Lajkonik is the most popular symbol of Krakow and the Lajkonik Procession is the most colourful local tradition. It takes place every year, eight days after Corpus Christi. This tradition dates back to the mid-18th century, but the Lajkonik Procession actually brings back the 13th-century story of a successful defeat of the Tatar horde by the brave lightermen from the village Zwierzyniec (now a district of Krakow). Legend has it that during the procession of Corpus Christi on the outskirts of medieval Krakow there was an invasion of Tatars. After a skirmish between the Tatars and the lightermen, that finished with the victory of the latter, their leader took the Khan’s garment and set off on a horseback toward the city. His companions, dressed as Tatars followed him behind. All together, proclaiming the victory message, they entered triumphantly the Main Square to be greeted by the crowd.
Today, Lajkonik and his retinue follow the same unchanged route. They set off from the district of Zwierzyniec, and heading to the Main Square, they make several stops. In the Monastery of the Norbertan Sisters, they re-enact the legendary battle with the Tatars. Then the procession follows to visit shops where Lajkonik collects money for the traditional ransom. At the crossroads by the Philharmonic Hall, he performs a dance with the flag. The procession then goes through All Saints’ Square and Grodzka Street towards the Main Market Square, where on the platform near the Town Hall Tower, the president of Krakow makes a toast for the prosperity of the city. In the end, Lajkonik performs a dance called urbem salutare – a salute to the city.
Lajkonik Procession 2017
This year, the Lajkonik Procession takes place on 22nd of June. The final stop at the Main Market Square will be around 7 p.m.