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Festive December in Ljubljana begins on Friday, 26 November, with the lighting of festive lights. In addition to the lights, visitors will be able to view a traditional nativity scene made of straw on the Gallusovo Nabrežje embankment; Park Zvezda will feature lantern decorations made by Ljubljana primary school children, while Wolfova, Čopova, Stritarjeva and Trubarjeva Ulica will showcase 79 “Green Trees”, which will be decorated by residents of and visitors to Ljubljana. The competent authorities will adapt other events scheduled for festive December to the current circumstances, and will regularly notify the public about them.

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© Janez Zalaznik

Festive lights measuring a total of 50 km in length will be switched on as per tradition on the Friday before the first Advent Sunday, on 26 November. There will be no events accompanying the switching on of the lights this year either. Ljubljana will don its festive apparel for a month and a half, as the lights will stay on until 16 January 2022.

The central theme of the decorations, as designed by Urban Modic, is the importance of coming together and co-existence; the decorative design, therefore, bears the title Omnipotence – Power of All. This year’s project comprises approximately 850 sculptures and figures! What’s new is the mostly reworked and reused formerly retired elements of the city’s lighting system. The centre of the festive decorations will be a three-sided pyramid above Prešeren Square, which ties in with the themes of other streets and squares. This year’s new features include the newly decorated street connection from Vodnik Square, Poljanska Cesta and Prekmurski Park towards the renovated Cukrarna (a former sugar refinery, now art gallery). Trees lining the River Ljubljanica embankments will be linked up with a long chain of lighting.

On 26 November at 10:00 am, fair kiosks will begin selling assorted gifts, food and drinks.

Sixteen kiosks featuring a diverse range of gifts have been set up along both the Breg and Petkovškovo Nabrežje embankments.
Along with these, 21 kiosks selling food and drinks have been erected at Breg and Cankarjevo Nabrežje embankments, Congress Square, Prešeren Square and Gallusovo Nabrežje embankment. This year sees two new locations added to the festivities, Stritarjeva Ulica and the intersection of Congress Square and Wolfova Ulica.

All due attention will be paid to the safety of visitors, as we are all well-aware of the severity of the situation: Vendors will be checking whether the RVT (recovered, vaccinated, tested) requirement is met, and encourage visitors to respect social distancing and use hand sanitizers. This year, the distance between kiosks is greater, which will help in regulating the flow of visitors.

December has always been and always will be a month of joy, happiness and hope, which might be even more evident this year. People want to spend time with one another, but are careful and aware of their shared responsibility. In view of the situation, they take comfort in the fact that the safety aspect of the festivities has been taken care of. Moreover, it is safer to buy and consume food and drinks outdoors than it is in closed spaces.

This year is made even more special because Ljubljana’s residents and visitors are invited to help decorate Christmas trees in the city centre. In keeping with the circular economy, these will be “Green Trees”, meaning Christmas trees that will be returned to the great outdoors after the holiday season:

- on Wolfova Ulica, two six-tree “forests” will be set up, making a total of 12 trees of varying sizes;
- on Čopova Ulica, four “forests” will be set up, making a total of 24 trees of varying sizes;
- on Stritarjeva Ulica, four “forests” will be set up, making a total of 24 trees of varying sizes;
- on Trubarjeva Ulica, 19 trees will be set up in front of certain food and drink establishments.

Residents and visitors will be invited via the Municipality of Ljubljana and Ljubljana Tourism’s social media to decorate the trees standing on Stritarjeva, Čopova and Trubarjeva Ulica.
The Municipality of Ljubljana and Ljubljana Tourism kindly request everyone not to buy new decorations for this purpose, but rather to contribute only those they already have at home. After the festive decoration time has concluded, the well-preserved decorations will be donated to families in need and children staying at holiday homes organised through humanitarian programmes by the Ljubljana Moste-Polje chapter of the Friends of Youth Association.

It has become tradition for Ljubljana primary school children to help decorate Ljubljana, and so the “Green Tree” forest on Wolfova Ulica will be dedicated to decorations of their choice. Decorations will be contributed by children from nine primary schools in Ljubljana. Children from six primary schools will put up their decorations on 25 and 26 November, in the morning.

As per tradition, Park Zvezda has been decorated with colourful lantern decorations made under the mentorship of Andrej Erjavec by children from more than 30 primary schools in Ljubljana. This year’s theme centres on the painter Mondrian.
A spruce tree will also be decorated at Town Hall, featuring baubles made of used plastic yoghurt bottles created by the pupils of the Osnovna Šola Franceta Bevka primary school (children will come to decorate the tree on 25 November at 10:30 am).

During the festive season, Ljubljana will be resplendent with a total of 10 decorated trees. The tree adorning Prešeren Square this year is 15 metres high, weighs 3 tonnes and is embellished with around 15 kilometres of lights. It was gifted to the Municipality of Ljubljana by a resident living in the Murgle neighbourhood.
Other trees will be set up at the same locations as last year: in front of and in the Town Hall, Old Square, Levstik Square, Mala Ulica, Figovec, Trdinova Cesta and Ljubljana Castle. This year a new location at Youth Work Brigades Square has also been added.

The Gallusovo Nabrežje embankment will once again host the nativity scene made of straw by Anton Kravanja, featuring life-size figures. The Jakopič Promenade and Town Hall will also be decked in festive decorations.

In line with Ljubljana’s sustainability principles, food and drink vendors will again use sustainable packaging made of paper, cardboard or wood, or which is otherwise biodegradable. Each vendor will include at least one dish from the Taste Ljubljana selection in their offer. The Municipality of Ljubljana this year again appeals to all kiosk lessees to forego plastic bags and replace them with paper or biodegradable shopping bags.

On the very last evening of the year, at midnight, the city will be illuminated by a 5-minute eco-friendly fireworks display set off from the slope of Castle Hill, at a net cost of EUR 4,000.

The decoration funds amount to EUR 220,000 and have been provided through a concession contract for public utility service for public lighting.

Every week throughout December, virtual interactive tours of Magical Ljubljana will be available, led by a local Ljubljana Tourism guide, in Slovene and English.

Events taking place within the ‘December 2021 in Ljubljana’ project will be posted on the official websites of Ljubljana Tourism at www.visitljubljana.com and the Municipality of Ljubljana at www.ljubljana.si.