December in Ljubljana
On Friday, 1 December, the festive December events started in Ljubljana with the switching on of Christmas lights and the opening of the Festive Fair. The lively program is to continue up to 7 January next year.
Again this year the decoration project titled Intersections of Time (Preseki časa) it the work of artist Zmago Modic. In his words »it represents the possibility of gaining insight into the diversity of time, into the past as well as the future. Abstract and realistic images depict sections from animate as well as inanimate nature«. The decorations include supplemented elements from previous years and a few brand new light installations, for instance two dragons on Vega Street. The majority of new light installations can be seen on Stritar and Trubar Street and at Upper Square, and at five entry points into the old city centre visitors are greeted by mighty blue lit tree crowns.
On 1 December, the Festive Fair opened, traditionally becoming the centre of social events for a month. There are 48 stands offering gifts and food and drinks are set up on Breg Embankment, Cankar Embankment, Congress Square and Prešeren Square. New to the Festive Fair this year are two food stands on Gallus Embankment.
Stands selling gifts on Breg Embankment are open from 10:00 until 22:00, and on Fridays and Saturdays one hour longer. The food stands are open from 10:00 until 24:00, except those on Breg Embankment which are closing one hour earlier. In line with Ljubljana’s sustainable orientation culinary providers are using exclusively environment friendly packaging and every one of them is offering at least one dish from the Taste Ljubljana repertoire.
The straw nativity scene is on display in front of the Zois Palace on Breg Embankment. It is a unique hand-made work by artist Anton Kravanja, special because of its life-sized figures. The nativity scene is on display until 7 January.
Traditionally part of the December programme are the St. Nicholas Fair at Prešeren Square, the St. Nicholas Procession, the Magical Forest – creative workshops for children, the Good Fairy, performances of organ-grinders, the Christmas Concert in front of the City Hall, five Father Frost Processions with his entourage, street theatre performances, music programme in city squares and the New-Year’s celebration for children in Congress Square at 16:00. The open-air New-Year’s Eve celebration is going to be held at four locations and at midnight five-minute fireworks from the Castle Hill are going to light up the city.
The fireworks projectiles are compliant with the EU legislation (CE certificate) and made exclusively out of paper, that is, degradable materials. In case of fog, increased cloudiness or strong winds audible fireworks with low flying rockets are going to be used.
As there are different initiatives to cancel the New Year’s fireworks in Ljubljana due to air pollution arising from the use of pyrotechnics, the City of Ljubljana has checked the actual impact of pyrotechnical articles on air pollution during the New Year’s celebrations. The measurement results have shown that New Year’s Eve fireworks, with the exception of a short-term hourly increase of particles, does not have a significant impact on the level of daily or monthly air pollution.
The first novelty of December 2017 in Ljubljana is the Ice Fantasy, a sports, recreational and entertainment facility set up in the Star Park. The ice rink, with no comparison in Slovenia, expands over 2000 square metres of ice surface and can accommodate up to 600 people. Without any doubt it is an enrichment of the festive programme for citizens and visitors alike. For children under the age of six there is no entrance fee, equipment can be rented and professional assistance is available. Ice skating in the city centre is possible until 7 January. Also provided at the site are select culinary services and a lively entertainment program.
The other novelty is the mini ski slope Chameleon brining joy to children under the age of six in New Square from 18 December until 19 January. The ski slope is going to be open every day between 10:00 and 19:00. The project »Everybody on Skis« (»Vsi na smuči«) wants to encourage the youngest children to actively spend their free time and give them an opportunity to experience alpine skiing regardless of their social status. Skiing is going to be free-of-charge, courses for organised groups of children from Ljubljana’s kindergartens are going to be held in the morning and for children accompanied by parents in the afternoon.
From 15 December to 1 January, within the framework of the music programme numerous Slovenian and foreign musicians are performing on stages in New Square, Congress Square, City Square and French Revolution Square: Pero Lovšin & Španski borci, Big Foot Mama, Samuel Lucas, Halid Bešlić, Ansambel Saša Avsenika, Čuki, Lačni Franz, Prljavo kazalište, Tabu, Single Ladies – Beyonce Tribute Band, Manouche, Neisha, Ars Groova, Cubanama’ Latin Band, The Dreams, Orlek, Mia Žnidarič quartet, Helena Blagne, Nuša Derenda, Koala Voice, Repetitor, Nipke, Trije kralji, Happy Ol’ McWeasel and others.
This year’s December programme is co-financed from the budget in the amount of 113,000 euro. Part of the December events programme is covered by donors and part from rents for stands at the Festive Fair.
The spruce decorating Prešeren Square this year is 20 metres high and adorned with approximately 10 kilometres of lights. A resident from Pržan has donated it to the City of Ljubljana. In addition to the central tree in Prešeren Square there are trees in City Square and Levstik Square, Pod Trančo, at Figovec, at the castle and in the City Hall atrium.
The funds for the basic decorations amount to 200,000 euro and are provided via a concession contract for the public utility service for public lighting management. The old city centre is going to be covered by 50 kilometres of holiday lights, 800 light installations are going to be erected and 40 lanterns made by Ljubljana’s primary school children are going to adorn trees alongside the Ljubljanica River at Prule.
From 1 December until 2 January 2018, free-of-charge parking is provided in Vodnik Square to visitors of December events: from Monday until Friday between 18:30 and 5:00, on Saturdays from 18:30, on Sundays and holidays all day long until 5:00 the next day.
Guided city tours
Regular guided tours also have a festive character in December. Until 7 January visitors can enjoy the fairy-tale Ljubljana, a tour starting at 17:00 from the Ljubljana Tourist Information Centre at Adamič Lunder Embankment 2. And a very special experience is the tour of the festively decorated Ljubljana with one of the tourist boats. The boat rides are mostly half an hour long and a glass of mulled wine or tea is included in the price. The tours are available until 2 January 2018.
The full programme of December 2017 in Ljubljana is published on the website www.visitljubljana.com.