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A guide to Slovenian culture

As it only became a republic in 1991, Slovenia is a very young country compared to many of its counterparts, yet it still boasts a history of rich cultural traditions that date right back to the 6th century. Modern day Slovenians have been careful to preserve this, partly because they waited so long for independent rule.

Slovenia continues to take its cultural heritage seriously and celebrates its history and traditions as often as possible. Holiday here and you'll have lots of opportunities to observe traditions such as national costumes, folk dances and songs. To help you plan your Slovenian holiday, we've brought together some of the highlights.

Preseren Day – Slovenia’s National Day of Culture

Known locally as Preseren Day, 8th February is the Slovenian National Day of Culture and is marked by a public holiday.

It also marks the anniversary of the death of their most celebrated poet, France Preseren.

This is one of the biggest celebrations that the country has to offer and is observed not just in Slovenia, but by Slovenian communities worldwide. Typically, it's a day full of cultural events including music recitals, theatrical performances, singing and dancing.

The art of bee-keeping in Slovenia

Bee-keeping is one of Slovenia's oldest traditional crafts so locals here are very protective of their native bees and their honey industry. You will commonly see bees depicted on ceramic tiles and plates and you may want to sample some of the delicious local honey when you visit, perhaps taking some home with you as a souvenir.

Slovenians are also very keen supporters of the creation of a World Bee Day. They believe this will raise awareness of the powerful role of bees in pollinating plants used for food. Their proposed date for National Bee Day is 20th May. This is partly because this is the birthday of Slovenian Anton Jan, 1734-1773, who is considered the grandfather of modern bee-keeping practices.

Slovenia’s tradition of exquisite hand-crafted lace

Lace-making has been a hugely important Slovenian handicraft since at least 1696. Over the centuries, locals have become masters at producing beautiful and delicate pieces. You'll be able to pick up items such as place-mats, shawls and gloves at handicraft and souvenir shops across Slovenia.

The centre of lace-making is Idrija in western Slovenia, which is still where the best quality lace comes from today. There's been a lace-making school in the town since 1876, which has taken the art of lace-making all across Europe and continues to teach and develop lace-making skills in other European countries to this day.

Festivals, carnivals and celebrations

There's a festival or celebration somewhere in Slovenia every single month of the year, so it's likely there'll be something interesting going on whenever you visit.

One of the biggest festivals in the timetable is the Kurentovanje Carnival in the town of Ptuj in north-eastern Slovenia. It lasts nine days from 18th to 27th February each year and is one long party of events, performances and fun.

One of the interesting things you'll see at the Kurentovanje Carnival is a Kurent costume. This consists of an elaborate mask and a sheepskin coat with a belt which rings out with cow-bells – making it an Instagram-worthy sight to share with friends. Originally, this outfit marked out the unmarried men, but it's now worn by men, women and children as they join in the celebrations.

Other notable cultural events in the calendar are the Druga Godba International Music Festival in May, the Festival of Beer and Flowers in July and various music festivals including the Ljubljana Jazz Festival in June. Each of them promises to provide plenty of activities to choose from on your Slovenian holiday.

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