It seems that there is one place on Earth where all the possible cultures and nationalities gather in summer and this place is the most rural part of Poland – Podlasie. The region itself is worth quite a few separate blog entries, as apart from the beautiful nature, you can’t easily find such a small area where so many nationalities live together and preserve their traditions. Through the history the boarders were changing many times, making this region open to the influences of Russian, Belorussian, Ukrainian, and Polish cultures. Stereotypical Poles (= Polish + fanatic Catholic + xenophobes) many times let people from Podlasie know that they are not “real Poles.”
Well, but who are we?
We live in a small area, where people speak Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Belorussian, and all possible mixture of all the above. There are Armenian and Bulgarian families living here. There are Jewish, Roma, and Tatar people here, too. We have functioning Catholic, Orthodox, and Greek Orthodox churches, the synagogue in Tykocin, and the mosque in Kruszyniany. And if this is not enough, every summer there are groups from all over the world coming here for international folkloric and theater festivals. We personally met with Mexicans, Peruvians, Georgians, Armenians, Macedonians, Ukrainians, Greeks, and many others. So dear xenophobes: we don’t have to be “real Poles,” as we are everyone! We know no boarders! Here all the world can feel at home!
Summer of Festivals: the ultimate list
So we guess, we’ve already convinced you to come here in summer 🙂 Here comes the list of the most interesting festivals in Podlasie during summer:
Na Ivana na Kupala: Dubicze Cerkiewne
Every year many small and bigger cities in Podlasie organize a celebration of Kupala Night. Having its pagan and Christian (connection with St. John) roots, the celebration got very popular among people from Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Russia, and Baltic countries. The night itself is on 6/7 July (which in Julian or Old Style calendar is 23/24 June). However, in Podlasie cities celebrate Kupala on different weekends in July. The celebration is usually accompanied by concerts of folk groups, traditional jumping over the flames of bonfires to prove bravery and faith, floating wreaths of flowers with candles on rives, and men jumping into the water in order to catch the wreaths and win the heart of their beloved woman. It is spectacular!!!
Last year we took part in the Ukrainian Kupala in Dubicze Cerkiewne:
Zlot Wojowników Słowian, Bałtów i Wikingów: Drohiczyn
It is an amazing travel in time to the old traditional village of Slavic, Baltic, and Viking people. Accompanied by concerts, battle shows, and other traditional performances. We can’t advertise this festival enough, we were stunned by how it all looked like, see for yourselves: (more info)
Podlaska Oktawa Kultur: Białystok + other cities
It is one of the biggest folklore festivals in Podlasie. Main concerts take place in Białystok, but many groups go as well for smaller performances to nearby cities. Here you can meet the most famous groups from Poland, Macedonia, Russia, Armenia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and many other countries. Last year we participated in 2 concerts: (more info: www.oktawa.woak.bialystok.pl/)
This is usually a 2 days festival in Białowieża. The festival is organized by the Belorussian cultural minority. Here we could see groups from Poland, Belorussia, Germany, Lithuania, as well as Roma artists, whose performance we always strongly recommend. The visit to the festival you can easily combine with a walk through the beautiful park in Białowieża. When you have more time, visit Miejsce Mocy, Puszcza Białowieska, Skansen, and the restaurant Carska.
Z Wiejskiego Podwórza: Czeremcha
The festival in Czeremcha is less focused on folk music but is more of a “let’s go art” kind event. Apart from concerts, there are lectures, meetings with poets, movie sessions, exhibitions, and workshops. Last year even the Balkan legend Boban Markovic was here, so don’t miss it (more info: http://www.festiwalczeremcha.pl/)
MFF Podlaskie Spotkania: Bielsk Podlaski + other cities
Oh, we love this festival. Here you can really feel like in the middle of the world. Greek groups are followed by Peruvian, only to give place to the one from Macedonia, Mexico, USA, or Taiwan. All artists are in traditional costumes; presenting great choreography, and beautiful voices. The festival takes place in Bielsk Podlaski and cities close to it (more info: http://podlasie-festival.letnet.pl/)
And that’s how it was in 2013, one day before our wedding 🙂
Wertep: different locations
Wertep is an international theater festival. It takes place in many different cities in Podlasie and both indoors and outdoors. The festival has an interesting program both for the small ones and the big ones. Last year our 10 months old Zosia had really lots of fun with the Teatr Malutki performance. She was simply hypnotized 😀 (more info: http://wertepfestival.pl/)
This festival is dedicated to the Tatar minority living in Podlasie and their culture. We haven’t seen it yet, hope to get there this year.
Do you know more festivals in Podlasie to recommend? Do you have your favorite ones? Share your tips and pictures with us!
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