Krakow is staging its first Carnival this month and next.
Tourism officials hope the event becomes bigger and bigger each year so, it draws throngs of visitors at a time that has traditionally been a tourism dead spot.
Running from Jan. 26 to Feb. 5, Carnival will feature 40 events, including parades, concerts, costume balls and film shows – the same ingredients as the world-famous carnivals in Rio de Janeiro and Koln.
Most events will be free. Free tickets to events in places with limited seating capacity are available at City Information Net locations.City Information Net is a network of offices where tourists receive free information about the city and local cultural events.
“Carnival is a new tourist product for Krakow,” said Maja Drexler, deputy director of the Krakow Festival Office. Tourism officials hope it becomes a staple of the city’s tourism calendar, she said.
The idea for a Krakow Carnival came from a line on the widely read tourism web site Orbitz.com. “Krakow has a busy social life and a wonderful carnival,” it said.
Krakow actually didn’t have a Carnival at the time, but the web site notation got tourism officials here thinking about one.
The “colorful parades, full of splendor,” and the dancing and fireworks may be unable to compete with the Carnival extravaganzas in Rio’s Copa Cabana district at first but Krakow’s carnival tradition is worth starting, said Grazyna Leja of the Krakow tourism office. She came up with the idea.
Krakow’s Carnival will start in Brazilian style Jan. 26, when about 300 KTO Theater actors and actresses ride on parade floats from ul. Florianska to Rynek Glowny (Market Square).
The Cracovia Danza ballet troupe will perform Carnival dances at the Groteska Theater. Carnival-themed movies will be shown at the Sfinks movie theater.
Krakow will celebrate Fat Thursday – a staple of other cities’ Carnivals – Jan. 31.
In the Catholic tradition, Fat Thursday is the last day before Lent and a day of feasting.
Carnival-goers can watch couples in costumes of royalty dancing a waltz at Maly Rynek (Little Square). Krakow’s confectioners will supply the spectators with free doughnuts.
Carnival organizers plan to make it more spectacular each year.
This year’s event will just be a preview of things to come, said Agnieszka Gilarska, head of the Festival Office.
“The custom of the Carnival celebration was derived from an ancient feast which was aimed at restoring order in the world,” Drexler said.
Although Krakow’s Carnival does not have that ambitious a goal, “it will surely offer positive energy for the entire year,” she said.