Dark and chilly December brightens up in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year's Eve, attracting visitors to Slovenia's festive villages and cities. This is a great month to hit the slopes, wander a holiday market, and ring in the new year with a fireworks display over Ljubljana Castle.

Weather

December brings proper wintry weather with daytime temperatures dipping to freezing or below as well as plenty of snowfall, especially inland and up in the high mountains. Temperatures ranging from 28-37 degrees Fahrenheit in and around Ljubljana and 19-36 degrees in the alpine north.

The coast around Portorož and the western part of Slovenia remains milder with daily averages falling between 39-46 degrees Fahrenheit. When the strong easterly Bora blows, the temperatures can drop suddenly.

Crowds & Costs

With few foreign tourists about, popular attractions during peak season, especially along the coastline, offer a more intimate experience, if they aren’t altogether closed for the season. City centers will be busy with the Advent and Christmas season activity: Slovenians flocking to admire and participate in the festive decorations, celebrations, and Christmas markets. While the coast is quiet, ski season has officially begun, many locals heading to the ski resorts in the Alps.

Where to Go

There's no place in Slovenia that should be off your agenda in December. Ljubljana is a great place to start your adventure with its cultural attractions: theaters, museums, restaurants, and festive Christmas markets, like the Ljubljana Festive Fair. Most other towns and cities across the country join in the festivities and deck out their historic centers with twinkling lights, food stalls, and Christmas markets—try Lake Bled, Maribor, or Kamnik.

Kick up the fairytale ambiance with a trip to romantic Radovljica or Ptuj, Slovenia’s oldest town where thousands of twinkling lights are put on display for the season. A visit to the short coastline along the Adriatic for a laid-back experience of the region offers much in the form of a cozy off-season destination. Visit Koper and Izola and the Venetian-influenced town of Piran.

If snow's your thing, head to the Triglav National Park for pretty views of snow-laden hills and mountains, stopping in Kranjska Gora for a wintry alpine village experience. Keepin in mind, due to Slovenia’s winter conditions and mountainous terrain, the Vršič Pass in the Julian Alps could be closed.

What to Do

A true winter wonderland in the colder months, Slovenia offers much in the way of winter sports, its main draw though is skiing. Head to any of the ski resorts in the Julian Alps, Kranjska Gora being the most popular. If skiing isn’t your thing, take advantage of the snow in another way, like sledding, snowshoeing or ice skating.

Get into the festive spirit, grab a hot cup of mulled wine and wander the numerous food and handicraft stalls on the Cankarjevo nabrežje—keeping an eye out for potica or Slovenian Christmas cake, sold most everywhere during the season. Throughout the country, you can expect to see a Christmas related concert, the most famous and possibly most unique is the live nativity scene put on in the Postojna Cave.

Toward the end of December, the focus shifts away from Christmas and toward New Year's celebrations. Each historic center across the country rings in the New Year in their own way, most putting on live musical performances, Slovenian acts, children’s choirs, and fireworks. The capital hosts the largest celebration of them all—be sure to catch the firework display over Ljubljana Castle.

For more ideas on what to experience in Slovenia read this article.

Events in December

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. Both days are celebrated across Slovenia. Christmas dinner is eaten on Christmas Eve followed by midnight mass and presents are opened Christmas Day, likely after a festive breakfast. Christmas is a national bank holiday so note there will be plenty of business closures.

Independence & Unity Day. Each year on December 26 citizens celebrate their independence from Yugoslavia with a national ceremony, cities and towns host parades and festivals, too, focusing on Slovenia history and culture. Schools and businesses are closed on this day.

New Year's Eve. Cities and towns throughout Slovenia launch fireworks, families burn incense, and children sing carols door to door.

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