Have a Wianki Krakow

Floating Lanterns

Floating Lanterns

What we called garlands, for the Poles in Polish they are the ‘Wianki’. This is the largest annual cultural event, with music and also performances. Besides having a competition for the most beautiful wreath amongst the ladies, there are other activities like fortune telling, burning of herbs and jumping over bonfires. The overall impression as well as the use of the artistic elements with a close reference to the tradition are evaluated during the garland competition. A little historical background for Wianki. Since 1992, it has been a mass cultural event celebrated on the summer solstice which most of us know as midsummer. Kupala Day or Noc Kupaly is also celebrated around this time. It is the Feast of St. John the Baptist. Some called it the Ivan Kupala Day. Youths jump over bonfires like a ritual, it is like a test of his bravery and faith. It is rather a superstition, but they also believed that a couple who is in love but fail to jump completely while their hands are held shows they will be destined to separate. The other part of the event is the floating of wreaths that are lit with candles by the girls on the Vistula or Wisla River.

Sobotka (St. John’s Night)

Sobotka is actually the name of a town in the Hradec Kralove Region. It is also the lighting and merrymaking by bonefires called Sobotaka along the riverbanks. Also known as Noc Swietojanska, the St. John’s Night happening on the 24th June. The background story was of a legendary princess, Wanda and the Prince Krak (founder of Krakow). It was an event organized by Polish Gymnastic Society before WWI. Then it became a large scale open-air performance. Of dramatic show such as theatre plays and finale fireworks show, the floating of the Wreaths is certainly one of the Cracovians’ favourite.

Shortest Night of the Entire Year


Wianki, Tradition

On the longest river in Poland, the Vistula, on the shortest night of the entire year. This yearly event is the cultural event happening at the foot of the Gothic Wawel Castle. The practice of this Old Polish tradition, with girls floating wreaths of magic herbs with lit candles has become a Fiesta in this modern age. Tourist who wants a great show or even musical acts can witness a huge fireworks display at the end of the night. To conclude, this cyclical cultural event called Wianki which means ‘wreaths’ in English held annually at the bend of Wisla river, near Wawel Hill is a ‘must-experience’!

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