Shopping in the Christmas spirit.
It is shopping in the Christmas spirit, and not Christmas in the spirit of shopping that Kraków Christmas fairs boast most happily and truly. It is no surprise that their fame is on the rise, and it is definitely a good idea to hurry and visit them before they become overcrowded like so many of their counterparts throughout Europe.
CNN listed Kraków’s Christmas Market in the city’s Main Market Square (Rynek Główny) among the continent’s top Christmas markets just after Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in London. No surprise at all, as this is where you really want to be this winter!
It is a place to enjoy not only Polish specialties, notably various roasts, hot sausages, hunters’ stew (bigos) in the company of mulled wine. Regional produce is sold aplenty: Oscypek cheeses and delicious loaves of bread, the latter also available in the form of chunks with lavish servings of lard with cracklings and real gherkins. We have not forgotten about your sweet tooth either, and the range of sweets offered is wide, from caramelised nuts to delicious chocolate crafted into assorted shapes.
This is also your place for Christmas gifts that may be hard to find elsewhere. Special attention should be paid to Christmas tree bubbles (bańki choinkowe), which are a local specialty. Handcrafted, they are far more detailed in ornamentation and far more graceful than any mass produce.
While visiting the fair, especially at the weekend, expect live song and music by local folk and school bands coming here for joyful carolling and recitals of winter and Christmas songs.
For several years, this traditional Christmas Market has now had a competitor: the trendy Kiermash. The newcomer has a very different focus, as it primarily offers independent fashion and design, and boasts that it only endorses ethically sourced and manufactured, environmentally-friendly products. Kiermash opens its doors in the Cracovia Centennial Hall by the Błonia Common Green on 16 and 17 December inviting us all for pre-Christmas shopping and great fun over delicious food and drink to the sound of cool music. Apart from decorations for your Christmas tree and Christmas delis, you can find here unique clothing, fit for the season and therefore including colourful scarves, gloves and caps, handmade jewellery, a careful selection of Polish design, and organic cosmetics. Born from the love for Mediterranean fairs, it is part of the Art & Food Bazar series normally organised in the open-air Stary Kleparz Market, but in the wintry months tucked in the warm and welcoming Cracovia Hall, from where it radiates with a joyful aura of truly Christmas joy and peace.
Many cities, notably Brussels, may boast Europe’s largest medieval market squares. However, only Kraków has the space to prove it, as it can easily fit 3.5 of Brussels’ Grote Markts / Grand-Places into its Main Market Square.
Brexit quite unfortunately put an end to legal and lawful practice of bringing cold cuts offered at the Kraków’s Christmas Market by Polish, Hungarian, and Lithuanian stalls home, however, there is no one to stop you from buying these and enjoying them in your hotel or B&B.
Kraków’s Christmas Market in the Main Market Square closes on 1 January 2024.