In 2018 SILA – or SILA-IWCL, International Women’s Club Ljubljana, to give the full name – celebrated 25 years as a focal point for foreign women in Slovenia, as well as Slovenians who want to connect with the international community. But in doing so the group looked to the future more than the past, with the social changes that have taken place over the last quarter century increasingly reflected under the leadership of Marta Helena Berglez, along with greater engagement with a wider and more diverse community.
The annual bazaar
While SILA started as an association for the wives of diplomats and businessmen, who needed something to keep them busy while stationed abroad, it’s now shaken off the old image and is open to any and all women, no matter what their marital or professional status, Slovenes included.
As noted in an earlier article, SILA organises a broad range of events and activities for its members – cultural, sporting, educational and more – with the aim of bringing people together and making new connections, with each other and with Slovenia.
An important aspect of the latter is SILA’s charity work. This finds its greatest public expression in the annual bazaar, held each December in the ballroom of the Grand Hotel Union, but this year there’s a new event in the schedule, the Spring Soirée. This will be held on Saturday, March 30, and will present an evening of food, drink, music and dancing in diverse company, drawn together out of curiosity and all for the benefit of Europa Donna. This is an independent, Europe-wide organisation that represents the interests of women regarding breast cancer to local and national authorities, as well as to institutions of the European Union. The current vice-president of the group is Tanja Spanic, a Slovenian cancer survivor who will be one of the speakers at the evening, which aims to raise money from ticket sales (€55 each) and donations.
If you’d like to learn more and perhaps buy a ticket to Spring Soirée, or if you work for a company that might be interested in sponsoring a table and making a presentation to the guests, then you can learn more here.
If you can’t make it on March 30 then don’t worry. A good way to keep up with SILA and its activities is to follow the group on Facebook or visit its new webpage, while the best way is to join and start meeting new people and doing new things, opening up a world of opportunities in Slovenia, both personal and professional.
Slovenia has no shortage of niche events and festivals for those who still enjoy the pleasures of the big screen in public, from Kinodvor’s Film Under the Stars at Ljubljana Castle to the Grossmann Fantastic Film & Wine Festival, which brings horror and honest trash to Ljutomer. However, it’s something that’s occurring next week is that’s perhaps the most Slovenian of all – the Mountain Film Festival (Festival gorniškega filma).
1. Slovenian climbers rock
We’re huge admirers of the past and present of Slovenian climbing here at TSN, be it folks with names like Čop, Kunaver, Zaplotnik, Štremfelj, Prezelj, Karo, or Humar in the Julian Alps, Himalayas, Yosemite and Patagonia, or on the wall in sports climbing with figures such as “the best climber in the world”, the still teenaged Janja Garnbret from Kranj. In short, Slovenia has played and continues to play an outsized role in the world of climbing, with many first ascents and new routes. Learning about it will help draw you closer to the land, and you may even end up on Triglav.
If you want to read more about the history of the scene here, take a look at the book Alpine Warriors.
2. Big screen adventure
So the festival’s got that Slovenian cultural heritage going for it – it’s organised by the Mountain Culture Association (Društvo za gorsko kulturo) and the legendary Silvo Karo – but for me the chief appeal is this: these films will be presented on screens far larger than the ones you have at home. They’re thus are better able to convey the full majesty and terror of the scenes on display (as Aleš Kunaver said, “in the mountains magnificence is diametrically opposed to comfort”).
That movie about the guy who climbed that thing without a rope? Imagine seeing this on something much, much bigger:
3. The programme is world class
The programme looks great, with most of the big mountain features and shorts from the last year or so, and there are also movies on topic adjacent to climbing, like the night sky or environment, so we’ll just present the following convenient selection of trailers, with a lot more to be found at the website.
4. A chance to meet the stars
What else can you expect at a mountain film festival in Slovenia? Climbers, and great ones – on the screen, on the stage and in the audience, many of whom live a short drive from the event. Sp Andrej Štremfelj will give a lecture about his ascent of Everest in 1979, when he climbed with the legendary Nejc Zaplotnik, while Aleš Česen and Luka Stražar will be there talking about their ground-breaking ascent, done with Tom Livingstone, of Latok 1 in 2018, “the Holy Grail of high altitude climbing”.
Other names set to talk about their lives and climbs include Rado Kočevar, Hansjörg Aeur, Klemen Bečan and Marija Jeglič. Beyond the Slovenian scene, Colin Haley will be talking about sport alpinism, and one event that’s sure to inspire heated opinions is a roundtable discussion: “Drilling – pitons or bolts?”
5. It’s not just in Ljubljana
While the main events are held in Cankarjev dom, the festival is not confined to the capital. It also has screenings and lectures in Domžale, Celje and Radovljica, while the winning movies will play everywhere (except Celje) at the end of the festival.
You can get a PDF of the programme here
Bonus - the website is ice cool and clean
With a website that's easy to navigate and comes in Slovene and English varieties, letting you search by day, event and venue, the Slovenian Mountain Film Festival offers a perhaps unique chance to see these films on the big screen, with an audience that knows what it’s watching, in a country in love with its mountains.
Related: see all out posts tagged "mountaineering" here
The Balassi Institute is the Hungarian cultural centre in Ljubljana, where you’ll find art, music, performances, readings, literature, workshops, screenings, lectures, parties, cooking and more, all of which serve to bring a flavour of Slovenia’s eastern neighbour to the capital.
I recently visited to learn more about the place, and sat down to drink coffee and record a conversation with Institute’s director, Bíborka Molnár-Gabor.
The Institute's director, Bíborka Molnár-Gabor, speaking at an event
How did you come to be in Ljubljana?
I arrived in Slovenia in 2010, and I came here for work. At that time only a few of us were speaking Slovenian in the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and so that was a big advantage for the job of cultural attaché in Ljubljana.
Did your family speak Slovene in Hungary?
No. I learned Slovene at the university in Budapest, but as a hobby, not main subject. Of course, there are minorities on both sides of the border, so there are some people who speak Slovene in Hungary for family reasons, but out of interest, not so much.
There are regular musical performances, all free...
...including events for even the youngest audiences.
How did you make the move from the Embassy to the Institute?
By training I’m an economist, , and so after the posting at the embassy, I was also working at Ernst & Young, in tax advisory. Then when the Balassi Institute opened in 2016 I applied for this position, because I wanted to stay in Slovenia and help build connections between the two countries, and I like it here. I think after three years we’ve had some good effects, in terms of creating a more favourable image for Hungary, of helping people to understand the country and its culture, and of course to get more familiar with the language.
And does the Institute only focus on culture?
That’s a lot of our work, but not all of it. For example, we also cover travel and tourism, and so people can come here and ask any questions they have about that. And there’s education, too, so if people would like to study in Hungary they can also come here for advice. But for business issues, and political ones, that’s the Embassy’s work.
There's also dancing...
You organise a lot of events – musical, culinary, literary, and so on. Are these open to everyone?
Yes, and most of them are also free to enter as part of the promotion of Hungary. However, sometimes when we work with Slovenian partners outside of the premises of the institute there’s a small entrance fee, which goes directly to our local partners. The events are also unticketed, with no reservations needed, so if people see something the like they can just come along. (The schedule is here)
We have quite a free hand here, because the theory is that the head of each Institute knows the country they’re based in well, and understands the points of contact and connection with Hungary. Of course, we have to hand in yearly plans that need to be confirmed by the Ministry, but these are usually approved, with very small changes. The Culture Board at the Ministry also prepares a package of proposals each year, and the Institutes can choose from those.
What are some events you’d like to highlight?
We have a lot of variety – art, music, literature, film, and a lot of activities for children. For example, we have regular music workshops for children, suitable for babies too, and every second Tuesday, 18:00, we have folk dancing with a teacher. Personally, I most enjoy the literary series. In 2019 we’re working with more Slovenian publishing houses to promote some translations of Hungarian literature, with some of the authors coming here for talks, and that should be very interesting.
Will they be in Slovene?
Hungarian and Slovene, I think, because we’re in Ljubljana. We do have some materials in English, and some events. For example, we often show films, and if a film has already been shown in Slovenia, on TV or in cinemas, then it has Slovenian subtitles. Sometimes there are also English ones, so we try and engage as many people as possible here. People can also use English or Slovene with any of the staff here. Two of us are Hungarian.. Then we have two local staff, one of whom is from Prekmurje, so she grew up speaking Hungarian.
Finally, what's something from Slovenian culture that you’d like to introduce to Hungary?
I think contemporary art in Slovenia, especially film and video installations, is very good, and at least as strong as in Hungary, so I’d like to show that in Budapest.
...and other things of interest
You can visit the Balassi Institute at Vila Urbana, Barvarska steza 8, which is just a short walk from Dragon Bridge going out of town on the Castle side of the river, next to a Spar. It’s open 11:00 to 19:00 Monday to Friday, unless an even runs longer, and you can see the current schedule here.
STA, 11 February 2019 - More than 21,000 people have signed a petition urging reform of the Slovenian education system to make it more children friendly. However, two former ministers warn that rash and radical changes may backfire.
The petition has been launched by a parents' association called the Parent Council, whose chairman Nataša Šram says that "generations before us have been warning something is amiss with our education system".
The initiative calls for reducing the volume of syllabus and homework, for more descriptive grading, and for transforming the school-leaving exams into entrance examinations for secondary schools and colleges.
The parents propose reducing the syllabus by getting rid of useless content in the curricula, and cutting down on homework by giving the teacher more scope for revision at school.
"The petition was drawn up because we realised that as parents we cannot do much through parent councils [at schools] and because the petition is the only way to impact the education system's regulation," Šram told the STA.
She would not single out any of the 14 changes proposed in the petition, also because many are interlinked so several should be implemented at once.
She believes that the changes affecting the scope of the syllabuses and homework and those concerning grading could be carried out quite fast. One of the demands is reducing the size of class to 24 children.
Anton Meden, the chairman of the Parent Council Association, an association bringing together parent councils at Slovenian primary schools, would like a sober debate based on arguments.
"It's hard to say whether the students are over- or under-burdened, but fact is they have many more subjects and more grading than in comparable European countries, in particular in final years of primary school.
"As far as homework is concerned, there are no objective data as to whether there's too much, but we have reports from parents that its volume has been increasing in recent years," Meden told the STA.
He has compared primary school syllabuses with those for the same subject at secondary school and at the university, "finding that they are taught a lot of complexity in primary school".
He said that parents were also reporting that increasingly complex content was being moved down to ever younger children and students.
However, Meden also says that before any changes are made analysis should be conducted and then changes made only based on the findings.
"Our association wrote down our observations (some of them similar to those in the petition) last spring before the general election, but we didn't offer ready-made solutions because we believe we need hard data first and then a thorough rethink before we take measures."
Similarly, two former education ministers, Slavko Gaber and Maja Makovec Brenčič, warn against too fast or too radical change.
"The worst thing that can happen to the schools system is an ad hoc approach," Gaber told the STA on the sidelines of a debate on private schools hosted by President Borut Pahor last week.
Gaber, who served several terms as education minister in 1992-1999 and 2002-2004, does not support proposals such as reintroducing entrance examinations or scrapping national school leaving exams.
He also has misgivings about any "disburdening" of primary or secondary school students. "Our school is comparable to schools elsewhere around the globe, even to the best ones," he said.
He believes that investing time and money pays off, adding that Slovenia "can also have a system that won't demand almost anything, if that's what we want, but the outcome will be such as well".
Makovec Brenčič, the education minister between 2015 and 2018, says that any change should be taken step by step and based on a consideration as to what it is that you want to give to the students.
She is a supporter of the national school exams, and introducing such exams, currently held in the 6th and 9th year of primary school, for year 3 children to check on how their learning is upgraded throughout school.
In response Šram says that it is not radical changes that their petition calls for and that the parents would be happy if at least something changed, such as halving the number of grades.
The petitioners have been invited to discuss the issues and proposals they have highlighted with Education Minister Jernej Pikalo at a meeting on Tuesday.
STA, 10 February 2019 - Slovenia was hit by a major ice storm in late January 2014. Lasting ten days and coating vast swathes of the country in thick glaze ice, the extreme weather event left deep scars on Slovenian forests that remain painfully visible.
Six million cubic metres of wood had to be felled as a direct consequence of the glaze ice, more than the typical annual nation-wide wood harvest, with an almost three million cubic metres more left to rot in forests.
The direct economic damage to forests has been estimated at EUR 214m, with total damages significantly higher, at EUR 429m, due to the destruction of rail, power and telecommunications infrastructure.
Infrastructure has been repaired, but forests remain scarred, having been additionally hit by a massive bark beetle outbreak in 2014-2018 that condemned over seven million cubic metres of spruce to felling, and a severe windthrow in late 2017.
The glaze ice destroyed mostly broadleaves and the bark beetle attack decimated spruce. Combined, these events have permanently altered the species composition of Slovenian forests.
Experts believe spruce, because of its economic importance the dominant tree species in the country, will be gradually supplanted by more robust species such as Douglas fir.
But this will merely accelerate the trend already precipitated by climate change, which is likely to drive spruce out of Slovenian forests in the long term, according to the Slovenia Forest Service.
Forest regeneration will not be left entirely to chance, though. While 27,000 hectares of forest has been severely affected by extreme weather, 1,200 hectares will be replanted artificially.
Foresters are planting around 20 species of trees depending on growing site, from spruce and beech to oak, maple, wild cherry, larch and fir.
The massive ice storm of 2014 is considered a once in a century event. "The likelihood of glaze ice across such a vast area is very small. It takes a combination of several conditions that is luckily very rare," meteorologist Brane Gregorčič says.
February 10, 2019
The main task of the Slovenian Mountaineering Society (Slovensko Planinsko Društvo, SDP), established in 1893, was to build, take care and then walk along the secured mountain trails. One of the first important improvements on Triglav was securing some of the most problematic parts of the route leading to the summit. In the early 1870s, a local guide, Šest, and his son eased the trail from Triglav temple to Little Triglav, cut some very much needed steps into the rock, and secured the ridge between both peaks with iron poles with loops that carried a rope fence, which now allowed even fewer climbers to reach the summit.
In the years that followed, more trails were built and secured, allowing the ascent to the summit from several huts in various directions, including from the north. This is a route which used to cross the shrinking glacier, but today leads to Kredarica, the most popular starting point to reach the summit since Jakob Aljaž found a great spot for a hut which was built there in 1896.
However, the Slovenian Mountaineering Society did little for a small group of daring young climbers, who were more interested in new routes than tourist walks on known and secured trails. On Triglav, this meant climbing the Northern Wall, one of the largest of its kind in the Eastern Alps. It's 1300m high (following the German route) and 3500m wide, with several shelves and ravines forming independent walls within the big one. Triglav’s Northern Wall is also home to several of the hardest climbing routes in the Slovenian Alps.
Although the first climbers of the Northern Wall were shepherds and hunters, who mostly followed the paths of animals, sports climbing was based on a different kind of logic from that which found a path that was shown to a “gentleman” by a hunter, as the so-called Slovenian route across the Northern Wall was shown by a guide (Komac) to Henrik Tuma in 1910. If the new route for the older generation meant an easier path across a newly climbed slope, the new view on alpinism involved climbing a new, more difficult route without cleared paths and instead with the help of pitons and ropes.
Triglav’s Northern Wall was considered one of the three main problems of the Eastern Alps before it was even climbed, and as such was the focus of German, Austrian and Czech climbers. After the walls of Watzmann (1888) and Hochstadl (1905), the wall of Triglav was finally climbed by three Austrian Germans, Karl Domenigg, Felix Koenig and Hans Reinl, in 1906. The route has become known as the German route, and their success was immediately followed by several failed attempts, some even fatal ones.
In 1908 the Dren society was established, a group of students interested in Alpinism, skiing, caving and photography, novel activities outside the usually promoted Alpine tourism of the Slovenian Mountaineering Society, whose members considered them as “neck-breakers”.
Slovenian Alpinism before World War One was still way behind the developments in other parts of the Alps. The first use of a piton by a Dren member, Pavel Kunaver, is only recorded in 1911, which is also the last year of attempts at the Northern Wall until after the war.
Although Dren members did introduce some novelty into Slovenian climbing, such as winter ascents (sometimes accompanied by skiing) and other more adventurous climbs, their equipment and technique at the time only allowed them to climb routes of the third level of difficulty, and their predecessor and colleague Henrik Tuma hadn’t climbed anything beyond that level either.
This situation can be seen in the fact that the abovementioned German route on the Triglav Northern Wall, which had the climbing difficulty of level IV, was the most difficult route in Slovenian mountains at the time. Hans Reinly, one of the three first climbers described the achievement with the following words: “Triglav rises its triple head angrily. Let it be called Slovenian highest mountain, but this time it was the German force that conquered its most terrifying hip and fought through dark fogs which driven by a storm descent into the depth from the grey ice at the edge of the wall.” Worth mentioning is that in those days there was no meteorological report, and the day and a half climb took place in rain and bad weather.
The guiding ideas of the Dren were to conquer Slovenian mountains before the German mountaineers, try to prevent the Germanisation of Slovenian mountain names, and to climb without mountain guides, which was the main mountaineering style of the time. Lack of manpower and resources prevented these goals being fully achieved, although the ideas persisted throughout the interwar period and became perhaps the main reason behind the increasing Slovenian obsession with Alpinism, which eventually produced some of the best climbers in the world and continues to do so, regardless of the small the size of the place and its population.
After the war, and let’s not forget that one of the bloodiest WWI fronts took place right at Triglav National Park’s eastern border across the banks of the River Soča (the Battle of Isonzo), the main concern of the Slovenian Mountaineering Society was mostly fixing what had been damaged or destroyed.
Furthermore, the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart and Slovenia joined the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. It turned out, however, that in 1915 the Triple Entente had signed a secret agreement with Italy, promising it large chunks of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in case of victory. With the 1920 Treaty of Rapallo Italy managed to claim most of the lands promised to her by the United Kingdom, Russia and France, which set the Italian-Yugoslav border at the peak of Triglav, a couple of metres away from Aljaž Tower.
Originally, the entire peak of Triglav was to belong to the Kingdom of South Slaves, however, Italy pushed very hard to get the land under its jurisdiction. The dispute was even more meaningful given that it was part of an attempt to extend poor conditions the Slovenes on the other side of the border had to endure in the face of the rising Italian fascism. The negotiations lasted for four years, and while waiting for the final decision certain incidents took place at the top of Triglav, in the summer of 1923 in particular. These are often referred to as “painting battles” but did in fact involve a more serious weapons beside the paintbrushes, which were used to paint Aljaž Tower with slogans and flag colours. Luckily, nobody got hurt, Aljaž Tower was eventually repainted to its original grey, and the final decision on the border in 1924 set the boundary marker 2.55m west from the Aljaž Tower, rendering the summit it effectively Slovenian.
Within the Slovenian Mountaineering Society (SPD) friction between the moderates and those advocating for “steep tourism” continued into the interwar period. Since the majority of members would not allow sports climbing to be recognised within the SDP, young mountaineers splintered off into a Tourist Club Rock (Turistovski klub Skala, TK Skala) in the winter of 1921.
Rock’s main goal was to continue the development in sports climbing started by Henrik Tuma and evolved by the Dren Society. Among the important climbing achievements of TK Skala are the first Slovenian level V difficulty route climbed by a female climber, Mira Marko Debelak, in 1926 (at the north face of Špik), and the first fully successful winter climb of Triglav’s northern wall in 1939 by Beno Anderwald, Mirko Slapar, Bogdan Jordan and Cene Malovrh, who since 1934, when the SPD finally took alpinism under its wing, had also been members of this organisation.
Foremost, however, Skala’s important achievements also extended into the field of art and culture. Like Dren, TK Skala promoted mountain photography and established a special photography department in charge of postcard production and other images for propaganda purposes. But above all, they were responsible for the first Slovenian feature film, the 1931 V kraljestvu Zlatoroga (In the Kingdom of the Goldhorn) and partially also for the second one a year later, Triglavske Strmine (The Slopes of Triglav). The first movie was produced by Skala and directed by one of their members, Janko Ravnik, while the second was produced by an independent film studio, although it featured several mountaineers/actors from the first film, including Miha Potočnik and Jože Čop.
This week includes Valentine’s Day, Thursday, so be aware that some restaurants might be busier than usual that evening. Otherwise the streets should be relatively empty, so it’s a great time to explore the city without the crowds and be almost certain of a seat or a table wherever you are.
If you're not in town for the week of this guide (11-17 February, 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
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 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.
A focal event for moviegoers this week is Kinodvor’s annual Retrosex evening of erotica to mark Valentines Day, and this year the celebration of sleaze takes place on Friday the 15th. It happens here because Kinodvor used to be Kino Sloga, which showed such material in the 1980s. Learn more, and see the trailers, here.
Kinodvor – In addition to Friday’s Retrosex event, see above, the arts cinema not far from the train station is showing, among other features, Green Book, Maria by Callas, Women at War, Beoning (in Korean with Slovene subtitles), Capharnaüm (in Arabic with Slovene subs) and Widows.
Kinoteka – This revival cinema isn’t far from Kinodvor, at the train station end of Miklošičeva, is showing Krótki film o zabijanju, Brutti, sporchi e cattivi, Melancholia, Il fiore delle mille e una note and Take Shelter.
Kolosej - The multiplex out at BTC City Mall is playing all the big movies, which this week include Papillion, Taksi bluz, Serenity, a dubbed version of How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Green Book, Vice, Mary Queen of Scots, Glass, The Mule, The Favourite, The Upside, Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (dubbed), Asterix: Le secret de la potion magique, Second Act, Južni veter, Aquaman, a dubbed version of Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse, The Grinch, A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Escape Room. New this week are Lego Film 2, Cold Pursuit, Alita: Battle Angel, and Happy Death Day 2U.
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store is showing Green Book and Bohemian Rhapsody, while from Thursday on you can see Qu'est-ce qu'on a encore fait au bon Dieu?
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 night it’s Stiropor pres.: ADAM X (Sonic Groove, LIES / USA) playing techno and industrial, with support from Schrauff Elements.
Channel Zero – Friday there’s SUBØ: Bojler x SNIF w/ Merca Bae, with sounds from MERCA BAE (ES), Dvmir b2b KMN, Futon b2b Lil Ris, Novack and TMA, with visual support from SMECH. It seems to be a bass-heavy dancehall club event, with a set from Merca Bae below.
Klub Cirkus – Friday the more commercial end of clubland offers an all-nighter with TRIP ft. Joe2Shine (DJ Mag Top 100 club Revelin / Ultra Europe). Saturday it’s the turn of Best of RNB.
Klub K4 – Friday the klub for kool kids has K4X4 w/ Roza Terenzi playing “dance” provided by DJs Roza Terenzi (Planet Euphorique, AU), Nitz Live! (Synaptic), Softskinson (Sezam), Stasša, Vuka and Disco Durum. Saturday the all-night fun will be provided by Temnica, with Octex (live/dj), Organon (Elements) and Rokko (JustJam).
Orto Bar – Friday night this rock club will swap guitars for turntables, with Orto 90s Hit Mix Vol.1. No further details are given, or perhaps needed.
Cankerjev dom – Tuesday, the 12th, the country’s main arts venue will host Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard, who’ll be playing the organ in a show called The Infinite Expanses of Improvisation. “A daring musician, he combines organ with other forms of artistic expression, including dance, electronic music and graphic art.” The programme will include Bach and Stravinsky. The same evening you can enjoy another in the series of concerts curated by John Zorn, with Ikue Mori presenting an audio-visual solo show.
Gala Hala – Live rap is then followed by DJ sets, with Rapetek Extra: Homeboy Sandman & Edan (ZDA), followed by DJs K’Pow and Borka.
Jazz Club Gajo – Jazz Paradise (Slovenska cesta 58) has a Valentine’s concert with Nina Strnad and the jazz trio Lenart Krečič and Gregor Ftičar.
Festival Hall (Vilharjeva cesta 11) – The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is presenting a free concert by The Darvag Band.
Kino Šiška – Thursday evening there’s live music from American-British quartet Algiers, a band which “has been confronting the forces of political apathy, fascism and social injustice head on with its unpredictable blend of post-punk anger, noise savagery and gospel soul.”
Križanke – The venue that hosts the Ljubljana Festival has a free concert on Thursday, the 14th, with Kjoka Macujama (violin), Milana Černjavska (piano) and Maja Vrbnjak (guitar), playing Schubert and others.
Ljubljana Castle – Friday is jazz night at the Castle, with that often stretching to rock and funk, and this week it’s Nermin Puškar.
Orto Bar – Wednesday evening presents the opportunity to enjoy some mid-week metal at this guitar-friendly venue, with the stage being owned by an all Australian bill of Aversions Crown, Psycroptic, Hadal Maw, and Hollow World. Thursday, Valentine’s Day, it’s the turn of one of Slovenia’s hottest young bands, Koala Voice, who will be presenting their third album, Woo Horsie. Saturday a slightly older crew takes over, with Leteči Potepuhi. The show’s being promoted with their 2009 video for Jedrt, as seen further down.
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 – Smetena’s The Bartered Bride will be performed at 19:30 on the 12th, 14th and 16th (Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday). The programme also has Bizet’s Carmen on Saturday, 19:30. A clip from an earlier production is below.
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. They recently published a story warning about three pills with very high contents of MDMA, with details (in Slovene) here. Also 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 Tiffany – And the gay bar next door is also open on Fridays, while every Monday until June 2019 there's tango at 18:00.
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
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.
Kinoteka and Kinodvor are the places for discerning cinephiles in Ljubljana, where you can find folk who know their auteur from their mise-en-scène, their Louise Brooks from Brooke Shields, and Paul Thomas Anderson from Paul WS Anderson. The two places are perfect complements, to each other and the multiplexes out at BTC, together covering the whole range of cinematic arts.
While Kinodvor keeps up with recent releases in terms of art movies and world cinema, Kinoteka delves deep into the back catalogue to present retrospectives and binge watching opportunities for fans of, say, Polish cinema, experimental shorts, Ingmar Bergman or Agnès Varda.
But you came here for the sex, not the art, and to learn more about the annual event when Kinodvor marks Valentine’s Day and takes up the spirit of Kino Sloga, or “the cinema that saw too much” ("Kino, ki je preveč videl") in the title of a documentary about the theatre that specialised in erotic movies in the last decade of Yugoslavia.
This year the adventurous can enjoy a varied programme on Friday, February 15th, that ranges from stag films to Oshima’s infamous In the Realm of the Senses (Ai No Corrida), starting at 19:00, although non-Japanese speakers should note that the subtitles will be in Slovene. Also on the bill are Sylvester Stallone’s early appearance in a sex movie (21:30), and an Italian language documentary about Valentina Nappi (23:15), who the Internet tells me is a pornstar. At the end of the evening there’ll be music from DJ Links. Relatively tame trailers for all three features can be seen below.
The Party at Kitty and Stud's, aka The Italian Stallion (per IMDB “Kitty and Stud are lovers. They enjoy a robust sex-life, which includes fellatio and light S&M, specifically, Stud belt-whipping Kitty. Three women come over for a party and Stud services them, one after the other.”)
As is often the case with such movies, IMDB’s Parents Guide is a fine summary of what emotions to expect, and whether you choose to experience them, as seen in this list of potential issues with Ai No Corrida
“I don't have any role models. I would like to do porn just as Maradona played soccer.” Valentina Nappi
Tickets for a single screening are €5.30 ( € 4.50 for members of the Kinodvor Club, those of over 60, students, students and the unemployed), and there’s also a "hardcore fan" package for all three shows: €13 (€10 for Kinodvor Club members), although note the number of these is strictly limited to 69.
You can learn more at the official page here, while Kinodvor can be found at Kolodvorska ulica 13, 1000 Ljubljana.
February 7, 2019
In 1942 the underground anti-fascist Radio Kričač (Radio Screamer) broadcast its longest and also the only cultural show of this kind in Europe.
On the eve of Prešeren's death, which is celebrated every February 8th as a day for culture and national holiday in the Republic of Slovenia, Radio Kričač broadcast a show that took about a month to prepare and involved recitals, music, speeches and other messages. Its usual programme would otherwise last 15 minutes three times a week.
Radio Screamer, established by members of the Liberation Front (OF – Osvobodilna fronta) operated from various secret locations in Ljubljana between November 1941 until April 1942, when it lost its audience following the Italian order for all the radio antennas to be removed from the city.
STA, 7 February 2019 - There are currently 646 people with refugee status in Slovenia. They are housed in integration houses or private accommodations, 99 of them are living abroad. A total of 109 are enrolled in schools, while around 100 refugees have already found a job.
According to the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants (Urad Vlade Republike Slovenije za oskrbo in integracijo migrantov), the majority of refugees are citizens of Syria, Eritrea, and Iran, followed by the citizens of the former Yugoslav republics. They are entitled to financial compensation for private accommodation, integration assistance, employment, health and social care, and education.
Integration assistance is available for three years after gaining an international protection status and is provided by integration consultants at the office and non-governmental organizations.
The refugees attend integration assistance courses, such as the one conducted by Odnos association that supports them in finding employment, opening a bank account or submitting applications.
The refugees are also included in 300-hour Slovenian language courses, which can be extended. The office covers the costs of a one-time language proficiency test as well.
When it comes to employment, refugees are equal to Slovenian citizens, therefore having free access to the labour market. The Employment Service also conducts a course on integration into the labour market. According to the Office, there is no accurate data on the number of refugee employees, but they estimate that approximately 100 of them have jobs.
Among the refugees there are 184 children or minors, 12 are unaccompanied minors who are housed in boarding schools. Of the 109 enrolled in educational institutions, most are in primary school and 17 attend university.
STA, 6 February 2019 - Microbiological tests for a batch of kebab meat preparation delivered to Slovenia from Poland have come out positive for salmonella, the Food Safety Administration announced on Wednesday, adding it had ordered the tainted product to be pulled out and destroyed.
Two samples tested positive for salmonella. One was from a shipment of about one tonne of meat preparation produced in Poland on 13 December and supplied to Slovenia on 18 December.
The product was made by Polish company Dunya Doner kebab. Its distributor in Slovenia, Dunya kebab still held 490 kilos of the preparation when samples were taken on 1 February.
The other positive sample was from a batch produced on 19 December by Polish Efes-pol Fedai Simsek Sp.Zoo and distributed in Slovenia by Alebon. The 175-kilo batch arrived in Slovenia on 9 January.
"Recall and withdrawal of the product is under way as we speak. This means that the subject that puts the preparation on the market must see to it that all products still in circulation be pulled out," said Janez Posedi, director of the Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection.
"Salmonella has absolutely no place in meat preparations. We know the preparations undergo heat treatment before being consumed by consumers, so that the risk is probably manageable, but nonetheless, there shouldn't be salmonella in the meat," Posedi told the STA.
The Food Administration has ascertained that the product does not originate from the Elkopol abattoir in Poland, which had been found to be slaughtering sick cows, contrary to what was initially suspected.
The administration also confirmed that a shipment of just over 15 tonnes of meat and meat cut-offs that arrived in Slovenia on 19 September 2018 was not from Elkopol after saying it did on Friday.
Meat processing company Panvita confirmed that it had that meat, saying that it followed from the paperwork that the meat was safe. The administration has not yet completed its tests.
In checking the facility, the administration also found that another shipment of almost 15 tonnes of frozen beef cut-offs from Poland, although not from the controversial abattoir, arrived there on 13 August.
Panvita still has almost 3,000 kilos of the meat, while the rest has been processed. The remaining meat was suspended from circulation until chemical and microbiological tests have been conducted.