Christmas lights switch-on rings in festive season
Ljubljana/Maribor/Koper/Celje, 25 November - Several towns across Slovenia will get into the festive spirit as they switch on Christmas lights this weekend. However, in some places such as Ljubljana and Maribor lights will shine for fewer hours than usual to save on energy costs.
Ljubljana will turn on its signature Christmas lighting at dusk on Friday with a countdown in Prešeren Square following a short cultural programme. St Nicholas' market will get under way at the same venue and an arts and crafts market at Breg, the riverside.
The decorations include 50 kilometres of Christmas lights curated by Urban Modic on the theme General Mind/Community Spirit, and Chinese lanterns made by primary school children to adorn trees in Zvezda Park.
To save on electricity, lights in locations where this is possible will only be aglow for ten hours a day instead of round the clock. The city authorities expect to reduce electricity consumption by about 40% in this way.
Apart from the tall spruce trees located at several landmark points in the city, 79 smaller potted trees have been placed in Wolfova, Čopova, Stritarjeva and Trubarjeva streets to be decorated by the locals and visitors.
Like every year a straw nativity scene will be on display on the riverbank, with a new feature this year being a Christmas village in French Revolution Square by the Križanke open-air theatre.
As usual, the Christmas season in Ljubljana will also feature a variety of events catering to various types of visitors, including St Nicholas's and Father Frost's parades. The city tourism board says festive events will run all the way until 8 January.
Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, will not switch on its Christmas lights until 1 December and will dim them at 11pm each evening and a little later at the end of the month and will keep them switched off during the day to save on energy.
In more innovative ways, venues will be kept aglow using electricity generated by solar panels on the roof of the city's power distributor and that produced by pedalling locals.
The most attractive new feature this year, apart from the fact that the open air New Year's eve celebration will be back after being suspended for two years due to Covid, is a 23-metre-high Ferris wheel in Central Square.
Like in Ljubljana, the locals will be invited to decorate potted spruce trees that will be planted in their natural environment after the holidays.
Apart from the Christmas market, free open-air concerts will be held in Leon Štukelj Square in the last third of December and a festival of creativity, light and socialising in Vetrinje Mansion between 2 and 28 December.
Father Frost will come down from the Pohorje Hills on 10 December to tour kindergartens and schools until 28 December.
Christmas lights in the seaside city of Koper and Celje in the east will come on on Saturday. Koper will also have an ice rink in Tito's Square and the winter edition of the Altroke Istra Gourmet Festival featuring traditional dishes and drinks in Museum Square.
A special guest ushering in the festive season in Koper this year will be the popular Italian singer, actress and TV presenter Cristina D'Avena, best known for her cartoon theme songs.
Celje will have a few more lights but the more extravagant day-time decorations. The festive season there will feature more than 50 events at seven venues in 30 days.
Not far from Celje, as many as 1.7 million festive lights, the largest number yet, will be switched on on Friday at Mozirski Gaj, a park in the Upper Savinja Valley. The Slovenian Christmas Fairytale, as the show is dubbed, will be open until 8 January.
Virtually all towns will turn on Christmas lights or have done so already. Most will also organise a programme of concerts and other events, Christmas markets, ice and skating rinks. The seaside towns of Portorož and Piran will also celebrate sparkling wines.
In Kranj in the north-west, where festive lights will come on on 3 December, the recurring theme of the decorations and festivities follows verses from A Toast, by Kranj's most famed resident and Slovenia's greatest poet France Prešeren: "May joyful cheer Ne'er disappear From all good hearts now gathered here".