Christmas 2016 in Slovenia – Christmas Markets, Food and Traditions

In February next year I will have been living in Slovenia for 10 years – gosh how time flies! My first Christmas here in 2007 was a bit of a culture shock as, at that time, Christmas wasn’t, or at least to me didn’t seem to be, such a big deal – no roast turkey and all the trimmings, no crackers and wearing of silly paper hats (though some might say that’s a bonus!), no shops crammed with Christmas merchandise in September and blaring Christmas jingles for months on end, and just a few low-, or at least lower-key Christmas markets.

Well, things have definitely changed and Christmas is most definitely here in a big(ger) way! With an increasing number of people choosing Slovenia as a destination for a short-break over Christmas/New Year, this blog has a run down of just some of things you can see and do.

Christmas in Ljubljana, Photo: http://www.slovenia.info

As in many other countries in Europe, the evening of the 24th is when most families celebrate and get together for a special meal, to exchange gifts and/or attend midnight mass. It’s worth noting that many restaurants are closed on Christmas Eve, or close earlier than usual. Shops are usually open on the 24th but close a little earlier than usual. All shops are closed on the 25th and again this is a family day, often for some recreational activities perhaps skiing, hiking or visiting relatives. The 26th is also a public holiday, Independence and Unity Day, and therefore again many shops and business will be closed although these days most of the larger ones are open, at least for a few hours in the morning. No Boxing Day Sales – hooray!

Christmas markets take place in all the major cities – the largest being in Ljubljana, where there are numerous markets throughout the city, the main one being alongside the banks of the Ljubljanica river. The festivities kick-off on 25th November with the official switching on of the lights at 5.15pm. There are also numerous concerts and other events taking place throughout the festive period. More here – http://bit.ly/2eBfQhk

Aba League Union Olimpija-Crvena Zvezda

Christmas in Ljubljana, Photo: http://www.slovenia.info

My home town of Radovljica, one of the three best-preserved historic towns in Slovenia, has a small Advent Market and also looks magical! More information here – http://tinyurl.com/zxczvsg

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The cute little Alpine Village in the ski resort of Kranjska Gora is a winter wonderland. More information here – http://tinyurl.com/jbntrpl

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Slovenia’s 2nd biggest city, Maribor, switches on its Christmas lights on Friday 25th November. The Christmas programme includes a Christmas market, St. Nicholas fair, Artmar fair, city ice-rink, concerts and parties. More information here – http://bit.ly/1I8qXL0

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Festivities in Bled begin on 2nd December. A Christmas market takes place on the promenade at the south end of Lake Bled. If there’s snow, the island looks even more fairy tale-like! More information here – http://bit.ly/2eDpZZj

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Bled Island, Photo: http://www.slovenia.info

There are also Christmas markets in Celje and Portorož, as well as smaller local ones in many other towns throughout the country, though these tend to only be open for a few days rather than for the entire advent period.

Throughout Slovenia you will find a host of other festive events and activities, where you can be a spectator or join in, including live nativities, outdoor ice-rinks, parades and concerts.

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Outdoor ice-rink in Maribor – Photo: Produkcija80

The last two years, Christmas has not been ‘white’. However, if it is a white Christmas, then there are a whole host of other possibilities, such as sledging, skiing, snow-shoeing, hiking etc. My parents often spend Christmas here and we have had some memorable Christmas Days, including this one below, spent hiking on the Pokljuka Plateau.

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And Christmas isn’t Christmas (and Easter not Easter!) without home-baked potica! You can read plenty more about my potica journey here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/03/03/easter-in-slovenia-my-potica-journey/

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So, if you are considering Slovenia’s for a Christmas break, then rest assured, you will find plenty to see and do. You can also be safe in the knowledge that you won’t have to pull a cracker and wear a silly hat!

© Adele in Slovenia

16 thoughts on “Christmas 2016 in Slovenia – Christmas Markets, Food and Traditions

  1. Thanks, this is really useful! We are going to be in Ljubljana over new year – can you tell me if the shops and attractions are open on new years eve and new years day?
    thanks you!

    • Hello Ursula, I’m glad my latest blog post is of use to you. Great to hear you are visiting Slovenia for new year. On New Year’s Eve shops are usually open as usual but close earlier. However, as this year it falls on a Sunday, I’m not entirely sure what the opening hours will be, but I suspect that shops that are usually closed on Sundays will be closed and other, larger supermarkets etc., will be open Sunday hours (usually 8-12noon, or some bigger ones until 3pm). On New Year’s Day the shops are usually all closed but in the main touristy places e.g. Bled, Ljubljana, you will find a few things open, cafes etc. In my home town, though, things tend to start opening up in the afternoon (once the hangovers have cleared I guess!!!). Enjoy!

  2. oh, you have been living in Slovenia since 10 years! I suppose you enjoy it very much. Next year in june I will definitively leave Belgium and will move to Slovenia !

    • Yes, time flies, I can’t believe it’s almost 10 years. Good luck Daniela. I hope you have a good business plan and/or job lined up. It’s a beautiful country but not an easy one in terms of making a living.

      • Thank you for your quick answer. Well, I have no business plan as I am retired. Am looking for an unfurnitured appartment in Bled, Radovljica or Kranj. I know very well “gorenjska” ( I even married in Bled a long time ago). Any good or useful tip is welcome. You can find my profile on Facebook: Daniela Procacci ex Bogdanovic. Have a nice evening and …Prav lepe pozdrave z Bruselja Daniela

      • I am not sure whether you have got or not my previous message. Here it is again: Thank you for your quick answer. Well, I have no business plan as I am retired. Am looking for an unfurnitured appartment in Bled, Radovljica or Kranj. I know very well “gorenjska” ( I even married in Bled a long time ago). Any good or useful tip is welcome. You can find my profile on Facebook: Daniela Procacci ex Bogdanovic. Have a nice evening and …Prav lepe pozdrave z Bruselja Daniela

  3. Wonderful blog, Ursula. Thanks! Especially since we will be arriving in Ljubljana on Christmas Eve for a few days with our kids. Looks like we may be eating at a hotel (or in our AirBnB flat) on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. If you happen to know of any good alternatives, we’d be thrilled to hear them.

    Either way. I really appreciate this great resource you’ve created for visitors to Slovenia.

    • Thanks for the feedback, it’s always nice to know my blog posts are of use. By the way, though, my name’s Adele, not Ursula, not sure where you got that from – hence the blog title ‘Adele in Slovenia’! You should find a few places open in Ljubljana on Christmas Day, certainly hotels will be an option. Last year I ate in my home town of Radovljica on Christmas Day evening at Kunstelj Inn, which was the only place in town open, but there are SO many restaurants in Ljubljana, and it’s become such a popular tourist destination, I’m sure you won’t have a problem finding somewhere.

  4. Lovely article, Adele.
    I will be in Ljubljana…arriving on Christmas Eve and staying for 5 nights.
    I am so glad that in her response to my query about Iva’s food walk, she sent me a link to your blog. ,

    • Hello Sonali,

      Thanks for the feedback. It’s always lovely to hear from readers of my blog, and to know that all my hard work is of use.

      I hope you enjoy your stay in Ljubljana and, if you go on one of Iva’s food walks, I’m sure you’ll have a great time!

      Regards,
      Adele

  5. Thanks Adele for the helpful blog! We will be in Bled over the Christmas holiday and I was searching for grocery store hours. We will also be looking to buy a Christmas tree…do you think they will still be for sale on 23rd/24th?
    Best,
    Amanda

    • Hi Amanda,
      Thanks for the feedback on the blog. Always great to hear its of use.

      In general, the large supermarkets and other stores will be open as usual on the 23rd, then close early on the 24th – based on previous years probably around 5pm.

      Some families here still stick to the tradition of not putting the Christmas tree up until 24th, so I guess you should find some. i’m not sure if you want a real or fake tree, but I suggest you try the large hardware stores such as Merkur.

      Regards,
      Adele

  6. My wife and. I are coming this summer! Hope to see family members. Also see their graves. I understand that they put other coffins on top of each other. If that is true, who do you have to see to find where their buried at?

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