A Detailed Guide to Lake Bled Christmas Market (Winter Fairy Tale)

The view of the snow covered Lake bled with an island in the middle. The mountains and city are all dusted with snow.

Lake Bled is a truly magical destination in Slovenia, and one that was a favorite during our two-week trip to Slovenia during the summer. So I was absolutely delighted when I realized I could make a trip up to the Lake Bled Christmas Market happen during my most recent Christmas market tour through central Europe.

The Christmas market in Bled, known as the Winter Fairy Tale, is a small market with an incredible backdrop. While it’s certainly not as flashy as some of the markets in the big cities of Europe, I really loved my time at the Lake Bled Christmas Market, and found it to be super cute and charming. I think it’s a great addition to a holiday tour around Europe.

In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about the market in Bled, including dates, times, how to get there, what to eat and drink, what to see and do, and more!

Planning Your Visit to the Lake Bled Christmas Market

Top Hotel Options in Lake Bled:

All of these hotels are top-rated, centrally located spots in the city. I would highly recommend you book your hotel early, as hotels do fill up for the Christmas markets.

  • Hotel Starkl ($): Highly rated by guests, has charming ambiance and tranquil surroundings
  • Grand Hotel Toplice ($$): Offers panoramic views of the lake and the Alps
  • Adora Luxury Hotel ($$$): Luxuriously decorated rooms & have unique views of Lake Bled

Other Travel Essentials:

  • By Rental Car: For maximum flexibility, a rental car is the best option. Reserve early because prices increase dramatically as time goes on! I find the best options on RentalCars.com – browse options here.
  • By Train: Trains are a convenient way to get around Europe, but you’ll want to book your ticket ahead of time.

Dates for the Lake Bled Christmas Market in 2023

The market opens on Saturday, 2 December 2023, and runs through Sunday, 14 January 2024.

Opening hours are:

  • Monday-Thursday: 1pm-8pm
  • Friday-Saturday, and holidays: 11am-10pm
  • Sundays: 11am-8pm

Where is the Christmas Market Located in Bled?

The market is situated on the Bled Central Park, along the Lakeside Promenade. This is on the far side of the lake from the island, and is quite close to the Bled Castle.

You can see the location of the Christmas market in the map below. The market is the red evergreen tree. You can see that there are several parking lots nearby, and the Bled bus stop is very conveniently just a 5 minute walk away.

I’ve also noted a few of the top things to do in Lake Bled on the map (in purple stars), but definitely check out my post about it for a detailed breakdown of all of Bled’s top attractions.

What is the Market Like?

An alley in the market with several wooden stalls lit up with lighted garlands. There are hundreds of people walking around with winter coats.

The market itself welcomes you with an arched entrance, a large Christmas tree, and lighted decorations hanging from the trees. Stalls line the promenade, selling gifts, food, and drinks. Small tables are set up around the market for people to eat and drink around.

A large Christmas tree with strands of lights covering all sides of the tree. In front of the tree there is a red chair with a garland over the top.

Some of the food stalls have small enclosed areas just adjacent where people can eat and escape the weather. One of these had a little children’s area set up. Another stall had an actual wood-burning stove set up to fire roast pizza. 

The stalls selling gifts had a lot of fun wares and beautiful displays. Some of the things you could purchase include handmade jewelry and ceramics, a variety of Christmas decorations, souvenir trinkets from Lake Bled, hats and scarves, and handmade glass ornaments. 

A metal fire ring in front of a wooden stall with a small orange and red fire burning inside of it.

I also really enjoyed the little extra special details scattered around the market. For example, there was an open fire ring to warm yourself by (which felt amazing on the chilly night), and an oversized red chair to take pictures by the Christmas tree.

A small 3 step staircase leads to a red mailbox on the edge of the sidewalk.

I also thought the mailbox for Santa, where kids could mail letters and pose for a picture, was an adorable touch.

Down along the shores of the lake, the heart ring, a permanent fixture on the lake for photo ops, was given a holiday makeover and covered in garland and berries. Floating on the water just offshore is a lit swan decoration (a little random, but it was fun).

A light exhibit (that shows two swans kissing with a heart between them) that is floating on the lake.
A large 10ft wreath shaped like a heart with red berries decorating it. A woman is standing inside the wreath that is located on the dock in front of the lake.

At night the castle is lit up and the church on the lake is also illuminated, although you can’t really see the island well after dark.

If it’s your first time to the lake, I’d for sure plan to come before sunset so you can admire the views. 

Concert Program and Events

A lit up stage with a band playing music while it was snowing. Lots of people are dancing and singing to the band while crowding around the stage

At the far end of the market is a stage with an open area in front for crowds to stand. The music from the stage gets piped in through the rest of the market, and if there’s not a live band, there’s recorded music playing, which adds so much to the festive ambiance of the market.

The night that I was there, the band was AWESOME. They had electric guitars and an accordion (an interesting combination!), and the songs they were playing in Slovenian were absolute bangers.

It wasn’t Christmas music but was just so happy and peppy. Everyone in the crowd was super into the music and there were lots of people dancing to the music.

Concert Schedule

Concerts and events happen weekends (Friday-Sunday, sometimes also Thursday) in December and January, but are also scheduled for every day between Christmas and New Year’s.

Every Sunday in December leading up to Christmas, there is a lighting of a candle in the advent wreath, accompanied by a performance, starting at 10am.

The type of programs and concerts vary between bands performing popular music, Christmas concerts, and events for children.

Children’s Events

Children’s programs include the events: The Magical Snowman, New Year’s Eve for Children and The Arrival of Father Frost, or the Arrival of Santa and his Entourage.

Generally, children’s programs are on Sunday at 11am, but there are special shows on Friday 22 Dec at 5pm, when Santa arrives, and another on New Year’s Eve at 3pm when Father Frost arrives.

You can find the entire concert and event schedule here.

Legend of the Sunken Bell

On Christmas Day at 5pm, Lake Bled hosts a re-enactment of the Legend of the Sunken Bell, a centuries-long tradition at the lake.

This is the legend:

Once upon a time there lived a young widow in the castle of Bled. Her husband was killed by robbers and his body was thrown into the lake. She was so inconsolable that she gathered all her gold and silver and cast a bell for the chapel on the island, in memory to her husband.

But the bell didn’t arrive there. The bell, the boat and boatmen sank during a terrible storm. The desperate widow sold all her property after this accident. She offered the proceeds for the construction of a new church on the island. She left Bled and lived the rest of her life in Rome as a nun.

After her death the Pope had heard of her misfortune and of her good deeds during her life as a nun, so in memory to her he decide to make a new bell.

He said that anyone that rings the bell three times and believes in God, his or her wish would come true. Even today sometimes, on a dark night you can hear the sunken bell ringing from the depths of the lake.

Quote from the bled tourism board

Food and Drink at the Winter Fairy Tale Market

There are multiple stalls selling food and drink at Lake Bled, and you can find a wide variety of meal options here. For drinks, hot mulled wine and hot chocolate are the most popular choices, and feel great on a chilly evening.

Unlike the Christmas markets in Vienna, Cologne, Luxembourg, or Basel, there are no Christmas mugs or souvenir cups used for drinks at the markets in Lake Bled (unfortunately). Drinks are just served in disposable paper cups.

Other foods to eat at the Lake Bled market include:

A flaky dark gold pastry with a custard and sponge cake layered under and finished off with powered sugar.

Bled Cream Cake: A local specialty that includes flaky pastry crust, a layer of light and fluffy whipped cream, and a bottom layer of creamy custard

Warm Bled Cream Cake: This unique twist on the classic Bled cake was offered by one vendor and included white hot chocolate, light and fluffy whipped cream, and was sprinkled with small pieces of flaky crust on top.

Pizza: Cooked hot and fresh in a wood-burning stove right next to the hut.

Sausages and Hot Dogs – Carniolan sausages are a staple and very traditional Slovenian food that you must eat while in the country.

Soups: Soups are very popular in Slovenia, and jota soup and mushroom soup are two delicious ones to try.

Stewed Beef: Tender cuts of meat served up with a side of vegetables is a great market meal.

Tender pieces of white meat with dark orange carrots and kale sitting in a stew of broth on a white paper plate on a white table.

How to Get to Lake Bled

Slovenia’s roads are good and you can easily rent a car and drive yourself around Slovenia. There are also limited bus routes around the country. In particular, it is very easy to take the bus from Ljubljana up to Lake Bled.

The drive from Ljubljana is 36 minutes, and a bus ride takes about 1 hour. The bus costs 1.60 Euros each way.

During the week, the bus comes almost every half hour, except earlier in the morning and later in the evening it can be every hour. On weekends, the schedule is a little more sporadic, with the bus coming every ½ hour to 1 hour. You can check the schedule online here or at the bus station. 

You could also easily do a day trip to Lake Bled from nearby cities like Venice, Italy or Zagreb, Croatia. (And if you’re visiting during the holiday season, you simply must visit the Zagreb Christmas Market – it was incredible).

Suggestions on How to Fit the Lake Bled Christmas Market Into Your Itinerary

A couple sits on a rowboat in the middle of the crystal blue water with the small island with a church steeple in the background.

Because Matthew and I had already spent a ton of time in Slovenia earlier in the year, including a stay at Lake Bled, visiting all the attractions, and exploring Ljubljana (as well as going on hikes, discovering waterfalls, exploring caves, and doing adventures on the Soca River – seriously y’all Slovenia is so fun), for this trip, I was focused just on Christmas markets.

I was able to do both Ljubljana and Bled in one day, without a problem. I walked through most of the Christmas markets in Ljubljana in the morning and early afternoon, and then took a late afternoon bus up to Bled.

I was there for 2 hours, and then took the bus back to Ljubljana, where I walked through the city again to enjoy the vibes at nighttime and admire all the lights on in the city. I got super lucky and it started to snow while I was in Bled and continued in Ljubljana, which made for an absolutely magical night!

The TL;DR is that if you’ve already visited Ljubljana and Lake Bled, you could easily visit the markets in both cities with one day.

However, if you haven’t been to Lake Bled yet, I would highly recommend spending the day at the lake and doing sightseeing in the morning and afternoon, and then visiting the market in the late afternoon/evening. You could do Bled as a day trip from Ljubljana, or even stay the night in Bled and have a more leisurely time.

When you’re done with the markets in Slovenia, I’d highly recommend you jump over to the Budapest Christmas Market, the Vienna Christmas Market, or the Zagreb Christmas Market – other incredible holiday destinations not too far from Slovenia.

For a French holiday, you can also check the Colmar Christmas Market and the Strasbourg Christmas Market in France.

Other Practical Information

  • There are no entrance fees for the market.
  • Cards are accepted at many stands, but others only take cash.
  • Slovenia is part of the EU, the Schengen Zone, and uses the euro as currency.
  • The local language is Slovenian, but locals generally speak very good English.
  • Slovenia is a very safe country to visit.

Lake Bled Winter Fairy Tale – The Wrap Up

Lake Bled is such a beautiful location and the Christmas Market on the Lakeside Promenade is festive and charming. I loved my visit to this quaint market at this gorgeous lake, and I’m sure you will, too!

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