Eat, Drink and Be Merry in Festive Radovljica!

Word is rapidly spreading about how beautiful the Christmas decorations are this year in Linhart Square – the heart of the old town of Radovljica. If you haven’t visited yet, be sure to do so and find out why it’s the talk of the town, and further afield too!

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Photo: Miran Kambič (www.slovenia.info)

Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays are the best time to visit when there is a small Advent Market as well as live entertainment for all the family. The Advent Market is also open on Christmas Day and Boxing Day (26th December), and on both days there are street performances at 5pm. For the full programme, click here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/395/

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Photo: Miran Kambič (www.slovenia.info)

And while you are here, why not take some time to Taste Radol’ca too!

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Kunstelj Inn’s famous cake pops with a Christmas twist!

Since it can be a little bit of a faff, or at least I think so, trying to find out which restaurants are/aren’t open and when during the festive season, I decided to take it upon myself to do the hard work and compile all the information in one place i.e. here! So below is a full list – or rather of those that responded to my request for information. Note: restaurants are open as usual in the period between Christmas and New Year, unless otherwise stated below.

Gostilna Avguštin – 24.12: 9am-6pm, 25.12: Closed, 31.12: 9am-6pm, 1.1: 12noon-8pm

Gostilna Kunstelj – 24.12: 12noon-3pm, 25.12: 12noon-10pm, 30.12 open as usual + 6pm-8pm Cocktail Party, 31.12: 12noon-5pm + 7pm-10pm New Year’s Dinner (reservations required)

Gostišče Draga – 24.12: 11am-3pm, 25.12: 10am-6pm, 26.12: 10am-6pm, 27.12: Closed, 28/29.12: 11am-9pm, 30.12: 11am-10pm, 31.12: 10am-3pm, 1.1: 10am-6pm

Gostišče Tulipan – 24.12+25.12: Closed, 31.12: Open + New Year’s Dinner (reservations required)

Lectar Inn – Open daily throughout the year from 9am – 10pm

Vila Podvin* – 24.12: 12noon-5pm, 25.12: 12noon-5pm, 31.12 Open + New Year’s Dinner (reservations required), 1.1: 12noon-5pm

Joštov Hram – 24.12: 9am-5pm, 25/26.12: Closed, 27-30.12: 9am-10pm, 31.12: 9am-5pm, 1/2.1: Closed

* If you haven’t the time, or the will, to rustle up a gourmet home-cooked Christmas lunch, this year Vila Podvin is offering a fully-prepared takeaway version of their Christmas lunch. You could even pretend you made it yourself! More information and the full menu can be found on the Vila Podvin Facebook page (see the post, in both Slovene and English, dated 6th December).

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So, armed with information about what events are taking place, as well as information about restaurant opening times, there are now no excuses not to visit Radovljica this festive season! What are you waiting for?!

© Adele in Slovenia

 

 

New Year’s Eve in Slovenia – How, Where and Hangover Cures!

Generally speaking, Slovenes love New Year’s Eve and really go to town when it comes to celebrating! So, if you are going to be, or are thinking about, celebrating New Year’s Eve in Slovenia, here are some ideas of how, and where, to see in the new year in style.

You won’t have to go far to find new year’s celebrations, since pretty much every village, town, and city has some kind of celebration. And even if you don’t see them, you will certainly hear them!

The biggest crowds gather in the Slovene capital, Ljubljana, where numerous events take place, the highlight being the fireworks display launched from the Ljubljana Castle hill. Find more information about New Year’s Even in Ljubljana here – https://www.visitljubljana.com/en/visitors/events/page-12848/

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There are New Year’s Eve concerts held in several of the city centre squares from 9pm onwards.

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Lake Bled is another popular place to spend New Year’s Eve. I saw in the new year there a few years back; first taking a (brisk!) walk around the lake, then settling down with a friend and a mug of mulled wine to watch the fireworks display above the lake.

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There are New Year’s Eve celebrations in all the major cities, including Maribor, Celje, Novo Mesto, Nova Gorica, Piran, Kranj, Velenje etc., as well as smaller local events.

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New Year’s Eve in Maribor, Photo: http://www.maribor-pohorje.si (Profoto studio)

A more unique way to see in the new year is to visit the mountains. Quite a few of Slovenia’s mountain huts hold house parties on New Year’s Eve. Expect hearty food alongside the wood-burner, plenty of schnapps, and obligatory singing! Of course, don’t forget that the next morning – yes, the one after the night before – you will have to hike back down!

You might find the hut half buried in snow, as I did here on the Pokljuka plateau, but that’s all part of the fun! A pair of snowshoes, as seen below, definitely aids access when conditions are like this.

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If it’s a nice sunny New Year’s Day, what better hangover cure can there be than this!

If you prefer a ‘hair of the dog’ style hangover cure, then be sure to try out one of numerous kinds of Slovenian homemade fruit schnapps, but beware, the homemade versions are often strong enough to blow your socks off!

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I have to admit to being a bit of a killjoy when it comes to New Year’s Eve. I can take it or leave it, preferring Christmas and time spent with family to loud parties and – as we all know – the world is always still the same the next day, despite all the new year’s resolutions! However, since I’ve been in Slovenia, I have tried to embrace New Year’s Eve a little more, and have tried a number of different ways of celebrating.

If you’ve been a good girl or boy, then Old Man Winter (Dedek Mraz) may visit on New Year’s Eve! I met him at Vila Podvin on New Year’s Eve 2014/2015, whilst enjoying a gourmet dinner prepared by one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin. Families with young children especially enjoy the New Year’s Eve celebrations at Vila Podvin. This year the fun begins at 7pm – reservations essential.

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New Year 2015/2016 was spent at another local restaurant, Kunstelj Inn, whilst other years I have just walked from home into the heart of my hometown of Radovljica where the celebrations are focused around the historic old town centre, with live music and merriment. This year in Linhart Square, the heart of the medieval old town, there will be live music and merriment with the Gašperji Ensemble from 11pm – 2am.

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There have been a couple of times when temperatures having been well below freezing and I couldn’t face going out in the cold and the appeal of staying home in the warm won over! If you do venture out in the cold at midnight, be sure to wrap up well!

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Wherever and however you choose to celebrate, I wish you a very HAPPY NEW YEAR and a healthy and prosperous 2017!

© Adele in Slovenia

Festive Radovljica: Christmas Market and Family Entertainment Galore!

It might not be the biggest of Slovenia’s Christmas markets, but the setting for Radovljica’s Advent Market, in the heart of the medieval old town – one of the 3 best preserved of its kind in Slovenia – makes it among the cutest and most attractive! Combined with the festive entertainment programme, which offers something for all the family, a visit to Radovljica should be on your list if you are spending time in Slovenia during this festive season.

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Photo: Pakt media

The festive programme kicks off this Friday 2nd December with the Christmas lights switch on at 4.30pm, and entertainment from DJ Darmar, performances by the Studio Ritem Dance Studio and the opening of the Advent Market.

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The Advent Market is open every Friday (3pm-8pm), Saturday and Sunday (10am-8pm) throughout December, and additionally on Christmas Eve (10an-5pm), Christmas Day (10am-7pm), and Boxing Day (26th Dec – 10am-8pm).

Below are just some of the highlights of the festive entertainment programme. Unless otherwise stated, all events take place in Linhart Square. Click here for the full programme – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/395/

3rd & 11th December – Fairytale Horses for Children

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9-11th December – Open Day at the Lectar Gingerbread Workshop

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17th December at 8pm – Opera Concert: Baritone Ivan Andres Arnšek and pianist Mojca Lavrenčič (Radovljica Manor)

24th December at 11am – Čupakarba: Stilt walkers and jugglers

25th Dec at 5pm – Ana Snežna Street Theatre

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26th December at 5pm – Čupakabra and Priden Možic: Sodrga – street show with fire

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There are also creative workshops for children, performances by local choirs and bands, carol singing and more!

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You can find out more about what else to see and do in Slovenia during the festive period, more about Christmas markets, and some information about Christmas food and customs in my recent blog post here – https://adeleinslovenia.com/2016/11/20/christmas-2016-in-slovenia-christmas-markets-food-and-traditions/

© Adele in Slovenia

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

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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

Reflections & New Year in Slovenia

If someone were to ask me what would be your ideal weather for Christmas, my answer would have fitted exactly what we had. I couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present than the perfect cloudless skies and warm winter sunshine we had last week. My parents were here from the UK for Christmas and the three of us sat outside having a picnic lunch on Christmas Day. Who’d have thought that possible!

However, not all the country were so lucky as many places were, again, shrouded in fog. This is the view on Boxing Day looking down from Možjanca, near Preddvor.

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During my parent’s visit we packed in plenty of sights including a trip to the Christmas market in Ljubljana.

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A visit to Kranj to watch the very popular annual Christmas tuba concert (tuba božički) – to get us in the festive mood.

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On Christmas Eve we went to see the preparations for mass at the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Brezje http://www.radolca.si/en/brezje-basilica/

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On Christmas Day we visited a tourist farm (more about that next week), visited friends, watched the Ana Snežna street show in the old town of Radovljica, and finished the day with a meal at Kunstelj Inn in Radovljica.

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If you haven’t already decided how and where to see in the new year, here are some ideas of what’s on in Radovljica and the surroundings and also further afield.

On 30th December there will be a pre-New Year’s Eve party for children at 4pm in Linhart Square, whilst on New Year’s Eve the merriment will take place, also in Linhart Square, with live music from the Avsenik House Ensemble. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/110/

If food, and of course drink, is on your mind, then look to one of the Taste Radol’ca restaurants, though hurry as some are already fully booked. Amongst others, Kunstelj Inn is offering a 4-course menu of local food for 33 euros, Grajska gostilnica  is offering a 6-course New Year’s Eve menu for just 37 euros per person and Gostišče Tulipan has a 4-course menu with live music for 28 euros per person.

Further afield, the capital, Ljubljana, is a popular destination to spend New Year’s Eve, with plenty happening all over the city or, if the weather is fine, spending New Year’s Eve in one of Slovenia’s many mountain huts can also be a magical. One year I walked up to the Sankaška hut above Begunje, from where, on a clear day/night, there are fantastic views and I was able to enjoy watching many fireworks displays across the valley. So, if the weather plays game and that appeals, don your hiking gear and a head torch and head on up there. More information here – http://www.radolca.si/en/st-peters-trail-begunje/

I have now been writing this blog for exactly three years. In that time it has had over 90,000 views from all over the world and this year I was delighted and proud that it was also officially recognised by the Slovenian Tourist Organisation and now also features on the homepage of their website – http://www.slovenia.info/en/Blog-Adele-in-Slovenia/Adele-in-Slovenia.htm?adele_slovenia=0&lng=2

People often ask me how I come up with so many ideas for what to write about and if I ever run out of ideas. Actually, sometimes I still have too many ideas so, if you keep reading, I’ll keep writing, and may the journey continue to make 2016 an even more successful year for Adele in Slovenia!

I wish all readers a very, very Happy & Healthy New Year!

 

A Green Christmas and a Winter Fairytale!

It’s looking like it’s going to be another green Christmas this year. The last two Christmases were the same, although last year the first snow arrived on Boxing Day. I, of course, am most definitely not complaining! Though, it was somewhat odd to have a mosquito buzzing around my head in bed on Saturday night, you definitely don’t expect that in December!

Despite the Alpine climate here in the Gorenjska region, it really is unseasonably mild and we also have luck that being a little higher in altitude – Radovljica is almost 500m above sea level – we usually manage to escape most of the gloomy fog that so often hangs above the Ljubljana basin at this time of year.

Undoubtedly one of the best vantage points, and for a guaranteed smug feeling, is from up high. So, when I woke to a perfect cloudless morning on Saturday, I just had to decide where to go – that’s often the hardest part! This time I chose Dobrča (1478m) which has a very popular mountain hut – Koča na Dobrči – and is among the favourite winter hikes for locals from in and around the Radovljica area, as well as from further afield. With views like this, is it any wonder!

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Sunday was a busy day which began with a(nother) hike, this time to St. Peter’s Church above Begunje na Gorenjskem, then it was off to Radovljica’s old town to see the Bernese mountain dogs – decked in their finest Christmas outfits – who visit every year at this time to entertain the crowds and small children can take a ride in a horse-drawn cart.

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In the afternoon I visited the Winter Fairytale at the Brdo Estate in Kranj. The estate, which dates back to 1446, has had numerous owners throughout the years, and for a time served as a holiday residence for the former president of the Republic of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito. It is now owned by the state and serves many functions, most notably it hosts all the country’s top protocol events. It is a popular place to hold weddings, has a golf course, a hotel, a small lake, a castle, a park, and also offers a variety of adventures and experiences. During the winter, I often enjoy a walk around the 10km estate boundary, which is also very popular with joggers and runners and where, if you are lucky, you can glimpse some of the estate’s deer grazing.

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Unfortunately the area was shrouded in mist on Sunday, thus it was difficult to photograph the estate at its finest, but nonetheless it was very well attended and a real hit with children who were entertained throughout with fairytales and a visit from Father Christmas.

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Big(ger) children could keep warm around the burning logs.

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There were horse and carriage rides with the estate’s horses as well as other animals to pet.

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A chance to watch ice being creatively carved and to sample food direct from the estate – including venison, jams, chocolates, and home-produced tea.

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Regardless of the season Brdo is worth a visit, be it to walk around the park, to attend one of the many events, or you can just pop in for coffee and cake. Read more about the estate here – http://www.brdo.si/en

To close this week, all that remains for me to say is I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and may Father Christmas bring you all you desire!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas in Slovenia; Markets, Food, Traditions and more!

Slovenia hasn’t been celebrating Christmas for that long, well not in the form that many of us know it. However, the country has certainly caught up with, and caught onto, the festive spirit and now there are Christmas-related events happening throughout the land.

So, how is Christmas celebrated in Slovenia? What is/isn’t open? What is there to do, where to go?

As in many other countries in Europe, the evening of the 24th is when most families celebrate and get together for a special meal, exchange gifts and/or attend midnight mass. If you are visiting Slovenia at that time it is worth noting that many restaurants may be closed on this evening 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.

There are Christmas markets taking place in all the major cities, the largest being in Ljubljana, where there are numerous markets. The main market is held alongside the banks of the Ljubljanica river, but there are also other markets spread across the city’s squares, with a vast range of events and entertainment taking place from now until the New Year. More information here – https://www.visitljubljana.com/en/activities/entertainment/77402/detail.html

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Festive Ljubljana (Dunja Wedam)

In Maribor, Slovenia’s 2nd biggest city, there are numerous events taking place including the Fairy City (Vilinsko mesto), a Festive Fair and a long list of concerts and other events. More information here – http://maribor-pohorje.si/festive-december-in-maribor0.aspx

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Maribor Christmas Market (photo MP produkcija)

In Celje, ‘Fairytale Celje’ (Pravljično Celje), including a Christmas market, runs from 29th Nov – 31st Dec – http://www.dezela-celjska.si/en/node/72073

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Festive Celje

Other towns with smaller Christmas markets include the Festive Winter Village in Bled – from 4.12 – 17. 1 – http://www.bled.si/en/events/2015/12/04/2264-Festive-Winter-Village

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Festive Winter Village, Bled

The Alpine Village in Kranjska Gora – from 28.11 – 3.1 – http://www.kranjska-gora.si/si/files/default/plakat%20dec.pdf

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Alpine Village, Kranjska Gora

And not forgetting the Advent Market in small, but perfectly formed, Radovljica – where I live – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/110/

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Advent in Radovljica (pakt media)

If you’ve never been to Radovjlica, just watch this video of a Christmas commercial shot here 2 years ago to see how magical it looks – http://klip.si/video-reklama-za-bauli-snemana-v-radovljici-4484

Those in, or heading to, the Slovene coast will also find a Christmas market in Portorož (http://bit.ly/1jhWPkH)

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Christmas Market in Portorož

There are of course many more towns that have Christmas markets and events – too many to list here – and many of these, including those listed here also have open-air ice-skating rinks.

If you are looking for a festive event with a difference, every year, weather conditions permitting, there is a live ice nativity play held in the Mlača Gorge in the village of Mojstrana. With the freezing temperatures we have had of late, this year’s event looks sure to be going ahead and the performances are scheduled to begin on Christmas Day. The entrance fee also includes a walk through the ice kingdom, a gallery of nativity scenes and the nativity performance held in the frozen waterfall. Be sure to wrap up warmly! More information can be found here – http://lednoplezanje.com/zive-jaslice-v-ledu/

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Live Ice Nativity in Mojstrana

Turning to food, no Slovene home is complete over the festive season without potica – a traditional rolled and filled cake. You will find it everywhere; in cafes, supermarkets, and in almost every Slovene’s home. Potica come in many varieties, the most popular varieties are filled with walnut or poppy seeds, but there are also other fillings including tarragon or coconut, and special editions with dual fillings, such as the one below – named ‘potica of our roots‘  prepared by one of Slovenia’s top chefs, Uroš Štefelin, from Vila Podvin.

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Potica of Our Roots

Wherever you choose to visit and/or spend Christmas in Slovenia, I hope you have a great festive season!