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Julian Alps December Blog

End The Year With Festive Fun in the Julian Alps

Kanal ob Soči



If you’re looking to avoid the bustling crowds that gather for festivities in cities like Ljubljana and Maribor, why not count down the final seconds of the year in a more unique Slovenian setting this year? 

White blankets of  snow cover the mountain peaks, the lush green forests turn white, and the lakes below transform into shimmering mirrors. The residents of the Julian Alps don’t celebrate Christmas and New Year by halves; from lively customs and ancient traditions to outdoor parties and wellness breaks, this alpine haven has something for everyone.

Bled at winter
Bled at winter
Photo: Jošt Gantar, The Julian Alps

New Year Traditions in the Julian Alps

Even before Christmas and New Year, residents of the Julian Alps are already in high spirits after St. Nicholas Day (Miklavz) on the 6th of December, and during Advent the streets are lined with Christmas trees, nativity scenes and twinkling lights. For everyone in the Julian Alps, the most important part of the festive period is spending time with loved ones, generosity and giving. Although, a close second in importance is the Potica, a walnut pastry dessert and the centrepiece of any festive table! The main Christmas meal is enjoyed with family on Christmas Eve, normally consisting of pork dishes and Christmas fruit breads.

New year traditions are very important in the Julian Alps, even ones that are centuries old. It is believed that whoever wakes up early on New Year's Day will wake up early for the rest of the year. They also believe that it is bad luck to meet any woman on New Year's Day, especially an older woman! One of the most significant is Grandpa Frost or Old Man Winter (Dedek Mraz), which was originally a pagan tradition and then an alternative to the Western Father Christmas. Grandpa Frost gives gifts directly to children on New Year's Eve.

The best ways to bring in the New Year amongst the mountains

New Year's Eve is widely celebrated with parties and events. For a more unique way to bring in the New Year, look out for parties held on the 31st of December in mountain huts across the Julian Alps, which include hearty meals and songs by the fire! Here are some other ways to make this New Year’s Eve truly unforgettable:

Linhart Square Radovljica
Linhart Square Radovljica
Photo: Miran Kambic, Visit Radovljica

Linhart Square in the town of Radovljica transforms into a lively hub of merriment as the year draws to a close. Explore the decorated streets before a performance by the Avsenik House Ensemble starts at 10pm. Remember to wrap up warm as temperatures drop!

Lake Bled is another popular place to spend the final moments of the year. Children and families will love the musical party at the Lakeside Promenade and the arrival of Grandfather Frost! For adults, there will be outdoor performances by HELP! A Beatles tribute and Dejan Dogaja band, before a dramatic laser show. Take a walk around Lake Bled, before settling to gaze in awe at the laser show above Lake Bled while comforted by a warming mug of mulled wine.

Kransjka Gora Alpine Christmas Village
Photo: Matej Vranič, The Julian Alps

Spend New Year in the winter paradise of Kranjska Gora, a picturesque snow-covered alpine town high-up in the Julian Alps. Catch the start of the ski-season here in one of Slovenia’s premier ski resorts, which combines quality charm with affordable accommodation. It is perfect for beginners and intermediates with runs with varying difficulties. The resort even has four ski schools for anyone who needs lessons! Book a cosy hotel situated in perfect proximity to the resort, such as the 4-star Ramada Hotels & Suites. Spend the day of New Year's Eve expertly gliding down the runs, and celebrate in the evening with traditional alpine celebrations in the heart of magical Kranjska Gora. Wander down the bustling snowy streets and admire the decorated market stalls of the alpine village. Spend the final moments of the year dancing and singing to the jolly sounds of Saša Avsenik Ansamble, a musical band with a traditional Slovenian twist.

If you want to kick-start your New Year with a fresh, rejuvenated start, then why not stay at one of two wellness sister properties, Bohinj ECO Hotel and Sunrose 7. Being two of the greenest hotels that Slovenia has to offer, you can begin the year by looking after your health as well as the planet. Opt for Sunrose 7, and enjoy a digital detox as well as revitalising at the hotel’s spa and wellness area. Or immerse yourself in the natural beauty that is all around from the comfort of Bohinj ECO Hotel’s top floor pool. Restore your mind, body and spirit and you will leave ready to face any challenge the new year brings.

Discover a range of small and intimate festive events across Bohinj, taking place at Stara Fužina, Ribčev Laz and Bohinjska Bistrica venues. With a range of festive markets run by local businesses, you can shop sustainably while trying out delicacies from the Julian Alps. Performances by local choirs, Santa’s Land and children’s workshops will ensure that you end the year feeling festive. Free organised shuttles are available from 26th December- 1st January, an eco-friendly and easy way to travel between the markets.

Ribčev laz in the winter
Photo: Teddy Verneuil, The Julian Alps

Alternatively, if you are looking for a luxury place to stay with a lakeside view, try Hotel Bohinj. Located in the heart of Ribčev Laz, this alpine accommodation is surrounded by unspoilt nature and is just 100 yards from Lake Bohinj. Celebrate New Years Eve at the hotel, with music from a DJ and other celebrations, including a concert by Posebni Gostje. Recover the next morning by taking a walk around the festive stalls just a stone's throw from Hotel Bohinj.

Exciting events to look forward to in 2023

From local gastronomy and trail runs to flower and music festivals, there is something for everyone taking place across the Julian Alps next year! Here are some of the unmissable events and activities during 2023:

Winter events in Planica nordic center
Photo: Urban Urbanc, Sportida d.o.o.

The biggest event in Slovenia’s independent history is taking place this spring in Planica, a valley in the northern Julian Alps! Don’t miss the Fis Nordic World Ski Championships, taking place from the 21st February to the 5th March 2023. From cross-country to ski jumping, you are sure to watch some nail-biting yet incredible displays of ski mastery from across the globe. More information here

Kayaking on Soča river
Photo: Luka Karlin, Studio Virc

Endless springtime activities await in the Julian Alps; the alpine haven of the Julian Alps is the perfect playground! Enjoy a variety of different water sports in the Soča River Valley, from kayaking and white water rafting to paddle-boarding and canyoning. Why not explore on foot, with many low-level walks and hikes through valleys such as the Juliana Trail, take in the luscious fresh grass, emerging primroses and snowy mountain tops. If you are looking for something more fast-paced, rent a bike and cycle through Triglav National Park, and the daring can cycle steeper mountainous paths circling some of the towering peaks. More information here.  

Satisfy your sweet Easter cravings at the Radovljica Chocolate Festival which runs from 15-16th April 2023. Fittingly known as Slovenia’s sweetest town, this festival hosts everything from tastings to chocolate workshops. You are guaranteed to be enticed by the creations of Slovenia’s expert chocolatiers; it is no surprise that the town famously holds the nickname of ‘Sweet Radovljica’! If you want to burn off some of the calories there are many hiking trails of all levels around the outskirts of Radovljica, where you can also take in beautiful springtime snowdrops and primroses. More information here

International Wild Flower Festival in Bohinj, Ornithological tour
Photo: Mitja Sodja, Turizem Bohinj

Bohinj hosts the 17th International Wildflower Festival, running from the 19th May- 4th June 2023. Celebrating the amazing flora of the area which is home to over 1000 plant species, the festival offers everything from guided flower tours to art exhibitions and culinary experiences. Discover the hidden gems of the Julian Alps by exploring 24 villages and 300 square kilometres, including the crystal clear Lake Bohinj or the highest peaks of Mount Vogel by foot. More information here.

If you’re looking for a retro cycling festival, look no further than the Red Bull Goni Pony Festival, starting on the 3rd June 2023. Beginning in Kranjska Gora, cyclists will set off to the top of the Vršič pass, dressed in their most colourful and crazy retro outfits. The iconic folding Pony bikes are a key part of the retro theme, dating back to 1965. Over 1,000 costumed cyclists will be riding, pushing and carrying their Pony to the 1,611m summit. Raid your older relatives’ wardrobes to take part in the funniest festival in the Julian Alps! More information here

Tolminc cheese
Photo: Boris Pretnar, The Julian Alps

Experience the culinary traditions of the Soča Valley in an autumn of foodie-festivals. Jestival, on the 7th October, celebrates local cuisine and art, and has a selection of culinary workshops and stalls full of freshly made kobariški štrukelj! FrikaFest, on the 13-14th October, celebrates the passion for cheese in the Soča Valley, and where you can try Tolminc, cow's milk cheese local to the valley. While you are there, why not also discover the beauty of autumn nature at the Soča Valley Hiking Festival, running from the 8th September to the 15th October, where experienced guides will make sure everyone can enjoy hiking in the Julian Alps. More information here and here.  

From 8-10th September 2023 you can immerse yourself in the wilderness of mountainous Slovenia at the Julian Alps Trail Run. Thousands of runners from all corners of the globe will gather to take part in runs ranging from 10-170km. The emerald green Soča river and the incredible heights of Mount Triglav provide a stunning backdrop to distract yourself from your aching legs! Part of the UTMB® World series, it is part of a series of trail runs in the most incredible destinations in the world. More information here


Wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year - let’s raise a glass to 2023!

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