The vibrant, on-trend capital city of Slovenia becomes a cultural hotspot in summer, with a series of cultural happenings to rival any major European city. Here are the top ten summer festivals in Ljubljana, when the streets of the old town will be filled with music, poetry and dancing.
Every Sunday in summer from May 17 through to September sees local brass bands marching through the streets of Ljubljana Old Town and giving concerts in Novi trg (Novi Square). Performances kick off at 11am and admission is free.
Running for a week from May 21, the ninth Overflight festival celebrates the dramatic work of two of Slovenia’s hottest independent theater companies, the Mladinsko and the Glej. A mixed bag of 16 hard-hitting new plays are presented in 2015 and all productions are subtitled in English.
Lighting Guerrilla Festival: In The Dark
Ljubljana’s feast of visual arts runs between May 22 and June 26, with a series of contemporary light installations displayed at venues across the city, from art galleries and museums to street corners, parks and piazzas. Zvezda Park is to be covered in sparkling illuminations in constantly changing psychedelic hues and wacky exhibits are displayed in the Museum of Architecture and Design.
Live Literature Festival
May 29 until June 5 sees poets, authors, actors and musician take to the streets of Ljubljana in a series of pop-up readings combined with live music. Held at the edgy SKUC Gallery at Stari trg 21, the performances combine with literary-themed workshops and a schedule of evening concerts.
Kinodvor Cinema Festival
Run by the innovative Kinodvor movie house and held in the former Slovenian Railways building next door, Ljubljana’s answer to the Cannes Film Festival runs from June 8 to 29 and brings together the very best in world film. Screenings and cultural events are held in the venue, where art-house meets mainstream in convivial surroundings with DJs playing and bars open late into the night.
Flow Festival Ljubljana
One of Helsinki’s coolest music festivals is set to make it’s debut in Ljubljana in 2015 with a weekend of international rock music on June 26 through 28. Stars from across Europe include British duo The Pet Shops Boys, Irish electro star Róisín Murphy, Bosnian rapper Edo Maajka and German DJ Koze. With a strong green theme, Flow is to take place in the Tobacna tovarna Ljubljana, a former tobacco factory that closed its doors in 2004.
Ljubljana Wine Route
A one-day celebration of Ljubljana gastronomy and wine takes place on Saturday, June 20 in the Old Town, with hundreds of stalls selling culinary treats crammed into the narrow cobbled streets. There’s the chance to sample wines from the country’s wine-producing regions, which are famous for slightly fizzy white Rieslings and hearty red Refoscos. Come nightfall, festivities crank up a gear with music and folk dancing in the streets.
The biggest of all Ljubljana’s summer festivals runs over three months of the summer from June 28 to September 28. The city’s premier cultural event has a rich and varied program of classical concerts, ballet and opera, centered on the outdoor Križanke Summer Theatre; the blowout opening concert is held in Kongresni trg, one of the city’s biggest squares, and is wrapped up by a stunning firework display with Ljubljana Castle providing the spectacular backdrop.
This year’s extravaganza features the music of composer Tan Dun, who won an Oscar for his music in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Other highlights of the festival include St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre (puppet theater) performing Romeo and Juliet; Turandot sung by the National Beijing Opera Company of China; and recitals by Russian pianist Nikolai Lugansky.
Film Under the Stars
Featuring international hit movies in the dramatic open-air setting of Ljubljana Castle, this movie-fest is an offshoot of the Kinodvoriš?e festival held in June. Dates are July 2 through 25 and most films are either screened in English or have English subtitles.
International Biennial of Graphic Arts
Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2015, the Biennial focuses on changes in graphic design over the years and is held between August 28 and December 2 in Tivoli Park’s handsome Baroque-built International Centre of Graphic Arts, which is known for its peerless collection of prints from Picasso to Rauschenberg as well as posters and magazines. Curated by English artistic director Nicola Lees – previously of the well-regarded Serpentine Gallery in London – this major exhibition showcases both traditional and contemporary graphic design.
See more things to do in Ljubljan
– Contributed by Sasha Heseltine