Saturday 11th November 2017 is National Independence Day (Narodowe Święto Niepodległości), a national holiday in Poland, when Poles commemorate the 99th 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 hanging from the Town Hall tower and the Bernatka footbridge and Tauron arena lit up in red and white.
In Kraków the main Independence Day events are:-
10am Independence Day Mass & Parade (1130) – Wawel Cathedral to Pl Matejko
The traditional Mass. will be held in Wawel Cathedral. At the conclusion of the mass, (approx 1130) the Independence Day military parade will begin from the Wawel Hill at the Katyn Cross, where wreaths will be laid. The parade continues along the ‘Royal Route’, ul. Grodzka, to the main square and via Florianska to pl. Matejko.
1430 – Rynek – Polish ‘white and red singing hits’
Billed as the ‘biggest karaoke in Poland’ The public are invited to sing along to traditional Polish hits with Mateusz Ziółko, Sound’n’Grace, leading the proceedings on stage. „II Ogólnopolskie śpiewanie biało-czerwonych przebojów”.
1500 – 1700 Krakow Independence Run
The 4th Krakow Independence Run (4 Krakowskim Biegiem Niepodległości), is described by the organisers as ‘a historic 11 km route, a charity event, more than 4,000 runners for 4 years and great fun!’
Starts from al. May 3, along the route :-
Al. Focha (most na Rudawie, jezdnia) – ul. Emaus – ul. Gryfity – ul. Królowej Jadwigi ( 1/2 jezdni) – ul. Kościuszki (pas jezdni od strony Kościoła) – ul. Flisacka – Bulwary Wiślane (do kładki o. Bernatka) – kładka o. Bernatka – Bulwary Wiślane – ul. Rollego – Most Retmański – Bulwary Wiślane do ullicy Zielińskiego – ul Zielińskiego i Most Zwierzyniecki (chodnikiem) – ul. Malczewskiego – ul. Zaścianek – ul. Malczewskiego – Al. Focha ( lewa strona, most na Rudawie) – Al. Focha (deptak)
For more information visit www.biegniepodleglosci.com.pl
1700-1900 ‘Joy of Independence’ Singing Lesson
1030 – 1430 – Patriotic Tram
Once again 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.
UPDATE: – People are commenting on social media that the tram has changed it’s route due to ‘Police restrictions’, there seems to be some confusion (no surprise there then!), the best bet is to head to Plac Wszystkich Świętych where it’s sure to turn up at some point !
1330 Independence Day rally – ‘We Want Democracy’ – Plac Szczepanski
A rally under the banner – We want democracy ( Chcemy Demokracji) has been organised by KOD, as a counter to what they consider the political misappropriation of the traditional independence day celebrations. The rally is described in the organisers FB event as an opportunity to – “express your joy at the celebration of Independence Day among the democrats, people for whom European values are important”
1200 Filharmonia – KONCERT PATRIOTYCZNY NEW
A special concert commemorating Independence Day, prepared by the Cracow Philharmonic Choir along with the Krakow Young Orchestra Orchestra under the baton of Tomasz Chmiel. A review of the most beautiful patriotic songs that have been sung for generations and permanently grown into the hearts of the Poles; Rozszumiały się wierzby płaczące; Ułani, ułani czy Czerwone maki na Monte Cassino
FREE ENTRY TO NATIONAL MUSEUM – Nov 10th, 11th, 12th NEW
Three days of free entrance to the main building of the MNK (Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie) , including the gallery “Weapons and colours in Poland” ( „Broń i barwa w Polsce”) with the exhibition “Art of the Polish Legions” (“Sztuka Legionów Polskich”) and the exhibition#dziedzictwo, also on 11th November, free viewing of Kraków, and arguably Poland’s most famous painting, “Lady with the Ermine” by Leonardo da Vinci.
Special attractions, this weekend, will include: For the first time in Poland we will show together all three preserved Józef Piłsudski uniforms, including a jacket and trousers in which the Marshal was buried. More about them will be found during the tour on November 10 at 16:30 and 11 November at 14:00 .
FORD CAR ENTHUSIAST, INDEPENDENCE EVENT – 1500 – Decathlon, Zakopianka. NEW
A special Independence Day gathering for fans of cars sporting the blue oval badge. If your into Capris, Cortina’s, Corsair’s, Anglia’s, RS’s, Escort’s, Cosworth’s, Mustang’s, Thunderbird’s, Mexico’s or even the ubiquitous Transit, head along to Zakopianka where classic Ford cars will be on display in the car park at Decathlon, Zakopianka, from 3pm.
RECENT PROTESTS FROM RIGHT WING ELEMENTS, IS IT SAFE? NEW
Will there be right wing, (extreme or not) elements on the streets of Krakow on Saturday? – yes, certainly.
Fortunately, Krakow has been largely free from the more extreme violent disorder caused by the extreme right wing groups which have afflicted Warsaw in recent years (unusually trouble free last year – hope it continues), and there is always a large Police presence, so luckily these events have mostly, (if not always), passed off without violence in Kraków. Last year there was an organised event by Trzecia Droga, we haven’t seen any notification of an event this year, by them or any other groups.
There is a KOD (pro-democracy) rally on Saturday on Plac Szczepański,(see details above) which may attract counter protests, but equally, may pass entirely peacefully and without incident.
In our opinion, there is no reason to stay at home or be afraid, based on some of the recent media reports, yes, there has been trouble in the past, though mostly confined to the Warsaw event. The violence has been extreme in recent years, but thankfully it passed off peacefully last year.
Go out, enjoy the various events and parades and join the important traditional Polish celebrations of their Independence.
(We did not include any reference to the previous violence in our first version of this article, as we wanted to concentrate on the celebrations of Polish Independence, NOT on the disorder created by a violent minority who misappropriate the event for their own political agenda. However, there were concerns raised on social media by some in our expat community asking if it was safe to attend the events in Kraków, we hope the above explanation reassures anyone with such concerns)
Images from Previous Independence Day Parade
© David McGirr
Be aware that due to the parades and independence day run, some streets will be closed and there will likely be temporary traffic congestion in the area of the events. Full details in the link below.
Independence Day is also a national holiday with many shops and businesses closed.