Festival is in Pole position to cross the cultural divide
Published Date: 27 October 2008
By GARETH EDWARDS
A MASSIVE three-day festival of Polish culture, the first of its kind in
Edinburgh, is to be held next year.
The Polish Cultural Festival will feature a Polish Medieval Market, as well
as music, theatre, exhibitions and film screenings.
The event is expected to attract more than 10,000 people, and organisers
said they hope it will appeal to local Scots a s well as ex-pat Poles living
in the Capital.
The festival has been backed by the Consulate General of Poland, and is
supported by Edinburgh City Council.
Organisers said they wanted to create "a lip-smacking feast of Polish
culture" for the whole city to enjoy, with the aim of helping bring the
Polish and Scottish communities closer together.
Festival director Joanna Zawadzka said: "This is something we have been
trying to organise, as I know there is a lot of demand from local Polish
people for more cultural events, but we wanted to do something for them and
for Scottish people.
"This event is as much for Scots as it is for Poles, and we want to try to
encourage people to come along and learn about Polish culture."
The centrepiece of the festival will be the Polish Medieval Market, planned
for Leith Links Park, which will feature medieval re-enactment groups from
Poland, Scotland and northern England bringing a time of knights and maidens
The event is expected to attract crowds of over 7000, and will include sword
fighting, a battle tournament and combat demonstrations involving up to 50
knights, as well as demonstrations of cookery, alchemy, woodworking, combat
practice and medieval dancing.
Specialist craftsmen will give demonstrations in medieval craft, and there
will be traditional Polish food, prepared according to medieval recipes.
Other highlights will include exhibitions of visual art by Polish artists
working in Scotland, with a photo exhibition looking at the subject of
emigration, and a contemporary art exhibition featuring work by Michael
Jankowski, Maja Muciek and Rafal Wilk.
There will be musical events combining the different cultural traditions of
Poland and Scotland, as well as a series of thought-provoking lectures on
Poland's unique place in history and its important outlook on contemporary
Companies Teatr U Przyjaciol (All Friends Theatre) and Gappad Theatre will
perform two Polish plays, and the Filmhouse will screen an introduction to
the greats of Polish cinema, as well as films by emerging talents.
Around 35,000 Poles are believed to have settled in the Lothians - the
highest anywhere in Scotland - and Leith in particular has a significant
Polish population, which, since the country's admission into the EU in 2004,
has integrated well with the local community.
A range of Polish shops and businesses have opened up, and politicians in
the area have often praised both the Poles and the Leithers for the way they
have settled together.
A spokesman for the festival's organising group said: "This festival will
showcase Polish participation in the new emerging Scotland. It is about
creating a valuable bonding experience for all.
"During the Polish Cultural Festival, Edinburgh will provide the stage for a
lively timetable of inspiring and entertaining public events, set against
the positive backdrop of Scottish and Polish integration across Scotland."
The Polish Cultural Festival will run from April 23-26 next year.
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