Wianki, which translates to “wreaths” in English, is a traditional midsummer night celebration held annually in several cities across Poland, including Warsaw and Krakow. Rooted in pagan and Christian traditions, the festival is famous for its music concerts and the custom of floating wreaths on the river.
Wianki traces its origins back to pagan rituals celebrating the summer solstice. It was believed that on this shortest night of the year, the boundary between the natural and supernatural world was blurred, and various rituals were performed for fertility and prosperity. After Christianity’s arrival in Poland, the festival became associated with St. John’s Night, although many of the pagan traditions were retained.
The festival typically takes place on a Saturday closest to the summer solstice. During the day, various events such as workshops, games, and music concerts take place. The highlight of the festival is the evening event when young women make wreaths of flowers and herbs, traditionally believed to possess magical properties. These wreaths are then floated on the river, a custom associated with divination rituals for love and prosperity.
In addition to these traditional rituals, Wianki has evolved to include a diverse program of events, including music concerts featuring popular Polish and international artists, fireworks displays, and cultural performances.
The festival takes place in various outdoor locations, including parks and riverbanks, which are transformed into concert venues and activity areas for the day. These locations usually have basic facilities, including portable restrooms, seating areas, and food and drink vendors.
In cities where Wianki is celebrated, there are typically many options for accommodation, ranging from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels and apartments. As the festival locations are usually central, most accommodations are within walking distance or a short drive away.
How to Get There
Polish cities like Warsaw and Krakow, where Wianki is celebrated, are well connected by air, rail, and road. Warsaw Chopin Airport and John Paul II Kraków-Balice International Airport offer numerous international and domestic flights. Both cities also have extensive rail connections to other Polish cities and several international destinations.
Once in the city, the festival locations are usually easily accessible by public transportation, taxi, or on foot. Detailed information about how to reach the festival locations can usually be found on the city’s official tourism website or the festival’s official website.