The lights get turned on in Ljubljana at 17:15, Friday November 30 (2018), and in recent years an increasingly popular place to see this happen is not where the switch is flicked – the still busy Prešeren Square, by the tree – but instead up at the Castle, where you can get a bird’s eye view of the action and then go down and experience it close up, two ways to see the city in one trip.
But it’s not just views of the city that Ljubljana’s top attraction offers during advent, as the place also has seasonal activities of its own in addition to all the usual ways to enjoy it (as laid out, for example, in Ten Ways to Enjoy Ljubljana Castle).
The courtyard from the Viewing Tower in an earlier year. Photo: Miha Mally, www.ljubljanskigrad.si
This Friday thus also marks the start of the festive fair in the Castle courtyard, which will have decorations and stalls selling seasonal food and drinks, including mulled wine in case you forgot to bring gloves. The same day will also see the display of life-size wooden sculptures making up a Nativity Scene, which can be visited until January 6 in the Lower Lapidarium.
Photo: Miha Mally, www.ljubljanskigrad.si
Starting a week later, on December 5, is a new exhibition in the Pentagonal Tower, the original entrance to the Castle. This appeals to the Christmas message of helping the poor, sick and unloved, and will give you the chance to adopt a UNICEF rag doll. For a donation of €20.00 UNICEF is able to vaccinate one child against six contagious diseases, while you’re able to take home a charming doll for yourself or as a gift.
The dolls in the Pentagonal Tower. Photo: Nada Žgank, www.ljubljanskigrad.si
A little closer to the big day is Awaken the Dragon, a free architectural projection and 3D mapping experience that will bring to life the story of the Ljubljana Dragon. This is a new attraction at the Castle, and can be seen every day, from 21 December 2018 to 2 January 2019, between 17:00 and 20:00.
Awaken the Dragon will use the Castle as a projection screen. Photo: Miha Mally, www.ljubljanskigrad.si
On December 22, a Saturday, there’s Festive Dancing at the Castle from 20:00 on, with Latin American and festive music. Tickets include a ride up and down on the funicular, and entrance to the viewing tower, with more details here.
The Christmas events come to a peak on December 24, when you can visit the Chapel of St George for Christmas Holy Mass, starting at 22:00, with the service enhanced by festive songs performed by the Choir Megaron. However, note that this chapel is a small one, and seating will be rather limited if a crowd turns up.
The month and year then end on December 31, when the fireworks that light up at the sky at midnight will be taking off from the Castle, encouraging oohs and ahs from the crowds in the city who have come out to enjoy the various concerts in squares around town.
In addition to these seasonal events the Castle continues with it’s regular Friday night jazz concerts, with the schedule here and more details, including video, found by clicking the artist’s name. There’s also more on dragons, those from Ljubljana and elsewhere, with the exhibition The Dragon of All Dragons continuing until January 6 2019. In short, while a trip to the Castle is rewarding anytime you’re in the city, in the last month of the year there’s even more to see and do at the top of the hill that watches over Ljubljana, when it’s open from 10:00 to 22:00. And if you're in town and want some other things to do, beyond the Castle, then check out our latest What's on guide... here