Great Dragon Parade
Date(s) - 06/03/2023 - 06/04/2023
22st Great Dragon Parade
Great Dragon Parade in Kraków is one of the largest and most colorful open air events in Poland, taking place annually in the first weekend of June. Although intended to cater primarily to children, this event manages to bring tens of thousands of tourists of all ages from across the entire world to Kraków.
For this celebration, the Kraków Old Town is converted to Dragon’s Cave. During the first day’s evening one can see the spectacle by Vistula’s boulevard, starring the main characters swimming along the river with an impressive musical and visual accompaniment.
This year’s main theme are dragons associated with Polish cities, cathedrals, castles and palaces.
The first dragons will arrive by morning of 4th June and will stop by the boulevard near Dragon’s Cave, where Family Picnic is also located. Around 10am children and adults alike can try playing with the dragons, rolling dragon eggs, archery, visiting tents of the event’s sponsors or participating in one of the many competitions with prizes.
During saturday evening the dragons will be floating near the bend of Vistula at the foot of Wawel Castle. This is where the Open Air Grand Performance will take place at 10pm. The enormous helium dragons – up to 25 meters long and a dozen meters tall – will be animated from barges and ships by actors from Groteska Theatre to dance in rhythm of music, accompanied by lasers, gigantic water curtains and pyrotechnic effects. Groteska has over 30 of such dragons at their disposals, out of which about a half will be used during this one hour long spectacle.
Much like in 2021, Grand Performance is tipping its hat towards pro-environment movements. The show will make use of cutting edge silent pyrotechnics – much more silent than traditional ones while being just as visually impressive. It is also bang-free, contained to intended area of performance and fully bio-degradable.
In Sunday afternoon (5th June) the Gread Dragon Parade will depart from Planty to Main Square via Grodzka Street. Over 30 of these colorful monsters will be animated by children. 22 of them will compete for title of the parade’s most beautiful dragon. These figures are created by schools and culture centers by children and their teachers and caretakers from all over the country.
The legend of the Wawel Dragon
But why dragons? One of the most popular Kraków’s legends tells about a dreadful dragon that used to live under the Wawel Hill and terrorized the city. The inhabitants of Kraków had to feed the beast by giving to it offerings of cattle and their virgin daughters. Many knights tried to kill the monster, but all of them died burned by dragon’s flames. And finally… It was Skuba, the shoemaker, who outsmarted the dragon by giving to it fake sheep stuffed with sulphur. Having eaten the sheep, dragon felt pain and burning in the throat and started drinking water from the Vistula river. The dragon couldn’t quench the thirst and kept drinking, swelling from the excess of water. And then, suddenly… It exploded, bursting into milion pieces! Skuba was properly rewarded and inhabitants of Kraków lived happily ever after.
Celebrations during Great Dragon Parade
Now the legend came back to life! Groteska Theatre’s actors used this story to show their reinterpetation of the dragons in amazing spectacle on Vistula River. Enormously big puppets, loud music and fireworks display attract many tourists since the year 2000.
The most spectacular celebration will take place after nightfall – multiple gigantic (up to 25 meters tall) swimming and floating dragons will be moved across Vistula river, near Wawel Castle, with help of barges, ships and jet skis. All with impressive musical and lighting accompaniment, including fireworks and laser lights, which along with massive crowds of viewers give this spectacle unforgettable expressive power.
Another key part of this event is Great Parade of Dragons, which takes place in the antique Kraków center. A score of dragons designed and made by the march’s participants (mostly children and youth) will compete for the grand prize for the prettiest and most ingenious dragon. All with side performances by dancers, musicians and jugglers.
Join Great Dragon Parade and see for yourself!
Kraków, Parada Smoków