The festive lights
The festive lights will traditionally be lit on Friday before the first Advent Sunday, which is 1 December, at 5:15 PM. After the introductory cultural program featuring a performance by the Waldorf Primary School children's choir, visitors at Prešeren Square will count down the seconds until the moment when Ljubljana will shine in its holiday attire.
This year's Christmas decoration, titled "We Are They", emphasizes the message of mutual respect. According to the concept's author, Urban Modic, it serves as a reminder that we, too, could be refugees tomorrow, calling for mutual respect. The central element at Prešeren Square, a flying saucer, symbolises the peaceful and respectful encounter of different cultures. Many parts of the decoration showcase diversity, the expansion of the universe, and the origin of life. Some elements consist of original restored sculptures from Cosmic Ljubljana, while new ones are largely made from recycled elements of previous installations and parts of retired public lights and other techniques.
The old town centre will be adorned with more than 50 kilometres of festive lights, 850 to 900 light bodies, and 48 lanterns crafted by Ljubljana elementary school students, adorning trees in Zvezda Park. Jakopič Promenade in Tivoli and the Town Hall will also be festively illuminated.
The decoration cost 220,000 euros, and funds were secured through a concession contract for the public service of organising public lighting.
Green Tree Groves and Ten Christmas Trees
Ljubljana will be adorned with 10 Christmas trees. The central tree at Prešernov trg Square is 20 metres tall, weighs 4.5 tons, and is decorated with approximately ten kilometres of lights. The city of Ljubljana received it as a gift from a resident of Moste. Other trees will be located at Mestni and Levstik trg Square, Pod Trančo, near Figovec, Ljubljana Castle, the atrium of the Town Hall, Mala ulica Street in front of the City Playground, Slovenska cesta Street at the intersection with Trdinova ulica Street, and Trg mladinskih delovnih brigad Square.
Additionally, 89 green trees will be placed at various locations, and after the holidays, they will be returned to nature. Children from Ljubljana elementary schools and members of the Daily Activity Centres for the Elderly Ljubljana will help decorate the tree groves, promoting intergenerational collaboration. Residents of Ljubljana are also invited to participate in decorating, encouraged to use existing decorations rather than buying new ones.
Nativity Scene at Gallusovo nabrežje Embankment
Unique straw nativity scenes with life-sized figures, handcrafted by amateur artist Anton Kravanja, will be on display at Gallusovo nabrežje Embankment from December 1st to January 7th. Wooden nativity scenes in natural size, on display until February 2nd, will be situated at Ljubljana Castle.
The Christmas fair, traditionally the centre of social events in the city at the end of the year, will open on 1 December at 10 AM. Market stalls with gift programs and catering will be located on Breg, Cankarjevo, and Gallusovo nabrežje Embankment, Kongresni and Prešernov trg Square, Stritarjeva ulica Street, and the intersection of Wolfova ulica Street and Kongresni trg Square.
Stalls with gift programs on Breg will be open from 10 AM to 9 PM, with an extra hour on Fridays and Saturdays. On Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, they will close at 6 PM. Catering stalls will be open from 10 AM to midnight, except for smaller ones on Breg, which will close an hour earlier. On Christmas Eve and the last day of the year, catering stalls will have extended working hours, except for smaller ones on Breg.
Gift and catering offerings will also be available to visitors at Pogačarjev trg Square, and as part of Castle December, in the courtyard of Ljubljana Castle.
The Mastercard Holiday Village will move to Novi Trg Square this year. The program will include high-quality culinary offs and a "stage for invaluable potentials", featuring a diverse accompanying program with young musicians.
In line with Ljubljana's sustainability, food vendors at the fair will use sustainable packaging made of paper, cardboard, wood, or biodegradable materials. Each vendor will offer at least one dish from the Taste Ljubljana selection. The City Municipality of Ljubljana also encourages fair stall tenants to forgo plastic bags and replace them with paper or biodegradable ones.
Diverse Festive Program
Traditional December events will include the St. Nicholas Fair at Prešernov trg Square, St. Nicholas Procession, Enchanted Forest with creative workshops for children, performances by street musicians in the old town, performances by choirs from Ljubljana elementary schools, and a Christmas concert in front of the Town Hall, five St. Nicholas parades, and street theater performances as part of the Ana Mraz festival on Gornji trg Square.
Musical Program on Five Stages
From 1 December to 1 January, numerous concerts by Slovenian and foreign musicians will take place on stages at Pogačarjev trg Square, Novi trg Square, Kongresni trg Square, Prešerenov Trg Square, and the Trg francoske revolucije Square.
On Pogačarjev trg Square, performers of popular and folk music will entertain audiences between December 1st and 31st.
The musical program on Novi Trg Square will take place between December 16th and 25th, excluding Christmas Eve. Performers from various musical genres will take the stage between 7 PM and 9 PM.
- December 16: Ljubljana elementary school students
- December 17: Obvezna smer
- December 18: Sten bend
- December 19: Help! A Beatles Tribute
- December 20: Baladero
- December 21: Big Band NOVA & Matjaž Kumelj
- December 22: Generator
- December 23: Josip Brass
- December 25: Moon Time Quartet
On Saturday, 24 December, at 5 PM, in front of the Town Hall, the traditional Christmas concert, celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, will feature gospel and Christmas songs performed by Slovenian vocalist Oto Pestner and the New Swing Quartet.
On Tuesday, December 26, the musical program will begin at Kongresni trg Square, lasting until 1 January, including New Year's Eve. Concerts will start at 7 PM.
- December 26: Hamo & Tribute 2 Love, Big Foot Mama
- December 27: Milica Todorović, Saša Matić
- December 28: Flirrt, Vlado Kreslin and Mali bogovi
- December 29: Nina Badrić, Dražen Zečić
- December 30: Šank Rock, Joker Out
- December 31: Rok'n'Band, Nika Zorjan, Viktory
- January 1: ABBA Mia
On Saturday, December 30, Lim Smrad and Žila, Backstage, and Alo! Stari will perform at Trg francoske revolucije Square.
New Year's Eve Celebration
New Year's Eve will traditionally be celebrated first by children. From 4 PM, their favorite fairy-tale characters and performances by peers will entertain them at Kongresni trg Square, and Santa Claus will pay them a visit. Symbolically, they will enter the new year at 5 PM.
At 9 PM, New Year's Eve celebrations will begin at four squares in Ljubljana. The central celebration for the widest audience will be at Kongresni trg Square, featuring performances by Rock'n'Band, Nika Zorjan, and the Victory music group.
At Novi trg Square, Dinamitke and ViP Band will perform, at Pogačarjev trg Square, the Mambo Kings, and at Trg francoske revolucije Square, the rappers Murat & Jose, the group Elvis Jackson, and the duo Neuromancer.
At midnight, the city will be illuminated by a five-minute fireworks display from Castle Hill. The fireworks will be made from biodegradable materials. In case of fog, increased cloudiness, or strong winds, the fireworks will be accompanied by sound, with low-flying rockets. The cost of the fireworks is 6,500 euros net.
For the co-financing of this year's December event program, 150,000 euros of budgetary funds are allocated. Some costs are covered by donors, and some are financed from rents for fair stalls at the holiday fair. This year, as well, funds remaining after covering all fair operation costs will be directed towards enriching the cultural program within the framework of the December 2023 project in Ljubljana.
Even the December guided tours of the city will have a festive touch. Enchanting Ljubljana can be experienced every day from 2 December to 7 January, starting at 5 PM in front of the Tourist Information Center (TIC) at Adamič Lundrovo nabrežje 2.
A free brochure with a detailed program of all events as part of December 2023 in Ljubljana is available at the TIC at Adamič Lundrovo nabrežje 2. The program is also accessible on the website of Ljubljana Tourism and the Municipality of Ljubljana.