While one peak of tourism in Slovenia occurs in August, another is in December, when instead of green pastures and forests the country offers whiter, brighter scenes of snow and ice. While some spend their time in the great outdoors, skiing, sledding and so on, others prefer to warm their hands around a glass of mulled wine while looking at all the pretty lights. And if you’re in the latter camp then you’re in luck, as preparations are well under way to turn various town centres into magical places at night, not only lit up but made merry by stalls selling food, drink, decorations, hats, gloves, scarves, and so on.
So while you may not have unpacked your winter jacket yet, Festive December is atill fast approaching, those four weeks before Christmas that see appearances from, among others, St Nicholas, Santa Claus, Grandpa Frost and the Krampus, and if you’re planning a trip to Slovenia then these are some light shows to consider taking in on your stay.
December in Ljubljana
The lights that keep the capital festive were designed by Zmago Modic, the artist who’s also responsible for the rain that appears each summer in Prešeren Square. And it’s in this square, soon to be home to a giant Christmas tree, where the lights will be turned on Friday November 30 at 17:15. Thus will begin a month or so of merriment, fuelled, as elsewhere in Slovenia, by stalls selling mulled wine, hot food and other seasonal delights, along with live music at various open air venues around town, with the action very easy to find. The city’s official site for the month is here. Note that this year no ice rink is planned for Zvezda Park, perhaps because of the mild, rainy winter last year, which saw it rather quiet.
December in Maribor
The lights in Maribor will start shining a week earlier than those in the capital, with the switch being flipped at 17:00 on Friday November 23rd in General Maister Square. A full programme of events if planned for that day, with details here. As well as all the usual stalls and merriment, Maribor will have an ice rink in Trg Svobode. The city’s official site for the month is here.
December in Bled
The picturesque lake, island, chapel and castle are especially magical in winter, with the scene made even more full of wonder when the lights come on at night. This year the festive season will run from November 30 until January 6, and – in addition to the usual lights and stalls – there’ll also be an ice rink with a spectacular view. The official website is here with more details, and note that if you’re in the area on Christmas Day then you have the chance to join other brave souls and go for a swim in the lake.
December by the Coast
Of course, not everyone likes the cold and snow, even in December, in which case a festive trip to the mild climate the Slovenian coast is recommended. All the towns here will have lights to enjoy, starting on December 1, but if in Portorož then head to Christmas market in the park of Hotel Kempinski Palace Portorož, while in Koper the Old Town will come alive to a series of events call Magical December, usually including an ice rink. Finally, in Piran the centre of festivities will be Tartini Square.