Summer is coming… We’ve already hidden winter jackets and said hello to sandals, shorts and dresses. Don’t forget to put sun filters on your skin, no one wants to get older too soon, right? To me summer is the best season not only because of the sunny weather and general enjoyment but also because of festivals. There are plenty of events during the summer, sometimes it’s hard to choose where to go. Poland offers many interesting events that you should visit at least once in your lifetime.
I will present the subjective list of “worth seeing” Polish festivals that combine good music, additional artistic events and unique atmospheres.
- Pol’andRock Festival (Kostrzyn nad Odrą)- formerly Woodstock Station, is the biggest open-air festival in Poland and maybe even in Europe. The festival has been held since 1995. The average number of attendees the past years has been more than 600 000 people. The motto of the festival is “Love, Friendship, Music” and it’s organized by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity. The festival gathers people from different generations, backgrounds and subcultures, which together create a vibrant community,very open for everyone and coexisting in peace. The line-up is usually full of rock, metal or reggae bands but the organizers try to keep the sets diverse. One of the most interesting element of the festival is the Academy of the Finest of Arts. It is an open meeting space for representatives of arts, sciences, political and social activities and NGO’s (Greenpeace, Polish Humanitarian Action etc.). A few years ago, even former presidents of Poland and Germany appeared together on the stage and delivered the speech. The goals of this initiative is to educate young people and provide dialogue with authorities in fields like religion, war, tolerance and arts. There are no tickets, the festival is free of charge.
What to bring: clothes that you can destroy while mud bathing, an open mind
Line up: Goo Goo Dolls, Balkan Beat Box, Alestorm
- Open’er Festival (Gdynia) – the most mainstream festival in Poland with a line-up comparable to the biggest European festivals. The first edition was held in Warsaw, in 2002. The festival grew so much the following years that the organizers changed the place and made it longer. The festival has already good reputation, which means that early tickets are sold out before the announcement of the first artists. Currently Open’er is promoted under the banner of “Music&Arts”. It means that except music, you can take part in several theatrical spectacles, movie projections, fashion shows or even museum visits prepared by artists.
What to bring: fancy clothes because all Polish influencers and celebrities are there; rubbers – it rains quite often during festival
Line up: Arctic Monkeys, Bruno Mars, Depeche Mode, Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Gorillaz.
- OFF Festival (Katowice) – festival for those who are more into alternative sounds. We often joke that only the main director of the festival knows the artists that are going to perform there. Also, the point of the festival should be to discover new bands so if you seek new music that you will never find in the radio, pack your luggage and go to Katowice.
What to bring: notebook for autographs because you can easily meet the artists walking around the festival campus
Line up: Yellow Days, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Zola Jesus, Aurora
- Halfway Festival (Białystok) –the place for songwriters and folk music enthusiasts. Artists from different parts of Europe and the USA are presented during the festival. The motto of the event is “close to people, close to music”. It means that it’s a special place for those who appreciate direct contact with performers, can focus on music and don’t like crowds. It is not uncommon for an artist to invite someone from the audience to join them on stage. As well, there are no typical restrictions: artists spend time in the same area where attendees gather, the scene is not separated from the audience. Organizers encourage participants to read the festival’s savoir-vivre before coming, which includes that music and emotions that trigger are the most important. So, talks and breaks for cigarette are only allowed outside the amphitheater, no photos with flash, alcohol moderately but also a lot of applause and cheers for performers.
What to bring: positive attitude
Line up: Low, Villagers, Anna Ternheim, Annie Hart, Jane Weaver
- Castle Party (Castle Bolków) – also called dark, independent festival, has been organized since 1994. Created for fans of gothic rock, gothic metal, electro and industrial music. Most visitors dress in some costumes.Thematic reunions also take place during these few days of subcultures and parties in the nearest clubs or pool.
What to bring: crazy costume
Line up: Samael, Project Pitchfork, Faun
The number of summer festivals in Poland is large. Anyway, depending on what you look for, I’m pretty sure that you will find the perfect spot for yourself. Compared to other European Festivals, prices are not that high and the organizers are competent. Yet, wherever you will be, remember that music brings people together.