Cultural heritage

Mardi Gras at Cerknica

11. 02. - 17. 02. 2021



Pust v Cerknici

Tabor 1 SI-1380, Cerknica

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Mardi Gras at Cerknica is one of the most popular and well-known Mardi Gras (Pust) carnivals in Slovenia. It consists of a week-long programme of events that commemorate the upcoming spring and feature various festivities and re-enactments of traditional rituals such as the burning of the Pust figure. The carnival’s main attraction is a procession featuring numerous masked participants and giant papier-mâché sculptures of witches and monsters.

The timing of the carnival moves from year to year. Starting on Thursday, it ends a week later on Ash Wednesday – the day that marks the start of the 40-days of fasting preceding Easter.


The Mardi Gras celebrations have a long history in Slovenia (as they do in most of Europe), with the particular manifestations diverging from region to region. Many of them – such as Kurentovanje in Ptuj and the Cerkljanska Laufarija in Cerkno – have very unique and ancient traditions of costumes and customs.

The Cerknica carnival, as we know it today, only started to develop in the years after WWII, when the local rites of driving away winter were gradually joined by masquerades for children and a tradition of satirically-tinged costumes alludal to political and current events. The official birth of this particular festival is considered to be 1975, the year when the Cerknica Mardi Gras Society (Pustno društvo Cerknica) was established. This society cares for the organisation and is of prime importance especially due to the fact that they create, develop and store the giant figures used in the procession.

The carnival

The festivities start on Thursday, when the traditional rite of “sowing the hag” takes place. This is also the day when the town is supposedly given over to Butalci, comical and outrageously stupid figures taken from a series of famous satirical novels by Fran Milčinski (1867–1932) about the made-up town Butale. Its residents play a strong part in the upcoming days of the festival.

With the main events being the Saturday and Sunday processions (attracting thousand of visitors from around Slovenia), the whole thing finishes on Wednesday, when Pust (an anthropomorphic representation of winter) is ritually burned and thrown into the river.

Carnival procession

The procession features numerous groups of masked people and giant papier-mâché sculptures (of which many were created by the painter and sculptor Milan Rot). These include the witch Uršula (the mascot of the festival who according to folklore resides in a cave on Slivnica, a hill overlooking Cerknica), the devil and his herd of dormice, a dragon, the Water-man, and so on. Many of them allude to well-known figures from the Slovene literary tradition.


Mountain Film Festival

14. 02. - 19. 02. 2022



Festival gorniškega filma

Kamniška 13 SI-1230, Domžale

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Dedicated to exploring and presenting various facets of mountain culture, the Mountain Film Festival got established in 2007. Since than it has been running a strong international programme that encompasses various films about mountain sports (mountaineering, mountain running, B.A.S.E jumping, etc), different types of climbing (from bouldering to ice climbing), mountain wildlife, the life of indigenous mountain dwellers, and so on. Since the beginning the festival has been led by its founder, the legendary mountaineer Silvo Karo.

With years the festival has grown to the point where it’s now comparable to the biggest and most important mountain film festivals worldwide. In 2010 the International Festival of Mountain Film became a member of the International Alliance for Mountain Film.


The festival is produced by Društvo za gorsko kulturo (Society for Mountain Culture) and co-produced by Cankarjev dom, where most of the festival’s events occur. However, screenings tend to take place all over Slovenia, with some of the venues being the Franc Bernik Culture House, Domžale, the Nova Gorica Arts Centre, the Art kino Metropol Celje and the Slovenian Alpine Museum.

Sections and awards

The festival’s film programme has 5 main categories: Mountaineering; Climbing; Mountains, sports and adventure; Mountain nature and culture; and (sometimes) Retrospective. In each of these categories (excluding retrospective) the best film is chosen and awarded by the international jury, which also awards the best short film prize. There are also awards given by the Mountaineering Association of Slovenia and RTV Slovenia), as well as the “Viewer’s Choice” award, selected by the audience.

Accompanying Programme

The festival does not limit itself to films only, but also hosts lectures (featuring prominent guests from the international climbing community like Dean Potter, Adam Ondra, Lynn Hill, Chris Bonington, Kurt Diemberger and many others), exhibitions, round tables, book presentations and a children’s programme. As such it is striving to enrich the way mountaineering culture is perceived and represented.

Biennial of Slovene Book Illustration

1. 01. - 28. 02. 2022



Slovenski bienale ilustracije (SBI)

Prešernova 10 SI-1000, Ljubljana

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The Biennial of Slovene Book Illustration has been organised since 1993 by Cankarjev dom Gallery in cooperation with the Illustration Section of the Slovenian Association of Fine Arts Societies (ZDSLU) with the aim of promoting book illustration as a fine arts discipline.

Among the selected exhibited works, the best ones are bestowed with the Hinko Smrekar Award and associated accolades.

Slovene book illustration

The long and rich history and tradition of Slovene book illustration started with Protestant books and continued with the work of Slovene modernists who reached another summit at the end of the 19th century. Slovene book illustration production remained rich and strong even during World War II. Afterwards, with the development of vivid publishing activities, Slovene book illustration become internationally recognised. The Biennial of Slovene Book Illustration provides a glimpse of these endeavours by giving an overview of the latest book illustration achievements in Slovenia.

Exhibitions goal is to reveal the excellence of Slovenian illustration with a variety of authorial poetics. At the same time representing new artistic solutions, as artists are constantly updating painting techniques, introducing elements of film, comics, animated film, electronic media and other modern technologies.

The exhibitions

The core of the biennial is the exhibition of original works of Slovene book illustrators as well as books of recent dates in the Cankarjev dom Gallery.

Alongside the older generation, the biennial increasingly presents the work of young illustrators, such as Kristina Krhin, Suzana Bricelj, Arjan Pregl, Daša Simčič, Ana Šalamun, Petra Preželj, Dalibor Zupančič, Matija Medved, Ana Baraga, etc.

The biennial also includes a special exhibition dedicated to the pioneers of Slovene illustration. The 5th biennial was dedicated to the late Marija Lucija Stupica, one of the greatest representatives of Slovene children’s book illustration, also one of the stronger initiators of the biennial. In 2004, an exhibition at the National Gallery of Slovenia presented the beginnings of Slovene illustration (the authors Hinko Smrekar, Gvidon Birolla, Ivan Vavpotič and Maksim Gaspari were presented). In 2008, the exhibition in the [[Moderna galerija (MG)] was dedicated to Marij Pregelj, one of the foremost Slovene fine artists of the 20th century who was engaged also in illustration (Iliad and Odyssey, French Fairytales, Tristan and Isolde, Peter Pan). As part of the 13th edition, the Biennial of Slovene Book Illustration presented a digital overview of works by Allstars authors. The Allstars collection of digitised visual works presents a selection of the Independent Biennial, done by authors of the mostly younger generation who participated in the Biennale of Independents between 2007 and 2017.

Bi Flamenko International Flamenco Festival

14. 02. - 18. 02. 2020



Festival Bi Flamenko

Prešernova 10 SI-1000 , Ljubljana

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Bi Flamenko is a biennial international flamenco festival hosted and produced by Cankarjev dom, Cultural and Congress Centre in Ljubljana. It was held for the first time in February 2018, with the second edition following in February 2020. Since its inception, the festival has worked closely with Flamenco Biënnale Nederland, which takes place in the alternate years.

Concept and begginings

Bi Flamenko arose from discussions between Bogdan Benigar, the programme head director for jazz and world music at Cankarjev dom, Cultural and Congress Centre, and Ernestina van de Noort, director of Flamenco Biënnale Nederland. Both festivals exist to present another side to an art form that perhaps suffers more than most from cultural assumptions, preconceptions and misunderstanding.

While both festivals do devote a portion of their programmes to more traditional flamenco artists and patterns, they share an artistic vision of flamenco as a contemporary and future art form, and as a platform for connecting different styles of music, theatre and dance.


In line with this vision, and despite its relatively small scale, Bi Flamenko has presented a wide range of crossover projects in its two editions so far. The biggest draw for flamenco fans of whatever persuasion in the 2020 edition was perhaps the appearance by Rafael Riqueni, one of the art form’s greatest-ever guitarists, although even here we are talking about an artist who melds traditional flamenco aesthetics with other musical forms.

Other highlights of the 2020 edition, with perhaps a heavier nod to the contemporary contexts in which flamenco can operate, included Los Voluble and their Flamenco is Not a Crime project, which uses live DJ mixing to interrogate what flamenco has to say about various electronic music genres (and vice versa); rising star Vanesa Aibar, for whom flamenco provides the basis for an exploration of modern and Spanish classical dance; ¡Kick-Pluck-Planta-Tacón-Tap-Clap-Clack!, a collaboration between dancer Eduardo Guerrero and Dutch percussion group Slagwerk Den Haag; and Nairuz, a project led by Bosnian guitarist Mirza Redžepagić, who brings flamenco face-to-face with devotional Turkish Sufi music.

The 2018 edition saw a mix of traditional flamenco and the avant-garde in the form of Rocío Molina’s Fallen from Heaven; dancer Ana Morales’s Bagatelles project, which featured electronics and interactive installations; pianist Alfonso Aroca’s jazz-flamenco conversations; Qasida, an encounter between the young composer and singer Rosario “La Tremendita” and Iranian classical musician Mohammad Motamedi; and Firebird, the debut collaboration between Slovenian flamenco dancer/performance artist Ana Pandur Predin and Giani Poposki of the Slovenian death metal/industrial band Noctiferia.

In keeping with the open, dialogic nature of flamenco, many of the performances in both editions of the festival have featured post-show artists’ talks. Workshops and films are also an integral part of the festival.