Christmas markets, two-metre-high nativity scenes and an ice rink on Krakow’s largest meadow, Błonia. Such attractions await residents and tourists in winter in Krakow. The earliest opportunity to feel the Christmas atmosphere is at the Christmas Markets. They are held on the Main Market Square from the end of November until the second day of Christmas. On sale there are, among others, handmade Christmas tree decorations, jewellery and souvenirs, as well as pierogi prepared according to old Polish recipes. However, the most popular stands are those selling grilled oscypek from Zakopane. Queues also form for Galician mulled wine poured from large barrels.
Nativity Scenes in Krakow
One of the most interesting winter attractions in Krakow are the nativity scenes made by the city’s residents for an annual competition.
One of the most famous winter traditions in Krakow (happily older than the tradition of heating smog) is the custom of preparing and selecting the most beautiful Krakow Christmas nativity scene in a competition. In December, Cracovians gather in crowds on the first Thursday of the month at the Adam Mickiewicz Monument to see the competition cribs for the first time. These are then closed off from the eyes of curious onlookers for a whole month, during which the jury officially deliberates and prepares a post-competition exhibition.
It is only after Epiphany that the nativity scenes are publicly displayed in the Krzysztofory Palace, to which families with children, art students and foreign tourists make a pilgrimage. It is safe to say that these colourful, shimmering wonders have become a permanent feature of Krakow’s Christmas landscape.
Let us remember, however, that nativity scenes were not always presented on the elevated stands of professional exhibitions. It was already in the 19th century that the first nativity scenes of this format were walked from door to door during the Christmas carol singing season, and it was then that attention began to be drawn to their decorations, competing with other carol singing groups for the title of the most beautiful.
From 10 December to 25 February, nativity scenes can be viewed at Celestat (the headquarters of the Bractwo Kurkowe (the Kurk Brotherhood)) at 16 Lubicz Street, near the Main Railway Station.
These little masterpieces are made of wood, cardboard and cardboard, and coloured paper, tissue paper and staniol – a glossy film – are used to decorate them. The centrepiece of the Cracovian Christmas nativity scene is the Christmas scene, but you can also see St. Mary’s Church, the Sigismund Chapel on Wawel Hill, the Barbican, the Cloth Hall and Florian’s Gate.
In addition to the Holy Family, the nativity scenes feature characters from Krakow’s legends: Lajkonik with the yarn, Pan Twardowski on the moon, the Wawel Dragon.
Energylandia – theme park outside Krakow
The Energylandia amusement park is not located in Krakow, but I encourage you to visit the largest amusement park in Poland, located in Zator. Energylandia now also operates in winter, which is a unique opportunity to spend time. The creators of this amusement park have created an impressive garden of lights, consisting of 5 000 000 lights over an area of 43 hectares. But that’s not the end of the attractions – Energylandia also offers ice skating rinks, snowtubing, a Christmas market, numerous Christmas trees, gingerbread decorating workshops and even a winter parade! Choose Energylandia as your winter attraction and you certainly won’t regret it. It’s great fun for people of all ages!