Krakow Festivals
Our List Of The Best Ones!

12.10.2018

Are you a fan of festivals? Do you want to attend something one of a kind? Or maybe you're looking for and unforgettable experience?

Stick around, and in this post I will show you:

  • most spectacular cultural festivals in Krakow
  • the best live music festivals in Krakow
  • best bars with live music in Krakow

Let's get started!

Most Spectacular Cultural Festivals

It’s difficult to imagine that Krakow has even more to offer than its architectural masterpieces, complex history, vibrant nightlife and breathtaking surroundings. The culture of the Lesser Poland Voivodeship and Krakow is yet another important element that can be discovered through the many cultural festivals that the region has to offer.
The biggest festivals cater to different interest – theatre, music, dance, local legends or Jewish heritage. I’m sure you will be able to find a fascinating event that will make your visit to Krakow even more memorable.

Jewish Culture Festival

I particularly enjoy the Jewish Culture Festival as it plays into the cities past and the efforts to revive a culture that was once an important part of Krakow.

As the largest Jewish festival of music and culture in Europe it attracts people from all over the world. The festival includes a diverse selection of both traditional and modern music performed by bands from Africa, the USA, and the Middle East, among others. Apart from live music the festival offers tours, parties, cooking classesworkshops for children, art exhibitions and much more. You can easily spend the entire week getting acquainted with this amazing culture.
You can learn more and see the programme of events here.

The Great Dragon Parade

The dragon of Wawel is to Krakow as the little mermaid is to Copenhagen or the bear and the strawberry tree is to Madrid. Legend has it that many tried to slay the dragon who was terrorizing the city and devouring livestock. A clever tailor, however, outsmarted everyone by feeding a sulfur stuffed sheep to the dragon which led to the dragon consuming so much water that it exploded into a million pieces.

The parade is extremely popular due to the significance of the dragon as the cities symbol to the local population. Floats constructed by locals and giant puppets made by Teatr Groteska bring the dragon to life in a spectacular parade as well as an amazing spectacle on the river where colourful dragons battle it out on a background of fireworks, music, and lasers. It can get very crowded so I always make sure to get there early to secure a good spot.

ULICA International Festival of Street Theatre

Big and small shows on outdoor stages, streets filled with clowns, acrobats and lyrical performers from around the world, this variety of forms is typical of the festival. It has been running since 1988 making it one of the oldest festivals of this type in Central Europe. This year we can expect new additions to the already busy schedule, dance theatre performances will take place across the region as well as interactive performances and workshops led by Spanish artists. So, whether you would like to sit back and enjoy the artistry of the talented performers or take a more active role in interactive events, ULICA street festival is sure to keep you happy and amused and enthralled.

Wianki –Fête de la Musique

Wianki music festival celebrates the midsummer night with live music, fireworks, and presentations of ancient pagan rituals. The name of the festival translates to “wreath” sending them down the river is part of the midsummer night’s tradition in the region which is why the festival also organizes a competition for the finest wreath. With six stages catering to different tastes, the focus of the event is definitely on music rather than wreath making.

The Hard Rock Café stage offers mainstream crowd pleasers; it mainly hosts Polish artists so if you are interested in Polish pop this is a good place to find out more about it. The Debut Stage is a place for new artists to show off, it’s a great place to discover new sounds. The third stage, named after the hosting city is dedicated to local artists. The jazz stage hosts world acclaimed and award-winning artists who will take you through many dimensions of jazz, while the smaller Showcase stage allows non-commercial artists to share their talent and love for music. The night ends with an amazing firework show that you are sure to remember for years to come.

Click here for a full a list of artists and more information

Life Festival Oświęcim

Taking place in the town which housed Auschwitz-Birkenau, the biggest Nazi concentration camp, the festival aims to change the association people have with Oswiecim. The themes of this festival are life, peace, and music as it propagates peaceful intercultural relations without racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism.

The festival has attracted some pretty big names in the past, among which were Elton John, Queen & Adam Lambert, Eric Clapton, Sting, James Blunt and Manu Chao. Apart from these international chart-topping celebrities the lineup also consists of popular artists that represent a variety of cultures and cultures. Classical concerts and theatre spectacles are nice if you are looking to take a break from the big crowds, another attraction is a mural that was designed especially for the event by worldly acclaimed Polish artists. Entry is not free so make sure to buy your tickets in advance.

Click here for more information on the next Life Festival.

Theatrical Reminiscences

Taking place in October, Theatrical Reminiscences is a lively, creative event that is constantly evolving to find the most original and innovative approaches to theatre. In 1975 when the festival first took place, the interests were focused on the student theatre movement which had a large impact on the theatre scene of the 70’s and 80’s. Now the festival has changed into a showcase and examination of the achievements of Polish and global alternative theatre. Each year over 100 artists from around the world gather to create an immersive theatrical experience for their audience. Dozens of events are hosted around Krakow including, exhibitions, lectures, workshops, performance art shows, concerts and more.

Since 2003, each edition of the festival has revolved around a different theme which creates a platform for performers to express themselves while maintaining a coherent aesthetic whole throughout the different approaches. The shows which sometimes pose difficult questions are captivating and interactive. It is the perfect place for someone interested in contemporary performing arts as well as for those seeking new experiences. This year’s theme “The Land of Happiness” is sure to amaze everyone.

Krakow Live Festival (Coke Live Music Previously)

II could not forget about this extraordinary festival with big names and amazing vibes. 2016 was a great year for this event as it attracted over 25 thousand people with its concerts and amazing attractions. Are you coming to the next edition? 

Music in the Air: Krakow Sound Feast

Along with the many tourist attractions and cultural festivals, Krakow also offers a variety of music events that cater to different tastes. Whether you like gospel, sung poetry, shanties, or jazz, Krakow has a festival just for you! Most although not all festivals take place in the summer so there is a chance to attend regardless of what time of year you are visiting Krakow.

Grechuta Festival 

Grechuta Festival showcases the work of many artists in reference to Marek Grechuta, one of the most important contributors to Polish sung poetry. You can expect covers that take unique takes on the songs of Grechuta along with film screenings, exhibitions, and meetings that center around the music of the artist. This is one of my favorite festivals as it is a genre of music that due to its timelessness and artistry can be enjoyed by many generations. This might be why it is such an important part of Polish culture.

I’m not sure how enjoyable Grechutas music is for non-Polish speakers since a lot of its magic lies in the poetic lyrics. I remember hosting an impromptu “Grechuta party” with some Polish friends in Spain, the music was met with some confusion but in the end, everyone found it engaging. So it may be worth your time, especially if you are interested in Polish classics. The previous editions of the festival took place in Krakow on the anniversary of Grechuta’s death, this year, however, the festival was enjoyed in the seaside town of Swinoujscie. The location of the festival in 2018 remains a mystery so make sure to check if it is on if you are in Poland next summer.

Jazz Autumn

If you are interested in the contemporary improvised music scene then this festival is perfect for you. Jazz Autumn showcases the improvised music of many international artists in the atmospheric district of Kazimierz. As the name suggests the event takes place in Autumn with events scattered between the months of September and December. This years edition will be exceptionally special with extra attractions since the festival is celebrating its 10th anniversary. If you are looking for a jazz selection that avoids the mainstream and pushes the boundaries of experimentation then I promise you will not be disappointed with Krakow’s Jazz Autumn Festival.

Shanties

For all the sailors and sailors at heart, Krakow hosts a spectacular sea shanty festival. It is also known as the International Sailing Song Festival and is the largest such event in Europe. The next edition will take place between February 22-25. If you are going to be traveling in February you will probably want to keep outdoor sightseeing to a minimum as the temperature averages from -6 to  2 degrees Celcius.  The festival can give you a chance to stay warm and enjoy nice venues and energetic tunes as well as workshops, exhibitions, and premieres. Shants are a great aspect of sailing culture, the tunes about adventures at sea are sure to send a chill down your spine!

Music in Old Cracow 

Discover one of Poland’s oldest festivals, full of beautiful classical music and breathtaking venues. Music in Old Krakow takes place in beautiful historic buildings that are otherwise closed to the public. It’s a great opportunity to not only enjoy world class performances but also to see the interior of the buildings you pass in the Old Town. A range of concerts take place during the event, from classics like Liszt, Mozart, Bach to contemporary artists. The festival mostly features world renowned musicians which makes for a moving musical experience, however, emerging musicians are also given an opportunity to show case their talent. 

This year from August 15th-31st, Krakow will host the 42nd edition. You can find the full program here.

7xGospel

Regardless of whether or not you are religious, the power, love, and joy that the largest gospel event in Poland gives off are sure to move you. At the 7xGospel festival, which celebrates gospel music and gospel choirs, you are sure to receive a large dose of positive energy. In addition to concerts, the festival will host workshops specifically for children, mothers, men and the elderly as well as a choreography and singing-drumming workshop. The 12th edition starts on October 12th and lasts until October 22nd.

Wawel at Dusk

The iconic Wawel castle transforms into a stage for classical music performances during the Wawel at Dusk music festival. The event is organized in partnership with the Castello Creative Group and the Wawel Royal Castle. You can spend summer evenings drifting off to the music of Bach, Strauss, Chopin, and Verdi among others. I think the surroundings are the most special aspect of this event.

The historic courtyard and arcades that are usually crowded with tourists during the day become a place to relax and listen to music in. This along with the amazing acoustics and warm nights make it a truly special experience. The event lasts through the entirety of July and August, with concerts being held on every Saturday.

Unsound Festival

Unsound is an ecclectic festival that explores a different theme each year through various mediums. The event takes place in various cities around the world among which are of course Krakow, New York, Toronto, London, and Adelaide.

This years theme is Flower Power which will play with the ideas of a counterculture, ecology, hedonism, protest, and nature. This event is sure to give you a lot to think about. So if you are in any of the above-mentioned cities between October 8th-15th, then make sure to check it out!

Dweller’s Secret: Best Bars with Live Music

If you love live music, you will be delighted to explore Krakow’s music scene. Prepare for Live Music Krakow Bars!

The city is full of nooks and crannies that hide plenty of live music options that cater to a wide variety of tastes. Jazz enthusiasts will find many places to enjoy their favorite music in Krakow, but this city lives and breathes live music not only in its many jazz basements.

Here are Krakow’s best bars with live music you should explore on your next trip.

U Munia

This legendary jazz club is located in a 14th century cellar under Florianska Street, one of the most famous historical streets of Krakow. The club has been operating since 1991 and today it figures and a top place for listening to jazz. Located a couple of minutes from the central Market Square and popular tourist sights, the club can be reached by walking down the steps into a basement full of wonders.

The club housed guests names such as Nigel Kennedy, Wynton Marsalis, or Lee Konitz, as well as Polish jazz stars like Tomasz Stanko, Wojciech Karolak or Zbigniew Namyslowski. The club’s name refers to one of Poland’s top jazz musicians, Janusz Muniak, who can be heard here on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in high-quality jazz sets. Sink into one of the comfortable seats and enjoy the music while sipping on some delicious Polish drinks. You should not miss this live music opportunity in Krakow!

Klub Odeon

Located in the historic Market Square, Klub Odeon attracts plenty of tourists each year who enjoy Krakow vibrant nightlife. The club occupies two floors of a14th century tenement house. Inside, visitors will find six separate rooms, for example: a room for playing pool, for smokers, and a large dance floor. You can choose from many local delicacies in its interesting food and drink menu.

But most importantly, you’ll get to enjoy amazing live music of different kinds during special events organized at the club. Stay tuned and if you find yourself in the center of Krakow on a Friday night, be sure to check the events calendar of the club. You won’t regret it!

Harris Piano Jazz Bar 

Another classic place in Krakow for listening live music, Harris Piano Jazz Bar offers the quintessential jazz experience. It is a legendary club on the Polish jazz scene, having served as one of the leaders of live music ever since it opened its doors in the late 1990s.

Its dimly-lit, atmospheric underground interior and tightknit stage hosted names like Art Farmer, Gary Bartz and Idris Muhammad in the past. So sip on one of the delicious cocktails and immerse yourself in the fantastic music offered at this unique club.

Awaria

Known for its spectacular blues and rock concerts, this small dive bar is a must-see. If you happen to visit it on the right time, you might have one of the old, local clientele buy your drink.

It might seem a little claustrophobic, but Awaria is a great place in Krakow to enjoy live music. Make sure to squeeze past the tiny bar area into the concert space and protect your drink from being spilled as the concert goes crazy. And remember to stay there after the show is finished – you will see people dancing on top of the bar to some classic Elvis and Tina Turner hits. Don’t hesitate a great to join them!

Drukarnia

Thanks to a great strategy of cultural expansion, the place that started off as a cozy café transformed into an key spot on Krakow’s cultural map. Combining three unique venues in one place, the club is one-of-a-kind.

The is ground-floor is occupied by a candle-lit dive bar. Right next to it, you’ll find a more upscale space that serves fancy drinks and looks like a lobby bar straight out of a classic American hotel. Explore the space downstairs to experience some unforgettable concerts. Apart from live shows, the club hosts dance party during the weekends.

Piec Art Acoustic Jazz Club

If you’re tired of Krakow’s crazy club scene, check out this acoustic Jazz club. Order a drink at the stylish bar and sit down on one of the seats that spill onto the pavement during warm summer evenings. Then immerse yourself in the breathtaking music.

Be sure to check out the venue calendar before your trip to Krakow – you will see many acoustic gigs that are often set up in the tiny cellar underground. The exposed brick wall, Polish alcoholic drinks, and fine music lineup is all you need for quiet evening you’ll remember for a very long time.

Old Jazz Café

Old Jazz Café is a lesser known, off-the-beaten-track jazz bar in Krakow. Consider that, unlike the others, it is not located underground. Still, it holds a certain shadowy charm. Live music is usually played ad hoc, but it is always excellent.

Acoustic or semi acoustic bands usually occupied a tiny corner between the walls inside and share their work with a passionate audience. During the summer, the bar opens up to an outdoor terrace that makes for an amazing space for taking breaks between songs.

Forty Kleparz

‘Bastion III’ or ‘Fort Kleparski’ is a 19th century Austrian bastion located north of Krakow’s old town. Recently, the space emerged as one of the most unique spots for club nights and live music in the city. Since it opened its doors, Forty Kleparz managed to attract an impressive number of international artists to its stage.

The concert hall houses 200 people and it is equipped with modern sound and lighting systems. The place is open from Thursday to Saturday, but only during events. So be sure to check what’s happening in the venue’s calendar and, if you spot several events at once, don’t be surprised – the place is really that big.

Kolanko N°6

Kolanko is Krakow’s hidden gem. The best thing about the venue is its large garden, always full of summertime shade. That’s also where the occasional concerts take place. Since it’s located in Krakow’s Jewish quarter, the club combines klezmer and world music selections to build a fantastic atmosphere for everyone visiting the place. It’s a really special location all music fans should visit to hear examples of the local, original klezmer music.

Krakow is full of amazing spaces that add to the city’s unique character as Poland’s cultural capital.

If you’re visiting Krakow during the weekend, you’re simply bound to catch one or more fantastic live music shows happening around the city. Combine it with Krakow’s wealth of music festivals, and you’ll see why Krakow attracts music lovers like no other Polish city. Live music enthusiasts, hope you loved it!

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Krakow Festivals

As you can see, there are thousands of events in Krakow that you can attend. And I guarantee - you'll have so much fun

Have you been to any of these? Or maybe you can recommend something? Tell us in the comments :)

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