Ljubljana: Art, Music, and Festivals

Each year, over 10,000 cultural events take place in the city, including ten international theater, music, and art festivals. 

One of the oldest of them all is the Ljubljana Festival, established in 1953. Ljubljana continued to host Summer Festivals from 1953 on, animating stages in the capital with performances by domestic and foreign musicians, actors, dancers and visual artists. Festival have become an important and influential part of the cultural of the country and has staged, only in the past year alone, between 70 – 80 events of different genres, that attracted some 80,000 visitors.  Over the years, it has become a way of life during the summer holidays for residents and visitors of Ljubljana alike. With its colorful cosmopolitan spirit, the festival contributes a great deal to the life and energy of the Slovenian capital, itself considered one of the liveliest cities in Europe.

Other cultural venues include Križanke, Cankar Hall and the Exhibition and Convention Center. During Book Week, on Congress Square, starting each year on World Book Day, events and book sales take place. In the old city every Sunday a flea market is held every Sunday in the old city. 


In 2010, there were 14 museums and 56 art galleries in Ljubljana.

The first purpose-built art gallery in Ljubljana was the Jakopič Pavilion, which was in the first half of the 20th century the central exhibition venue of Slovene artists. In the early 1960s, it was succeeded by the Ljubljana City Art Gallery, which has presented a number of modern Slovene and foreign artists.

If you are into exploring Slovenian artists you should visit National Gallery (Narodna Galerija), which was founded in 1918 and the Museum of Modern Art (Moderna Galerija). That two exhibit the works of the most influential Slovenian artists. And if you are more into something new, alternative, crazy, etc. you should definitely go to, opened in 2011, Metelkova Museum of Contemporary Art (Muzej sodobne umetnosti Metelkova).


There are also some interesting museums, such as

  • Museum of Architecture and Design,
  • Slovenian Railway Museum if you are interested in Railways. The museum is tasked with acquiring, preserving and supplying knowledge about Slovenian railway history on the basis of the national collection.
  • already mentioned Museum of Modern art and Museum of Contemporary art
  • A Brewery Museum
  • the Slovenian Museum of Natural History: a Slovenian national museum with natural history, scientific, and educational contents. It is the oldest cultural and scientific Slovenian institution.
  • the Slovene Ethnographic Museum.

and many others.

Entertainment and Performing Arts

So many times mentioned here and elsewhere, Cankar Hall truly is the largest Slovenian cultural and congress center with multiple halls and a large foyer in which art film festivals, artistic performances, book fairs, and other cultural events are held. The building was designed by the architect Edvard Ravnikar and was built between 1977 and 1982. The center is named after the Slovene writer Ivan Cankar (1876–1918).

First cinema appeared in Ljubljana at the turn of the 20th century. After World War II, the Cinema Company Ljubljana, later named Ljubljana Cinematographers, was established and managed a number of already functioning movie theaters in Ljubljana, including the only Yugoslav children’s theater. A number of cinema festivals took place in the 1960s, and a cinematheque opened its doors in 1963. With the advent of television, video, and recently the Internet, most cinema theaters in Ljubljana closed, and the cinema mainly moved to Kolosej, a multiplex in the BTC City. The remaining theaters are Kino Komuna and Kinodvor, where art movies are accompanied by events.

The central music institution in Ljubljana and Slovenia is the Slovenian Philharmonics that holds concerts of classical music and also has a role of an educator. It was established in 1701 as part of Academia operosorum Labacensis and is among the oldest such institutions in Europe.

The Slovene National Opera and Ballet Theatre also resides in Ljubljana, presenting a wide variety of domestic and foreign, modern and classic, opera, ballet and concert works. It serves as the national opera and ballet house.


In addition to the main houses, with the Slovene National Theatre Drama Ljubljana as the most important among them, a number of small producers are active in Ljubljana, involved primarily in physical theatre (e.g. Betontanc), street theatre (e.g. Ana Monró Theatre), theatre sports championship Impro League, and improvisational theatre (e.g. IGLU Theatre). A popular form is a puppetry, mainly performed by the Ljubljana Puppet Theatre.

The Ljubljana Slovene National Theatre Drama (Slovene: Slovensko narodno gledališče Drama Ljubljana, SNG Drama Ljubljana), or the Slovene National Theatre Drama in Ljubljana, is the national theatre in Ljubljana, Slovenia, best known for its conservative repertoire, including classical European dramatic texts and selected contemporary non-commercial European and Slovene ones.

Any Alternatives?

Of course.

In the 1980s with the emergence of subcultures in Ljubljana, an alternative culture begun to develop. This caused an influx of young people to the city center, caused political and social changes, and led to the establishment of alternative art centers.

A Ljubljana equivalent of the Copenhagen’s Freetown Christiania, a self-proclaimed autonomous Metelkova neighborhood, was set up in a former Austro-Hungarian barracks that were built in 1882 (completed in 1911).

In 1993, the seven buildings and 12,500 m2 of space were turned into art galleries, artist studios, and seven nightclubs, including two gay venues, playing host to all range of music from hardcore to jazz to dub to techno. You can stay in Celica Hostel if you enjoy art of locals that you are visiting, for all the room are artistically decorated by the Metelkova artists.

Another alternative culture center is located in the former Rog factory.

The Rog factory (also known as Factory Rog) is a squat in Ljubljana, Slovenia, occupied and open since 2006. Before that, it was an abandoned building near the center of Ljubljana for 15 years, after the bike manufacturing Rog company abandoned the building due to high logistics expenses. The building is historically best known as the factory where Rog bikes were manufactured between 1953 and 1991.

Today, the former Rog factory serves Ljubljana and the wider community as a space for alternative content which is lacking in an otherwise heavily institutionalized Slovenia. Its 7,000 square meters (75,000 sq ft) hosts many collectives and spaces: multiple gallery spaces, art studios, two skateparks (including the largest covered skatepark in Balkans), Rog Social Center for disadvantaged groups (such as migrants and refugees), various concert and clubbing venues, a bicycle repair shop, etc. Those collectives provide a rich program of social and cultural activities. All users participate directly and make decisions collectively at general assemblies.

The Šiška Cultural Quarter hosts a number of art groups and cultural organizations dedicated to contemporary and avant-garde arts. Part of it is also Kino Šiška Center for Urban Culture, a venue where music concerts of indie, punk, and rock bands as well as exhibitions take place. Museum of Transitory Art (MoTA) is a museum without a permanent collection or a fixed space. Instead, its programs are realised in different locations and contexts in temporary physical and virtual spaces dedicated to advancing the research, production and presentation of transitory, experimental, and live art forms.

So, have fun!

Useful Links:

National Gallery of Slovenia


Museum of Modern Art

The Slovenian Museum of Natural History

City Art Gallery

Ljubljana festival

Cankar Hall

Gospodarsko razstavišče

the Slovenian Philharmonics

the Rog factory


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s