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June - Lajkonik Festival, Poland

POLAND | Monday, 18 May 2009 | Views [1456]

Location: Rynek Glówny, Krakow, Poland

Dates: Thursday after Corpus Christi

Level of Participation: 1 – watch Lajkonik do the legwork


According to Polish legend, when the head of Krakow’s defensive raftsmen defeated a Tatar marauder in the 13th century, he slipped into the Mongolian’s robes and triumphantly rode into the city. The folkloric myth has been celebrated for more than 200 years with the procession of ‘Lajkonik’ through the Gothic city.

Clad in Mongol robes, the fairy-tale figure rides a hobbyhorse topped with peacock feathers, accompanied by the Mlaskoty musical troupe. The pageant proceeds from the Premonstratensian Convent in the suburb of Zwierzyniec to the main square, where the mayor greets Lajkonik and presents him with a symbolic ransom and a goblet of wine. En route, the energetic larrikin dances, jumps, greets passers-by, pops into cafés, collects donations and strikes people with his mace (it’s said to bring good luck).

Another bizarre tradition, the abruptly ending hejnal trumpet call from a church tower in Rynek Glówny, commemorates the trumpeter who received a Tatar arrow to the throat as he tried to warn medieval Krakow of the approaching threat.

Local Attractions: With its basement bars, Krakow’s nightlife is like Prague’s with less stag parties. If you prefer to swot up on Lajkonik, head to the Historical Museum to see the hobbyhorse that was used in the early 20th century. Covered in leather, caparison, nearly a thousand pearls and coral beads, it weighs about 40kg.

More Info: www.krakow.pl/en

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Information provided courtesy of Lonely Planet
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Tags: lajkonik festival, poland, world festivals


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