Vilnius, which is titled one of the most magical Christmas cities in Europe, introduced a 5-week winter holiday programme, as impressive and full of miracles and surprises as always. So what magic can residents and guests of the city expect this year in the Christmas capital?
Nativity scenes, which are held in Slovenia around Christmas, are one of the country’s most popular symbols of Christmas celebrations. Postojna Cave has held one of the biggest Christmas festive events, featuring Live Nativity Scenes and a Christmas market already for 28 years. This year’s Living Nativity features 16 Biblical scenes with more than 150 amateur performers from the local community and top Slovenian musicians, who make the story even more special. Read further and find out why.
The behind the scenes story is really amazing and offers a unique insight into the personal stories of the performers. The show is put together by a team of local amateurs, who live and breathe their roles and make the show one of the most anticipated events in the year.
The 68-year-old Milan K. who plays Zechariah and The Last Shave shaves his beard every Wednesday and Sunday morning. The first time he grew his beard was four years ago, to commemorate the time when his wife was in hospital recovering from surgery. At that time, he was also spotted for the role of Zechariah. Since then, his last shave before the show is on 6th October. “Oh, the itching in the first weeks is the hardest part of being bearded,” he says. After the performances end in December, the beard must go, as Mrs Kastelic does not approve it.
There are four scenes with Joseph in the show. Thus, four Josephs are needed for the Postojna Cave’s walking Living Nativity performance. Long hair, a long beard and acting skills are essential, but there is one who deserves special attention: Nik Č. He has played the lead role in the scene called The Birth, the most challenging and emotional scene for five years. He is religious, likes metal, plays the guitar and loves dogs. To perform in Postojna Cave, he takes five days annual leave and carefully hides all seven Metal Camps festival wristbands on his left hand.
Virgin Mary was played by a local Instagram star, who now lost the role of Virgin Mary since she dyed her hair blonde. Instead, she got the role of an angel in this year’s performance. The men who take on the roles of the Three Wise Men, come from three very different backgrounds. But thanks to nativity experience, they have become good friends. Anthony’s B. first week after moving to Postojna was during a devastating sleet storm, which paralyzed the town. He ended up making a new friend on that first day and got invited to the Living Nativity. Matej K. became a performer when he saw the devotion of his newly bearded father, and Marino S., a local artist joined the Nativity “just for fun,” he says.
Behind every successful show stands a devoted director and behind the Living Nativity at Postojna stands the 73-year-old Gabrijela B., whose professional career is far from theater. In fact, she has devoted her career to coaching. In Postojna, she is known as one of the strictest and talented basketball coaches. Her professional skills definitely help her with directing the show with more than 150 performers. She has done it already for 28 years now.
The 16-year-old Martina G. is studying to become a make-up artist. She spends her summer job wages on professional make up she “cannot afford” according to her sister! The busiest time of the year for her is the end of the school year, not just because it’s an exam period, but also because she is the local prom make-up artist.
Postojna Cave is one of Slovenia’s most breathtaking sights with a 200-year tradition in tourism. Every December, for five days, the cave transforms into a magical Christmas venue for the Living Nativity Scenes, which are set along the entire five-kilometre tourist route. During one of the most magnificent renditions of the biblical Christmas story featuring more than 150 performers a day, you even have a chance to ride a small cave train.
From 25 to 30 December, the 90-minute Christmas spectacle will take place several times a day. Check out the timetable here.
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British Airways is gearing up for the Christmas getaway and expects to operate more than 11,000 flights to and from London between Friday December 22 and Friday January 4, with the most popular destinations chosen by customers including New York, Rome and Geneva.
More than 60,000 Christmas dinners and 90,000 mince pies will bring some of the season’s spirit to customers on long-haul flights, and on short-haul flights a new M&S On-Board menu continues the celebration with Santa Percy Pigs and a seasonal Turkey Feast sandwich.
For the first time ever British Airways has created a dedicated Christmas channel on its in-flight entertainment system called ‘Festive Cheer’ showing a number of classic Christmas films including Home Alone and Elf. Television programmes include The Office Christmas Special and audio treats such as Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Rachel Joyce’s I’ll Be Home for Christmas are gifted to customers.
To help bring some sparkle to the season, the airline has also added two English sparkling wines to its first class drinks menu. Camel Valley and Gusbourne will be available on board for six months.
Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience, said: “Christmas is obviously an incredibly popular time of the year for friends and families to travel and reunite, so we want to make the flying part of their travels exciting and special for them. To mark the season, we like to inject some fun and tradition with Christmas dinners, festive films and seasonal tipples.”