Despite the temperate cruisiness of Poland's prime Baltic real estate, the beach-lined summer capital of Gdańsk knows how to whip up a storm when it comes to its roster of festivals!
Interesting things have always been happening in the Polish Tri-city area, and as a major European seaport, cultural events in Gdańsk, not to mention its rich offering music festivals, have always been a key ingredient to the mid-year buzz. For those who haven't worked it out yet, half of Warsaw decamps and heads up this way to get a bit of sand and Baltic splash, so the Gdańsk festival calendar is particularly sought after!
It's no surprise that the international music affair of Globaltica resides here, as are multi-genre events like Open'er Festival in Gdynia and the beachsider Fląder festival. Gdańsk's former shipyards has become a regular big-event site for the likes of the heavy metal Mystic Festival and the electro-dance-pop happening of SoundDrive Festival. Other city based events include St. Dominic's Fair honoring the city's rich heritage as a city of trade, craftsmanship, food and culture. So here it is, our pick of the best summer festivals in Gdańsk
Arts & Crafts / Food / Music Fair
St. Dominic's Fair (Jarmark Dominikanski) is on par with Weihnachtsmarkt and Oktoberfest when it comes to both size and visibility. The festival dates all the way back to 1260, when 400 merchant ships would dock in Gdańsk to ply their wares. This important event, which even the king and nobility took part in, has continued till this very day, with salesmen from the all over Pomerania coming to sell their produce. You can buy obscene amounts of amber jewellery, regional arts, sausage, lard on bread, as well as the odd bit of Nazi memorabilia discovered by bounty hunters who are still digging up badges and the like to this day. St. Dominic's Fair in Gdańsk is one of the largest trade events in Europe, with 5-6 million visitors annually!
GLOBALTICAWorld Music Festival
Globaltica can be called one of the best world music festivals in Europe, if not the world! It creates a unique platform for the exchange of ideas performed in a creative and tolerant atmosphere. The festival explores ethnic themes and inspirations in contemporary culture, with a leading theme of unity, and the neverending pursuit of universal harmony, which is common to all humanity. At the core of all of this is music, something of a cultural common denominator. Globaltica also has a fantastic food and crafts market, as well as an always interesting series of meetings, workshops, and Cinema Globaltica.
BALTIC SAIL GDANSKMaritime Festival
Grand sailing ships assail Gdańsk's waterfront during this annual festival of maritime culture. The events are a reminder of Gdańsk's maritime traditions, which continue to connect the cities of the former Hanseatic League: Gdańsk, Klaipeda, Rostock, Karlskrona, Nysted, Riga and Szczecin. Attracting visitors from all over the world, the events are open to anything that floats, from tourist yachts to motorboats, which is also made accessible to anyone wanting to learn more about maritime history and customs. Visitors also have an opportunity to sail around the Bay of Gdańsk on one of the vessels or watch the Nord Cup Regattas. The attractions prepared on land takes place on Ołowianka Island, including battle re-enactments, Shanties under the Crane, and for those wanting to relax there is always the Baltic Beach area. The grand parade of yachts closes the events of Baltic Sail.
FLĄDER FESTIVALAlternative Music Festival
An anglicised version of the Polish word for 'Flounder' (PL: Flądra), this event takes place on the beach in Brzeźno. Despite its awesome location, it has remained a relatively low-key affair, though it won't be long until Baltic tourism catches on. This music event is a great opportunity to see up-and-coming bands from Poland, as well as other countries in the Baltic region like Sweden, Lithuania and Germany, all on the beach! Fląder is unique in the sense that it has a no-repeat-appearance policy. In other words, once you appear on the line-up, you will not be phoned back in again, regardless of your popularity! That means you are always bound to see something fresh, or just take a swim if something bores you.
Heavy Metal Music Festival
One of many festivals hosted in the revitalised shipyard area of Gdańsk, Mystic Festival has been going since 1999, but only recently has begun pulling major international acts to town. These same bands will often prioritise Warsaw or Kraków on their own headlining due to its proximity to the gringo route near cities like of Prague and Bratislava. However, due to the prestige of the festival, and its proximity to the metal-happy region of Scandinavia, metal heads are never dissapointed with the Mystic line-up, and the industrial backdrop of the shipyards is simply perfect for such affairs!
OPEN'ER FESTIVALRock/Pop Music Festival
Taking place in neighbouring Gdynia, Open'er is one of Poland's biggest and craziest music festivals. Like many other massive open-air events in Europe, Open'er is best experienced by reserving a campsite and coming prepared for four days of partying in the sun (and the rain) as some of the world's biggest touring acts perform on several stages at the Gdynia-Kosakowo Airfield. Unrivalled in size anywhere in the country, the colossal festival repeatedly curates an extensive lineup ranging from the world's most reputable music stars to budding domestic talent. Past years' line-ups have included Bruno Mars, Gorillaz, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, and The Cure and Inhaler.
Rock/Pop/Electronic Music Festival
SALT WAVE FESTIVAL
Salt Wave is one of a kind music festival taking place in the most relaxed surroundings on Hel Peninsula. Making use of the airfielf in Jastarnia, this new 90s style "boutique" festival is all about celebrating the last lazy days of summer, walking on the beach, sitting by the bonfire, relaxing in the hammock, longboard rides and frisbee games while listening to great music. Two stages, food trucks and a fashion zone at the small airport surrounded by water.
Various Music Events for Students
Juwenalia AKA 'Polish Spring Break' is when students let off some steam before taking their spring semester exams. In other words, plenty of wild partying, parades, open-air concerts, silly sporting events and theatrical performances. In some parts of the city, it would appear as if the whole town is taken over by students! In Gdańsk, as it is in other university cities, Juwenalia culminates in a two-day series of concerts at the People's Meeting Square with a bunch of big names in Polish music.