Lifestyle

31 Dec 2018, 15:25 PM

Warren Buffet, the famed investor, sometime richest person in the world and owner / fan of Dairy Queen, often notes that "only when the tide goes out do you discover who's been swimming naked”, and the same idea can be applied to ice cream in Ljubljana.

The frozen treat is easy to sell in summer, and many places do, but it’s only in winter you find out who are the devotees and who the dilettantes. What thus follows is an inexhaustive list of six ice cream stores in Ljubljana's pedestrianised area that do something to stand out from the competition, and are worth consideration when deciding how to allocate your dessert calories of the day.

One thing to note, especially if you’re a little overwhelmed by the choice, is that most places offer half-half options, so you can get “1 scoop” and still get chocolate and vanilla, or whatever more baroque combination takes your fancy – just let the server know what you want.

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Zvezda. Photo: JL Flanner

Zvezda is best known as a fancy café with great cakes and a good view of Zvezda Park (with zvezda meaning “star”, and the park so named due to the star-shaped arrangement of the paths). In the summer there’s a very extensive range on offer, with two freezers full inside and another one (perhaps two) in the street. While the high season brings all the standard and fancy flavours, in the winter there’s an obviously reduced offering, but still enough to satisfy both the unadventurous and wild hedonist. As noted above, the place is a café and cakeshop, with the latter found both in the “ice cream” part of the store – along with macaroons, chocolates and sandwiches – as well as inside. All year there are inside and outside seats, and the menu includes plenty of snacks and hot and cold drinks, as well as alcohol. There are also bathrooms.

Zvezda, Wolfova ulica 14, 1000 Ljubljana, www.zvezdaljubljana.si

Mateja, the owner and ice cream master at Romantika, talks about her work (with English subtitles)

Not far away from Zvezda, just around the corner on the other side of the park – which in this area is known as Congress Square (Kongresni trg), there’s a small place with a different vibe. This is Gelateria Romantika, a small store with a fresh look and, more importantly for our purposes, freshly made gelato in a wide range of flavours, with some of the more interesting ones that you can find in town. Think gorgonzola or parmesan, or something a little milder, like vanilla and pumpkin oil – a Slovene classic – or even something you may have seen before, like chocolate or coffee, all made with the singular vision of the owner and certified ice cream master, Mateja, who also works in the store. A must-visit if you want to try something that you probably won’t see anywhere else on your trip.

Romantika, Dvorni trg 1, 1000 Ljubljana, www.gelateria-romantika.si

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Grefino. Photo: JL Flanner

Perhaps the most appealing place for children is Grefino, although the more exited they are perhaps the more careful parents should be, depending on the dietary constraints that apply when in town. The set-up is simple: up to six different flavours of soft serve ice cream / gelato, often including vegan options, that you pull the pump on, thus deciding exactly how much you’ll get, with purchases paid for by weight. The real draw is the toppings that you can also add, which range from candy to cookies, sauces to syrups and so on. In addition to ice cream you can also get pancakes and waffles However, note that there are no bathrooms and no indoor seating (although a bathroom can be found in Nama, the department store next door).

Grefino, Cankarjeva cesta 1, 1000 Ljubljana, www.nama.si

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Cacao is another cake and ice cream place, and in the summer it has a long cabinet outside full of classics, standards and innovations, with another inside that offers a mostly different selection. In the winter the outside one disappears closed, but go inside and you’ll still find a good range on offer, along with cakes, coffees, and other drinks. There’s also two bathrooms down a few stairs. You can find Cacao a very short walk from one corner of Prešeren Square, the one with the statue.

Cacao, Petkovškovo nabrežje 3, 1000 Ljubljana, www.cacao.si

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Vigo: Photo: Vigo

Vigo isn’t far away, just across the Triple Bride and into the Old Town, in clear view of Town Hall and the Robba Fountain (a genuine fake). Vigo is another cake and ice cream place, offering classics with a twist by the cone or cup. Something kids seem to love is the taps of dark and white chocolate that you can get as toppings. There are seats and bathrooms, and a full range of café drinks.

Vigo, Mačkova ulica 2, 1000 Ljubljana, www.vigo-icecream.com

How things work at Ice Wave

With Rustika now turned over to pizza by the slice, the only dedicated ice cream store on Trubarjeva cesta is Ice Wave, and it has a unique offer. The dessert made in front of you using an “frozen plate”, with chocolates and candies chopped up and mixed in to order, then delivered in the form of “ice cream rolls”, as shown in the video. It’s not a traditional ice cream, but if you want to try something new in terms of texture and presentation then this is the place to come.

Ice Wave, Trubarjeva cesta 7, 1000 Ljubljana, www.icewaveshow.com

If you know of an interesting store selling ice cream in Ljubljana over the winter that I should have included on the list, then please put the details in the comments and I'll check it out when I can.

31 Dec 2018, 12:59 PM

STA, 28 December 2018 - Late December is a time when many take stock of the year behind them and think about New Year's resolutions. Slovenia's Statistics Office decided to try and inspire people to make positive changes in their lives by providing a medley of lifestyle statistics.

Food, drink and exercise

Winter holiday season sees many people overindulging in sweets and alcohol, as well as comfort food. However, long winter evenings spent in good company are not the only reason why as many as 52% of Slovenians over the age of 18 are overweight or obese.

The figure is above the EU average, making Slovenia the sixth fattest country in the bloc. The Statistics Office also said that 45% have a normal weight and 3% are undernourished.

The data also show that 60% of Slovenians did a sufficient amount of exercise, according to medical standards. 24% did some exercise but not enough to reap the benefits and 16% did no exercise at all.

Nearly 80% of Slovenians over the age of 16 had an alcoholic drink at least once a month in 2018. Maybe some of them will rethink their drinking habits after learning that nearly 690 people were hospitalised this year for alcohol-related liver disease, which proved fatal for more than 360 people.

But not everything is that grim. Data on fruit and veg intake are quite encouraging. About 70% of Slovenians eat at least a serving of fruit and vegetables a day. Nearly a third eat them several times a week and only some 3% eat fruit and vegetables less frequently.

Smoking and stress

Giving up smoking will likely be on the list of New Year's resolutions of some of the 20% of Slovenians who smoke. The figure has been dropping only slowly in the past two decades, statistics show.

The Statistics Office implies that some Slovenians should also think about living less stressful lives by supplying data that 940 people were hospitalised last year due to stress-related problems.

The number was twice as high as in 2005. On the other hand, work hour data suggest that Slovenians work fewer hours: in 2008 they performed 40.5 hours of work a week and in 2017 the average was at 39.

Charity, travel, education and savings

About 55% of Slovenians performed voluntary work on 2015, helping either other people or caring for abandoned animals, among other things. Moreover, about 30% of Slovenians did voluntary work in an NGO or other organisation.

Many pledge to expand their horizons in the new year. While more than half of Slovenians travel, only about 12% of those between the ages of 25 and 64 were involved in a form of formal or informal education last year.

On the other hand, nearly 1.2 million Slovenians went on at least one private trip in 2017. Interestingly, 16% of them did not go beyond Slovenia's borders, while 53% only travelled abroad.

Travelling is certainly easier when you have enough money. Statistics show that Slovenians saved up EUR 1,750 on average last year, while an average household saved EUR 4,300.

The Statistics Office is a goldmine of interesting data – see all our posts tagged “statistics” here

30 Dec 2018, 19:00 PM

The big event this week is obviously New Year’s, with plenty of action in bars, pubs and clubs around town, as well as on the streets and in the squares. The city-sponsored free events include Children's New Year's Celebrations in Congress Square at 16:00, then at 21:00 there are concerts at the following squares around town, all within a close distance of each other:

New Year's Celebrations at Congress Square featuring Anabel, Nika Zorjan and Victory

New Year's Celebrations at French Revolution Square featuring Super Action Heroes, Red Five Point Star and Elvis Jackson

New Year's Celebrations at City Square featuring Maraaya & Jazzilaz and Klara Jazbec

New Years Celebrations at Pogačar Square (the marketplace) featuring Gala Kvintet and France In Krila

For a rundown of events happening on the 31st around Slovenia, check here

Related: Remember the drink driving limit in Slovenia

IMPORTANT: Most supermarkets seem to be closed January 1 and 2, so stock up, work around or be disappointed. As a point of reference I have two bags of coffee, three bottles of penina and two dozen mandarins to ensure an easy start to the year.

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.

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, 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, The Old Man & The Gun, Green Book, Den tid på året, The Favourite and Captain Morten and the Spider Queen.

Kinoteka – This revival cinema isn’t far from Kinodvor, at the train station end of Miklošičeva, is showing Billy Wilder’s The Apartment, Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West, Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky, and on Saturday, January 5, all three Lord of the Rings movies will be shown.

Kolosej - The multiplex out at BTC City Mall is playing all the big movies, which this week include Robin HoodThe Grinch (with both subbed and dubbed versions), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldBohemian RhapsodyRobin Hood, Johnny English 3A Star is BornGajin svetPat in Mat znova v akcijiThe Nutcracker and the Four Realms, dubbed and subbed versions of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, Bumblebee, a dubbed version of Asterix: Le secret de la potion magique, and Second Act. New this week are Mary Queen of Scots, Južni vetar, Mary Poppins Returns, and L'Empereur de Paris.

Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Mary Queen of Scots.

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 (New Year’s Eve) there’s NYE w/ Everything GOES with DJs Rope, Jerry, Sunneh, Fogy, and Stojc.

Gala Hala – Monday brings Piratska mineštra, with funk and hip hop from DJs Udo Brenner, Bakto, K’Pow and Dado. Friday, January 4, there’s a release party for SN3F, with music from DVMIR and KANOMOTIS.

Klub Cirkus – Say čao to 2018 and dobro jutro to 2019 at the more commercial end of klubland with The Best of Party Hits & Bubbles, which will also feature “dance performances”. On Friday the fun picks up again with a look back at the year that was on the dancefloor, with Repriza - Best of 2018, with the sets provided by Matthew Z, David Mel and MC Dey. Party animals can then return to the scene on Saturday, with DJ Dej presenting an RnB Explosion: Fresh Anthems & Classics Cuts.

Klub K4 – K4 has been burning itself into the memories of klubbers for three decades, and is still producing good times, tired feet and natural highs on a weekly basis. This week there’s just one event, and it’s on Monday night, with a party called K4NYE. This isn’t a Kanye tribute act, but a New Year party with the fun provided by Vid Vai b2b Nitz (Phi, Synaptic), Simm. b2b Marin (Just us), Nitram (NL), Alex Ranerro (SOVLD), Elovetric (Just a dance), DEN7EL (Just a dance), and VJ 5237. A relatively chill mix by Vid Vai is below.

Koncertna Dvorana Rog – Monday night there’s Neznosna Lahkost Bivanja ~ Formaviva, which will be providing techno music and psychedelic folk at the far end of Trubarjeva cesta. On Friday there’s HashtagTradicija, which seems to be presenting something by Illegal Kru and this is probably a drum and bass affair.

Orto Bar – The rock club will see in the New Year with ZaNovLet: MetalAlternativePunk & TheDancingQueen70s80s90s. This is a two part evening, with “metal, punkrock, hardcore, stoner, grunge, alternative” from Dirty Skunks and Froot Bombs, followed by a DJ set featuring 70`s, 80`s, 90`s Disco Pop Dance Hits.

Harm reduction and drug testing

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. 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.

Some fun facts about the city and its castle...

Enhance your stay in the city and impress or annoy your friends and companions by learning some obscure facts about the city here, and the castle here.

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.

Mini Teater Ljubljana – The season sees a lot of puppet performances for children, in Slovene, at this theatre not far from Križanke, including: The Frog King, Puss in Boots, Carrot Dwarf and The Little Match Girl. The English schedule for the month is here.

Ljubljana Puppet Theatre - The puppet theatre near the Central Market and next to the Castle funicular has a full programme or shows, for children and adults, with the schedule here.

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Photo: JL Flanner

Live music in Ljubljana

Continuing until the end of the month is a programme of free festive concerts in Novi trg, while there are also many street performers around town bringing some seasonal cheer and a chance to be charitable.

Cankerjev dom – Damir Imamović will be playing a New Year show, starting at 20:00.

Ljubljana Castle – On Friday, January 4, the Jazz Club will be hosting Las Cuerdas at 21:00, who will play a set of Latin rock / reggae.

Orto Bar – Thursday brings the first Kadilnica of Death promotion of 2019, this one featuring Inmate and Ashine. Friday you can then celebrate Elvis Presley's 84th Birthday Party, with a concert from Sam’s Fever.

LGBT+ Ljubljana

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, but the special event this week is Sretna UstaNOVA! For New Year’s, featuring a long list of DJs and functioning as an afterpart to the earlier evening’s fun at Pritličje (see below).

Klub Tiffany – And the gay bar next door is also open on Fridays, while for the New Year it’s offering Resolution Revolution, which will invite you to party like it’s 1999.

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. On New Year's the place is still open all day, but the party officially begins at 21:00

Museums and galleries in Ljubljana

Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum.

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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 domRunning 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 GalleryDrago 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, and is quite explicit in terms of breasts and vaginas, but if that's OK for you and your companions then there's much to enjoy in the paintings, bronzes and ceramics on show.

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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.

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Photo: M Paternoster

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The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner

Galerija VžigalicaSaša 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.

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Simbiom – ekonomija simbioze, 2016 © Dejan HabichtArhiv Moderne galerije

Galerija Jakopič – On until March 3 is Over My Eyes (Na moje oči), an exhibition of photographs from Iraq taken by Iraqi photographers.

International Centre of Graphic Arts – Running from Friday until March 3 2019 there will be a show of posters from Milton Glaser, while until March 3 2019 you can enjoy paintings, drawings, prints and murals from Nathalie Du Pasquier in a show called Fair Game.  The latter is being promoted with the following image.

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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.

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Photo: Body Works Vital

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.

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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 sacred art from the Middle Ages here, and see a picture from our trip after the two girls.

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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 Dyntasy China, as reported here, and with an example below. This runs until February 15th.

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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.

Škuc Gallery - You can find this in the old town, and until January 20 there;s an interesting and often moving show called Kids that you can see for just 1 euro, with works by Johanna Billing, Matic Brumen, Andreja Džakušič, Priscila Fernandes, Eden Mitsenmacher, Franc Purg, and Pilvi Takala.

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.

Vodnikova Domačija Šiška – Until December 29 you can see works by a few dozen Slovenian illustrators at the December Illustration Fair, and also buy some for yourself or as a unique gift.

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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.

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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.

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Photo: JL Flanner

Opera, theatre and dance in Ljubljana

 Cankerjev dom – You’ll believe a man and woman can fly with a live performance by Circa, a contemporary circus act, presenting a show called Humans on January 31.

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 – Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker is on stage from January 3 to 6, and tickets tend to go fast at this time of year. Note that the performance below is not from Ljubljana.

Pocket Teater Studio – Thursday you can enjoy Noches de Tablao: Urška Centa, Anja Mejač & Žiga Murko in perhaps the smallest venue in town. Music and dance, flamenco style, but note that the number of seats is very limited, and thus you should make a reservation via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 070 325 522. The price of ticket is 20€ or 15€ for students, and includes wine throughout the evening.

Slovenska filharmonija – The New Year Concert here is on January 1, 18:00, and will feature the soprano Nika Gorič in a programme that’s almost entirely Offenbach. You can hear her singing something else below.

Other things to do in Ljubljana...

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,

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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.

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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. This week there's also the Ana Mraz street theatre festival here, every evening from December 26 to 30, 18:00 to 20:00.

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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.

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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

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Photo: Google Image Search

Finally...

You can see all our stories tagged Ljubljana here, and there's a drone video of the New Year's fireworks in 2015 below. Whatever you're up to this week, I hope you have a good time in the city I call home, and a good year wherever you are.

29 Dec 2018, 13:34 PM

While Slovenia gears up for New Year’s, and Ljubljana billboards show the latest editions of the Petarde? Ne hvala posters - as seen above and below - Maribor has taken the lead in making the celebrations more peaceful for the city’s animals.

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"Would you kill your friends?" Poster: Tam Tam

As reported by Večer, among other outlets, the usual sponsors of the annual firework display, Večer and Nova KBM, have decided to spend the money they usually donate for explosives to humanitarian societies and organisations. The groups supported are Red Cross Maribor, Karitas Maribor, Pika - day centre for children and youth, Varna House Maribor, the shelter for homeless people on Šentiljska cesta, counselling for victims of violence and abuse, Association Toti DCA (a daycare centre for seniors), VDC Polž, Sonček Society, Bresternica Maternity Home, Hospice Maribor Association and the Friends of Youth Association Maribor.

Related: New Year’s celebrations around Slovenia for 2018/19

Related: Why fewer Slovenes are now born on January first

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"Are you a mass murderer?" Poster: Tam Tam

28 Dec 2018, 11:44 AM

One odd fact, highlighted by the Statistics Office, is the large number of Slovenes registered as born on January 1. The first day of the year is in fact the most common birthdate in the country, with 7,552 citizens currently on the books as being born on that date, compared to just 4,731 on December 31, the date with the lowest number of registered births.

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Perhaps this is disparity, at a ratio of 1.6:1, is due to mothers becoming overexcited on New Year’s, thus inducing labour in the small hours of the 1st. Or perhaps it’s due mothers holding the child in – through breathing exercises, say – and thus ensuring a more favourable birthdate, one that makes their child among the oldest in their cohort, rather than the youngest? The truth leans towards the latter.

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The Statistics Office digs deeper in the data and finds some historical reasons for the imbalance between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. By 1970 96% of Slovenes were born in hospital, but moving back into the past home births were increasingly common, thus giving parents some discretion in the date registered on the child’s birth certificate. It’s here that the advantages of being born on the 1st rather than 31st made their influence felt. A child born on January 1st would be among the oldest and most developed in their school year, and boys would also be a year older when entering compulsory military service (which continued in Slovenia until 1993).

Related: How many Franc and Marija Novaks do you know?

Since nearly all children are now born in hospital, and their birthdates registered more accurately, the difference in births between December 31 and January 1 will continue to decline in the years ahead, eventually leaving this statistical anomaly to the record books.

But that’s not the end of the story, as there are still some interesting peaks with regard to certain birthdates. These are the days in the last third of September, with the highest number of births being 6,357, on October 1st. Counting back about nine months, and we can see that the most popular time for Slovene’s to conceive is around the Christmas and New Year holidays.

So however you’ll be spending the next few days before the end of the year, we hope it’s peaceful, productive and pleasurable.

26 Dec 2018, 01:00 AM

On December 23, 1990, Slovenia held a plebiscite on whether to move towards independence from Yugoslavia. The question asked was: "Should the Republic of Slovenia become an independent and sovereign state?" (Ali naj Republika Slovenija postane samostojna in neodvisna država?).

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The paper used in the plebiscite. Wikimedia

As reported in the New York Times the following day, some politicians worried that a vote for independence would lead to trouble in the other, more ethnically mixed Yugoslav republics. As Mile Šetinc, vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party, is quoted in warning against a yes vote: "There are lot of Croats in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and there are lots of Serbs in Croatia, so every involvement with those groups risks real civil war."

The official results were announced on December 26, with 94.8% of those who voted supporting independence, thus beginning a six-month countdown to independence being formally declared. This eventually took place on June 26, 1991, precipitating what would come to be known as the Ten-day War (desetdnevna vojna), lasting from June 27 to July 7, which, while securing Slovenia’s independence, also started the beginning of the much longer, and bloodier, Yugoslav wars.

Until 2005 the national holiday was known as Independence Day (dan samostojnosti), but in September of that year it was changed to Independence and Unity Day (Dan samostojnosti in enotnosti).

25 Dec 2018, 18:49 PM

December 25, 2018

Although it is often claimed that Dedek Mraz (Grandpa Cold) is a Russian communist invention, the man, although Russian in its origin, originates in Slavic pagan mythology.

The cold winter brother of the Vodianoy water deity, the Russian Ded Moroz got fed up with the cold and decided to travel the world. On December 22 he arrived to a town called Veliky Ustyug, where he organised a big feast for the local population. In early Russian Christianity the image of this Slavic winter man merged with that of St. Nicholas. However, in the 19th century the winter man got emancipated again, thanks to Snegurochka, the snow fairy from Aleksander Ostrovski’s stage play. The couple, Snegurochka and Ded Moroz, were further linked after Rimsky-Korsakov turned the story into an opera. After this Ded Moroz with a Kuchma on his head became part of a December tradition in Russia  that failed to be removed by even the Bolsheviks, who initially declared him state enemy but were then forced to turn him into a revolutionary, since he seemed to be there to stay. Also, following the onset of the Cold War at the end of WWII, Ded Moroz became a handy competitor to the ever more popular American Santa Claus.

In Slovenian tradition, however, Dedek Mraz was in fact introduced by a Communist Party decree, although not without a twist: by the time he came to Slovenia the Soviet-Yugoslav schism had occurred, and Dedek Mraz had to be distanced from his Russian original.  

The whole revolutionary spirit in these parts was a bit behind the Russian schedule, and communism only began spreading in Yugoslavia during WWII. Christmas was only cancelled as a national holiday in 1952, when a new solstice holiday was fully developed. The celebration of the New Year’s tree was first introduced in 1948 at Ljubljana’s Congress Square (Kongresni trg) and in the sports hall Tabor, the same year the Tito-Stalin split occurred. As the introduction of the “New Year’s Tree” was well accepted by the public, plans were prepared in the following year which would include celebrations of both the partisans and Dedek Mraz.

In 1949 Dedek Mraz was depicted for the first time in Slovenia on the cover of a children’s magazine, Ciciban. He was wearing a white Russian coat and had a Kuchma on his head. However, due to the Soviet-Yugoslav split, Dedek Mraz now needed to differ from the Russian original as much as possible. So in 1952 Dedek Mraz’ new image was “put in law” by Maksim Gaspari’s depiction of the man wearing an inside out sheepskin coat decorated with Slovenian folk patterns, while the Kuchma was replaced with a dormouse hat. To emphasize its new origin, Dedek Mraz resides on mount Triglav and carries presents in a traditional Slovenian woven basket on his back.

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Maxim Gaspari: Dedek Mraz
 

Following the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc, the newly established states that had celebrated Dedek Mraz for fifty years suddenly had to deal with the comeback of competitors in the field of old men who give presents to good children in December. In Croatia, he changed his name to Grandpa Christmas (Djed Božićnjak), in Poland he was fully replaced again by the Catholic Saint Nicholas, and in Romania he was forgotten and replaced by Santa Claus.

In Slovenia, however, the ideological conditions allowed for all of the versions to persist: the comeback of St. Nicholas, who by religious tradition brings gifts on the eve of the December 6th; Santa Claus, who by the liberal pop-culture standards brings gifts on Christmas Eve; and the leftist Dedek Mraz, who bring gifts on New Year’s Eve. Although the three can sometimes be seen in shopping centres drinking brewed wine together, the struggle for dominance continues under the surface of this picture of seasonal unity and peace in difference.

 

24 Dec 2018, 23:00 PM

TSN will be on a light schedule over the holiday season, with time spent on feasting with family and friends rather than catching up with the latest online. But to ensure that dedicated watchers of the Slovene scene have something to relax with we’ve put together 30 questions to test your knowledge of the news this year.

The questions are set out below, with the answers at the end (plus links to the related stories).

1. The actor Matija Barl died in August at the age of 78. He was most famous for playing which iconic character?
2. Two metal structures that are set higher than anything in the surrounding areas were taken down for repairs this year. What were they?
3. Which party won the most seats in Parliament in the general election?
4. What was the title of Slovenia’s Eurovision entry this year?
5. What is one of the five most common family names in Slovenia?

6. Which country sends the most tourists from Asia to Slovenia?
7. Slovenia is currently engaged in a border dispute with which of its neighbours?
8. Primož Roglič, who won this year’s Tour de Slovenia, did another sport at a high level before taking up cycling. Which one?
9. Which company owns both Union and Laško?
10. Slovenia celebrated the writer Ivan Cankar this year, but what occasion was being marked?

11. Which high profile Slovenian company was sold to a state-owned Chinese firm in this year?
12. Name one of Prime Minister Marjan Sareč’s previous jobs.
13. Iza and Samo Login are the two richest people in Slovenia. How did they make their money?
14. Andrej Šiško made the news in 2017 by standing for President. Why was he in the news in 2018?
15. In Slovene slang, what are jazjaz?

16. Janja Garnbret won her second consecutive world championship this year, at the age of just 18, as well as Sports Personality of the Year. In what sport does she compete?
17. Slovenia named a new head of the armed forces, and a new police commissioner this year. What did these two people have in common?
18. Posledice, Zimske muhe and Gajin svet were all released this year, but what were they?
19. Why are Koper and Divača often linked in the news?
20. Slovenia has two famous Pahors, Borut and Boris. How are they different?

21. Which young Slovene moved from Madrid to Dallas in 2018?
22. Miro Cerar lost his job as Prime Minister after the national elections, as well as his glasses. What is his current position?
23. This year was the first World Day of something, a day that Slovenia played a key role in getting recognised as an event. What does this day celebrate?
24. Which large company was privatised in November?
25. Simona Semenič won a Prešeren prize in 2018. In one of her most famous artworks she put part of her body through an object. What body part and what object?

26. Demokracija and Mladina are two weekly reviews. What’s the main difference between them?
27. How many regular, scheduled flights does Maribor Airport currently have – less than 10, between 10 and 24, more than 25?
28. Which foreign leader spoke at the SDS party conference and said Janez Janša was the only hope for Slovenia?
29. A group of Cuban musicians got in trouble while in Slovenia for an international festival. In which town were they arrested?
30. Which Slovenian skier missed the Olympics as she was still recovering from an injury?

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The answers

1. Kekec (read the story here)
2. The Aljaž Tower on Triglav (story) and the Archangel Michael on top of St George in Piran (story)
3. The SDS (story)
4. Hvala, ne, performed by Lea Sirk (story)
5. The top five are Novak, Horvat, Kovačič, Krajnc, and Zupančič (story)

6. South Korea (story)
7. Croatia (story)
8. Ski-jumping (story)
9. Heineken (story)
10. The centenary of his death (story)

11. Gorenje (story)
12. A comedian, known for his impressions, and the Mayor of Kamnik (story)
13. The Talking Tom app (story)
14. He was arrested after organising an armed militia (story)
15. Memes (me me = jaz jaz…) (more)

16. Sport climbing, being especially strong in lead and bouldering (more)
17. They are both the first women to hold these positions (more on the army, more on the police)
18. Three Slovenian movies
19. The long-running story of new rail link between them (story)
20. Borut is President (story), while Boris is a writer (story)

21. The rookie basketball sensation, Luka Dončić (story)
22. Cerar is now Slovenia’s Foreign Minister (more)
23. World Bee Day (story)
24. The bank NLB (more)
25. Her pregnant belly through a hole in the Slovenian flag (picture)

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26. Mladina is on the left, and Demokracija is on the right (more)
27. Zero (story)
28. Hungary’s Viktor Orbán (story
29. Bovec (more)
30. Ilka Štuhec, who’s now back on the slopes and the winners’ podium (more)

24 Dec 2018, 12:00 PM

STA – Outdoor New Year's Eve celebrations are popular in Slovenia with many towns across the country hosting events. Visitors will have the biggest choice of events with various styles of music in Ljubljana, where a grand fireworks display will announce the new year in the capital at midnight.

 An overview of some of the outdoor celebrations taking place on New Year's Eve around Slovenia is presented below:

BLED

Children's New Year's celebrations

When: 15:00

Where: Jezerska promenada

Outdoor New Year's Celebrations featuring S.O.S. Quintet

When: 22:00

Where: Jezerska promenada

BOVEC

Outdoor New Year's Celebrations featuring Omar Naber

When: 22:30

Where: Central square

CELJE

Children's New Year's Celebrations in Wonderland

When: 12:00 noon

Where: Wonderland at Main Square

Outdoor New Year's Celebrations featuring Rock'n'band

When: 22:00

Where: Krek's Square

IZOLA

New Year's Celebrations featuring Stina and Ne Me Jugat

When: 22:00

Where: Lonka

KAMNIK

New Year's Celebrations featuring Joker band

When: 22:00

Where: Main Square

KOPER

Children's New Year's Celebrations with the arrival of Santa Clause and concert by Čuki

When: 17:00

Where: Taverna

Taking Koper to the new year with concert by Kingston

When: 21:00

Where: Taverna, Carpaccio Square

Festive December in Dekani: New Year's Celebrations

When: 23:00

Where: Tito Square

KRANJSKA GORA

New Year's Celebrations featuring Zahod Band

When: 22:00

Where: Olympians' Square, Mojstrana

LJUBLJANA

Children's New Year's Celebrations

When: 16:00

Where: Congress Square

New Year's Celebrations at Congress Square featuring Anabel, Nika Zorjan and Victory

When: 21:00

Where: Congress Square

New Year's Celebrations at French Revolution Square featuring Super Action Heroes, Red Five Point Star and Elvis Jackson

When: 21:00

Where: French Revolution Square

New Year's Celebrations at City Square featuring Maraaya & Jazzilaz and Klara Jazbec

When: 21:00

Where: City Square

New Years Celebrations at Pogačar Square featuring Gala Kvintet and France In Krila

When: 21:00

Where: Pogačar Square (the marketplace)

MARIBOR

Grand New Year's Celebrations featuring Nuša Derenda and Pop Design

When: 21:00

Where: Leon Štukelj Square

PIRAN

New Year's Celebrations featuring Manouche and Slavko Ivančič

When: 21:00

Where: Tartini Square

POSTOJNA

Morning New Year's Ball

When: 10:00

Where: 2c 1 May Street

PTUJ

Children's New Year's Celebrations featuring Jett of the Super Wings and Alenka Kolman

When: 11:00

Where: City Square

Outdoor New Year's Celebrations featuring Karneval Band and Bomb Shell

When: 22:00

Where: City Square

RADOVLJICA

New Year's Celebrations featuring Večno Mladi Fanti

When: 22:00

Where: Linhart Square

ŠKOFJA LOKA

Loka in Snow: New Year's Celebrations featuring Gino and band

When: 21:00

Where: Castle Square

24 Dec 2018, 09:00 AM

STA, 21 December 2018 – With economic growth gradually slowing and Brexit casting a shadow of uncertainty over Europe, 2019 is shaping up to be a year of reforms and consolidation. Structural reforms have been forecast, bank privatisation is set to continue, and measures will have to be taken to address Slovenia's worsening demographics.

Slovenian foreign policy

Campaigning for the 26 May elections to the European Parliament is expected to keep Slovenian politics busy in the first half of 2019, complete with the ensuing search for the Slovenian candidate for EU commissioner, which has proved testy in the past. When the appointments are completed, the focus is expected to shift onto the new multi-year budget framework as Slovenia seeks to retain as much EU funding as possible through 2027.

These processes will take place against the backdrop of Great Britain's exit from the EU, which is not expected to disproportionately affect Slovenia directly but is likely to cause major EU-wide disruptions, in particular in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Slovenia-Croatia border dispute, now in its third decade, will remain high on the foreign policy agenda, as the EU Court processes a case brought by Slovenia claiming Croatia's violations of EU law. The equally long dispute over Yugoslav-era savings deposits is also expected to get its day in court.

Slovenia will also mark 15 years of EU and NATO membership and step up preparations for presidency of the EU Council in the second half of 2021.

Domestic policy in Slovenia

The first test for the new government in 2019 will be adoption of the supplementary budget, but this will be merely the starting shot for a year in which systemic solutions in key areas such as healthcare and long-term care, defence and security, and local government are expected to be tackled against the backdrop of the May elections to the European Parliament.

Combined with lingering demands for higher pensions and the coalition's commitment to establish a demographic fund to improve pension financing, and residual demands by public sector unions for additional pay rises, all these changes have the potential to exert significant pressure on public finances that could strain relations in the coalition quintet.

While there will not be as much staffing on the agenda as in 2017 or 2018, there will nevertheless be some appointments that will demand cross-partisan consensus. A new human rights ombudsman will have to be elected along with the new information commissioner, while another position on the Constitutional Court will be vacated.

Business & economy in Slovenia

With budget guidelines and commitments indicating a significant increase in spending in the coming years, adoption of the supplementary budget early in the year will probably be followed by revenue-side measures in an effort to secure compliance with the fiscal rule. A real estate tax could be put in place in 2019, but other systemic tax measures may take more time.

Forecasts indicate Slovenian and global economic growth will start to cool down, which will require adaptation from the government as well as business. Companies in particular are likely to be caught between wage demands driven by acute labour market shortages and minimum wage increases, and efforts to remain competitive in the face of fierce global competition. Social dialogue should play a pivotal role in balancing these demands, but if recent past is any guide, consensus may prove elusive.

In the financial sector, banks will remain in the focus. The government has to sell ten percent of NLB bank to reduce its stake to 25% and privatise Abanka, the no. 3 player on the market. The sale of a majority stake in Gorenjska Banka to AIK bank of Serbia is expected to proceed as well.

Several major foreign investors are expected to start production, including Magna in Hoče and Lonstroff in Logatec, while clarity is expected about Mercator as the unwinding of its majority owner, the Croatian conglomerate Agrokor, continues.

Arts & culture in Slovenia

Major legislative motions will be on the agenda this year, including a new eight-year national culture programme, which forms the bedrock for state funding, and a national cultural heritage strategy. The Culture Ministry has also announced an overhaul of media legislation, but judging by past experience, implementation is unlikely.

Key events & anniversaries in Slovenia, 2019

1st - Entry into force of a ban on free plastic carrier bags.

31st - The 5th anniversary of an ice storm that caused widespread disruption and damage to infrastructure and forests estimated at EUR 430m.

KOČEVJE - The scheduled start of test production at Yaskawa's new robot factory.

HOČE - The scheduled start of test production at the Magna paint shop.

FEBRUARY

1st-2nd - Maribor will host the women's Alpine Skiing World Cup slalom and giant slalom.

8th-10th - Ski Jumping World Cup events for women will be held in Ljubno.

19th - Rogla will host a Snowboarding World Cup event.

20th - The 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the banking act, which opened the Slovenian market to competition from abroad.

MARCH

9th-10th - Men's World Cup slalom and giant slalom events will be held in Kranjska Gora.

20th - The 25th anniversary of the Depala Vas scandal, which led to the dismissal of Defence Minister Janez Janša.

21th-24th - The Ski Jumping World Cup finals for men.

28th - The Statistics Office will release the GDP growth figures for 2018.

29th - The 15th anniversary of Slovenia's entry into NATO.

29th - Official public debt and deficit figures for 2018 will be released.

APRIL

LOGATEC - Swiss company Lonstroff is expected to launch its Slovenian elastomer manufacturing facility.

MAY

1st - The 15th anniversary of Slovenia's EU membership.

8th - The 30th anniversary of the May Declaration, a document written by dissidents which included the demand for Slovenia's independence from Yugoslavia.

26th - Elections to the European Parliament.

JUNE

19th-23rd - The 26th Tour of Slovenia, the biggest professional cycling race in the country.

30th - The due date by which Abanka must be privatised.

JULY

1st - The 20th anniversary of the introduction of the value added tax.

AUGUST

PORTOROŽ - Slovenia Open, an ATP Challenger tennis tournament.

SEPTEMBER

3rd-4th - The 14th Bled Strategic Forum.

12th-26th - Slovenia will be one of the four countries hosting the group stage of the women's European Volleyball Championships.

22nd - Koper will host a triathlon event as part of the world series Ironman 70.3.

OCTOBER

27th - The Ljubljana Marathon, the biggest running event in the country.

NOVEMBER

4th - The 10th anniversary of the signing of the arbitration agreement, which paved the way for resolution of the Slovenia-Croatia border dispute in front of an arbitration tribunal.

DECEMBER

3rd - The centenary of the first lecture at the University of Ljubljana.

22 Dec 2018, 22:00 PM

Christmas week is here, with many places closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, but others open on even the big day itself, including some clubs and concert venues (although no supermarkets).

In addition to the various free seasonal activities on around town, with the easiest to find being the lights and stalls along the river, one month-long festival that continues 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. There are also concerts in Novi trg each evening.

A free festival just a short walk from the centre is the Ana Mraz season of street theatre performances, running from 18:00 to 20:00, December 26 to 30, with more details here, and suitable for all the family. You can read more about it here.

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© Luka Dakskobler

And the veteran pop provocateur Magnifico is back at Stožice for another of his Christmas Day shows (tickets here), with a live version of his song for the late Sylvia Kristel below.

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.

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, with 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).

Kinodvor – The arts cinema not far from the train station, but still rather tucked away, is showing The Children Act, Moomins and the Winter Wonderland (dubbed), Den tid på året, Shoplifters, Sing me a Song, and Captain Morten and the Spider Queen (in English with Slovene subtitles).

Kinoteka – The revival house at one end of Miklošičeva is showing Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth, Vincente Minelli’s The Bandwagon, Barry Sonnenfeld’s The Addam’s Family, and Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams, among other features.

Kolosej - The multiplex out at BTC City Mall is playing all the big movies, which this week include Robin HoodThe Grinch (with both subbed and dubbed versions), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of GrindelwaldBohemian RhapsodyJohnny English 3A Star is BornGajin svetPat in Mat znova v akcijiMortal Engines, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, dubbed and subbed versions of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Aquaman, and Bumblebee. New this week are a dubbed version of Asterix: Le secret de la potion magique, and Second Act.

Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, The Grinch (dubbed), Second Act and Gajin svet.

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.

We missed Umek’s show on Friday, and while that mix isn’t online yet you can hear his set from last year below.

Channel Zero – Monday night is Dub Lab, and this week the show’s is Domaćica - Badnje Veče (Dubnjak). On Friday it’s then the turn of the cryptically named SUBØ: SO ICY, with line-up that includes  Bor$aleano, cl_tr, DVS, Futon, Lil Ris and TMA playing bass-heavy electronic music. Saturday then brings Frag::ments & Friends, an all-nighter with liquid funk, techstep and drumfunk, all under the broad umbrella of drum’n’bass. Sunday you can then get in the mood for the impending new year with Mami's Magic & Channel Zero Night, with “dance” from Tischeen!, Magica, Krištof and Sinonimus.

Gala Hala – Monday this club in Metelkova has Božična ex-Yu ludara, playing local classics. Friday there’s a change in genre, with Wave riders: Electro riders, featuring DJs Torulsson, Kobayashii, and VJ Maii. On Saturday it’s techno with Versus: Shekuza / RSN.

Klub Cirkus – Tuesday night, December 25, the Christmas edition of Tutti Frutti, 90s and 00s hits, will keep you entertained until 05:00 Wednesday. You could then return that night for Prednovoletna HITčina 26/12, playing the big hits. Taking Thursday off to recover, or go elsewhere, the party then restarts on Friday night TRIP ft. Kosta Radman & MC Dey. You can then hit Cirkus for the last time this week with Best of 2018 - The Ultimate Cirkus Yearmix.

Klub K4 – Monday night the klub for kool kids, with 30 years in the business, has LuckIsOn w. Omar and Ian F. On Friday it’s K4x4 w/ Skee Mask and others playing what seems to be techno. Saturday the week ends with the LGBT all-nighter, K4 Roza, with the music coming from Sonja Sajzor, Elovetric, Ady, Toledano, B L N, and M00sh.

Harm reduction and drug testing

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. 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.

Mini Teater Ljubljana – December sees a lot of puppet performances for children, in Slovene, at this theatrr not far from Križanke, including: The Frog King, Puss in Boots, Carrot Dwarf and The Little Match Girl. The English schedule for the month is here.

Ljubljana Puppet Theatre - The puppet theatre near the Central Market and next to the Castle funicular has a full programme or shows, for children and adults, with the schedule here.

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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

Continuing until the end of the month is a programme of free festive concerts in Novi trg, while there are also many street performers around town bringing some seasonal cheer and a chance to be charitable.

Cankerjev dom – Friday evening there’s a concert celebrating the work of Jacques Brel, 40 years after his death. Saturday then has music from Rudi Bučar and Istrabend.

Gala Hala - Thursday there’s a live show from morvern.

Klub Gromka – Thursday night there’s Praznična Moonleejad(ic)a, with Nikki Louder, Analena, and Hoax Program playing post-punk. Friday the stage belongs to Čarovnice se vračajo vol. 3, with live sets from pavleisdead and Prasila Koynsk. On Saturday things take a hardcore turn, with performances from Aktivna Propaganda, Growing Rats, and Iamdisease.

Ljubljana Castle – On Friday night jazz night – which often leans to pop and funk – has a show from Tadej Toš & the band: Prosto po Prešernu.

Orto Bar – The rock club has a quiet week until Friday, when Kadilnica of Death presenting live sets from Space Unicorn On Fire & Metal Dedek Mraz. Saturday there’s a line-up of grunge tribute acts, with Dropped-D (Alice in Chains), Kung Foo Fightres (Foo Fighters), Supergarden (Soundgarden), and  Temple of the Wolf (Temple of the Dog).

LGBT+ Ljubljana

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 K4 – Saturday there’s an LGBT all-nighter, K4 Roza, with the music coming from Sonja Sajzor, Elovetric, Ady, Toledano, B L N, and M00sh.

Klub Monokel – This lesbian bar in Metelkova is open every Friday night.

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. This Friday there’s a December Punch Party, with DJ Zois.

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, 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.

Museums and galleries in Ljubljana

Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum.

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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 domRunning 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 GalleryDrago 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.

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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.

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Photo: M Paternoster

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The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner

Galerija VžigalicaSaša 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.

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Simbiom – ekonomija simbioze, 2016 © Dejan HabichtArhiv Moderne galerije

Galerija Jakopič – On until March 3 is Over My Eyes (Na moje oči), an exhibition of photographs from Iraq taken by Iraqi photographers.

International Centre of Graphic Arts – Running from Friday until March 3 2019 there will be a show of posters from Milton Glaser, while until March 3 2019 you can enjoy paintings, drawings, prints and murals from Nathalie Du Pasquier in a show called Fair Game.  The latter is being promoted with the following image.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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 Dyntasy China, as reported here, and with an example below. This runs until February 15th.

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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.

Vodnikova Domačija Šiška – Until December 29 you can see works by a few dozen Slovenian illustrators at the December Illustration Fair, and also buy some for yourself or as a unique gift.

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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.

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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.

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Photo: JL Flanner

Opera, theatre and dance in Ljubljana

 

Cankerjev dom – December 29 to 31, from Saturday on, there’s contemporary circus with Cirka from Australia pushing the limits of what the human body is capable of in a show called Humans.

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 – Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker is on stage from Wednesday and Thursday, and tickets tend to go fast at this time of year. You can try and buy some here. Note that the performance below is not from Ljubljana. Friday there’s Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, while Saturday it’s Rossini’s Cinderella and on Sunday Verdi’s La Traviata.

Other things to do in Ljubljana...

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,

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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.

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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. This week there's also the Ana Mraz street theatre festival here, every evening from December 26 to 30, 18:00 to 20:00.

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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.

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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

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Photo: Google Image Search

Finally...

You can see all our stories tagged Ljubljana here, while the following video tells the story of what seems to be a dying tradition along Trubarjeva cesta.

New Total Croatia Info Site

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Editorial

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