As promised a few weeks ago, here are a handful of images taken earlier this evening in and around Ljubljana’s city center to give you a general idea of what the Slovenian capital’s annual holiday light display looks like. Above is the the city’s 12th century castle and castle hill, which looms large over just about any part of the old town center. In this case, the view is from Kongresni Trg, or Congress Square. No overview of the holiday lights in Ljubljana can begin or end without a view of the city’s iconic castle.
On the surface so far, the Festive December celebrations have been a notable success. Besides the obviously chillier weather, the center is much like how it is during most of the spring, summer and autumn months: teeming with day-tripping tourists and visitors from Italy, Croatia, Austria, Germany and The Netherlands. You almost hear more English spoken in the streets than you do Slovene.
We continue with a pair of similar views of the Ljubljanica River which dissects the city in two; both face northish towards Prešeren Square and the delightfully pink late 17th century Franciscan Church.
Below, a view towards castle hill from Prešeren Square, facing south-southeast. If the things floating in the sky remind you of moons, comets, chromosomes and sperms, it’s because that’s what they represent. More about the display’s concept, created by local artist Zmago Modic, here.
A Very Brief Notebook for Visitors
Planning to visit? A good starting point is this hub page hosted by Visit Ljubljana, the city’s official tourism site, but to summarize:
Ljubljana’s December Festive Fair, an almost entirely open-air event, runs through Sunday, January 3. You’ll find dozens of food and drink stalls along both banks of the Ljubljanica River and dozens more selling gift items that on first impression tend towards the kitschy — but interesting stuff, much of it locally produced by Slovenian designers, craftsmen and chefs, can be found and had. Stalls are open daily from 10am through 10pm and midnight.
There will be plenty of live music, most of it from December 26 through New Year’s Day on five stages scatted throughout old town. A complete list of events is here.
From December 4, Ljubljana Tourism will offer guided tours of the Festive Fair area, beginning at 17:00 in front of the main Ljubljana Tourist Information Center on Stritar Street by the three bridges area.
Through January 3 there will be free parking in Vodnikov Trg (Vodnik Square, map below) Monday through Friday from 18:30 through 5am the following morning, and from Saturday evening at 18:30 through 5am Monday morning. If you’re familiar with Ljubljana, Vodnik Square hosts the main central fruit and vegetable market by day.
Enjoy the mulled wine. And try to spare a quarter or two for those a little less fortunate. There’s no shortage of them these days.