When we planned our March Balkans trip back in 2014, I had no idea that we’d end up basically following Carnival around Eastern Europe for a few days. Or at least to three different cities. Before that trip I didn’t even realize that Carnival was a big deal in Europe. I’d always associated it more with South America. So it was a fun surprise to arrive in Ljubljana, Slovenia just in time to attend their Carnival celebration. And then to arrive in Bled just in time for their Carnival celebration. And then to arrive in Split, Croatia a few days later, just in time for yet another Carnival celebration.
Ljubljana is a small but beautiful capital city and definitely worth checking out next time you find yourself in or near the Balkans. And if you happen to find yourself there during Carnival you have a lot of fun to look forward to.
When we arrived for the parade the morning after we arrived, I tried my best to understand the intriguing goings on around me, but as most everything was being announced either in Slovenian or in an accent I was unable to decipher, I resorted to just photographing all the colorful costumes around me. It seemed that dressing in costume was mostly a thing for the kids, although we did see several adults in the crowd dressed up as well.
After watching a parade in which winter was chased out of the town, or at least that seemed to be the gist of it, everyone celebrated the ushering in of spring.
After the Ljubljana parade, we decided to head to Bled for the day. We arrived in Bled literally moments before their Carnival parade started. It hadn’t been planned it that way, and we didn’t even know they were going to have a parade until we heard those familiar bells jingling.
We quickly joined the gathering crowds to await the arrival of the costumed parade participants. They were a lively group, and my friend was even whirled into the parade to spin around with one of the dancers.
Celebrating festivals in other countries is a lot of fun, even if you don’t really understand what the celebration is about. Of course it’s even more fun when you do understand and can learn a little bit of culture and history along your way. But even if you don’t really understand, it’s always fun to try new foods and experience new things and have the chance to take some colorful pictures!
While we thoroughly enjoyed Slovenia in its own right, Carnival added a bit extra to our experience and I’m so glad we happened to be there at just the right time. Slovenia should definitely be on your must-see list!
Have you been to Carnival in a foreign country? What were your experiences?