Zagorje is a city of music and dance. Even our ancestors long ago loved to dance, sing and play. The castle folks knew well how to have a good time and the peasant folks also knew how to be joyous. Traces of the history of the area can be found in the book “The Glory of Duchy of Carniola” written by Baron Janez Vajkard Valvasor, who is regarded as the first author of literature in this area.
Believe it or not, there are three amateur theatres in this region with a relatively small population. The Izlake theatre among other things preserves the memory of Valvasor’s legacy and brings stories of his time to life. Every other year, an outdoor theatrical spectacle about the time of Valvasor is held in the meadow below the ruins of the Medija Castle, attracting numerous visitors from near and far. The Čemšenik theatre hosts a theatrical event called Grajske štorije (castle stories) in the courtyard of the Gamberk Castle, where stories of the Middle Ages are enacted and medieval castle life is brought to life on stage. The Mlinša theatre harbours a special love for Slovenian folk games. These theatrical performances by local amateur theatre groups are always a major event seeing that theatre is a centuries-old tradition. The first play was staged by some amateur actors from Čemšenik in 1902 and, soon afterwards, a cultural centre was built in the village. Ten years later, a “drama section” was established in Zagorje and the first play they played was called “Veronika Deseniška”.
Several internationally renowned festivals resulted from this love of music. The chamber music festival which emerged in the romantic ambience of the Valvasor chapel in Izlake soon spread to other venues in the city, featuring world-famous names in classical music. A festival that is perhaps of greater significance on an international level is the Flute Festival as it is the biggest or even the only festival of this kind in Central Europe. A special feature of this festival is not only the world-famous virtuosos that come to play their instruments, but also the fact that this is a place where musicians can exchange knowledge and experience. This is why many young flutists come here from all over Europe, because Zagorje is the only place where they can meet their role models. In Zagorje, there is no tradition of jazz music as the tradition of wind bands, but, thanks to the international festival “JazZagorje”, the interest is growing from year to year. The festival is a way of making the summer evenings during the months of June and July more interesting, and it usually takes place outdoors in the beautiful ambience of green terraces at the Delavski dom. Its reputation has spread extremely quickly among the fans of this genre of music and also among musicians. The festival recently selected the “accordion in jazz” as its main theme, which made it even more popular.