Looking for a cozy European capital to enjoy some Christmas festivities? Look no further than charming Ljubljana! This spectacularly fairy-tale-esque city is one of my favorite in all of Europe, and it sparkles extra bright at Christmas! Here’s everything you need to know to plan a perfect visit to the Ljubljana Christmas Market (or perhaps Ljubljana Christmas Markets, as there are six different locations)!
We spoke with Lara Selko, Public Relations Assistant at Ljubljana Tourism, the local tourism organization of Ljubljana, to help you get everything you need to plan the perfect visit to the Ljubljana Christmas Market this year!
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How to Visit the Ljubljana Christmas Market
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your trip to the Ljubljana Christmas Markets:
What are the dates and times for the 2019 Ljubljana Christmas Market?
The market opens on November 29th and runs daily through January 5th, 2020. The stalls with gift programs are open from 10 am to 10 pm (on Fridays and Saturdays to 11 pm), except for Christmas and New Year’s eve when they are open until 6 pm. The working hours of the catering stalls are different due to the location. Find more here.
Where are the markets located?
This year, the Christmas markets are held at six locations, namely at the Breg embankment, Gallusovo nabrežje embankment, Cankarjevo nabrežje embankment, Kongresni trg Square, Prešernov trg Square and at the Petkovškovo nabrežje embankment. The Christmas markets are accompanied by a program of festive events held daily in the nearby streets and squares throughout December.
What kind of entertainment will there be for adults?
During the advent season, a lot is going on in Ljubljana. Here, December is considered to be a month of events.
Numerous music concerts, street theatre performances and other entertainment for the whole family take place in most of the city center’s public squares. The adults can enjoy their visit in front of festively decorated market stalls, where they can shop for gifts or enjoy delightful warm drinks and delicious food.
Apart from open-air events, our festive capital also offers a whole lot of other Christmas attractions, from tours of the festively decorated Ljubljana or tourist boat cruises along the river Ljubljanica, to unique ice sculptures on display at the Land of Ice. The festivities culminate with the New Year’s Eve celebrations held in the city’s centrally-located public squares.
What kind of entertainment will there be for children?
In December the capital of Slovenia can be a real fantasy for kids. The festive atmosphere is rich with interesting activities.
Among these are the performances of children’s choirs in front of the City Hall, the Magical Forest, which hosts creative workshops of making environmentally friendly Christmas decorations and other free events, and a program for children on the magical Križevniška Street.
This year the Ice Queen accompanied by ice artists also takes care to add a little fairy tale to the town. Every year, on December 5th the first good man of December makes a stop in the city. St. Nicholas (Miklavž) is accompanied by devils and an assembly of angels, who are distributing biscuits, fruits, and sweets to children.
A few days before New Year, Grandpa Frost, the Slovenian counterpart of Santa Claus, arrives in Ljubljana from the Far North. Riding in his carriage, drawn by genuine white Lipizzaner horses and accompanied by a procession of snowmen, bears, rabbits and other creatures from folk and fairy tales, he visits the old city center’s Festive Fair and venues for children’s events.
In order to create a magical and unforgettable New Year’s Eve experience for children, there is a special Children’s New Year’s Eve Celebration. Together with Grandpa Frost and popular festive characters, they symbolically enter the New Year at 5 pm.
What kind of goods will be for sale?
Ljubljana offers excellent opportunities for Christmas shopping. At the markets, the visitors are able to shop for small gifts such as gloves and mittens, hats, scarves, various fashion accessories, products by Slovenian designers, local arts and crafts products, and traditional Slovenian delights such as honey, schnapps, and various sweet treats.
Interesting shopping opportunities are also afforded by Ljubljana’s numerous city-center shops. The best place to shop for souvenirs is the TIC Ljubljana shop.
What kind of food and drinks will be available?
There will be mulled wine, fragrant tea, liqueurs, roasted almonds, sausages, various grilled dishes, and other delicious Slovenian delights.
Is there a ticket price to get into the events?
Are there any other special festivities in Ljubljana this December or January that travelers might want to attend?
Besides strolling through the streets of old town, you can also see the city at its most sparkly from the Ljubljana Castle, where the Castle Festive Fair in the Castle Courtyard is happening.
While visiting Ljubljana, make sure you also discover the beautiful surrounding Ljubljana region (more here).
In December and January, free ice skating is available in Kamnik. Here you can experience a real winter wonderland, especially if you decide to visit Velika Planina, the mountain plateau in the Alps with the truly unique traditional herdsmen’s village.
You can also enjoy a magical December in Domžale, check the Christmas market at the Polhov Gradec Mansion or go ice skating in Vrhnika. The Christmas Bread Festival in Velike Lašče brings together various events.
How can travelers learn more?
Ljubljana is known for having one of the most original lights displays in this part of Europe. The universe-themed Christmas lights display which is developed in new directions year after year, really makes Ljubljana stand out.
The lights celebrate science with geometric forms, math equations, galaxies, planets, comets, shooting stars and also images of microcosms that are invisible to the naked eye, such as those of atoms, chromosomes, DNA helices, etc.
We have our own recommendations and resources for visiting Ljubljana below. I want to thank Lara from Visit Ljubljana for answering our questions about this spectacular event! For more detailed information about the market, check out Visit Ljubljana’s website.
Where to stay in Ljubjana
We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in various Slovenian cities, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible since this is a popular time to visit the city.
What to Pack for Slovenia in Winter
We have a full Slovenia packing list, but in case you just want the quick version, here are a few essentials you shouldn’t forget to pack!
A good guidebook: While travel blogs are great, we still think a good guidebook is always handy. We suggest Lonely Planet Slovenia if you’ll be traveling quite a bit around the country, or if you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip, Lonely Planet Western Balkans includes Slovenia and many of its neighbors.
One or two swimsuits: While swimsuits may not come to mind for ski season, if you’re staying in a ski resort with a sauna, indoor pool, or steam room, you’ll likely want one! We suggest bringing two so you never have to put a cold wet one back on. We love this one.
Plenty of winter clothing: You can check our packing list above for our full winter packing suggestions for men and women. At a minimum, you’ll want to bring a warm winter jacket (I love this North Face parka), cozy snow boots, warm wool socks, touch-screen friendly gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat.
Any ski equipment and clothing: We’re not skiers ourselves, so we don’t have specific ski gear equipment, but special ski clothes — waterproof pants and jackets, goggles, etc. — and ski gear obviously should be on your packing list, unless you have decided to rent it all when you arrive at your Slovenia ski resort.
Moisturizer: Travel will beat your skin up in the best of times — and winter travel in addition to skiing will really do a number on it! If you use a moisturizer at home, bring it. If you’ve never used a moisturizer before, you really should start. You’ll be happy to give your face a boost before heading outside in the cold all day.
Sunscreen: We strongly suggest wearing sunscreen when you spend time outdoors, no matter the weather outside. The higher altitudes combined with the reflection of the sun off the snow can lead to unexpected sunburns. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen – it’s mess-free, works well in carry-ons, is ultra-protective, and blends in well.
More Slovenia Travel Resources
If you’re just starting to prepare for your trip to Slovenia, read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia which features an 11-step checklist!
If you know you’ll be coming to Bled near Christmas, check out our guide to the Lake Bled Christmas Market, the best things to do in Bled in winter, and how to celebrate Christmas in Bled. And check out the best things to do in Slovenia in winter if you’ll be seeing more of the country.
If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll find our Instagram guide to Bled helpful (Ljubljana on the way!).
If you need more Slovenia travel inspiration, check out the best places to visit in Slovenia, the best Slovenian castles, the most breath-taking Slovenian waterfalls, and what Slovenian souvenirs you should bring home.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Slovenia (or really, any part of the world)! Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel – especially during the winter! – so it’s better to play it safe.
Pin this Guide to Visiting the Ljubljana Christmas Market for Your Trip!
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.