Every two years, the Slovene Puppetry Biennial examines the state of Slovene puppetry, choosing and presenting the best works created in the preceding two-year period. Featuring both major puppetry institutions as well as the many small puppetry groups from Slovenia, it includes small- and large-scale performances aimed at both children and adult audiences. Utilising various puppetry genres, techniques and aesthetics, a special focus is set on the theatrical elements intrinsic to puppetry.
The biennial aims to present Slovene puppetry to the broader domestic and foreign expert public, such as selectors, organisers and directors of foreign festivals and theatres, theatre critics, etc. Each year, the latter are explicitly invited by the festival.
The festival was established in 2001 by the Puppetry Artists Institution of Slovenia, who now run it together the Maribor Puppet Theatre. The latter acts as the main venue, though other venues such as GT22 are also used.
The biennial was launched in place of the earlier puppetry festival, Klemenčič’s Days. The first 2 biennials took place at the Maribor Puppet Theatre and featured about 15 performances. The 2005 edition took place at Koper Theatre, at Praetorian Palace in Koper, and in the Koper Regional Museum. The 2009 festival took place in Ljubljana and Maribor and also presented its events across Slovenia’s borders, in Carinthia, Austria. In 2011, it returned to be hosted mainly at the Maribor Puppet Theatre.
The programme of puppet shows comprises two parts, one competitive, and one accompanying. Together, they usually present somewhere around 15–20 performances. The other part of the accompanying programme includes exhibitions of puppets and stage sets, round-table discussions, book presentations, film screenings and photo documentation exhibitions, plus some additional high-quality performances aimed at young audiences.
An international expert jury confers the Slovene Puppetry Biennial Prizes, awarding one Grand Prix for the best performance and various prizes for other dimensions of puppetry (visual concept, animation, puppetry technology, music, direction, original approach, etc.).