June 2006

The countdown has already begun to the 16th International Festival of Jewish Culture, an event that's won loyal fans around the globe. So if this is your first trip to Cracow, you're in for a treat. The festival kicks off on July 1st and the streets of Kazimierz will come alive with the sound of Klezmer.

The revival of Cracovian Klezmer has been likened to a flower growing from the ashes. It's an apt metaphor. And during the fifteen years since the collapse of communism, the historic Jewish quarter has itself undergone a renaissance. This July, several of the city's finest Klezmer bands will be joined by peers from America, Russia and Romania. If you're in town, don't miss the legendary open air party on Szeroka street on Saturday 8th July - it's a joy!

But the festival's not only about music. Far from it. The event casts it's net far and wide, with art and photography exhibitions, book launches, field trips outside the city and even excursions into the world of Jewish cookery - budding chefs should bring their notebooks! For a full calendar you can check online at the official site, whilst for tips on other events or goings on in the city, click here for some monthly highlights.

Besides Kazimierz's beautiful synagogues - many of which will be hosting concerts - it's worth rooting out The Galicia Museum, a welcome addition to the city's cultural scene. If you want to try and stay in the heart of the action competition may be fierce for beds, but popular choices include Ester, Eden, Abel and Karmel, or Momotown and Goodbye Lenin for hostels. Other nearby choices that are equally well worth trying include Hotel Secesja and Bluebell Apartments. For Jewish cuisine, Ariel is a popular port of call, whilst for other cookery in the neighbourhood, try Monarchia, Pepe Rosso or Momo. Atmospheric bars and cafes are numerous - Warsztat has just had a revamp, and Alchemia remains popular.

I don't know whether we've given away all of Kazimierz's secrets (that would actually be a Herculean task) but we hope that these tips will help you to find your feet in the labyrinth - Kazimierz is something of a maze. Enjoy the festival!



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