Festive Fair and Holiday Lights in Ljubljana, 2015 – Six Images and a Visitors Notebook

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.

Festive Fair and Holiday Lights in Ljubljana, 2015On 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.

Boat on the Ljubljanica River illuminated by Christmas lights

Ljubljanica River illuminated by Christmas lightsBelow, 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.

Ljubljana castle and the central Preseren Square at ChristmasThis is facing east towards castle hill from Dvorni Trg (Square).

Illuminated Ljubljana castle as seen from a small squareAnd this last image, probably my favorite of the bunch, a beggar on Čopova Street facing Prešeren Square. You know, just to keep it real.

Beggar during Christmas festivities in Ljubljana, SloveniaFor editorial use, please check out the images filed for Corbis and Demotix or get in touch.

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.

Driving in?

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.


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  1. Manja Mexi Movie says

    Only coming to LJ after New Year’s Eve. Will be in Piran for that. Anything interesting until 10th?

    1. Bob R says

      Nothing springs to mind at the moment; that week is usually fairly quiet if memory serves me well. There are some good concerts coming up later in the month. Yesterday I bought tickets for this: http://www.cd-cc.si/en/music/ballake-sissoko-vincent-segal-6091/ 🙂

  2. ladieswholunchreviews says

    The pix are truly beautiful! Sadly, no shortage of homeless and less fortunate anywhere these days…

  3. Shellie Troy Anderson says

    Wonderful, what a magical place. *sigh* Ancient architecture and a castle with a dragon bridge and little waterways with arched stone bridges. *another sigh* Here in the everything-brand-new city of Vancouver, magic is found in the natural world, which is gorgeous but of limited appeal…unless one finds mushrooms of the magical kind. haha

    1. Bob R says

      I miss those mushrooms sometimes.

      1. Shellie Troy Anderson says


  4. Kiri says

    The photo with the begger is both beautiful and painterly but at the same time a powerful portrait of isolation. Nice work.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Kiri. I was lucky in the sense that she stayed perfectly still for the duration of the exposure. At 10sec it was probably a little too long an exposure, but that turned out to be the only way to remove naturally people who were walking through the shot in various directions, stopping, standing, etc.

    2. Bob R says

      In December it’s definitely got its moments. 🙂

  5. paula graham says

    Ljubljana, how festive she looks. Magic place.

  6. Roberto Rodriguez says

    Beautiful Ljubljana! Been there in summer but not yet in winter. It looks so cozy under the Xmas lights! Hope you enjoy your time there. Greetings from Argentina!

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Robert. Enjoying it quite a bit — been living here for most of the past 11 years. 🙂 Cheers back to you in Argentina — I think of my visit there often.

  7. maryannniemczura says

    Striking photos. In my heart I have always had wanderlust but sometimes being on the road all the time, takes its toll. While I believe that home is where the heart is and can feel at home almost anywhere, I yearn for that one spot where I have lived for many years. Somehow your images filled the travel void I have had of late. Thanks so much for your creative work.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Maryann. Agreed, continual travel does take a toll which is why, whenever I can, I do it as slowly as I can. That said, it’s very nice to be back in Ljubljana for a (long) bit, a place I definitely consider home. Thanks for stopping by — much appreciated.

      1. maryannniemczura says

        My pleasure. My parents encouraged study abroad and travel which is the source of my wanderlust.

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