Weekend: Things to do in Slovakia this New Year's weekend

Hike a peak where Poland and Slovakia meet, play a card game, or watch a classical music concert.

Visitors in the ski resort Demänová Rezort in Liptovský Mikuláš - Demänová on December 28, 2021. Visitors in the ski resort Demänová Rezort in Liptovský Mikuláš - Demänová on December 28, 2021. (Source: Pavol Zachar/TASR)

Welcome to the very last Spectacular Slovakia Roundup edition in 2021, in which we invite you to feed birds, hike, play a game, and revisit our most-read travel and culture stories of this year.

Fireworks in Banská Bystrica on January 1, 2020. This year, major Slovak cities have decided to cancel firework displays on New Year's Eve. Fireworks in Banská Bystrica on January 1, 2020. This year, major Slovak cities have decided to cancel firework displays on New Year's Eve. (Source: Dušan Hein/TASR)


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How to feed birds properly

Now that winter is in full swing and many places are blanketed with snow, birds are struggling to find food for themselves, and large-hearted people in Slovakia want to help them.

“We feed birds only in the winter and when the weather is unfavourable,” the BirdLife Slovakia organisation stressed, saying people should not feed birds when there is enough food in nature.

People must not leave salted, spicy, roasted and smoked bits of food and pasta for birds. Nuts, grains, fruits, tallow and fat are most suitable.

“Feeders must be placed in a safe place,” the organisation added. Leaving them near busy roads and areas with glass is not advised. The feeders should also be big enough for large bird species such as the blackbird and woodpecker.

Here are some tips on what some birds love to eat:

  • woodpecker, waxwing – apples and other fruits;
  • tit, nuthatch, treecreeper – sunflower, tallow, fat, unsalted and unpeppered meat, nuts, oat flakes;
  • sparrow, yellowhammer - wheat, crushed corn, barley, sunflower;
  • goldfinch – sunflower, millet, poppy, rapeseed oil;
  • dove - wheat, crushed corn, barley;
  • duck, swan, seagull, coot – corn, wheat, barley.


New Year’s Eve in two countries

On the last day of each year, people living in the Kysuce region, northern Slovakia, traditionally hike to the Veľká Rača peak. This year is no exception.

At an altitude of 1,236 metres, Veľká Rača is the highest peak in the region. It lies on the border with Poland. The area is mostly known for the Snowparadise Veľká Rača ski resort. However, a large part of the peak was declared a nature reserve in the seventies.

Most hikers set out on their trip from Oščadnica-Dedovka, following the yellow hiking trail mark, but Veľká Rača is reachable from other towns - Stará Bystrica (green), Zborov nad Bystricou (yellow) and Nová Bystrica (blue) – as well.

Hiking trails here are well marked. Starting in the recreation area Dedovka, it takes about two hours to hike Veľká Rača. People often use their cross-country skis to reach the peak in the winter, and they can make their trip shorter by using a cable car.

A small lookout tower, a wooden cross and a Polish hut for tourists with year-round operation can be found on the peak. If the weather is nice, you can enjoy and see other mountains in the distance, including the Malá Fatra, Babia Hora and Roháče.

Other travel ideas

  • Town: Apart from Bratislava, Holíč was the only imperial seat in Slovakia.
  • Attraction: A light park has opened in Liptovský Mikuláš.
  • Museum: Several exhibits from Bojnice Castle have appeared in Czech and US films in the past.
  • Ski resorts: The number of open ski resorts has jumped to 75.
  • Top 3: Revisit the top three travel stories published by The Slovak Spectator in 2021: Slovak Tuscany, Dutch couple’s Lazy camp in the middle of nowhere, and La[n]franconi Bridge in Bratislava.
  • Mass: The ski resort Jasná, spreading on the top of the Chopok peak, will host New Year’s Mass at 12:00 on January 1. It will be held next to Hotel Rotunda. The altar will be made of snow; people do not need to dress up, but they have to be vaccinated or have recently recovered from Covid. Never before has the mass been held at a higher altitude, the village of Demänovská Dolina wrote on its website.


Trnava Region on cards

Playing card games is, for some, a fun way to celebrate New Year’s Eve, and the regional office of Slovakia’s Monuments Board in Trnava has recently created such a game.

Through Kvarteto (Quartet), people can explore the cultural heritage of Trnava Region. The objects featured in the card game are national cultural monuments.

The game is available to download here and game enthusiasts can print it off on paper. The captions to the pictures printed on the cards are only in Slovak.

Here are the rules:

Players: 3 and more

All cards are dealt. The starting player asks for any card from any player - number (colour) and letter. They can only ask for a number (colour) that they have in their hand. If they get the answer “I have”, they receive the card and continue the game. If the answer is “I don’t have”, the questioned person continues the game. The winner is the player with the largest number of the same four cards - quartets.

Players: 2

The course of the game is the same, but the players deal four cards at the beginning. If the answer to the question is “I don’t have”, the person asking the question takes a card from the stack.

Concert: The Slovak Philharmonic will hold a New Year’s Eve concert online at 16:00 on December 31.


Preserving Jewish heritage

After the decline of communism, Slovak Jews and non-Jews started to restore decaying Jewish heritage sites around the country, mostly cemeteries and synagogues, as the inspiring stories of entrepreneur Jozef Klement and historian Ružena Kormošová reveal.

There are only 2,000 Jews, most of them of older age, grouped in twelve communities in Slovakia today.

While Klement has put a lot of effort into building public parks and saving a cemetery in Zvolen, the historian and students from Spišská Nová Ves look after their local Jewish cemetery.

“We need young people to see that life is not always fun and that the threats of hatred and a lack of humanity have not vanished,” Kormošová told The Slovak Spectator.

Top 3: Two out of the top three culture and lifestyle stories are Spectacular Slovakia roundups, which we will skip. Here are the most-read stories: What foreigners ask before moving to Slovakia, Americans reconnecting with Slovakia, and the resignation of a Bratislava Zoo director.

That is it for now. Thank you for your support throughout the year. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and abundant 2022! – Peter Dlhopolec and Anna Fay

Do you have any tips? You can reach Peter at peter.dlhopolec@spectator.sk

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