Usually, festivals are one of the main reasons for tourists to come to a country. People like to see the architecture of big cities, to take a rest on the beach near a sea or in mountain resorts. However, the greatest reason is entertaining. That is why festivals are so popular nowadays. Moreover, it can be the perfect place to explore foreign culture, music, dances, food, or drinks.
In spite of the country’s small size, a Slovenian year is full of festivals. Of course, the main place of gathering of fests fans is Ljubljana. The most popular here is The Ljubljana Festival. On the other hand, small festivals in not so popular cities dazzle brighter than big ones, like Cow’s Ball or Sinking of the Bell.
In fact, it is the peculiarity of the Slovenian culture. It’s worth to be shared with the world, so festivals keep the culture vivid and colorful. They are unique and adorable, even flabbergasting. Thus, let’s find out both big and unique festivals of Slovenia together. Let’s start!
The Ljubljana Festival
The Ljubljana Festival is a huge summer event. First of all, because of its durability. The most prolonged was the festival of 2015. At that time, it took place from the end of June to the end of September, which is an incredible duration. Now, the festival is usually happening in two months. However, the founders created a smaller “winter version” instead (approximately 4-5 days).
Secondly, it is the most important festival for Slovenians because of its history. It has been taking place since 1953. Moreover, the festival became international in 1977 because it became a member of the international organization of the European Festival Association (EFA), based in Belgium, and the International Association of Fine Arts (ISPA). Those two are one of the biggest European festival organizations that bring together more than 111 festivals from 40 countries.
The festival is funded by the Municipality of Ljubljana and organized by Festival Ljubljana Public Institute. The director is Darko Brlek, an artist himself, a clarinetist, and a manager of the festival since 1995.
The Summer Festival Ljubljana also officially serves as an ambassador of Slovenian art, language, and culture, as it is part of the European Festivals Association. The Križanke venue of the festival annually hosts over 80 kinds of concerts, opera productions, theatre performances, musicals, exhibitions, and poetry readings. Moreover, all these artists are performing for 50,000 visitors each year.
The official site of the festival is this one, where you can see dates, future artists, and buy tickets.
Maybe, it’s not so popular as the Ljubljana Festival, but definitely, this one is the oldest festival in Slovenia!
Moreover, it’s one of the most interesting ones, because it is the cow parade. Farmers from all over Slovenia gather and make a defile of traditional farmer’s clothes and gear. Of course, such events cannot exist without the traditional market, where they show and sell homemade products, like cheese and milk.
The festival is annual, and it is held in September. Cows’ Ball lasts one weekend, so it’s easy to miss. The location is Bohinj, a town famous for the Lake Bohinj.
Old Vine Festival and Martirovanje
The place of the festival is the second-largest city in Slovenia, Maribor. The festival lasts from the beginning of October to St. Martin’s Day, which is dated on November the 11th.
The main “guest” of the festival is, of course, the vine. This beverage plays an important role in Slovenian culture. Viticulture and winemaking have existed in nowadays lands of Slovenia since the times of the Celts and Illyrian tribes. Sometimes it is really obscure that people use to associate wine with France, Spain, and Italy because Romans introduced to their lands winemaking a lot after. It is an incredible number, but today Slovenia has 28,000 wineries and produces from 80 to 90 million liters annually. It is estimated that the country has 22,300 ha of vineyards!
Furthermore, it is believed that St. Martin was the saint who transformed grape juice into the vine. Therefore, the celebration is in his honor. In addition, the festival has different wine tours and workshops as well as culinary events. And of course, a bunch of Slovenian music and cultural events.
This is part of the national New Year’s celebration as well as the part of the Winter Ljubljana Festival. There are a lot of events taking place at Ljubljana Castle with a decent amount of music, creative workshops, exhibitions, and so on. Moreover, the Christmas celebrations are even wider.
The biggest celebration is located in the Old Town of Ljubljana. Usually, it is crowded a lot, but it’s worth it because people are waiting for fireworks launched from the Ljubljana Castle Hill. Another unique place is Lake Bled, that is picturesque by itself, but Christmas decorations make it and the town even more atmospheric.
Sinking of the Bell
It’s a Christmas even as well but located in at Lake Bled. Of course, the date is obviously on the 25th of December. By the legend, a bell made of Christmas lights starts to sink into the water of Lake Bled in the Christmas night. Thus, this scenario was reincarnated into big performance.
Slovenians love this event. Usually, they get mulled wine or hot chocolate and waiting until the only source of light, the big sinking bell, slowly gets under the water. The action is followed by Christmas carols. Romantic a lot!
Snow Castle Festival
The name says everything. It is a snow exhibition. Also, the festival has a second name, Castles of King Matjaž. In fact, it is one of the least known festivals, but definitely one of the loveliest.
Usually, it is held on Plateau Mitnek or Črna na Koroškem. Those places become a little wonderland for sure. People gather in teams, local as well as international ones, and start to create snowy sculptures. They should be connected to King Matjaž. By legends, he is sleeping in one of the caves in this part of Slovenia.
By the way, the festival lasts one weekend somewhere in January or February. When night comes, lights create obscure shadows playing with visitors’ minds. Sometimes spooky, but definitely worth to visit.
This is the festival with a hard-to-pronounce name for speakers of languages other than the Slavic ones. However, if to speak seriously, this is the biggest ethnographic festival in Slovenia dedicated to the end of the winter and to the celebration of Shrovetide.
Usually, the festival is held in Ptuj, one of the largest cities in Slovenia. It starts on Saturday and lasts 16 days! Yeah, it’s incredible how Slovenians can celebrate it until Shrove Tuesday. The main event is the parade of masks, where the “headliner” mask is Kurent, the traditional Slovenian mask. The other ones are brought all over the world and represent every culture. Besides the masquerade, the festival is the place of musical performances, cultural exhibitions as well as other events.
Have you ever imagined zombie apocalypses? If you cannot, you should visit this for sure. This activity takes place at the end of the traditional Film and Wine Festival Grossman in Ljutomer, a lovely small town.
As a cozy film festival, it is full of movies acting workshops, book presentations, and wine tastings. The festival focuses on horror movies, so the ending of Zombie Walk is the perfect finish point for this. The event is proclaimed as an act when horror officials leave Slovenia and promise to return only when the next festival begins.
Let’s Visit It!
People love festivals. They bring joy and happiness as well as light spots in everyday routine. However, some festivals start to be very typical and similar to each other. This is not bad, but there are events vivid because of their uniqueness.
It’s impressive that such a small country like Slovenia is full of them. Of course, you can listen to folk and classical music on the biggest one, the Ljubljana Summer Festival.
On the other side, why not visit some festivals that will remain in your memories for a much longer time? This will create the best association with Slovenia, so the country will stay in your heart. All around the year, activities are diverse: vine degustation, cows parade, bell sinking, zombie walk!
Human creativity does not have any limits, the only aim is to release it. You can find your muse here as well. Because the atmosphere of wonder has a strong impact on your mind.
We want to say that there are not boring countries or boring events. The way you see things matters a lot. So, we strongly recommend you visit at least of them. Of course, the more the best. However, if you have to choose one, think about the season you are going to visit Slovenia. It can happen that it will be the best winter, summer, fall, or spring in your life!