The International Festival of Highland Folklore in Zakopane, which dates back to 1968, has become a permanent fixture on the calendar of not only local, but also European cultural events. Its main idea is to present to the world the music, songs, dances, rituals and customs of mountain people all over the globe – the event is visited annually by folk groups from all continents. Do you want to experience unique traditions – without barriers and restrictions, and with great openness? The 53rd edition of the festival is coming up from 19–26 August 2022. Check out what awaits you in Zakopane!
Lesser Poland is a region full of exceptional events – and the International Festival of Highland Folklore is undoubtedly one of them (Facebook). Visitors from all over the world come to the festival and participants compete for prestigious awards – the Golden, Silver and Bronze Alpenstock. The competition is divided into several categories: traditional ensembles, stylised ensembles and those presenting folklore in an artistically processed form.
What is more, during the festival, Zakopane’s Krupówki are crowded with visitors, rejoicing to the rhythm of highlander sounds. Concerts, painter and sculptor exhibitions, folk art creator workshops and vernissages, art competitions and fairs, as well as dance and singing competitions are organised. In addition, the Podhale championship in carriage driving is an unforgettable attraction.
Openness, closeness and the beauty of tradition
The festival is often compared to other international events of this type, but it definitely differs from them both in its atmosphere and concept – it is a real highlander feast! It is about the authentic transmission of values, traditions and cultural customs, through music and other artistic forms. In addition, it is extremely important for the organisers to show not only the contrasts, but also the similarities between groups coming from different parts of the world. The commonalities are then very apparent, which teaches acceptance and shows how close we all really are to each other.
The Zakopane International Festival of Highland Folklore is affiliated with the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (CIOFF) and is in the first category among the events under the auspices of this international, prestigious organisation. In 50 years, around 600 ensembles from dozens of countries have participated in the festival, including the mountainous corners of Bulgaria, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Poland, Portugal, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovenia, Slovakia, Taiwan, Turkey, Venezuela and Italy.
How to get to Zakopane
Getting to Zakopane is not difficult – you can get to the capital of the Tatry Mountains by train, running directly from many Polish cities. Zakopane has a railway station which is located in the very centre of the town. If you choose the train, you can use the connections with a change of trains in Krakow. The distance between Kraków and Zakopane is approximately 110 km. Not far from the railway station is the Zakopane Bus Station, where coaches from Warsaw, Wroclaw, Bydgoszcz, Poznań, Gdansk, Lublin, Łódź, Rzeszów, Katowice and Zielona Góra arrive, and there are also minibuses between Kraków and Zakopane.
If you choose to travel by plane, the best airports are Poprad in Slovakia (about 70 km from Zakopane) and near Kraków (about 100 km from Zakopane). Balice offers connections to more than 60 cities around the world.
The unique climate of the Lesser Poland region
Most importantly, the capital of the Polish Tatry Mountains is not only a festival. In Zakopane itself and in its surroundings, a lot of additional attractions await you – numerous monuments, spas, restaurants with specialities of highlander cuisine, and for the little ones – water parks and rope parks. The Tatra Mountains are also famous for their superbly prepared mountain trails. Actually, every visitor will cope with the green trails of Dolina Chochołowska or Dolina Kościeliską, and those more experienced will certainly appreciate the beauty of the Morskie Oko – Rysy red trail.
So it’s ideal to take a trip to the mountains during the day and then immediately afterwards attend the unique concerts by the festival participants. To fully appreciate the beauty of culture, tradition and nature – everyone is invited (be sure to check it out on Instagram and Facebook)!
The project is financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund as part of the Regional Operational Programme for the Małopolska Region 2014–2020.