Slovenia is a country that celebrates its culture very often with different events such as carnivals or festivals. One of its goals is to preserve the culture and expand people’s knowledge about it. There are a significant number of giant festivals organized in the country, but the ones representing traditional music and dances are the Folklore Festivals.
There are many Folklore Festivals in Slovenia. The most important one is the Mediterranean International Folk Festival. However, if you are fond of folkloric music, you can also participate in the Jurjevanje Folklore Festival or the Bled Days, among others.
These folk festivals are preserving the Slovene culture, but mostly they are very entertaining. When coming to Slovenia, you should definitely look up if one of these festivals is happening. Let’s take a look at the possibilities.
The MIFF: The Biggest Folk Festival in Slovenia
The most famous folk festival in Slovenia is the Mediterranean international folk festival, also called MIFF. It was launched in 2003 by the VAL Piran Folkloric Dance Association. The idea of the festival came from the mind of Borut Luša, the actual director of the festival.
It is also part of the official festival calendar of CIOFF – the International Council of Organisations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts. CIOFF is an international and cultural non-governmental organization in formal consultative relations with UNESCO. It was created in 1970 to preserve, promote, and spread traditional culture and folklore from every country. CIOFF organizes many festivals, including two in Slovenia: MIFF and the Folkart International Folklore Festival.
The MIFF presents folklore music and singing, dance, gastronomic culture, and cultural variety of the Mediterranean countries.
It is a Slovenian festival because it takes place in Piran, in the open air on the Tartini Square and The 1st May Square, or at Tartini Theatre. Sometimes you can also find it in the neighboring cities such as Izola (on Manzioli square or on “Lonka”), Koper (on the Carpaccio Square), and Portorož (in the congress-spa resort Portoroz in Concert Hall “Avditorij”). Indeed, the final event of the festival takes place in the Portorož Auditorium.
The festival also existed in Croatia between 2007 and 2009, and more precisely, in Umag. It was organized by “Pučko otvoreno učilište Ante Babič.”
The Mediterranean international folk festival showcases groups from many countries such as Italy, Croatia, Portugal, Malta, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, France, Turkey, Hungary, Spain, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Canada, and of course Slovenia. The groups invited are not necessarily only from the Mediterranean coast anymore.
The objective of the MIFF, except for presenting folkloric music, is to build a strong relationship between Mediterranean countries.
The festival MIFF is the second biggest festival in Slovenia, and the biggest folklore festival. It is worth stopping by the coast when traveling in the country at the time of the festival.
In 2020, 17 festivals were hosted, presenting 137 groups and welcoming 33,500 visitors.
The Folkart International Folklore Festival: Another CIOFF Festival
After the festival MIFF, another folk festival is organized each year by the International Council for Organisations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Art (CIOFF), it is the Folkart International Folklore Festival, in Maribor. It was organized for the first time in 1993.
This festival is essential for folklore groups and musicians. Since it is under the regulation of the CIOFF, there are several limitations to allow every group to perform. Each group is presented shortly, and performances last between five and 60 minutes. A group must be of a maximum of 35 persons.
This festival is part of a more significant festival: the Lent Festival. This one is not only focused on folklore, which leaves the Folkart International Folklore Festival much freedom in this area while allowing the performers to use the Lent Festival’s stages and venues.
The central stage, for example, is a floating stage on the river Drava. This stage is imposing and is a must-see for festival lovers.
There are other venues outside of Maribor in cities and towns such as Murska Sobota, Pesnica, Miklavž, Dravograd, Rogaška Slatina, Lendava, Izola, Kranj, and Metlika.
The Jurjevanje Folklore Festival: A Festival With Many Activities
Another great festival you cannot miss to discover Slovenia’s folklore is the Jurjevanje Folklore Festival hosted in Črnomelj in June.
The festival was launched in 1964, so the 2021’s edition will be the 57th, and it still transforms the city into a folklore capital every year. It is the oldest folklore festival in Slovenia.
The festival lasts five days and targets all audiences, from the youngest to the oldest. During those five days, you will have the opportunity to discover different European cultures and even folklore from other parts of the world. It takes place in seven distinct locations, but the main one is in the lovely town of Črnomelj in the South East of the country, area tourists know less.
If you have a dancer’s soul, you will be able to learn the dances of Bela Krajina, typical in Slovenia. Activities during the festival include, of course, folklore music to dance along to, but also creative and art workshops as well as recreational sports events and tastings of gastronomic specialties. It also includes exhibitions and book presentations.
If you are lucky, you might meet “Green George” or “Zeleni Jurij,” a mythological hero that comes to visit during the festival.
Jurjevanje features traditional Bela Krajina “tamburica” instruments, “brač”, “berda”, “bisernica”, “bugarija”, “gudalo”, “white birch leaf”, “rug” and other traditional instruments.
The performances you will see there are dances, songs, and music from between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century.
The Folk Music Hit Parade: An Alpine Music Festival
In Bled, there are many festivals, but the most important one regarding folk music is the Folk Music Hit Parade. It is a beautiful festival organized un November in the Bled Sports Hall by the Bled Tourist Board.
Many world-renowned folk music groups and ensembles come every year to perform and participate in giving Bled Lake a great vibe and atmosphere throughout the whole festival.
This festival is especially popular among traditional Alpine music fans and is visited by tourists, music lovers, and musicians from Austria, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland.
The organizers of the festival offer two (or three) day visits of Bled during this time to fully appreciate the music and gastronomy. You will also have the possibility to do several excursions and visit the main tourist sights.
Bled Days and Bled Night: A Glowing Festival
In Bled, you will find the most tourists during Bled Days and Bled Night. It is another one of the festivals in Bled. Tourists come to listen to concerts, including folk music, but also to see the production of local art crafts.
During Bled Night, the most important and most famous part of the Bled Days, the lake is glowing. Indeed, 15,000 lights in egg-shells are launched into the lake to give it this magical and unforgettable look to the landscape. The lights are prepared months in advance by Andrej Vidic in Bled.
The aim of Bled Days is to revitalize traditional dishes; this is why the local partners of the festival present themselves as the Taste Bled destination brand.
While listening to folklore music from Slovenia, you will be able to discover the richness of the local cuisine, prepared from fresh with only the best ingredients.
Another advantage of this festival is its interest in sustainability. It actively supports the Zero Waste movement. This is why only biodegradable materials such as wood, bamboo, and paper are used to serve food. The rest of the waste is collected and disposed of in ecological zones.
The Old Vine Festival: Folk Music And Good Wine
In Maribor is organized a culinary and cultural festival every year. Although this festival is much more focused on wine and gastronomy, it is still a unique event for folklore music enthusiasts.
The festival is a tribute to the oldest vine in the world, growing in Lent, the oldest part of Maribor. It is the treasure of the city and genuine pride in Slovenia.
With this festival, you will know everything you need to know about Slovenian wine and vines. Come to Maribor to taste wine and listen to folklore concerts. The objective of the festival is to preserve Maribor’s and Slovenia’s culture.
Folk Music for Everyone
Folklore music fanatics will absolutely love Slovenia for its numerous folk festival all across the country. It is a place where culture is essential and is at the core of the music.
However, do not worry if you do not know anything about folklore in Slovenia or other countries. You can still enjoy these festivals. They are made for everyone, children as seniors, and are always a way to have a lot of fun. These festivals were created to preserve folk music and culture in European and Mediterranean countries, so everything you need to know, you will learn while dancing to lively and lovely music. So, folk music fans, come to Slovenia!