The Festive and Tasty Season in Radovljica 2017

 

What at a tasty month November has been, thanks to Taste Radol’ca, and what an exciting festive month December promises to be, too!

I haven’t managed to visit all the nine participating Taste Radol’ca restaurants, thus far at least, though there is still time until the end of November! Those that I have visited, however, have mighty impressed me with their local, seasonal and creative menus. It is also a bonus knowing that eating Taste Radol’ca food supports local farmers and other small food producers, since the focus of Taste Radol’ca is on local food, thus it’s a win-win all round.

Taste Radol’ca 2017 at Gostišče Draga

Although November is drawing to a close, you can still Taste Radol’ca throughout the year. Some of the participating restaurants have special bee symbols on their menus denoting Taste Radol’ca dishes, whilst others, such as Vila Podvin and Gostilna Kunstelj, strive to ensure that menus are seasonal, using the best available local and seasonal products. Read more about Taste Radol’ca here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/taste-radolca-2017/83/394/

December in Radovjlica also promises to begin on a tasty note when the festive season kicks-off on 2nd December at 4.30pm with the switching-on of the Christmas lights, the opening of the Advent Market (10am – 7pm), a show by Čupakabra including juggling, stilt-walking and a circus workshop (5pm) and the simultaneous closing event of this year’s Taste Radol’ca (5pm-8pm) with street food and a concert by the band Kontrabant (6pm-8pm).

The small Advent Market in Linhart Square – the heart of the old town centre – will be open on 22nd, 25th, 26th and 29th December from 12noon – 7pm, the 2nd and 23rd December from 10am-7pm, the 3rd and 24th December from 10am-5pm, the 27th and 28th December from 3pm-8pm, and the 30th December from 10am-8pm.

Other events taking place during the festive season include a street show for children on 23rd December (10am-11am) and on the same day children can take a ride on a ‘fairytale’ horse with the Sitar ranch (11am-3pm) in front of the church in Linhart Square.

On Christmas Eve there will be an acrobatic performance by Acromantix (11am), and a visit by the festive Bernese mountain dogs with the Papy dog bakery (11.30am-1pm).

On Christmas Day take a stroll to the old town centre (to walk off Christmas lunch!) where you can watch a performance by the Ana Snežna street theatre at 5pm, whilst the following day, Boxing Day, Čupakabra will perform at 5pm.

Children won’t want to miss a visit by Grandfather Frost (Dedek Mraz) and the children’s show ‘What has Grandfather Frost Brought?’ on Wednesday 27th December at 5pm in the Radovljica Mansion.

These are just some of the highlights of the festive season, for the full programme click here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/395/

 © 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

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slovene Christmas Customs, Traditions and Gifts

One of the customs I love in Slovenia is that of always removing your shoes before entering anyone’s home and being given a pair of cosy slippers to wear; whatever the time of year. I found this a little odd at first as in the UK I’d never thought twice before about going into other people’s homes wearing shoes – the same shoes which I’d been walking around in outdoors – but it makes perfect sense really as who knows what could be lurking on the soles of your shoes. Now, I’m so accustomed to this, that even when I visit friends and family in the UK, I automatically remove my shoes at the front door even though it means getting cold feet since I’m not offered slippers! So I was particularly delighted this week when, on the occasion of a little pre-Christmas get-together with friends, I was given an early Christmas present; of a pair of beautiful hand-made, personalised slippers which I’m now wearing with pride – thanks Anja!

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We had a lovely evening with an array of Christmas treats too – some healthy, some less so – including my homemade mini-Christmas cakes, which were the star of the show!  CIMG8235

So, this got me thinking about other customs and traditions in Slovenia and, it being the festive season and all, I thought I would elaborate a little further this week, in particular about Christmas and New Year traditions.

I should probably begin by saying that Christmas is actually a relatively new tradition in Slovenia since during the times of Socialism, under Tito’s rule, Christmas per se i.e. 25th December, wasn’t celebrated. Instead, there were (still are) 2 festive celebrations; St. Nicholas (Miklavž), who secretively delivers small gifts to children on 6th December, and Grandfather Frost (Dedek Mraz), who delivers presents, usually in person (ahem!) on New Year’s Eve.

These days of course, Slovenia has rapidly caught up on celebrating Christmas and festive food and gifts starts to appear in shops late-autumn, though thankfully not in July, which I read wass when Harrods opened its Christmas Department this year!

As in many other countries in Europe, the evening of the 24th is when most families celebrate and get together for a special meal – which is usually some kind of roast meat though not especially turkey – 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 some of the larger ones may open for a few hours in the morning.

Talking of shopping, which many of you, myself included, have probably been doing frantically in the run up to Christmas, I don’t know about you but I find there’s always someone who is SO difficult to buy for; the person who has everything and is choosy to boot! So, this week when I discovered the new range of gifts from the Slovene Centre for Architecture, it was a revelation! Their range of gifts are made in Slovenia, unique, stylish and practical too. The gift range includes towels, notebooks and other stationery, jewellery, water bottles and even chocolates and feature motifs related to individual works of Slovenian architecture, both traditional and modern.

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The products will be on sale at selected Tourist Information Centres, including in Radovljica, or can be ordered directly from the centre. More information can be found here – http://www.centerarhitekture.org/vurnikovidnevi/?page_id=131

The Christmas programme continues in Radovljica and on Saturday evening we were treated to an impressive display by the flaming circus act, Cupakabra. As you can see from the photos below, it was quite a spectacle and drew plenty of spectators to the old town centre.

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The week ahead will see more concerts and entertainment, as well as the Christmas market which takes place each Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday throughout December. The full programme of events can be found here – http://www.radolca.si/en/what-to-do/events-1/festive-december-in-linhart-square/83/110/

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, last week we had a WHOLE WEEK without rain, fog or low cloud. Thanks Santa!

© AdeleinSlovenia 2014