Basic Event Information
Date: 25 September 2019
Location: Coal mining museum of Slovenia
Organizer: Tourism Board of Šaleška valley
Event type: Gastronomy
EVENT CATEGORY: B2C | Best Pop-Up Event
Event description and key objectives
Characterised by an authentic mining setting, Velenje underground is an exceptional five-star culinary experience happening 160 m below the surface. It combines top cuisine with elements of sustainable development in the authentic environment of tangible and intangible technical and cultural mining heritage and easily satisfies each of the five senses with a genuine experience of a mining atmosphere (arched mine tunnels, dim light cast by cave lamps, the smell of coal, muffled sounds of the mining machinery and fine cuisine.) In a short span of just a few hours, the experience “transforms” the visitor into a miner and takes them on a journey through a miner’s typical workday: the gathering in the changing room, a ride in the elevator, a visit to the mine, a miner’s meal, a ride with the train, and a lift back to the surface and miners’ “black” changing room. Although the whole story is an experience of great excellence, it still allows the visitor to identify with the basic characteristics of a miner’s workday.
The first challenge was getting permission to organize an experience like this in a historical place where such events are usually neither common nor allowed. We recognized the venue for its captivating genuineness and the potential of drawing in more tourists who could enjoy an authentic mining experience, all the while learning about mining history and culture. Another significant challenge was bringing and serving five-star cuisine 160 metres below the surface, while still preserving its quality, scrumptiousness and lushness.
Velenje, the city where our event takes place, grew and flourished due to the coal excavation which is still present and has an important influence on the development of the town and the region surrounding it. We managed to entwine a robust mining environment with top-notch cuisine. A five-star four-course menu “Štajgerjeva južna” makes it possible for the visitors to familiarize themselves with flavours once savoured by the miners. They get to taste a special “can” fish dish resembling miners’ brunches, a soup “My wife’s garden in a bowl” just like the one miners’ wives used to make, the main course resembling a typical miner’s meal and a special dessert “I love you St. Barbara”, named after miners’ patron saint. The robust mining environment is softened with musical accompaniment which enriches the whole experience and gives it a luxurious touch.
Velenje Underground presents the town and its surrounding in an innovative way, allowing the visitors to experience mining culture and atmosphere which once presented a basis for the development of the city as well as its economic and social activities. It combines tangible and intangible elements of cultural and technical heritage, fine cuisine, and a taste of five-star pampering. The event also strives to promote the region and local organisations such as The Coal mining museum of Slovenia (mining part), Gorenje Gostinstvo (culinary part) or The Šalek Valley Tourist Board (organisers of the event), all of which put their best foot forward in bringing the pulse of the region closer to its visitors.
In a short span of just a few hours, the experience “transforms” the visitor into a miner and takes them on a journey through a miner’s typical workday. First, they gather and socialize in the changing room and get welcomed to the mining community with a traditional “Skok čez kožo”, an old tradition of accepting new miners among the experienced ones. After receiving their personal miner’s badge, they ride 160 metres below the surface with an elevator that takes them to the mine where they get their first glimpse of the mine. Throughout the narrow mine tunnels, they walk to the lowest-lying dining room in Europe, where they are served exquisite local cuisine. After their four-course meal, they ride the miner’s train back to the elevator that takes them back to the surface and the changing room, where they share their opinions and experiences of the event.
The event contributes to the promotion of the destination and simultaneously to the growth of the number of visitors. They get to participate in a unique event, which provides fond memories for years to come that they can share with their acquaintances. As a result, the local community is recognized more often as a tourist appealing destination which offers five-star experiences. In 2019, the event has been organised five times and received the Slovenia Unique Experience badge and the 2nd place award in Slovenia’s Hidden Gems campaign competition organized by Radio Si. With this campaign, Radio Si presents hidden tourist gems that remain unknown to many foreign tourists who visit Slovenia. In 2020, we were selected for the BIG SEE TOURISM AWARD, handed out by the Center for creative economy of Southeastern Europe, Zavod Big. The project was also nominated for the best project (Grand Prix) in the category “Creative story and identity as an experience”.
From now on, the event Velenje Underground makes part of our regular tourist offers. As for advertising, the organisers used personal, outdoor and digital advertising, mail offers, printed ads, and published several articles in different magazines and newspapers. We expanded our advertising channels to make sure to reach more people who might be interested in the event. By encouraging them to share their thoughts, opinions and experiences among their acquaintances, friends and family, and by collecting their impressions at the end of the experience, we also managed to make our advertising more personalised, authentic and appealing.
The use of sustainable practices
Velenje Underground strives to promote cultural, historical and economical values of the Šalek Valley and contributes to the ‘green image’ and sustainability of the Valley and Slovenia. The event is an authentic experience with old-fashioned values and successfully revives old mining cultural customs and traditions and promotes local cuisine. As such, it representatively contributes to 5-star Slovenian experiences.