Wroclaw

Wrocław Festivals

more than a year ago
Wrocław has plenty to offer when it comes to film and music festivals, and it caters to all tastes - enthusiasts of jazz, classical, avant-garde, pop, reggae, sacred music, and even shanties will find something to please their ears. Some of the festivals have been around for quite a while: the humbly-named Jazz Festival and Wratislavia Cantans can each boast a half-century of history. If you are semi-competent with a guitar and crave something interactive, bring your axe to the Thanks Jimi Festival, which attempts to beat its own Guinness record for most people playing guitar simultaneously each year. Here’s a month-by-month rundown of the bigger events on Wrocław’s cultural calendar:

March

Shanties - It may not be on the shore, but Wrocław is surrounded by water, with the Oder River flowing by the north side and the City Moat enclosing the rest. It’s therefore no wonder that sea shanties are so popular here. The bands performing during this festival are likely ones you’ve never heard of, but that just makes it more fun. www.szanty.com.pl

Stage Songs Review - This might just be the only festival in the world dedicated exclusively to stage/theatre songs (as far as the organisers know, at least). It's also one of Wrocław's oldest festivals, with the first edition dating back to 1976. There are always appearances by foreign performers. www.ppa.wroclaw.pl

Spanish Cinema Week - This contemporary film festival takes place in numerous cities across Poland yearly. In Wrocław, the hosting venue is New Horizons Cinema. www.manana.pl

April

Jazz Festival - The Wrocław Jazz Festival aka Jazz on the Oder is now over fifty years old, placing it among the oldest in the land. Until 1989 the festival was primarily a student event, but since then it has grown to present the most interesting jazz artists from Poland and abroad each year. www.jazznadodra.pl

May

Good Beer Festival - Good beer is, to some, a religion. For those enthusiasts, as well as the more casual beer-drinker, Wrocław has the perfect spring festival full of beer tastings, concerts by Lower Silesian bands, and brewing workshops. www.festiwaldobregopiwa.pl

Asymmetry Festival - This music festival features artists who blur the lines between metal, rock, electronic, jazz, and pop. A major highlight is simply the venues where the concerts take place - in the past, they’ve included the post-industrial Bourgeois Brewery, the gothic St. Mary Magdalene Church, and the UNESCO-listed Centennial Hall. www.asymmetryfestival.pl

Brahms Festival - Chopin concerts are ubiquitous in Poland, but Wrocław has special ties to another great composer - that’d be Johannes Brahms, who used to perform here between 1874 and 1881. During that time, he was even awarded an honorary doctorate from the Wrocław University. Nowadays, the Brahms Festival always welcomes musicians from around the world. www.brahms-festival.com

Thanks Jimi Festival - Ready to get into the Guinness Book of World Records? The Thanks Jimi Festival is a yearly guitar extravaganza where guitarists from Poland and beyond meet en masse to set (yet another) record in simultaneous playing. The first record was set in 2006 with 1581 participants and has since been beat numerous times. There will be accompanying concerts as well! www.heyjoe.pl

3 -majówka - The May Days are synonymous with springtime relaxation in Poland - the national holidays of Labour Day (May 1st) and May 3rd Constitution Day mean plenty of time off (with May 2nd usually thrown in for good measure). For those staying in the city, Wrocław is organising a couple days of concerts. In past years the festival would take place on Słodowa Island, but it has recently moved to the Centennial Hall and its grounds.

June

SIMCHA - With the aim of showing the richness and beauty of Jewish heritage, SIMCHA features a full week of international shows, concerts, workshops, and dances. One of the highlights is the Friday evening open service to welcome the Sabbath, courtesy of Rabbi Samuel Rosenberg, followed by the traditional Sabbath supper. www.simcha.art.pl

July

International Film Festival - Poland’s largest film event featuring (literally) hundreds of films from dozens of countries. A central part of the festival is the New Horizons International Film Competition, but the programme also includes art events, workshops, and lectures. www.nowehoryzonty.pl

Brave - Brave is a festival against cultural exile - a festival of brave people, dying cultures, and disappearing traditions. That is the vision of artistic director Grzegorz Bral. The programme includes concerts, performances, and films from around the world. www.bravefestival.pl

September

Wratislavia Cantans - Founded in 1966 by Polish conductor Andrzej Markowski, this sacred music festival has been going strong for half a century. Beautiful music in beautiful surroundings - concerts by international performers take place in Wrocław’s historic churches. www.wratislaviacantans.pl

October

American Film Festival - Hollywood films are all over Polish movie screens (and, in fact, most movie screens worldwide), but smaller, independent productions often go unnoticed, which is a shame. The AFF aims to bring more niche American films to the Polish public. www.americanfilmfestival.pl

Avant Art - This festival is all about eclecticism, diversity, and innovation. The rich programme includes concerts, films, performance art, and debates, and the artists hail from all around the world. www.avantart.pl

GITARA+ Guitar Festival - Combining all kinds of classical styles, including flamenco, world music, finger picking and much more, this festival may focus on guitar, but it encompasses a wide variety of sounds, instruments, and other art forms, including film, art, and dance. www.gitaraplus.pl

November

One Love Sound Fest - As you might guess from the name, One Love is all about reggae; the organisers even claim that it’s the largest reggae festival in all of Europe, as it gathers around ten thousand people a year at this point. The venue is the spacious Centennial Hall, and the artists come from all around the world, many - unsurprisingly - from Jamaica. www.onelove.pl

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