A carefully curated selection of the most important, emblematic and significant events in the coming three months.
Regardless of genre or duration, this is what makes summertime Kraków Culture!
Kraków Opera Summer Festival
The season at the Kraków Opera closes with favourite dramas Tosca, Carmen and Il trovatore, the timeless comedy The Marriage of Figaro, and The Haunted Manor imbued with romance and patriotism. The festival also resounds with the Carmina Burana cantata and the operetta The Gypsy Baron at an open-air stage at the Botanical Garden. We will also meet The Impresario at the premiere of Mozart’s comic singspiel.
ICE Classic: Fabio Biondi
The Italian violinist and conductor Fabio Biondi, star of this year’s second concert held as part of the ICE Classic cycle, is joined by his ensemble Europa Galante to present a unique interpretation of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”, intertwining the violin concerto with Baroque arias dedicated to the season. The programme, titled Voice of Nature, also features the Hungarian soprano Emőke Baráth.
The UK from the coalmine closures to Brexit and COVID-19 and the history of the British Isles through the lens of the finest British documentary photographers… The exhibition features two hundred photos taken between 1963 and 2020 by 39 authors. They include images by masters of photography including David Hurn, Martin Parr, John Davies and Anna Fox, as well as equally fascinating if less-well-known artists.
The Lajkonik’s frolics are one of Kraków’s most beautiful traditions. The cortege follows its traditional route, starting from Senatorska Street, passing the Norbertine Convent, Kościuszki Street, Zwierzyniecka Street, the Kraków Philharmonic, Franciszkańska Street and Grodzka Street to reach the Main Market Square where the Lajkonik receives his ransom money from the Mayor of the City of Kraków.
Jewish Culture Festival
The Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków is the greatest showcase of contemporary culture shaped by Jews all over the world. Each year the occasion presents close to 300 events as part of the main and accompanying programmes, bringing together around 30,000 guests from all corners of the globe to attend workshops, lectures, discussions, guided walks and of course concerts and other music events. This year’s leitmotif is water.
Wianki – Fête de la Musique
The event coincides with the start of the summer holidays and recalls traditions of St John’s Night, taking the format of Fête de la Musique and bringing music to all corners of the city. This year’s Wianki explores folk motifs. The main concerts are held at the Main Market Square and in Powiśle, and events culminate at a dawn gig at Krak’s Mound.
Summer Jazz Festival Kraków
First held in 1996, the festival originally focused on concerts at Piwnica Pod Baranami, later expanding with performances by stars from Poland and abroad at Kraków’s best stages and in the open air. This year’s programme features around 130 events, including concerts by Al Di Meola, Kenny Garrett, John Scofield and Nigel Kennedy.
Stars at TAURON Arena Kraków
Since its grand opening in 2014, Tauron Arena Kraków has been hosting major concerts of classical, film, rock and pop music. After the break forced by the pandemic, this year sees the welcome return of some of the world’s greatest music stars. This summer, we will hear giants of pop (Alicia Keys, 26.06; Harry Styles, 18.07), representatives of stronger sounds (Pearl Jam, 14.07; Sabaton, 23.08; Rage Against the Machine, 15.09), masters of production music Two Steps from Hell (2.07), and the acclaimed tenor Andrea Bocelli (27.08).
In early July, Wawel launches the New Crown Treasury, the latest arrangements of the Private Royal Apartments and the State Rooms, and the temporary exhibition Masterpieces from the Lanckoroński Collection. The latter presents works loaned from the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the National Gallery in London, including Paolo Uccello’s St George and the Dragon from 1470.
EtnoKraków / Crossroads
International festival dedicated to traditional, ethnic and world music, one of the most important events of its kind in Poland and Europe. It has been supporting openness and dialogue rooted in the arts since 1999. This year’s concerts at the outdoor stage at Forty Kleparz, Strefa and Alchemia clubs and in the courtyard of Radio Kraków resound with artists from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus and even farther corners of the globe.
International Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition
International competition for violinist, violists and cellists representing myriad music styles held every other year since 2014. The jury searches for personalities on par with the event’s patron – one of Poland’s most acclaimed jazz musicians. Competition reviews will be held at the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music in Lusławice, with the finale concert resounding in Kraków.
We will immerse ourselves in poetry from authors celebrating their form at Cracovian bookshops and in the very heart of literary Kraków: the Potocki Palace. As usual, the festival features readings, debates, masterclasses, poetry premieres and experimental ways of interacting with literature. This year’s most important stream is Native Realm | Родинна Європа exploring Miłosz’s canonical essay in a completely different historical setting to re-examine it from the current perspective.
Festival of Polish Music
The Festival of Polish Music is a review of classics (Chopin, Szymanowski), contemporary music (Mykietyn, Słowiński), forgotten composers (Gablenz, Kozłowski) and works which appear to have very little to do with music (Mickiewicz? Perhaps Ballads and Romances!).
Phenomenal performances, spectacles, happenings, improvisations, intimate and vast outdoor events return to Kraków’s most beautiful streets and squares. This year’s celebration of street theatre is held under the banner “Polish Horizons”.
Jazz Night brings together young jazz musicians and performers of trad jazz to stages in clubs and under the open air. It was first held in 2007 as part of the celebrations of the 750th anniversary of Kraków being granted city status. This year’s concerts resound at the Small Market Square, in Sukiennice, Piwnica Pod Baranami, Globus and Alchemia clubs and at the Białoprądnicki Manor.
“Cracovia Danza” Court Dance Festival
The event showcases dance heritage from Kraków, Poland, Europe and the world. This year’s festival explores courtly spectacles intertwining comedy and dance.
Kraków Dance Festival
The initiative of the Kraków Choreography Centre brings together three former events – the BalletOFFFestival, the 3…2…1…DANCE! choreography competition and the SPACER Contemporary Dance Festival – into a single, far-reaching international festival. Exploring the potential of contemporary dance, the event features dance performances, movement workshops, lectures and accompanying events at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre and Hevre club, presented by ensembles from Poland and abroad.
According to the organisers, the festival touches upon the sacrum. This year’s Musica Divina launches a three-year cycle dedicated to different forms of prayer, starting with Tenebrae. A standout event is a concert by the Estonian ensemble Linnamuusikud whose original performance style strays away from tradition and is rarely heard in Poland.
International Folk Art Fair
It is the largest and most extensive presentation of Polish folk art and arts and crafts in Central and Eastern Europe, creating the perfect conditions for cultivating and preserving traditional handicrafts and folk arts. The Main Market Square hosts stalls with embroiderers, potters, lacemakers, weavers and sculptors selling their wares, and a stage hosting folk ensembles from Poland and abroad.
In August, delicious smells waft over the Small Market Square. At the Pierogi Festival, exhibitors serve up boiled, fried and roasted delicacies with classic and more exotic fillings. The culinary fest is accompanied by an artistic programme.
The Dragon’s Birthday – outdoor picnic
In Autumn 1972, a scary dragon appeared at the foot of Wawel Hill, sculpted by Bronisław Chromy. Recalling the local legend, the statue quickly became one of the most recognisable symbols of the city. This year’s celebrations encompass annual events such as the Dragon Parade held in June and those prepared especially for the occasion, including an exhibition of Bronisław Chromy’s works in the gardens of Wawel Castle, film screenings (2–3 July) and a dragon village in the Błonia Meadows in August. Dragons flock to Kraków!
Cracovia Sacra Night
Cracovia Sacra Night presents Kraków’s spiritual heritage in the context of some of the most precious monuments of material culture. The programme features concerts, exhibitions and guided tours of churches. This year’s theme is the most important symbol of Christianity, the crucifix. Events also focus on three anniversaries: 800 years of the Cistercian Abbey in Mogiła, 800 years of the Basilica of St Mary and 550 years of the presence of the Pauline Order at the Basilica “On the Rock”.
BNP Paribas Green Film Festival
The event brings together top quality cinema, art and ecological education. As usual, the focal point is the festival village at the Vistula Boulevards at the foot of Wawel Hill, presenting film screenings, workshops, discussion panels and accompanying events.
Music in Old Cracow Festival
Music returns to old Kraków once again, resounding in churches, monasteries and palaces, in historic courtyards and in concert halls – the city and its beautiful stages are the perfect setting for one of Poland’s longest-running festivals (now in its 47th edition!).
Kraków Live Festival
The two-day event, symbolically closing the festival season, attracts tens of thousands of fans each year. The lineup is mainly aimed at young music fans and brings together rock, electronic and pop music stars from Poland and abroad. This year, the stages at the Polish Aviation Museum welcome artists such as Future, Halsey and Lewis Capaldi.
ICE Classic: Patricia Kopatchinskaja
This year’s third instalment of the ICE Classic cycle features Patricia Kopatchinskaja – violinist acclaimed for her temperament, virtuosity and breaking musical boundaries. Together with Giovanni Antonini and his ensemble Il Giardino Armonico, she has prepared the programme What Next, Vivaldi?, intertwining virtuoso concertos by the Red Priest with short contemporary pieces mainly commissioned by Kopatchinskaja herself.
Drawing on its nearly twenty years of experience, the current formula of the festival aims to build bridges between independent and academic music and intertwines plastic arts, opera, theatre and performance. It “profanes” classics, tradition and conservatism and “sacralises” experimentation, avantgarde and curiosity. The theme of this year’s festival is “Endangered Species”.
The Megabit Bomb Festival of the Future is a one of a kind event on Poland’s cultural map. The first edition focused on Poland’s finest sci-fi author, Stanisław Lem. The formula of this year’s second instalment of the festival is expanded to cover climate themes.
The exhibition, held at the Krzysztofory Palace and prepared by the Museum of Krakow and partners, launches a wide-ranging discussion about the current role of the Vistula in our daily lives. Although today it’s mainly used for recreation, it is important to remember its former major function as a transport route, and the importance of raftsmen from villages surrounding Kraków. The exhibition also touches on important issues of environmental protection.
Politics in Art
The tenth instalment of MOCAK’s flagship exhibition series in which curators explore art in the context of some of the most important issues facing humankind today reveals how contemporary artists perceive the mendacity of political strategies. The curators stress that the aim of the exhibition isn’t to condemn politics but rather to show that it is “ethically unstable and potentially leading to moral corruption.
POWERBANK / The Strength of Women
Now in its 111th year, the Ethnographic Museum of Kraków introduces the women behind its foundation, collections, substance and meaning. The polyphonic tale pays equal attention to suffragists, outsiders, activists and housewives, embroiderers, artists, designers, servants, aristocrats and ethnographers, and celebrates the anonymous, forgotten women whose power continues to serve us until today.
NHFest encompasses concerts, theatre and dance performances, visual arts and workshops held at the revitalised space around the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre throughout the two months of summer. The two outdoor stages also host cycles of culinary and cabaret events.
Private. Kantor’s Theatrical Costumes
The unconventional installation, held at the Cricoteka and prepared by Bogdan Renczyński, former actor of Cricot 2 Theatre, presents Tadeusz Kantor as a total artist. Costumes and props from his spectacles serve as narrators telling the story about the plays, from those inspired by Witkacy, via Theatre of Death to his final performance Today Is My Birthday.
A New Beginning. Modernism in the Second Polish Republic
The exhibition at the Main Building of the National Museum in Krakow presents a multifaceted vision of the first wave of Modernism in Poland, including paintings, technological innovations, architecture and fabric, furniture and everyday object designs. The art of the interwar period reflects the events and processes of the period, serving as inspiration for social and technological development and driving physical and spiritual degradation.
From atmospheric clubs to grand concert halls; from classical repertoires to experimental art; from literary festivals to informal meetings – every month Kraków hosts myriad cultural events. Want to keep up-to-date? You’ll find everything you need on the Kraków Culture / Karnet website!