Friday, February 25, 2011


    For 30 years Krakow, in spite of being located far from any seas and oceans, has hosted one of the most popular shantie festivals....The International Sea Songs' Festival..."Shanties".
   The idea of the "Shanties" festival was born out of an idea in 1981.  The first festival had an intimate gathering of 20 performers and members of the organizing committee and 100 people in the audience and was held in the cellars of a community center.  In 1987, for the first time  in the history of the festival, the guests from other towns and countries were invited.  Since then the festival has enjoyed  International status.

 Due to the success of the first festival, it grew in  popularity, not only among sailors,  but also among the many townspeople of Krakrow.  the festival has evolved from a small event into one of the largest  shantie festivals that are held each year, not only in Poland, but also all around Europe.
   Each February Krakow becomes the city of sailors and shanties.  People from all over Poland and Europe come to Krakow to sing about sea adventures and ships.  During the 4 days of the festival, almost 11,000 people of  all ages participate in 6 concerts at the main concert venues in Krakow and they also perform concerts in some of the local taverns during the festival.  The festival gives many  the opportunity to listen to the approximately 40 groups and 200 or so other solo performers.  Each year, the festival is organized under a different theme, which is often based on events from maritime history.  This way the festival presents the world to what life  and culture might have been like on the high seas and on a ship.

   Krakow's festival has always been a cradle of shanty hits.  Now they form a history of sailors songs and their plights at sea.  The festival is also a place where many popular shanty groups and artists began their careers; Stare Dzwony, Packet, Ryczace Dwudziestki, Mechanicy Szanty, Cztery Refy, Zejman I Garumpel, to name just a few of the more popular performers.  They are the winners of past contests in Poland and abroad.
   Other events related to the festival are: exhibitions of maritime pictures and photos from cruises and sailing races, meetings with famous sailors ("sea dogs"), workshops for fiddlers and just a time for gathering and reminiscing about the old times and the sea itself.

   In 2011, Festival Shanties celebrates the 30th Jubilee Edition.  For this occasion,  performers are on  5 different stages, 18 different concerts will take place with different types of sea music: poetry and ballades, traditional sea songs, contemporary sailors' songs, and sailors' songs for children.  For the first time  in its 30 year history, there will be an organized rock and roll shanty concert.  During the festival concerts, over 200 different artists will participate and perform from all over Poland and invited guests from different parts of Europe.
   In  the present form, the festival,  after 30 years,  has become an important landmark on Kracow's scene of cultural events.