Mountain Folklore Celebrated in Zakopane

Starting on Friday, the 20th of August, the mountain town of Zakopane will again be the gathering point for folk ensembles of mountain people from all over the world to showcase their regional music, songs, dances, and customs. International groups from Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, France, Greece, Macedonia, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, and Italy are scheduled to give stage performances along with featured Polish goralskie (mountain folk) ensembles. Unfortunately, representatives from Africa will not be able to join in this years festivities, as they were not granted visas to enter Poland. The participating folk ensembles will be competing for the coveted Golden Highlanders Axe award in several categories: traditional, artistically-developed, and stylized performances as well as reconstructed folklore.

The roots of the festival date back to the second Polish Republic, and can be traced to festivities that continued in the 1920s and 30s. After World War II, the idea of a highlander culture festival was reborn and in 1968, folk groups from other countries were invited to join and compete alongside their Polish counterparts. It is now considered the oldest and largest of Polands folk culture festivals and according the official festival website, in the last 39 years, almost 460 folk groups from over 60 countries have taken part, as well as 200 groups from Poland itself.

While the live folk ensemble competition is now the central point of the festival, one should not overlook the many side events, such as literary competitions, book promotions, coachman races, concerts, speeches, child performances, a shepherd dog show, photo exhibitions, a craft fair and market, local food vendors, and bonfire gathering. Open workshops during the festival will also showcase glass painting, sculpture, paintings, fiddle-making, artistic metalworking, costume making and embroidery, guides and museum exhibitions.


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