Christmas Lights

7 December 2022

In the runup to Christmas, magic grows all around us – and its charm is especially powerful in Kraków!

Things kick off in mid-November at the Main Market Square: the distinctive market stalls go up, a stage is erected by the Cloth Hall and the trees are adorned with twinkling lights. The Christmas tree appears, still plain and somewhat mysterious, although everyone knows it is ushering in the most wonderful time of the year – the time of magic and joy which will soon fill the city to the brim. There’s myriad reasons to become enchanted by this special atmosphere right here in Kraków. It all starts on the day when the Christmas lights are switched on on the tree soaring next to the Basilica of St Mary and the fountain – the tree festooned with baubles and ornaments recalling our city’s history and heritage.

And if there’s a tree, there must be a fair! Next to the festive spruce, among the smart, atmospheric restaurants and cafés, historic churches, museums and cultural centres, a special event comes to life: the Christmas Fair! This year it starts on 25 November and runs until 1 January. Let’s immerse ourselves in a world where Christmas seems permanent, and while away the time by buying gifts, watching performances and sampling delicious seasonal treats. We recognise each dish by smell: grilled sausages, roasted meats, pierogi, soups, fried cabbage… The exhibitors present Polish arts and crafts, sweet delicacies, ceramics, wood and wicker goods. You’ll find Christmas decorations, toys, jewellery, candles, candied fruit… The stage hosts myriad performances, concerts, carolling and poem readings.

The magic of Christmas also steps outside the very centre of Kraków. Another unmissable attraction is the Christmas Fair of Exceptional Things (3 and 4 December). The Podgórze Market Square boasts a century-old, richly decorated Victorian merry-go-round with horses and reindeer. “It’s always hugely popular with kids and adults alike. Made from discarded bits and pieces, it’s like a magic vehicle taking us on an irresistible journey in time. It once travelled around fairs in Austria-Hungary, and now it enchants residents in many cities all over Poland and is a popular prop with filmmakers,” says Paweł Kubisztal from the Association. The merry-go-round will be surrounded by over 70 stalls with local craftsmen, artists and small businesses offering their wares. “Our fair is the perfect opportunity to meet people passionate about what they do. Each exhibitor will be delighted to talk about their work, and some will present live demonstrations. There will also be workshops, themed guided walks and concerts. And don’t forget to sample delicious soups, pierogi and cakes – perfect to warm up in the chilly winter air!” adds Kubisztal.

Make sure you take a look at the Jana Nowaka-Jeziorańskiego Square (in front of the Galeria Krakowska shopping mall) and the traditional Galician Advent Fair (1-24 December). There will be a Christmas tree as beautiful as the one on the Main Market Square, an ice skating rink tempting visitors of all ages to have a glide, and stalls packed with arts and crafts, Christmas decorations and – of course – seasonal dishes.

Looking for Christmas presents? On 11 December Tauron Arena Kraków hosts its Christmas Market – a perfect opportunity to meet friends and just chill out. You’ll find perfect gifts for everyone – jams, preserves, sauces, teas, confectionery, cosmetics, jewellery, books… And the Arena Garden is now a permanent fixture next to Tauron – an outdoor zone serving street food from all corners of the world and open year round!

Kraków abounds with fashion and design in all artistic forms – don’t miss some of the most enchanting independent fashion shows and shops! The Vintage and Retro Kogel Mogel Fairs take us on a journey to the past. On 11 December, exhibitors from all over Poland flock to Hevre for the festive edition where you can find original and timeless fashion from the past. The concept of zero waste breathes a second life into winter coats, jackets, sweaters and 20th-century accessories. “The exhibitors share their carefully selected wares as well as their knowledge of fashion history, recycling and upcycling. Combining a shopping trip with a learning experience means our guests can’t wait for each edition of the fair and flock to the workshops, lectures and guided tours we prepare for them. There’s something for everyone, regardless of age. As the founder and organiser of the event, the opportunity to promote vintage styles and second-hand fashion is incredibly important. I’m delighted that every year Kogel Mogel grows, develops and expands beyond a day-long event to Retro Weekends and even a Retro Month. Kogel Mogel is a crazy blend of inspirations which will make your head spin!” says Monika Skwarczyńska, director of the project.

A few days later, on 17 and 18 December, the Hala Cracovia at Błonia Meadows presents this year’s fourth instalment of Kiermash. Each event is different depending on the season, and now it’s time for the winter range of independent fashion. Kiermash showcases the best in design: top-quality fabrics, colourful patterns and unusual projects. The stalls present handmade jewellery, natural and vegan cosmetics, warm clothes and accessories such as gloves, scarves, hats and bags, and Christmas decorations and gifts straight from Polish designers. The festive edition of Kiermash once again joins forces with the Art & Food Bazaar – a cyclical culinary event borne of love for Mediterranean marketplaces. Fifteen exhibitors prepare delicious snacks, sweet desserts, warming teas and coffees, aromatic mulled wine, preserves and gastronomic surprises, all fresh, tasty, local and top quality.

The magic of Kraków is everywhere and all the time. The festive period brings out the very best of our city: Polish producers feel right at home, returning year on year and presenting the finest produce of their own making.

For. Archiwum Centrum Kultury Podgórza

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