Lajkonik Parade 2024

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  • Thursday, June 6, 2024, 1:00 PM-9:15 PM

One of the most beautiful Cracovian traditions is the Lajkonik Parade: on the octave of Corpus Christi, the dancing rider on a wooden horse, in a bright Tatar outfit and surrounded by a noisy pageant, once again travels from Zwierzyniec to the Main Market Square where he collects a tribute from the Mayor of Kraków and joins him in raising a toast to the city’s residents.

Krakow is the city, where legend and tradition did not eventually give in to modernity. The annual parade of Lajkonik (called also the Zwierzyniecki Horse) is the best example. Every year, on the first Thursday after the Corpus Cristi holiday (see the calendar of the Lajkonik procession for the years 2024–2029), a rider on an artificial white horse, wearing a black beard, dressed in colourful clothes from the East, wanders around the streets of Krakow, from Zwierzyniec to the Main Market Square. Apart from the crowd of viewers, he is accompanied by a standard-bearer, carrying a majestic banner with the white eagle, twenty Wisła rafters “włóczki” in colourful clothes, as well as an eight-person band called “Mlaskoty”, whose music gives the rhythm to the march. The origins of this tradition of Krakow are elusive. The legend says that Lajkonik is a reminder of the time when Krakow was saved from the invasion of Tatars in the 13th century, when the rafters, mentioned above, heroically repelled the invaders in Zwierzyniec, killing their leader. Then one of the rafters put on the robes of the defeated Khan and triumphantly entered the city, announcing the victory to the residents. Whether these were the roots of the legend – the historians are not sure (they refer back also to the pagan times, as well as the church ceremonies), but we know for sure that Lajkonik has been travelling his route for several centuries and is one of the most important symbols of Krakow. The Museum of Krakow is assigned to protect and care for this symbol. The car and tram traffic is blocked on the route of the procession, and the Tatar with his procession visits local shops, bars and restaurants, receiving “tribute” due to the invaders. It is worth to see the difficult dance with the banner, which is performed by Lajkonik three times during the procession (see the map). Lajkonik gently strikes passersby with his wooden mace. They do not evade the strikes – they are believed to bring good luck. The procession ends in the evening at the Main Market Square, where Lajkonik meets with the Krakow City officials and receives a moneybag as a tribute. Then he makes a toast to the city prosperity and performs the last dance.

Program

13.00
1 Senatorska Street – the seat of Krakow Water Company
The colourful procession leaves from outside the Krakow Water Company. Children can count on a sweet treat from Lajkonik here
Na Stawach Square
Lajkonik visits local merchants and collects the “tribute”, payable to the leader of Tatars

13.45–14.30
School Complex No. 18
In the courtyard of the school, the Lajkonik performs his first dance. A dance battle between the Tartars and the rafters also takes place here

14.45–15.15
The Rodła boulevard
Lajkonik meets the rafters of Krakow and visits the Water Police Station

15.15–15.30
March through the Rodła boulevard

15.30–15.45
Lajkonik visits the “Abecadło” Antiquarian Bookshop

15.45–16.45
The procession rests in the “Smil’y” inn.

16.50–16.55
The procession crosses the intersection with the Krasiński Avenue.

16.55–18.00
March down the Czerwieński boulevard, Podzamcze street and Planty Park to the Krakow Philharmonic

18.00–18.15
Crossing close to the Krakow Philharmonic
Near the place where the defence walls once stood, behind which Krakow lay, traffic is temporarily stopped so that Lajkonik can perform his second dance

18.30–20.00
March through the Franciszkańska and Grodzka Streets to the Main Market Square

Bishop’s Palace
Lajkonik bows

The procession rests at the “Nienasycenie” bar

20.00–20.45
The Main Market Square
Lajkonik enters the stage under the Town Hall Tower. He stands before the Krakow City officials and receives a tribute in a big moneybag. Together with the Mayor he makes a toast to the success of the Krakow citizens and then he performs his third dance, called urbem salutare (an obeisance to the city)

20.45–21.15
Final march of the procession round the Main Market Square

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