera! With tunes from the 80s until now.
Klub K4 – Now moving into it’s 4th decade, the klub for kool kids that’s not in Metelkova has drum’n’bass on Friday, with K4DNB w/ Pythius (NL) [Blackout]. Saturday brings Just A Dance, with DJs b2b2b, DEN7EL, Von Meister and Elovetric.
Koncertna Dvorana Rog – Saturday this venue at the dirty end of Trubarjeva, not far from the TSN squat, has Raggalution - Roots Rog Reggae Party (feat. Ras Levi), from 23:00 to 04:00
Orto Bar – Friday, 21;00 to 05:00, this rock-friendly venue will be putting down the guitars and picking up the turntables for a Super Mega 80s Party, with the sounds provided by the 80s Crew. Pictures of earlier events by this team suggest that low pressure, high pleasure times can be expected.
Božidar Thursday, 20:00 to 01:00, there’s Jazz Klub Mezzoforte with the Kostanjev Sekstet, followed Freestyle Karaoke & Jam Session. You can see the band playing on Cobblers’ Bridge below.
Cankerjev dom – Svetlana Makarovič is kind of a big deal, and has been for decades, and on Saturday evening you can see her on stage in a show called Instead Of Flowers, “a concert of original chansons”, with guests including Iztok Mlakar, Tomaž Mihelič Marlena, Andrej Rozman Roza, Ivan Rupnik, Janja Majzelj, Miha Bezeljak, Višnja Fičor, Ivan Peternelj, Anja Novak, and Martina Feri.
Cankerjev dom – Thursday and Friday, 19:30, Daniel Müller-Schott will be playing the violincello.
Channel Zero – Thursday, 21:00 to 0:00, it’s Level 15: Brom (RU) + Brgs: Free DBeat, with free jazz.
Gala Hala – Thursday you can enjoy stoner, garage, and alt rock Bring On The Vanguards.
Kino Šiška – On Monday evening you can learn more about “noise drone masters DIE! GOLDSTEIN and Kikiriki, who bring fresh socio-political content and contexts to music through an articulated personal approach. The authors spread a giant psychedelic mass through the vacuum of space, shaping it into an audio-visual journey.” Tuesday it’s the turn of German pianist, composer and producer Martin Kohlstedt, while the next evening you can see The Strange, with support from Malamor. The end of a packed week at this large venue that’s a short bus, bike or car ride from the centre brings the Amsterdam-based collective Altin Gün, who “will open the door into the unknown, into a blend of Turkish tradition, Western funk and psychedelic rock that places the stated expressions into a completely fresh context.” Check out all the headline acts below.
Klub Gromka – Tuesday night this Metelkova club presents the opportunity to enjoy grindcore and metal from a triple bill that includes Project for Bastards, Sedmina and Facial Tissue Dispenser. Thursday the event is FriForma, with Sugimoto, Dupleix, Bazelaire + Tomažin and Grom, and sadly I can’t seem to find any examples of their work. There are no such problems with Parnepar, the ex-Yugo post-punk bank who’ll be playing here on Friday.
Orto Bar – Kadilnica of Death are back with another metal event, this one with a triple bill of Morywa, Maskardh, and Morost (this last band sharing a name with my accountant).
Slovenska filharmonija – Sunday the choir of the Philharmonia will be performing at 19:30, with a programms that includes Gallus and di Lasso.
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 – Tuesday Verdi’s La Traviata will be staged in this lovely theatre between Prešeren and Tivoli.
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, and our story on the group is here. You can find the latest warnings on fake drugs and high strength pills and powders (in Slovene) here. However, be aware that all the usual drugs are illegal in Slovenia.
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, pizza and ice cream. With regard to the latter, take a look at our guide to six places that serve good ice cream in winter.
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, and is next to the open gay bar below.
Klub Tiffany – The gay bar next door is also open on Fridays, while every Monday until June 2019 there's tango at 18:00. On Thursday, 20:00 to 22:00, there’s a concert by the singer Tatjana Mihelj. Saturday there’s then Drag Trash – Out, which seems to be a drag-based lip sync party.
Pritličje – This seems to be the only "always open" LGBT-friendly cafe / bar / events space in town, and perhaps the country, so it's a good thing it's such a good one, open from morning to night, and with fliers and posters letting you know what's happening outside the narrow confines of, say, a general interest online what's on... guide.
Screenshot from Google Maps, showing the location of the Castle vineyard
The city’s main attraction is said to be the top tourist draw in the country overall, and to my mind it earns a spot near the top just for the history and views. But beyond that the current owners, the City of Ljubljana, have laid out a varied, interesting and enjoyable programme of events, one that rewards regular revisits.
I try and get up there every Saturday morning to clear my head and move my feet on the trails, and never tire of that end of the hill. At the other end, where the Castle sits, there’s a lot more than fresh air on offer. There are guided tours, restaurants, a café, Castle museum, puppet museum, a Watchtower you can climb to the highest point in the city, art shows, dances, live music, movies under the stars, festival days and more – enough to reward multiple trips up the hill through the year. All of these activities and events can be found on the Castle website, while on TSN you can see “25 things to know about Ljubljana Castle” here, and “Ten Ways to Enjoy Ljubljana Castle” here.
Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum, and - as noted at the start
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.
Cankerjev dom – On until February 28 is the exhibition Ivan Cankar and Europe, Between Shakespeare and Kafka, while until March 10 there’s a photographic show on the Ljubljanica, with images of the city’s river captured by Bojan Velikonja. Showing until the end of March is a selection of specimens from The Newspaper Museum.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square also 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
City Gallery - Not far from the Robba Fountain and running until March 24 is a show presenting drawings by Iztok Sitar, the original pages that were used to make his graphic novels over the last three decades. Rather adult in nature – think Robert Crumb in terms of sex, drugs and religion, in places – it’s free to enter and has much to enjoy. One of the pictures I took on my visit is below.
Photo: JL Flanner
International Centre of Graphic Arts – Running from Friday until March 3 2019 there will be a show of posters from Milton Glaser, while paintings, drawings, prints and from Nathalie Du Pasquier in a show called Fair Game. The latter is being promoted with the following image.
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design has much of what you'd expect, and until March 25, 2019, has a show on Ljubljana and it's relation with water. Until February 24 visitors can enjoy Toasted Furniture, which presents some experiments with the reuse of plastic waste, and until February 28 there's a show on Oskar Kogoj and his chairs.
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. Running until March 31 is a major show on young Slovenian painters, Time Without Innocence – Recent Painting in Slovenia, where you’ll see works like the following. You can read about my visit here (I loved it).
Iva Tratnik, Mating Season Totalitarianism, 2014, oil on canvas, 210 x 194 cm
Arjan Pregl, from the Carnival series, oil on canvas (6 paintings 120 x 100 cm; 3 paintings 80 x 60 cm), 2018
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. You can read about our visit to the room containing sacred art from the Middle Ages here.
The real Robba Fountain can be found in the entrance to the National Gallery - the one you see in the Old Town is a genuine fake, as seen below and reported here.
Photo: JL Flanner
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 Dynasty 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 around town, 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
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,
If you 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 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, if it ever does this year, in which case you might be interested in what's new at Slovenia's ski resorts for 2019, as reported here.
Photo: maxpixel.net, public domain
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
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. Manual wheelchair users can also borrow, for free, an attachment that will motorise their equipment, as reported here.
Screenshot from a Twitter video
If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to part, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is here.
There aren't many places to eat after midnight, and most of them are by the train station, as reported 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.