Today is National Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości), a national holiday in Poland, when Poles commemorate the 105th anniversary of the restoration of Poland’s sovereignty as the Second Polish Republic in 1918, after 123 years of partition
Across the country homes, buildings, streets, even buses and trams will be bedecked in the red and white national colours proudly displaying the national flag, including a 22m flag draped over Kościuszko Mound, whilst the Bernatka footbridge and Tauron arena will be illuminated in red and white.
In Kraków the main Independence Day events are:-
The National Independence Day celebrations in Krakow will start with the laying of flowers at the monument of Marshal Józef Piłsudski and the Legionnaires.
Flowers will be laid at the Monument to the Soldiers of Fighting Poland (Żołnierzy Polski Walczącej) in Powiśle.
In the crypt under the Silver Bell Tower (Wieżą Srebrnych Dzwonów), flowers will be laid on the sarcophagi of Marshal Józef Piłsudski and President Kaczyński.
10am Independence Day Mass & Parade (1130am) – Wawel Cathedral to Pl Matejko
The traditional Mass. will be held in Wawel Cathedral. At the conclusion of the mass, (approx 1130) Polish flags will be distributed in the cathedral square then the Independence Day military parade will begin from the Wawel Hill pausing at the Katyn Cross, (1145am approx) where wreaths will be laid. The parade continues along the ‘Royal Route’, ul. Grodzka, to the main square and via Florianska to pl. Matejko.
11.00am to 3.00pm
Display of uniformed services vehicles at Matejki Square.
Ceremonies in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the participation of the Polish Army. The program includes: playing of the national anthem, presentation of state decorations and certificates granting Polish citizenship, laying of wreaths, parade of representative vehicles of uniformed services and horse formations along Basztowa Street.
Military pea soup will be served.
The national anthem will be played from the tower of Mariacki church and sung by those present on the square.
Rynek – Polish ‘white and red singing hits’
Following the singing of the national anthem, the public are invited to sing along to traditional Polish hits with well know Polish singers, leading the proceedings on stage. This year a special Independence cake will be available to those taking part. „VII Ogólnopolskie śpiewanie biało-czerwonych przebojów”.
Krakow Independence Run, Błonia.
The Krakow Independence Run (Krakowskim Biegiem Niepodległości), an historic 11 km route, a charity event, with more than 2000 runners.
For more information visit – Krakow Independence Run – history, purpose, road information
5.00pm – 7.00pm ‘Joy of Independence’ Singing Lesson
The 86th Krakow Singing Lesson, will take place on the Rynek, led by performers from Loch Camelot cabaret. Songbooks will be given out to help you sing along.
You can read more about it here.
1030 – 1430 – Patriotic Tram
Once again, for the 33rd time, the “Patriotic Tram”(tramwaj patriotyczny) will travel through Kraków. On the tram young Poles from school choirs will sing patriotic songs. Passengers are encouraged to join in and will be handed song books, flags, badges, and leaflets to help get them in the mood. The tram will run around Planty from 10:30 until 14:30. Route: Poczta Główna, Plac Wszystkich Świętych, Filharmonia, Bagatela, Basztowa, Długa, Dworzec Towarowy, Dworzec Główny, Poczta Główna, with possible detours due to official ceremonies at Matejki Square. Free travel.
PROTESTS FROM RIGHT WING ELEMENTS, IS IT SAFE?
Will there be right wing, (extreme or not) elements on the streets of Krakow? – yes, certainly.
Fortunately, Krakow has been free from the more extreme violent disorder caused by the extreme right wing groups which have, at times, afflicted Warsaw in past years. Even in Warsaw, the parades have been free from larger scale disorder for the past few years, which hopefully will continue. There is always a large Police presence, fortunately these events have mostly, (if not always), passed off without violence in Kraków.
In our opinion, there is no reason to stay at home or be afraid, based on some media reports, yes, there has been trouble in the past, though mostly confined to the Warsaw event.
Go out, enjoy the various events and parades and join the important traditional Polish celebrations of their Independence.
Images from Previous Independence Day Parade
© David McGirr
Changes in road traffic organisation
A parking ban will be introduced on Paderewskiego, Basztowa Streets (from Zacisze Street to Matejki Square) and Matejki Square, from: 07.00–15.00. Designated places will also be banned. Additionally, due to the passage of the patriotic procession to Matejki Square, temporary traffic interruptions are possible.
If you’re a driver, don’t forget to pay for your parking. With effect from this year, Independence day is no longer included as one of the holidays when parking tickets re not required. (on the following holidays, you don’t need to pay for parking; New Years day, 2nd day of Easter, All Saints Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and boxing day)
Independence Day is also a national holiday with many shops and businesses closed.
Patriotic Week at Wawel Castle
From 9th to 19th November Wawel Castle celebrates Independence Day with a patriotic week.
“By inspiring us to discover modern patriotism, it also encourages us to save the lives and health of those in need and to look at the world through the prism of the “Image of the Golden Age” exhibition. All this to encourage reflection on patriotic attitudes, broadly understood today.
David fell in love with Kraków 24 years ago, making it his home in 2011.
In 2020 he was awarded the title of Kraków’s Ambassador of Multiculturalism, by the President of Kraków, and is also a member of the GlobalScot network, representing Scottish culture and business abroad.
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