Lajkonik Parade 2024

Pochód Lajkonik – a centuries old Kraków tradition

One of Kraków’s oldest and most iconic traditions, the Lajkonik Parade, (Pochód Lajkonika) takes place on Thursday 6th June 2024.

The Lajkonik Parade is one of the oldest and traditions in Krakow, which has been attracting crowds of spectators for several centuries.  It is also one of several Krakow events included on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Every year, the colourful procession led by a rider – Lajkonik, dressed in a colourful Tatar costume rides on an artificial ‘hobby horse ‘ along a route from Zwierzyniec to the Main Square accompanied by the rhythm of Krakow melodies.

He is accompanied by a standard-bearer, carrying a majestic banner with the white eagle, twenty Wisła rafters “włóczki” in colourful clothes, as well as an eight-person band called “Mlaskoty”, whose music gives the rhythm to the march.

Lajkonik gently strikes spectators with his mace, which is supposed to bring good luck for the whole year.

The procession ends in the evening at the Main Market Square, where Lajkonik meets with Krakow City officials and receives a moneybag as a tribute. Then he makes a toast to the city prosperity and performs the last dance.

Lajkonik 2024 programme

This year the route has been altered slightly due to the ongoing roadworks in the area.

1:00 p.m. – 1:45 p.m
The procession will set off from the headquarters of the Waterworks of the City of Krakow at 1 Senatorska towards Plac Na Stawach. The procession moves along Senatorska as Lajkonik collects tribute from local merchants.

1:45 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Playing in the yard of the Secondary School No. 18 at ul. Senatorska 35. Children, Tatars and vagabonds form a circle, inside which stands a Lajkonik with a standard-bearer. The first traditional dance of Lajkonik with a banner also takes place here. The Tatar invasion is symbolically depicted in the form of a battle dance of the vagabonds and the Tatars.

The children receive balls from the organisers with which they try to hit the Tatars from the procession. Schools and kindergartens present their costumes here. Lajkonik gives gifts to representatives of these institutions as a reward for preparing for the show.

The procession crosses Senatorska through the renovated street. T.Kościuszki and ul. Flisacka to Rodła boulevard – at the rafting marina, Krakow Museum, a meeting with rafters and representatives of the Water Police. Shows of clashes between Tatars and vagabonds on boats on the Vistula River.

The procession flows on boats towards the Dębnicki Bridge. Exit via the ramp to Konik Zwierzynieckiego Square. A performance showing the fights of Tatar warriors with Polish Sarmatians on Rodła Boulevard, performed by Leszek Galica’s Martial Theater (part I).

Visit of Lajkonik and several representatives of the procession at the Abecadło Antique Shop at ul. T.Kościuszki 18.

The procession takes a break at the Smily inn. A performance demonstrates the fights of Tatar warriors with Polish Sarmatians Konik Zwierzyniecki Square performed by Leszek Galica’s Fight Theater (part II)

The procession from Konik Zwierzyniecki Square will pass through the intersection with Aleje Trzech Wieszczów and then head towards Czerwiński Boulevard (upper embankments). From the boulevard, the procession will pass through the square of Napoleon’s Grand Army – plac Wielkiej Armii Napoleon.

The procession will march along the sidewalk of ul. Podzamcze towards Planty from ul. Podzamcze into the wider Planty alley next to the Theological Seminary. Then the procession marches through the Planty towards the Krakow Philharmonic.

Near the Philharmonic, the vagabonds and Tatars will form a circle in which the Lajkonik dances with a banner to the sounds of ancient melodies. Tram and car traffic is suspended for approximately 12 minutes. After the dance, the procession leaves the intersection and heads to ul. Franciszkańska towards the Bishop’s Palace.

The procession rests at pl. Wszystkich Świętych – Bar Nienasycenie.  During this time (7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.), a show takes place on the stage and on the Main Market Square with the participation of the Tatar Dance and Vocal Ensemble Buńczuk, preparing the audience to welcome Lajkonik.

Lajkonik’s procession marches through Franciszkańska and Grodzka streets to the Main Market Square

8:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
The main ceremony takes place on the stage on the Main Market Square in front of the Town Hall Tower – the Mayor of Krakow will give Lajkonik his tribute, and together they will raise a toast to the city’s prosperity. Lajkonik performs the third dance with the banner. Vagabons and Tatars will present their dance again.

March of the Lajkonik procession around the Main Square.

Events in front of the Town Hall Tower accompanying the Lajkonik Parade:
7 p.m.
Artistic performance and presentation of Tatar culture performed by the Tatar Dance and Vocal Ensemble Buńczuk.

The history of the Lajkonik procession
According to a well-known legend, the beginnings of the Lajkonik tradition are associated with saving Krakow from the Tatar invasion in 1287, which was supposedly achieved by brave Vistula rafters from the vicinity of Zwierzyniec, called włóczkaki.

However, preserved historical sources allow us to conclude that the Lajkonik frolics accompanied by his retinue certainly took place at least since the mid-18th century (the oldest source records regarding this tradition come from 1738 and 1756).

From that period, despite enormous political, social and civil changes, the Lajkonik procession, also called the Zwierzyniecki Horse, took place almost every year on the same date (the octave period of Corpus Christi) and ran along the same route, running from Zwierzyniec to the area of ​​the Old Town of Krakow (in 1849, Konik Zwierzyniecki appeared on the Main Square for the first time).

During the period described, there were breaks in the procession for several years (including during World War II and the COVID-19 pandemic), but the intergenerational transmission between subsequent generations who took care of the survival of this tradition was never interrupted.

The roots of the Lajkonik procession ritual are related to the communes of Zwierzyniec and Półwsie Zwierzynieckie near Krakow and the monastery of the Norbertine Sisters.

Until the end of the 18th century, i.e. until the loss of independence, the Zwierzyniecki Konik was also a ritual related to the local community of the suburbs, but also to a specific professional group, i.e. the Krakow vagabonds. After the collapse of the professional organisation of vagabonds, the ritual survived thanks to the personal involvement of its former members. It was the Miciński family, which was responsible for the arrangement of Lajkonik until 1972.

After the Miciński family, responsibility for the ceremony was taken over by the Mazur, Marcinkowski and Glonek families from Krakow, whose subsequent generations play the roles of the procession. In the years 1897-1939, they were supported in this admirable mission by the Society of Lovers of History and Monuments of Krakow, and since 1947 the Krakow Museum has been supporting them in this admirable mission, and is responsible for organisational matters, among others. preparing colourful costumes for the procession. Since 1872, the procession has been co-financed by the city of Kraków.

In 2014, the Lajkonik procession was included on the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This entry is the basis for this Krakow tradition to be included on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which includes customs, traditions and rituals from all over the world.

The character of Lajkonik has been played by Mateusz Glonek, an employee of the Krakow Waterworks since 2023. He replaced his father, Zbigniew, who played Lajkonik in this honourable role from 1988 to 2022.

You can find out more about Lajkonik at:
   Lajkonik Parade 2024 – Museum of Kraków




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