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30 June 2022

Refugees fleeing Ukraine following the Russian invasion have quickly integrated in Kraków, making the most of cultural events prepared with them in mind and becoming active in creating many more.

Marek Mikos
Kraków Culture Karnet

When the first wave of refugees arrived in Kraków in late February, no-one could have predicted how long the conflict will last. A few months since, we now know that our city will long remain a sanctuary for those who have been made destitute by Putin’s vicious regime. They have found a home from home in Kraków.


The response of Cracovians and municipal institutions was as instantaneous as it was spontaneous. The first step was to find homes for the over hundred thousand new arrivals – there was even talk of double the number at some point – and Kraków rose to the challenge. I know people who have welcomed entire families into their small apartments, expecting nothing in return. There has also been extensive institutional support.

Benefit concerts and other events including fundraising for war-torn Ukraine were held spontaneously form the earliest days and continue until today. A powerful expression of Kraków’s solidarity was the concert Composers4Ukraine held during the Film Music Festival, featuring works by leading soundtrack composers specially commissioned or dedicated to the event. The largest documentary festival in Ukraine, Docudays UA, couldn’t be held in Kyiv for obvious reasons. Organisers of the Kraków Film Festival came to the rescue, bringing competition screenings to Kino Kijów in late May and early June.

Kraków’s museums, galleries, theatres, music venues, cultural centres and other institutions rapidly started organising events dedicated to Ukraine and showcasing the culture of our eastern neighbours. They are increasingly organised by and starring artists and cultural animators from Ukraine. Cracovian institutions are also offering guided tours of galleries and the city in Ukrainian or with simultaneous interpretation. Myriad workshops for kids, adults and families are also held in or interpreted into Ukrainian. Growing numbers of friendly spaces are hosting meetings and events for arrivals from Ukraine, and offering somewhere where they can meet and just chat over tea or coffee. Many institutions are also holding free Polish language courses, helping our visitors find work, learn at school and make friends.


All these events and initiatives are covered by the new website UAinKrakow.pl, created in late February on the initiative of KBF and the Foundation Institute Poland – Ukraine. The information is prepared in Polish by the Kraków Culture – Karnet portal, and the most popular and relevant pages are translated into Ukrainian. Even though the project has been running for just few months, it has already promoted over a hundred events.

We hope and believe that the war in Ukraine will soon be over and the invaders leave the country they have devastated. Many refugees who have made Kraków their second home will be able to return to their first. But all the solidarity, empathy, understanding, community and feelings of closeness will remain. Let us hope for the day when Kyiv visits Kraków and Kraków visits Kyiv as a matter of course and continue to strengthen the friendship developed in these difficult time.


Kraków Travel
Kids in Kraków
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