St. Dominic's Fair - Gdansk summer attraction
The highlight of Gdansk summer, for both tourists and locals, is without a doubt the St. Dominic’s Fair, held in the city for over 750 years now. The fair is one of the largest commercial and cultural open-air events in Europe, comparable with the German Octoberfest.
See footage from the Gdansk Fair 2014 oppening parade:
For three weeks in July and August the historic quarters of Gdansk, on the Polish coast of the Baltic Sea fills in with food stalls, live music, theatre performances, historic costume parades and pageants. Gdansk Fair is an excellent occasion to buy amber jewellery, handicrafts and antiques.
The fair counts with 70 thousands visitors per day on a weekday and even twice as much during the weekend, when many Poles arrive to Gdansk for the joyful festivities. In 2014, the fair was visited by 6 million people.
The history of Gdansk Fair
The origins of the fair date back to the 13th century, and more precisely the year 1260, when it was officially established by Pope Alexander IV. During the Middle Ages fairs and joyful festivities would often be held together with a pardon mass in order to attract more people to the church; the prospect of a jolly fun here on Earth while shortening a stay in the purgatory was attractive to many.
Gdansk Fair, however, was different in a way that, from the very beginning it was intended to bring merchants and tradesman together. Gdansk, the most important sea port of the region at the time and later a full member of the Hanseatic League, based its economy on trade.
The fair soon gained popularity, attracting visitors from all over Europe. The original venue - the Dominican Square - soon proved to be too small to hosts the stalls of all of the participants, which started occupying other parts of the city. The commercial character of the fair did not diminished its prestige; members of the royal family and nobility were frequent guests, the gentlemen keeping up with the tendencies in trade and ladies admiring fabrics and amber jewellery (typical for the Baltic region) and getting familiarized with the exotic spices from the overseas.
The Dominican Fair was organized continuously for eight centuries and suspended by the outbreak of the World War II. After a turbulent post-war period the fair resumed in the ’70.
Gdansk St. Dominic’s Fair 2016 – major attractions
The 756th edition of Gdansk Fair, known in Polish as Jarmark Sw. Dominika takes place between 30 July and 21 August 2015.
Over a thousand participants - vendors, craftsmen, artisans, artists and antique dealers – have confirmed the participation in the event. As it is already a tradition, the fair will be inaugurated by a historic costume parade along the Dlugi Targ Street and the concert on world’s largest drum.
The accompanying events should satisfy every taste and/or age group. The attractions for children include rides, amongst them the giant ferris wheel (Gdansk Eye), street theatre performances, races and games. Music lovers will be able to choose from a variety of concerts in a wide range of music genres, including rock, pop, jazz and classical music.
Athletes and sport fans should not miss out on the Dominic’s Run in the category of 5 and 10 km.
Firework display and multimedia presentations will entertain the fair’s guest at night.
Detailed programme of Gdansk St. Dominic’s Fair (avaialble in Polish only).