The Christmas market in Krakow is a regular
feature of the city’s festive season. Traditionally, it starts in the
last week of November and lasts through December 26th at least.
Sometimes the organizers venture to prolong the Xmas market to January
6th, the Epiphany festival. Thus the festive shopping event may somewhat extend Christmastime in Krakow,
long enough anyway - in Poland the Yuletide officially begins on
December 24th and continues till February 2nd.
tradition: Xmas shopping on the central square of Krakow.
The Christmas market in Krakow takes
place every year on the city’s huge central square, Rynek Glowny,
in the middle of the Old Town historic district. It’s hard to
trace the origin of this long tradition because the square has
always been the major venue for diverse trade and the business
naturally switched to Christmas-related merchandise with the
approach of the festive season.
Nowadays the Krakow Christmas market
materializes in late November, in the shape of scores of wooden
stalls. They sell a wide range of varied Christmas decorations,
gifts, toys, sweets and other foods, cards, etc. Besides shopping one
can savor hot, nutritious dishes alfresco and/or help oneself to
mulled wine. Another attraction is the occasional free
entertainment, usually provided by children ensembles and
village artists performing carols. Also local artisans, such as
blacksmiths and carvers, present their crafts.
Christmas decorations on sale during
Krakow's Christmastide market are mostly traditional. Notably
the good old-fashioned hand-painted colorful glass baubles
remain the Polish specialty. Yet shoppers craving for
electronic, LED-blinking gizmos also may be satisfied.
The organizers of the Krakow Christmas market give pride of
place to handicrafts. Connoisseurs should look for village
pottery, embroidered tablecloths, and metalwork. Also folk art
such as wooden sculptures and paintings on glass. On the other
hand the range of delightful bric-a-brac is really wide.
Gourmands will find seasonal sweets, from multicolored candies
to spiced nuts. Worthwhile edible souvenirs are local
gingerbreads, often heart-shaped and traditionally decorated
with colored frosting.
Prices are often competitive. Nevertheless aggressive bargain
hunters may be disappointed.
The 19th-century watercolor shows Krakow's
then Christmas market with piles of Christmas trees on the central
square next to the Cloth Hall, with gothic St. Mary's church in the