A look at Slovenia’s many food festivals
The Slovenian calendar is packed with a variety of events that celebrate and promote the country’s diverse food heritage.
While some events such as Martinovanje (or St. Martin’s Day when the product of the squeezed grapes can officially be called wine) are marked throughout Slovenia, others are regional or particular to a single town or even village. Some are very traditional but others were established fairly recently though they have quickly become very popular and therefore an important date in the country’s culinary calendar.
Wine features in many of these events. Although Martinovanje is a national celebration, the biggest event takes place in Maribor where thousands of revellers take to one of the main squares to sample the new wines from local producers, accompanied by the sounds of a huge open air concert. No matter that this takes place in November, Maribor is usually blessed with a sunny day especially for the party and the wine soon takes off the chill anyway.
In April each year, the small town of Brda hosts the Brda & Wine Festival which focuses on wines from the local area along with locally made food to the accompaniment of local bands. Another festival around the same time takes place in Višnjevik, near Brda, celebrating not only the famous Rebula wines but also locally made olive oil. The two-day event includes tastings of more than 100 Rebula wines, activities for children and a Sunday morning hike between the olive groves. Later in the year, Brda is also the location of the Festival of Cherries, a varied event that includes all kinds of ethnological presentations as well as plenty of freshly picked cherries, of course.
Over in the east of Slovenia, a very different festival takes place every year in the Prekmurje region. Bograč is a meaty stew with a strong Hungarian influence; ingredients vary slightly between recipes but traditionally it contains four types of meat (pork, venison, wild boar and beef) and a good splash of wine. The Bograč Festival takes place in Lendava, a town right on the border with Hungary: around 100 teams, many of them amateur cooks, compete to be the winner of the award for the best bograč.
‘Potica Days’ is a four-day event that takes place in the picturesque setting of Bled Island each December. Potica is a special sweet (but sometimes savoury) bread which is traditionally filled with a paste made from poppy seeds, or a walnut paste, though many variations can be found.
In Dutovlje in the Karst region, an annual celebration of Teran – a local red wine of excellent quality – and pršut – air dried ham – takes places. It is a hugely popular festival and understandably so since both products are delicious.