Dragons, lakes, and music. These three words defined the event of the summer that everyone in IC Wind Band had been looking forward to. This year, Wind Band went further than we’ve ever ventured before, touring in the (mostly) sunny land of Slovenia.

Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, was a welcome sight for the poor souls who volunteered to drive for two days to get there. Luckily, it wasn’t just because they’d spent two days in a sweaty minibus – it was a lovely sight for the clever people who decided to fly there, too. We arrived at the hostel, unpacked our instruments and equipment into our rehearsal room, and got to exploring.

Ljubljana, we discovered, was originally a Roman city. It has all the obligatory ruins to go with it, mostly housed inside their city museum. It also has a strong association with dragons, specifically a dragon that was slain in the Ljubljana marshes by Jason, of Argonautical fame. This means that various dragon-themed decorations – bridges, statues, plushies – are pretty commonplace throughout the city.

Ljubljana is a castle town. The castle sits on the top of a fairly steep hill, though exactly how steep differed based on whether you asked the people who walked up the hill or the people who took the funicular. The castle itself is medieval, with a tall viewing tower that gave us splendid views of the city and surrounding area. Some of us even attempted the castle’s ‘escape room’, in which we successfully saved the Ljubljana dragon from the abyss beneath the castle.

Aside from the castle, and the impressive Dragon Bridge over the Ljubljanica river, we also admired the Prešeren square, St. Nicholas’s Cathedral, and the oldest McDonald’s in Slovenia. Overall, we agreed that Ljubljana was a pretty ace city, especially when accounting for their tasty food, ice cream, and €3 bottles of rdeče vino.

Despite all the sightseeing, we managed to fit in some excellent rehearsal time for the three concerts we had lined up. Two of our concerts took place at a bandstand in Congress Square, a small park located in the city centre. We played a selection of film themes including Pirates of the Caribbean and The Incredibles, as well as modern concert band tunes, all of which were incredibly well-received. The rain during our second concert didn’t perturb our devoted audience, simply prompting some listeners to sit on the grass under their umbrellas. Our final performance was cut slightly short by a thunderstorm partway through Moment for Morricone, scaring off even the most tenacious members of the audience. Overall, the reception at Congress Square was excellent, and it was a lovely place to play.

Our third concert was at Bar Prulček, a cool live music venue. Wind Band played fabulously there too, albeit on a very cramped and stuffy stage! The concert was live-streamed out into the beer garden where the bar customers enjoyed the music at a more bearable temperature. After a short interval, the Swing Band (a sub-group of our band) wowed the crowds with some jazz classics, and had more than a few onlookers tapping their feet.

Finally, we took a day off to relax and visit the beautiful Lake Bled. At only an hour’s bus ride from the city, Bled was absolutely worth the visit. The water was stunningly blue, and the sun shone all day long. Some of us rented rowboats to reach the island in the centre of the lake, while others enjoyed a refreshing swim on the west side of the lake. We all agreed that we’d never been swimming in such a beautiful setting. Drying off in the sunshine, surrounded by clear water and hilly mountains, was the perfect cherry on top.

Ljubljana was a fantastic place for Wind Band’s tour this year, and well worth the journey. Our three concerts were a huge success, and – if tour was anything to go by – Wind Band is set to have the best year of music, performance, and fun that we’ve had so far.

(PS: if you want to get in on this fun, come find us at the Freshers’ Fair or drop us an email at windband@imperial.ac.uk).