Podhale and Tatra Mountains - Highlander folklore at your fingertips
One of the most important is the week-long International Festival of Mountain Folklore, during which numerous artistic performances show the beauty of folk tradition from around the world. Film lovers can go to Zakopane for “Meetings with Mountain Film”, “Review of Films about Art” or take advantage of the repertoire of Summer Cinema in Zakopane. Music lovers will definitely be interested in musical events, among which particular attention should be paid to: Jazz Spring Zakopane, International Festival of Organ and Chamber Music, as well as Music on the Heights – International Festival of Chamber Music. Other interesting events are the Zakopane Literary Festival, Days of Zakopane, Tatra Wici (five municipalities organise events promoting Tatra culture), Highlander Carnival in Bukowina Tatrzańska (which includes kumoterki – a race in small sleighs for couples dressed in traditional costumes. If weather allows, the horse-drawn races are organized by the municipalities of Biały Dunajec, Kościelisko, Szaflary and Poronin. Moreover, there are also Sabałowe Bajania event in Bukowina Tatrzańska (Polish Music Folklore Festival) and the Podhale Fair in Nowy Targ. And if at given time there are no events taking place, you can always visit the BWA Jatki Art Gallery in Nowy Targ, the Witkacy Theatre, the Entertainment Theatre RZT Szymaszkowa or the Municipal Art Gallery named after count Władysław Zamoyski in Zakopane.
Podhale also provides tourists with many other attractions, such as thermal baths, swimming pools and aqua parks, which are abundant at the foot of the Tatra Mountains! One of the are the famous Bania Baths in Białka Tatrzańska, Bukowina Tatrzańska, Szaflary, Chochołów and about the Szymoszkowa Pool. Zakopane invites you to the Aqua Park, to the gravitational slide at Gubałówka, the nearby “Snow Zabawa”, to the chairlift leading to the Wielka Krokiew and “Snowtubing Gigant Zakopane”. As you can see, there are plenty of attractions for both children and adults! When planning a trip to Zakopane, it is also worth looking into the calendar of cyclical ski jumping competitions held here - maybe it will be a good opportunity to see Polish representatives in action.
If you are looking for something for the body and spirit – go for an evening stroll in the main promenade in Zakopane: the Krupówki street. You will find highlander's taverns offering traditional music, local drinks and the flavours of regional cuisine. These include sauerkraut soup, czosnianka (garlic soup), zoproska vegetable soup and bryjka (a dense dish, which is a combination of flour and groat with fat). In regional taverns you will also find main dishes such as potato dumplings known as tarcioki or hałuski, moskole (baked potato and flour fritters) and the Podhale lamb. When visiting Podhale, you absolutely have to taste the regional cheeses: oscypek, bryndza and bundz (from sheep's milk), pucok and gołka (from cow's milk) and żętyca – sheep's milk whey. And for dessert try the famous Nowy Targ ice cream available at the town's market square.
A stay in Podhale is also an opportunity to experience lively, regional culture. Beginning with the Zakopane style introduced in the 1890s by Stanisław Witkiewicz, through numerous groups cultivating folk songs and traditions, to regional, highlander costumes and a characteristic dialect that can be heard only in this place.
How to combine business with pleasure and actively explore Podhale? There are several interesting routes to choose from, of which the Małopolska Wooden Architecture Route deserves special attention. One of its four routes leads through Orava, Podhale, Spiš and Pieniny, giving the opportunity to admire the most beautiful wooden monuments of the region. During your stay in Zakopane, it is worth getting interested in the Trail of Zakopane Style, which can be an interesting adventure not only for architecture lovers. Or maybe you prefer the Oscypek Trail? If you don't know how bundz differs from bryndza it's high time to try regional cheese straight from the shepherd's hut! For enthusiasts of Zakopane, we recommend the Trail of Outstanding Zakopaneers, commemorating celebrities distinguished for the town and the Zamoyski trail (thanks to QR codes placed on the route, you can read about the merits of the count on the screen of your smartphone or tablet). Visitors to the community of Biały Dunajec interested in sacred art cannot miss the Trail of Wojciech Kułach Wawrzyńcok – a Podhale folk sculptor working both in wood and stone.