Why Christmas Lights Switch-On day is so Important for Ljubljana?

During the advent season, Ljubljana becomes one of the busiest locales in Slovenia. One of the best events during this time is the Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-On Day. It’s one of the most important events that signal the start of the end.

The Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-On Day is the time of the year that signals the holiday season. During this time, the city turns on the lights for the festival, unveiling the theme for the year. It also opens up more of the city’s upcoming events and puts people in a celebrating mood.

Why is Ljubljana’s Christmas Lights Switch-On Day to its people? Here’s everything you need to know about one of Old Town’s favorite holidays.

A Quick History of Christmas Lights Switch-On Day 

Ljubljana has, for decades now, is famous for its beautiful Christmas lighting display. The Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-On Day is always a magical event unlike any other.

While other places also put Christmas Lights on their public spaces, Ljubljana was different. It was never simply adding as many Christmas lights as you can and fill it with ornaments. Every bulb in the festival offers a significant looking into Slovenia’s cultural zeitgeist.

The display, based around the theme of the universe, is being developed and taken to new levels year after year, reflecting a fascinating story about artistic inspiration.

The history of the Christmas Lights Switch-On Day goes as far back as 1999, initiated by artist Zmago Modic. Modic is a famous painter and modern-day visionary who likes to involve himself in Ljubljana’s many events.

Modic handled the artificial rain on Prešeren Square, where it stood on the hot, dry summer days. He works on the annual installations on Earth Day and the light decorations of Vesoljna Ljubljana on New Year’s Eve. His work, however, reaches a peak with the Lights-On festival installation every advent season.

The Inspiration of Zmago Modic

Following his famous Images of Primeval Memory exhibition, Modic decided to “bring his artistic vision of the universe.” He always believed in the beauty of the universe and its value as the cradle of life.

Inspired by this belief, the artist wanted to bring the expanse of the Universe for the people of Ljubljana to see. He wanted ways to express himself and found his medium via Christmas lights.

There’s an urban legend that Modic based his first-ever light installation on NASA’s images of the universe. He did his best to incorporate them into the city’s Christmas lighting display. The concept came from architect Karin Košak.

Over the years, Modic developed the concept in different directions every year. He not only used the images of universes, galaxies, and other celestial bodies but things on Earth too. His fascination with worlds different from ours gave life to his designs.

Images of microcosms in nature, from subatomic particles, chromosomes, and bacteria, became his primary subjects. While these subjects don’t sound related to Christmas, he always believed that the season was a season of life, and hence he gave the nod at these lives that we don’t see with our naked eye.

Modic also tried to tie the festive season and his decor with stories of fairytale-like quality. He created a show that is out of this world, open to the fascination of a crowd. He cast a diverse plethora of symbolic characters that we only see in myths and tall tales.

Among these, he once depicted an homage to “The Good Fairy,” a person enthroned amidst Mestni trg square. This person fulfilled the wishes of the passers-by who visit her, much like how Santa Claus of Western tradition does.

Why Is Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-on Day So Important 

So, why is Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-On Day so important? It all boils down to a few practical and symbolic reasons for many Slovenians.

For starters, Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-On Day signaled the coming of the advent season. Switch-On Day starts at the end of November or early December, depending on weather conditions.

During this time, it’s always the first holiday of the season, and it opens up Ljubljana to visitors. People from all around Slovenia and the world await this as a signal to start advent season throughout the country.

By starting Switch-On Day, Ljubljana also opens up many of its wonderful events, including the much-awaited Festive Fair. The Festive Fair is a time when all shops start decorating their buildings and businesses for the holidays. It also opens up the Ljubljana Christmas markets that people love to visit.

The opening of the Christmas market stalls brings several types of positive reactions from people. Many are happy, as seasonal items are available again from artisan shops. People can buy food, imbibe on beverages, and buy souvenirs.

During this time, businesses also add new dishes to their menu. Visitors go out more on the streets looking for impromptu presentations and shows. At the very least, it’s a time for people to relax.

The Season of Love and Unity is Nigh

The Christmas Lights Switch-On Day is also a signal for people to start relaxing and enjoying. Advent season in Ljubljana is a time for family, friends, and those who matter to you the most. In a world where people work to live, this is a time to remember that people need to live more.

Many of the themes dealt with in Modic’s Christmas displays, as we said, denote the current cultural zeitgeist in Slovenia. These paradigms include Cosmic Ljubljana, The Path of Life, and the Cosmic Spruce Tree. There’s also Bearers of Light, A Celebration of Existence, Space Toys, and The Intermediate Time Span of Humanity. 

Even when Zmago Modic passed away, his son Urban Modic took over. He is now the bearer of his father’s legacy and continues to show the spirit of Ljubljana and its people.

For 2020, the year’s theme is “Love Live,” which is a play on the world’s current situation during the pandemic. Urban Modic notes that the decoration “focuses on life, its vulnerability, and at the same time, endurance.”

Urban focuses on the competitive spirit of humanity and life, and how it affects people in everyday scenarios. So, why is this important?

Introspection is a vital part of the Slovenian identity since its early years. It allowed Slovenians to push through life and see the world as it was without rose-tinted glasses. As Slovenians are practical people, they also work towards the reflection of everything that transpired for the year.

Slovenia is in Celebration

The Christmas Lights Switch-On Day happens on different streets and public squares in Ljubljana. Some of these include Prešeren Square, in front of and the City Hall, on Old square, Levstik square, Mala ulica street, in front of Figovec restaurant, on Trdinova street, and Ljubljana Castle.

With how big the entire city is, Lights Switch-On Day is a time to bring visitors to different places in Ljubljana. It’s a time to show off the Old Town and its beauty to people who don’t always have the luxury of enjoying it.

In the days winding down to New Year’s Eve in Slovenia, Ljubljana takes part in turning its streets into fairy-tale wonderlands. Every hotspot becomes a representation of the Slovenian identity, both of the past year and the upcoming year.

With the Christmas Lights Switch-On Day, visitors can take a stroll in the iconic market stalls. The streets and squares are all-lit up, making it a great time to socialize with friends and family. For locals, it’s also a time to remember lovely memories and enjoy life.

Ljubljana also opens up seasonal events and activities within the city with the Switch-On Day. When the weather permits it, the ice rink opens up for people to enjoy. Friends, couples, parents, and children get to play on the ice and slide around in glee.

Children can expect that their favorite events are coming soon. When Switch-On starts, Miklavž Day is around the corner. Children can expect gifts and more family time from this point forward, with Slovenian Christmas traditions on their way.

The Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-On Day almost always coincides with Christmas events in other cities. When it commences, it also means people can visit cities around Slovenia for the holidays, and expect events and activities.

While other events like the Nativity Scene at Postojna cave and the festivities in Bled and Maribor don’t rely on the Switch-On day, they happen after the fact. Switch-On Day is the time when people can start filling their calendars with relaxing activities, expecting they can go around Slovenia with ease and enjoyment.


The Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-On Day is a glorious day for the Old Town. It’s a day that signals to people that it’s time to relax, reflect on the life they’re living, and enjoy. It’s a day where people can enjoy the advent season in peaceful contemplation.

Ljubljana Christmas Lights Switch-On Day is always the start of many things in Ljubljana. From different Christmas holidays to a plethora of winter activities, there is something for everyone once Switch-On Day opens the season.

Will you be in Ljubljana this advent season? Have you seen the Christmas Lights Switch-On Day? There are more activities you can do in and around Ljubljana. Take a look at everything you can enjoy this holiday season.

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