Ljubljana, one of the greenest European capitals, the city of culture, art and sustainability, has just started a new LUV Fest. Through numerous events, Ljubljana is celebrating love, art and wandering. I spent a couple of days at the LUV Fest and have fallen in love with the city all over again.
Ljubljana LUV Fest
Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is one of the leading European sustainable cities. You can feel that on every corner in Ljubljana, from the grass planted on top of its bus stops to the urban beekeeping.
The city of Ljubljana is approaching the same way its tourism. So, they crafted a new event to wake up the town and offer many things to do during the bit grey and monotonous months of February and March.
LUV Fest starts symbolically on Prešern Day (February 8th). France Prešern was one of the most famous Slovenian poets whose statue is placed on Prešernov Square next to the Ljubljanica River. Although today famous for his love poems, he was crucial for establishing the standard Slovene language. The festival closes on St. Gregory’s Day on March 12th, a Slovenian lovers’ day. By the Slovene legend, it’s a day when birds are nesting. Before 1582, it was also marking the first day of spring. In between those days are St. Valentine’s Day and the Carnival. So, a lot is happening during that month in Ljubljana.
What to do during the LUV Fest
LUV Fest is designed for both locals and tourists, young and old. The idea is to wander, enjoy art and culture, and fall in love. However, falling in love is understood here in a broader sense – falling in love with someone but also with something, like great food, beautiful architecture or fantastic music.
LUV fest encourages you to travel mindfully and explore the city at a slower pace. To wander next to Ljubljanica River and peak at the smaller streets. To look for hidden details on its buildings, to try some great local food and to slowly sip your coffee while watching the world goes by.
The City of Ljubljana and their partners prepared many exciting events to make you enjoy that charming city even more. Here are just some of them.
LUV Fest city tour
I started exploring this festival in Ljubljana with a special LUV Fest city tour. It lasted for two hours, during which I walked around the city centre with my guide. He told me stories about the poet France Prešern and his unreturned love towards a woman called Julia. Stories about the famous architect Jože Plečnik and his passion towards architecture. And so many stories about life in Ljubljana, exciting places, and past and current residents.
While strolling next to the Ljubljanica River, I could feel why it’s such a popular romantic activity. It was so interesting to hear about the love disputes and forbidden affairs of Ljubljana’s citizens in the past.
One of my favourite stories was about the house on address Stari trg 11a (meaning, ‘Old Square’ in Slovene). It stands between the houses on numbers 11 and 15. At first, I thought it was because of the superstition about the jinxed numbered 13. But that wasn’t the case. Back in the day, there was a brothel at Gornji trg 13 (meaning, ‘Upper Square’ in Slovene). Often, its visitors would, by mistake, come to Stari trg 13. Its residents were disturbed by that, so they decided to change their house number from 13 to 11a.
During our tour, we visited a charming pastry shop called Lolita. This is where we took a short break and tried a special cake they made for the LUV fest. I loved how the whole city participated in this love story – from the decorations on the streets, temporary public art, and special meals in restaurants to some unique performances.
Even during the tour, I could feel the love towards his city in my guide’s stories. It was such a great way to get to know the city through the love stories of its residents.
TIP: During the short break at the Lolita cafe, I got a special empty letter to send to someone dear to me. You can do that on the spot, and they will send the letter to that person.
LUV Fest public art
Some unique art installations are displayed around the city centre during the LUV Fest. The most interesting are light installations in the form of different animals at Congress Square. Check out what they look like during the night at my Instagram highlight on this link. The ones I also liked a lot were the birdhouses at Wolfova Street.
Special LUV Fest museums tours
Some museums in Ljubljana have prepared special tours during the LUV Fest. Fužine Castle is a beautiful Renaissance building located a little bit outside the city centre. They will organise a special tour about the love stories linked to that historical castle. The National Gallery will also prepare a love-themed tour during the LUV Fest. The City Museum of Ljubljana is organising a tour about love in Ljubljana, as well.
The River with Seven Names performance
One of my favourite activities during the LUV Fest was attending the River with Seven Names performance. Organised at the embankment of the Ljubljanica River, which was both its setting and the main character. It tells the story of the legends of the Ljubljanica River – from the fantastic creatures living in it to the city of Ljubljana itself. The performance includes storytelling (the narrator), music and live drawing you can watch at the river bank. It’s a fantastic way to enjoy contemporary urban art.
Where to stay in Ljubljana during the LUV Fest?
I stayed at B&B Hotel Park Ljubljana during my visit to the LUV Fest. It’s centrally located between the train station and the Ljubljana Old Town. It’s one of two official green hotels in Ljubljana. They have special sustainable rules, mostly about saving water and electricity. One of my favourite things about this hotel is that they have beehives on their roof with four bee families living in them. They are even producing honey which you can try at the hotel.
Where to eat in Ljubljana during the LUV Fest?
Each time I come to Ljubljana, its food scene is bigger and better. This time I had lunch at BREG Restaurant. Owned by a Michelin star-awarded chef, they are preparing some delicious, well-thought food for reasonable prices. It is located in the city centre next to the Ljubljanica River, making a perfect lunch stop in Ljubljana.
If you’re looking for something sweet afterwards, I recommend a pastry shop called Lolita for some delicious cakes and cookies.
Although I had visited Ljubljana a few times already, this time, I utterly fell in love with it. Could it be because of the LUV Fest? It definitely made me search for inspiring stories, talk more with its locals, and enjoy the city with all my senses. If you’re looking for that last-minute trip to book, go to Ljubljana and explore it through its LUV Fest.
I visited Ljubljana and its LUV Fest during the press trip organised by Ljubljana Tourism. Many thanks to them and their partners for organising such a wonderful trip for me. However, as always, all opinions are my own.