The Lajkonik's procession is held every year on the first Thursday after the feast of Corpus Christi.
It is the time when the black-bearded, dressed in a colorful costume oriental rider on the artificial white horsey wanders the streets of Cracow.
The pranks starts around 10:00 am. The festivities begin with Lajkonik's journey from the Historical Museum of Krakow. He is accompanied by a banner-bearer, and a retinue of armed Włóczkis and a band of Mlaskots .
Following is the first dance and the "chipping" of the museum staff with maces. Moments later the play is interrupted until 12.00, when the procession appears on Zwierzyniec at Senatorsska 1 street, the seat of the Municipal Water and Sewage - an institution continuing the tradition of Cracow's włóczki. Among the large audience, lajkonik performs a dance, scatters candy for children, then the procession heads on the traditional route to the Krakow market square.
Throughout the procession, which lasts late into the evening, Lajkonik beats with the mace each passerby encountered, he looks into all passed shops and collect donations in a bag, which is carried the accompanying włóczek. The procession stops several times for resting in bars and restaurants.
After leaving Waterworks the first goal is the Norbertine monastery.
Colorful street procession follows the Senatorska street in the direction of Kosciuszko Street, visits the market on the Na Stawach square, where a Tartar collects donations from each booth, then over the bridge on the Rudawa and enters the the monastery's courtyard, where the first ritual dance with the banner beginns.
After a short rest and the visit to the Norbertine Sisters' abbess, Lajkonik moves along with the entourage down the Kosciuszko and Zwierzyniecka streets. At the seat of Krakow Philharmonic - at the intersection of Zwierzyniecka and Straszewskiego, the police stops the traffic for a while, allowing Lajkonik the execution of the second ritual dance with the banner. Then the procession moves down the Franciszkanska and Grodzka streets.
Around 19.00 the procession reaches the market square and ascends the stage surrounded by a crowd of spectators at the Town Hall tower. There will be a culmination of the rite: Lajkonik takes from the city fathers a tribute in the great satchel, along with the president, the director of the historical museum and the director of water supply drinks a cup of wine and in return he performs the third ritual dance with a banner called Urbem salutare - homage to the city.
At the end the procession goes to the Wierzynek restaurant. An hour later it reappears on the Market, go round the city hall. The pranks customary end with a dinner in the restaurant "Hawełka".
Good to know:
The legend says that Lajkonik is a reminder of saving Cracow from the invasion of the Tatars in the thirteenth century, when the mentioned włóczkis heroically repelled the invaders near Krakow Zwierzyniec, killing their leader. Then one of the rafters took the robe of the defeated Khan, triumphantly roding into the city, proclaiming the victory to the inhabitants.
If those roots of this tradition are actually true, the historians are not sure (they try to locate them also in pagan times, as well as in church ceremonies), but we know with certainty that Lajkonik traverses its route annually for several centuries and is one of the most important symbols of Krakow.Adress:
Rynek Główny, Kraków