STA, 24 December 2018 – Three years after being acquired by a foreign financial investor, Slovenia's sports goods maker Elan (website) has been sold to the Finnish-owned asset manager KJK. The sale is expected to be completed in mid-2019 once it gets the green light from the Slovenian competition watchdog.
Elan said in a press release on Monday that the owner, Wiltan Enterprises of the financial fund VR Capital, had signed a contract on the sale of the outright stake in Elan to a company owned by the Luxembourg-based KJK Fund III.
The company based in Begunje na Gorenjskem was bought by Wiltan Enterprises from state owners in July 2015 after years of financial troubles, and the owners have been looking lately to sell to a strategic partner.
Since 2015, the outgoing owner Wiltan Enterprises has reinvested almost EUR 10m in Elan, and despite fears of layoffs under the new financial investor, Elan's headcount in fact increased to some 800, CEO Jeffrey Tirman said in April.
Wiltan Enterprises announced the sale this spring as they received expressions of interest after the company, which has been producing sports goods for more than 70 years, posted good results.
The company best known as a producer of skis reported EUR 82.5m in group revenue for last year, an increase of 15% over the year before, as well as an increase in operating profit.
The new owner, established this year with EUR 250m in private capital, is focused on investments in the Balkans and the Baltic states and is already present in Slovenia with investments in several companies.
It belongs to KJK Management, a manager of alternative investment funds, which is also based in Luxembourg and was established in 2010.
Below is a review of today’s news in Slovenia, summarised by the headlines in the daily newspapers for Thursday, December 27, 2018, as prepared by the STA:
"How to bring Slovenian knowledge back home": Last year, more than 4,000 Slovenians aged between 20 and 34 moved abroad. The state is still not able to find a way to encourage young people full of knowledge, experience and fresh ideas to return home. (front page, 2)
"Record yield and (too) low profits": Slovenian tourism can boast a fourth consecutive year of record-breaking operations, but despite all the successes it must not rest on laurels. (front page, 3, 5)
"Whaling as protection of national identity": The Japanese government has raised dust by deciding to leave the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and re-introduce commercial whaling, which was abolished, at least officially, at the end of 1980s. (front page, 6)
"At least a third of wage for housing costs": Rents for apartments in Ljubljana increased in the last three years for 40% of tenants, while those who are looking to rent or buy an apartment at an acceptable price are also facing problems. (front page, 9)
"Slovenia gets two million dollars from Tokyo": The former building of the Yugoslav embassy in Tokyo is expected to be sold in January for around 14 million US dollars, of which the Slovenian Foreign Ministry is to get two million. (front page, 2)
Saint Stephen's Day
"Pope calls for forgiveness and reconciliation also on Saint Stephen's Day": Pope Francis called on the believers to follow the example of Saint Stephen and forgive their brothers and sisters, as he spoke to the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square. (front page)
"The question is not whether money will get more expensive in 2019, but for how much": The paper wonders when it is to be expected that the key euro interest rates of the European Central Bank (ECB) will be raised. (front page, 2-3)
"Elan sold to a Finnish fund": After three years in ownership of Wiltan Enterprises, the Slovenian sports goods maker Elan has been sold to the Finnish-owned asset manager KJK. The actual money transfer is expected to be made in mid-2019. (front page, 8)
Stock market projections
"Which industries and regions will be the hottest": A total of 31 asset management experts and analysts predict for the paper which stock markets will be interested in 2019 and why. (front page, 4-5)
Ljubljana Stock Exchange
"Managements of numerous listed companies cautious in predictions of profit for 2019": A majority of the companies listed on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange (LJSE) have published plans for 2019, with not many of them projecting major growth in profit. (front page, 10-11)
"The only wish is to get healthy": While being in a rush and shopping things they actually do not need during holidays, people tend to forget what is really important in life. Those who spend holidays in oncology clinics meanwhile have only one wish. (front page, 2-3)
"Presents from Drava": Members of the Maribor diving club surprised children for holidays by symbolically bringing them presents from the Drava river. (front page, 9)
"Holiday glitter also in tourism": The paper looks at what is the holiday atmosphere like in major Slovenian cities, who are the foreign guests and where Slovenians like to go for Christmas and New Year holidays. (front page, 6)
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?).
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).
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.
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.
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?
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)
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)
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)
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:
Where: Jezerska promenada
Where: Jezerska promenada
Where: Central square
When: 12:00 noon
Where: Wonderland at Main Square
Where: Krek's Square
Where: Main Square
Where: Taverna, Carpaccio Square
Where: Tito Square
Where: Olympians' Square, Mojstrana
Where: Congress Square
Where: Congress Square
Where: French Revolution Square
Where: City Square
Where: Pogačar Square (the marketplace)
Where: Leon Štukelj Square
Where: Tartini Square
Where: 2c 1 May Street
Where: City Square
Where: City Square
Where: Linhart Square
Where: Castle Square
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
LOGATEC - Swiss company Lonstroff is expected to launch its Slovenian elastomer manufacturing facility.
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.
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.
1st - The 20th anniversary of the introduction of the value added tax.
PORTOROŽ - Slovenia Open, an ATP Challenger tennis tournament.
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.
27th - The Ljubljana Marathon, the biggest running event in the country.
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.
3rd - The centenary of the first lecture at the University of Ljubljana.
STA, 21 December 2018 - The autumn Eurabarometer poll shows that 38% of Slovenians have a positive attitude towards the EU and 18% have a negative attitude. In general, 43% of Europeans think positively about the EU and 20% have a negative attitude towards the bloc.
Half of Slovenian respondents said that they felt like their voice mattered and 45% said it did not. Moreover, 72% said they felt like EU citizens, while the average EU share was at 71%.
The poll also shows a record 75% support for the economic and monetary union, as well as the euro; the support is highest in Slovenia, at 86%.
Nearly 50% of Europeans believe that the bloc's economy was doing well, while 38% think the opposite. In Slovenia, 65% believe the EU economy is good and 29% think the opposite.
The poll suggests that 40% of Europeans are concerned by migrations, 20% are worried about terrorism and 19% by the state of public finance.
In Slovenia 58% of the respondents are worried by migrations, 20% are worried about terrorism and 13% are worried about the economy.
The Eurobarometer poll was carried out between 8 and 22 November. It included 32,600 people from across the EU.
You can get the full PDF report, in English, French or German, here
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.
© 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
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 Hood, The Grinch (with both subbed and dubbed versions), Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Bohemian Rhapsody, Johnny English 3, A Star is Born, Gajin svet, Pat in Mat znova v akciji, Mortal 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.
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.
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.
Photo: JL Flanner
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.
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).
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.
Plečnik's desk. Photo: JL Flanner
Plečnik’s House is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the architect who gave Ljubljana much of its character. Read about our guided tour here. Something on for a limited time is Plečnik and the Sacred, showing here until January 20, 2019.
Cankerjev dom – Running until the end of February 2019 is an exhibition titled Ivan Cankar and Europe: Between Shakespeare and Kafka. This is “An examination of Cankar’s art through an analysis of influences and interpretations, and juxtaposition with contemporary European writers. The visually elaborate architectural and graphic layout, supported by audio-visual media, installation art and diverse visual highlights, offers a vivid account of Cankar’s excellence, his comprehensively exquisite aesthetic and artistic vision.”
City Art Gallery – Drago Tršar recently had a show at the main Moderna looking at his monumental works, and now this smaller gallery in the Old Town, not far from Town Hall, is showing some the sculpture’s erotic works, on until January 20, 2019. It’s being promoted with the following example.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square has an exhibition on the writer Ivan Cankar that’s on until the end of February 2019, with pictures, books and manuscripts, all presented in Slovene and English. It also has a very interesting permanent exhibition on the history of Ljubljana, from prehistoric times to the present day, with many artefacts, models and so on that bring the story alive.You can read about my visit here. Until March 2019 there's a show highlighting the work Elza Kastl Obereigner (1884-1973), a pioneer Slovenian sculptress, with an example of her work shown below.
Photo: M Paternoster
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
Galerija Vžigalica – Saša Spačal has a show here until January 6, 2019 called Earthlink, “working at the intersection of intermedia art, exploration of living systems and audio frequencies, links Earth to the post-human present, that includes both a seed of the future as well as a shadow of the past.” A promotional image is what's shown below.
Simbiom – ekonomija simbioze, 2016 © Dejan HabichtArhiv Moderne galerije
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.
Ljubljana Exhibition & Convention Centre – Just outside the centre of town, at Dunajska cesta 18, you can see a lot of plasticized bodies at the Body Worlds Vital show, running from October 20 until January 20 2019.
Photo: Body Works Vital
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design is showcasing Slovenian designers in a show called Made in Slovenia, lasting until the end of 2018: “The selling exhibition aims to present good practices of Slovenian designers and companies in the creative sector.”
Sam, 1966, fotografija na srebroželatinskem papirju. ©Stojan Kerbler
Moderna galerija – The main branch of this gallery, to be found near the entrance to Tivoli Park, has a good collection of modern art, as well a nice café in the basement, and it's latest exhibition focuses on the photographer Stojan Kerbler, which runs until January 13, 2019, and shows rural live in Slovenia for the recent past.
Museum of Contemporary History – The museum in Tivoli Park has two new shows. One is called Museum's (R)evolution 1948-2018, marking the place's 70th anniversary with an exhibition tracing its evolution through artefacts, photographs and personal stories and running until January 6 2019 (details here). There's also In Search of Freedom: 1968-2018, looking at the 1968 student protests.
National Gallery – The country’s main gallery has “the best” of what’s on offer from the Middle Ages to non-contemporary modern visual arts, and is in a great location for exploring other areas, just by Tivoli Park and opposite the main branch of the Moderna galerija. Running until February 10 2019 is a show called Ivana Kobilca (1861-1926): But Of Course, Painting Is Something Beautiful!, featuring works like the one below. You can read about our visit to the room containing scared art from the Middle Ages here, and see a picture from our trip after the two girls.
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more, with the big draw this season being the exhibition of over 140 items of gold from Ming Dyntasy China, as reported here, and with an example below. This runs until February 15th.
Photo: Wang Wei Chang
Meanwhile, the museum's Metelkova branch, located between one branch of the Moderna galerija and the Ethnographic Museum has some rooms on Church art, furniture and weapons, with the latter including more guns than you'll see anywhere else in town, and quite a thrill if coming from a nation where such objects are not household items.
Natural History Museum – On until the end of June 2019 is Our Little Big Sea, which takes a look at the oceans.
Slovene Ethnographic Museum – The museum currently has a temporary show on Bees and Beekeeping, on until June 16 2019, as well two permanent exhibitions. One of these is called Between Nature and Culture, and has a great collection of objects from Slovenia and around the world, well worth the trip up to the third floor to see it (as recounted here). This place is located near the newer branch of the Moderna galerija and Metelkova.
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.
Union is "the Ljubljana beer", but now both it and Laško are owned by Heineken. There are many local brews on offer, though, if you want to explore IPAs, stouts, wheatbeers, sours and so on Photo: JL Flanner
Union Experience – The Ljubljana-based brewer has a museum showing the history of the company, with the ticket also including access to part of the factory and a few samples of the product. You can read about our visit here.
It's not a formal museum, but if you're interested in "Yugo-stalgia" then you'll enjoy a trip to Verba, a small, privately run space that's crammed with objects and pop culture items from the era, and is conveniently located at the start of one of the short walks to the castle. It's also a great place to take pictures, if you leave a donation, and you can read more about it here.
Verba. Photo: JL Flanner
Alternative Ljubljana isn't a museum or gallery, as such, but instead turns the city streets into a museum and gallery. Learn more about their tours of street art, history and LGBT Ljubljana here.
Photo: JL Flanner
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.
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. This week there's also the Ana Mraz street theatre festival here, every evening from December 26 to 30, 18:00 to 20:00.
maxpixel.net, public domain
Want to stretch and breath? Then check out our list of drop-in yoga classes for tourists, visitors and the uncommitted. If you're heading to the coast, check out our interview with a yoga teacher who offers breakfast sessions there, while if you're staying in town (or nearby) and want to try some "family yoga" then you can learn more about that here and maybe get your kids to calm down a moment or two.
There are some golf courses near Ljubljana, but even ones further away are not far, as seen in our list of all the golf courses in Slovenia. Note that these close when the snow starts.
Photo: maxpixel.net, public domain
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
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.
The days between Christmas and New Year are some of the most magical of the year. Most people are in good spirits, having relatively light work schedules, homes full of seasonal treats and the chance to catch up with friends and family while remembering the past and looking ahead to the future. There’s much to recommend these days, and if you’re in Ljubljana, Maribor or Radovljica then here’s something else to add to the job: free street theatre in the evening to bring wonder and laughter to the faces of old and young alike, a celebration of real world performances in real time, instead of the recorded and virtual. The occasion is Ana Mraz, the annual festival that’s out on this time of year by the Ana Monro group, the team behind the summer’s huge Ana Desetnica programme, and the autumn’s fiery Ana Plamenita.
Ana Monro itself started almost four decades ago, when a group of performers in what was then Yugoslavia got together to organize their street actions and bring them to a wider audience. The group was named after a legendary, and fictional, figure. The story goes that a woman called Ana Monro was working in the tobacco factory in Ljubljana (aka Tobačna) during the day, and dancing at Nebotičnik in the night. Then she left the city and went to a forest, and came back with a manifesto for the theatre troupe that still bears her name. That group travelled around the world with their shows until it eventually disbanded as a performance troupe in 2012, although one member remained and continued with the work, leading Ana Monro to its current form as an association with a growing and evolving set of interests.
The summer’s Ana Desetnica festival of international street theatre is the main project the group is known for, but much of Ana Monro’s work remains unseen by the general public as it works to consolidate its position as the leading name in Slovenian street theatre, and an increasingly well-known one abroad. There are four pillars to the group’s current activities: the festivals, education, creativity, and international.
With regard to education, Šugla is a school for street theatre, while the group also visits regular schools and offers mentoring to emerging performers. The creative aspect of Ana Monro is being promoted with a corporate programme offering entertainment and team-building to companies, once again taking theatre out of it's usual context and brining it to new audiences. Finally, the international pillar is one that sees Ana Monro building bridges with other street theatre communities around Europe and beyond, taking Slovenian culture abroad, and bringing the world to Slovenia.
Your next chance to see the group in action is next week, from December 26 to 30. The shows in Ljubljana, the main venue, all take place in Špica, not far from the centre of town, and run from 18:00 to 20:00.
Each evening will see at least three different acts, suitable for all the family and mostly without the use of spoken language (with the performers coming from Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, Belgium, Italy, the USA, Ukraine, Colombia and Ghana). Variety is assured, and while choosing one act to highlight is rather unfair we’ll turn the spotlight on Nanirossi & McFois, from Italy, festival favourites who are returning to town with an award-winning show that features a car. You can catch this in Ljubljana on the 27th and 29th, starting at 19:20. They’re also performing in Maribor, December 28 at 19:00 at Židovski trg. In fact, Maribor actually has a mini-festival of it’s own, lasting from December 27 to 30, starting at 18:00, while Radovljica’s Linhartov trg is playing host to two acts, both starting at 17:00 on the December 25 and 30. The full schedule for all three placs can be found here, while photos from last year’s event can be seen here.
In short, if you’re in one of these towns to see the lights in the days head then a trip to see Ana Mraz would be an excellent, and free, addition to the evening, and another element that helps make Slovenia so attractive at this time of year
STA, 21 December 2018 - President Borut Pahor has called for a concerted cooperation-based effort for changes that will keep Slovenia safe and economically robust in the face of pending global turbulences. He spoke to TV Slovenija about the need for structural changes, electoral reform, for a multilateral approach to migration, and for protecting free speech.
Pahor feels the level of cooperation in Slovenia is adequate for the present challenges, "but it is not sufficient for the demands of the times ahead."
Dangers ahead on multiple fronts
"I feel that we're all not really understanding yet that the times around us are changing, that the situation is changing at home and in particular in the international community and that a time is coming, without fail, which we all have to get ready for, as a state, its decision makers, as a community, as people, as a society."
Pahor fears Slovenia is relying too much on the recent positive trends. He argued that while "on the surface things are looking stable politically, right under the surface the rocks are hiding of party and bloc divisions".
He argued that in "the coming months, years this surface level will drop a little, as expected, and then these rocks will start sticking out sharply".
Pahor would like to see a sense developed that "we owe it to each other to cooperate, trust each other more, even if this will not happen overnight, because certain grudges remain".
"The problems ahead should not inspire fear in us, but are still a valid cause for certain concerns."
Security and the economy depend on cooperation
Listing the main priorities, he said Slovenia first and foremost needed to remain a safe country. It also needs to make its economy more "robust, resistant to the business cycle blows and perhaps recession".
Perhaps the most important thing however is cooperation. "We depend on each other" and "realising this and relying on each other would keep us on track no matter what lay in store".
"In the coming year, when it seems that this will be the last year of relatively favourable economic circumstances, the government and everybody cooperating with it have to create conditions for structural adjustments," Pahor said, arguing this would also boost the country's credibility and scope for action abroad.
Slovenia will win Croatian border dispute, and it’s electoral system will be reformed
Turning to the border arbitration impasse with Croatia, Pahor said it was important for Slovenia to have good relations with all neighbouring countries.
"I think it could be good if we'd give the debate on arbitration some time to calm down, while in the meantime I'd strive for constant dialogue between Zagreb and Ljubljana, including on how to implement the arbitration award."
He however stressed that "alternatives are not an option for us". Still, "there is no need to be nervous, impatient, because in the end, sooner or later, the border will be on the lines drawn by the tribunal".
Pahor "cannot imagine any scenario - peaceful, without the use of force or any major public opposition, possibly conflict-causing - that would lead to a different outcome of any sorts".
Touching on the Slovenian political system, he said he had taken the task upon himself, "one that everybody agreed with", to convene a meeting of parties in January to "start the very demanding discussion on a reform of the electoral system".
Arguing the sense in the public that politics is too self-involved is somewhat justified, he said the direction of electoral reform, also demanded by the Constitutional Court, "is more or less clear".
Finding a redrawing of election districts impossible, Pahor feels it more likely that more prominence will be given to electoral units and to the possibility of a preferential vote.
Pahor defends Catalan meeting
Quizzed about the tensions with PM Marjan Šarec over Pahor's decision to receive Catalan President Quim Torra, Pahor said that talking about major discrepancies in foreign policy was an exaggeration and that Šarec and him simply thought about the situation independently.
Pahor said his initial decision had been not to receive Torra. "It would't have been a wrong decision, but it was not good enough for me. Somehow, my heart did not allow it, I have to be honest here," he said, noting the tradition of good relations with Catalonia.
Meanwhile, returning to global politics shifts, Pahor stressed he was not a nationalist but still wanted Slovenia "to strengthen all the attributes of its statehood and sovereignty", as some of ripples of the changes could also reach Europe.
On the other hand, while nationalist forces are building ties in Europe, "we, who believe in European integration, have been unable to cooperate".
He still feels things are controllable, and urges a perspective that is out of box and that may raise eyebrows but could be a solution. Pahor would like to see another push for a constitutional process in the EU and plans to contribute with initiatives, including as part of what is known as the Ljubljana Process.
TEŠ6 and corruption
Quizzed about the TEŠ6 generator scandal, fears that the case will become statute barred and the general sense that the judicial system in protecting the elite, Pahor said he felt there was enough material available on the TEŠ6 case now to get to the bottom of things.
This would be good for future project too. There is a lack of trust presently stemming from bitter past experience that we haven't learned from, Pahor said.
"I wish things would move faster and express my trust that the legal institutions will deliver," he concluded.
As regards the situation of the current government, Pahor is happy that it has a solid support level even though it is a minority government and believes it should utilise this to secure structural reforms.
"Cooperation with the opposition will be necessary here, but I see problems here that could prove bigger in the coming years than it seems today," said the president, who announced he would continue to host consultations to try to find consensus.
Controlled migration depends on an international order and rules
Turning to migration, Pahor said he had felt he had to take an early stance on the UN migration compact, because of the "fear in part of the public that the compact will lead to an open doors policy or be seen as such by migrants".
"This is definitely not the case," he stressed, while arguing Slovenia's response was more than just about refugees, it was also about its identity and about its approach to multilateralism.
Situated at a very sensitive geopolitical location, Slovenia is in fact protected by the international order, Pahor said.
"We are the ones who need to push for these rules to be respected - the big ones can perhaps get away with violating them, but they are vital for us", he said arguing the joint UN approach will "only strengthen our ability to deal with the situation".
Free speech vs hate speech
Meanwhile, asked about his refusal to take a clear stance on the spreading of hate speech in Slovenia, Pahor said he called for tolerance and respect in practically all of his speeches but was careful when confronted with demands to take a stance on specific issues.
Moreover, Pahor is a strong believer in the freedom of speech and fears issues related to the blurry line between acceptable and hateful speech. He feels the situation required personal and political responsibility to be kind and respectful.
"We'll only get through these tough times be speaking our mind openly," he said, while asserting he is "not among those who believe there is more hate speech today".
"It is just more visible and more present because of social as well as traditional media...It is more present in a qualitative sense," Pahor said, while noting some similarities with the 1930s. "And I'm concerned, that is why I call for tolerance."