The Krakow Jewish Culture Festival is the largest presentation of contemporary culture created by the Jews in Israel and the entire Diaspora. The festival has become one of the most important cultural events of our time. Each year, the festival features almost 300 events over the course of 10 days, and hosts 30,000 participants from countries around the world who can enjoy workshops, lectures, discussions, guided tours, and of course various musical events from concerts to DJ-parties to jam sessions. The festival first began 1988 as series of events presenting Krakow's Jewish past and culture. It was held one year before communism ended in Krakow and was the first time after WWII that Jewish cultural and heritage was portrayed in a positive context. In previous years, Jewish culture in Poland was seen as a taboo and those who perished during the Holocaust or were expelled from the country were not a part of social memory. After this first small event, the festival began to expand and has since grown into one of the most important cultural events in Krakow and Poland. Outside of Poland, the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow is one of the most well-known, highly recognized and appreciated cultural events by both artists and their audience. The festival prides itself in its forward-thinking mindest. While it has respect for tradition and the Jewish culture of the past, it also thinks unceasingly about the future, claiming to be the most old-school, radical, avant-garde festival of Jewish culture in the world.
Every year since 1961, the city of Kraków has been hosting the Kraków Film Festival, making it one of Europe’s oldest events celebrating independent film. Each year, the festival hosts eight days of documentaries, shorts, and animated films submitted to an international competition for filmmakers and directors. Guests can watch a collection of around 250 Polish and international films as well as attend exhibitions, open-air screenings, concerts, and meet-and-greets with the filmmakers. The Kraków Film Festival is a historic event that celebrates the art of filmmaking with a Polish twist. Krakow’s film festival began in 1961, making it one of the oldest film festivals in the world. It started as a local Polish film festival, showing only films made by Polish filmmakers. In 1964, it expanded to include international films, and in 2001 its name was changed to the Krakow Film Festival. Today, the Krakow Film Festival includes film competitions across four categories - national films, international films, documentary films, and music documentaries (DocFilmMusic). The 900+ attendees can view over 250 films, as well as enjoying concerts, open-air screenings, exhibitions, and meetings with film industry professionals.
This four-day event includes a one-day, 60-mile bike ride from Auschwitz-Birkenau to the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, among a packed program of cultural festivities. There is also a separate program running on the same day as the ride, for non-riding participants. You’ll receive a private guided tour of Auschwitz, unique tours of Krakow, and an invitation to the largest Shabbat dinner in Krakow since World War II. RFTL has welcomed participants as young as 16 and older than 80. It’s a festival that combines sad memories and cultural celebrations for an overall hopeful message about Jewish life in Poland. RFTL was started by Robert Desmond, who cycled 1,350 km from London to Auschwitz, visiting WWII Liberation sites along the way. Once Desmond learned about the Krakow JCC, he realized it was the perfect destination. The revival of Jewish life in Poland should be celebrated, and Desmond created a way to do so while paying tribute to a difficult past. Just 14 riders joined the first official RFTL from Auschwitz to the JCC in 2014, but now there are over 100 riders, and biking communities around the world host events in solidarity with with RFTL.
JCC Krakow organizes kosher Shabbat dinners, which are the central event of each week. Each holiday is celebrated with respect towards traditions, but also manage to intertwine with a contemporary look at heritage. This is why these celebrations are open to everyone, regardless of their attitude towards religion.