Accompanying events of the 15th Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities


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Kraków, a European city of culture and a city of festivals, will welcome the delegations of member cities from five continents belonging to the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) with a special programme of artistic events. The programme was developed to provide guests from around the world with a sample of Kraków’s diversity and, more broadly, the Central European artistic scene. The cultural program will remind the residents of Kraków of their most vivid, unique and still cultivated urban traditions, as the Congress is connected with Kraków Days, including, among others, the 120th jubilee of the Museum of Kraków, the Great Dragon Parade, the Enthronement of the Fowler King and the Lajkonik parade. What is more, during the closed meetings of the participants of the congress, guests will be able to experience classical repertoires, ethnic and jazz music, performances by amateurs, performances of dance and reconstruction groups, and even street music. The richness of the proposals will provide a showpiece of the city with an extremely rich and artistic scene.

Great Spectacle on the Vistula River – 1 June
As every year, after dusk, the annual open-air spectacle will refer to the ancient story about the creation of the city and the legend of one of the important symbols of Kraków – the Wawel Dragon. The show, organised by the Groteska Theatre, will introduce the guests of the congress to the local celebration, significant for the residents of the city. The spectacle, with animated, flying and floating dragon puppets will be enriched with pyrotechnic, multimedia and music effects. The event will be an opportunity to meet guests by the many-thousand-strong community of Kraków residents celebrating this lavish festival at the foot of the Wawel Hill.

Joyful Parades – 2 June
The Great Dragon Parade, at about 12:15pm, will be the continuation of the outdoor show and will pass Grodzka Street and head towards the Main Market Square. The colourful parade of children and entire families carrying huge puppets of dragons – created throughout the year in schools, craft guilds and cultural centers – has become the showpiece of Kraków Days. The Dragon Parade will be accompanied by artists, dancers, noisy orchestras, stilt walkers and jugglers. For a few hours, everyone will become actors of the joyous parade as it reaches its finale on the stage in the Main Market Square.
When the Parade arrives at the Main Market Square, it will encounter another important ceremony: Enthronement of the Fowler King – a tradition that has been cultivated in Kraków for several hundred years. The Fowler Brotherhood, also known as the Riflemen’s School, the Riflemen’s Confraternity, or the Riflemen’s Society was established at the end of the 13th century, when the city was girded with defensive walls. It was established as an over-guild paramilitary organisation preparing craftsmen and merchants to efficiently use weapons in order to defend the city against a possible enemy. The centuries-long functioning of the brotherhood influenced the formation of specific customs and traditions. The most important of them was the annual shooting competition for the title of the King of Fowl – i.e. the best shooter in a given year – and their subsequent enthronement. Approximately at noon, the Brotherhood will go in a parade around the Main Market Square with their new king.

On this day, the March of Traditions will depart from the Barbican at 6:00pm – full of color and music, a joyful celebration of local traditions. The parade will be led by the figure of Lajkonik – a true symbol of Kraków, followed by his joyful retinue, accompanied by the grotesque mlaskoty. Lajkonik is a figure depicting a Tatar rider in a pointed cap with a crescent. His annual fun and games remind the residents of the legend of brave raftsmen who defeated the Tartar army resting in Zwierzyniec before the planned invasion of Kraków. They celebrated the victory by playing a trick on the Kraków residents – they dressed up as the Tatars, and the leader of the rafters rode into the city on a horse belonging to their leader. Since then, every year on the octave of Corpus Christi, Lajkonik’s retinue joyfully heads to the Main Market Square. It is worth noting that his present outfit was designed by an outstanding Kraków artist – Stanisław Wyspiański. The parade will be graced by a dance reconstruction of the royal court: a royal couple surrounded by the representation of the Fowler Brotherhood guarding the order, modeled on images from the Stockholm Roll with the city militia and the dancing residents of the court. The farther part of the parade will bring together the people of the city celebrating in the streets. Among the performances of acrobats, jugglers and stilts, among the sounds of music and dance will be the Kraków residents dressed in traditional folk costumes.
In order to emphasise that the traditions of our city are shared by all residents, the parade will be accompanied by a group of nearly 300 volunteers – Ambassadors of World Heritage Cities who are prepared to represent the network of member cities. They will appear wearing colors of all cities associated in the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC) with a flag as a sign of their unity. The parade will start near the Barbican, cross the St Florian’s Gate and Floriańska Street, and then make a circle around the Main Market Square, marking the official start of the inauguration.
When the March of Traditions disappears around the corner of Sienna Street at 6:30pm, the bugle-call will signal the official start of the congress. The bugle-call from the tower of St Mary’s Basilica has punctually set Kraków residents’ time since 1838. Legend has it that it was the bugle-caller in ancient times who trumpeted the opening and closing of the city gates, and in special situations alerted the residents to danger. Once, the trumpeter played the bugle-call at the sight of Tatar troops closing in on Kraków. The city gates were managed to be closed, but one Tatar arrow pierced the bugle-caller’s throat before he finished the melody – which has always remained unfinished when played from then on. When the last, incomplete beat of the bugle-call sounds, a brief presentation of the OWHC member cities will take place. The Main Market Square will be filled with sounds of Polish classical music performed by the Sinfonietta Cracovia orchestra under the baton of Alexander Humala.
After an official greeting of the Congress guests and the audience gathered, around 7:30pm a concert will begin to refer to the multicultural musical relationships and traditions of Central and Eastern Europe. The Towards Sources agenda prepared by Jan Słowiński, the director of the EthnoKraków festival, will consist of two parts referring to the best traditions of the Polish and Central European ethno and world music scene. Artists from our part of Europe will perform in the premiere concert, entertaining with traditional and contemporary arrangements. Next to the Kraków Symphony orchestra, there will be musicians from the Polish The Malisz Band, Babooshki from Ukraine and Muzsikás with Hanga Kacsó, supported by dancers from Hungary. The evening will end with a dance party with the participation of the most popular Polish ethno scene bands and will start at 9:00pm. The audience – Kraków residents and tourists – will be drawn into a whirlwind of unrestrained performing: the Warsaw Village Band band, playing Polish folk music; juggling with the native traditional repertoire as well as gypsy, Balkan, Jewish music or the Muzykanci Hungarian band and Dikanda, who draw inspiration from the traditional folk sounds of the broadly understood orient – reaching from the Balkans, through Israel, Kurdistan, Belarus, to India.

Promotional stands of OWHC cities will be available from 3 to 5 June, between 10:00am and 5:00pm at the ICE Kraków Congress Center at level 0, where you will be able to visit well-known and less known places from all continents, and where live, local traditions will be presented on a dedicated stage.



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