The market fills the square with wooden stalls selling traditional handicraft, decorations and edible delicacies – plus lashings of mulled wine
6 December - Dzień Świętego Mikołaja
Saint Nicholas visits Krakow three weeks early on ‘Santa Claus Day’. Banish thoughts of white beards and red suits; here he is resplendent in purple robes and a gold crown. Having left letters to him on their windowsills, children wake to discover whether he has left gifts.
The night before Christmas
Midnight mass at Saint Mary’s Basilica starts at 23:40 on 24 December.Things to do
Join the celebrations
The Yuletide festivities in Krakow start in late November and stretch all the way to early February – making the city a contender for the longest Christmas celebrations in the world.Visit Krakow
Make your Christmas tree shine back home by picking up hand-painted glass decorations – as well as other traditional handicrafts – from the Christmas market in Krakow’s Old Town.Book flights
24 December - Wigilia
The feast of Wigilia is the crux of the festivities. First, the opłatek wafer is passed around friends and family, with good wishes for the year ahead. Then, as the first star appears in the sky, a 12-course meal begins. As the clock strikes 12, churches are filled for midnight mass.
25 December – Christmas day
In the afternoon, head to St Francis’s Basilica on All Saints Square. At the church, known for its awe-inspiring Art Nouveau stained glass, a live Nativity scene is enacted, complete with animals, carollers and a bonfire.
1 January - New Year’s Day
How better to soothe a sore head than with a concert by the Kraków Philharmonic Orchestra? Performances at 3pm and 7pm will feature favourites by the likes of Gershwin and Dvorák.
6 January – Epiphany
Epiphany (Trzech Króli) is a national holiday to mark the three wise men visiting Jesus. In Krakow, carollers parade the streets, then convene in the Old Town square for hearty singing.
January - Sing a song
Many churches in Krakow host carol concerts throughout January. You’ll hear traditional versions of the songs and Polish folk music.
2 February – A festive finish
While other European nations tidy tinsel and toss trees in early January, in Poland, festive decorations can stay up until the Christmas season officially ends on 2 February, Matki Boskiej Gromnicznej (Candlemas).
Toasting with something fizzy at midnight might be a global tradition, but in Poland, locals believe that the drink’s bubbles can predict your future. If they move slowly, you’ll supposedly have a calm year. But if they move fast, it could mean that important changes lie ahead.Book flights and hotels
Sample hearty bowls of sour rye soup and homemade ginger vodkas at cosy, candlelit restaurant Starka.