Krakow’s Nativity Scene Competition

Winners of the 81st

The 81st Krakow Nativity Scene Competition as just been completed. The jury awarded 60 Christmas cribs in six categories. From today, the award-winning cribs can be admired at an exhibition at the Krzysztofory Palace in Krakow.

Krakow nativity scenes are unique in that they present characters known from traditional nativity scenes in an unusual setting, i.e. against the backdrop of the city’s architecture. In addition, these cribs display a fanciful combination of elements of different architectural styles, fragments of well-known buildings, and a variety of characters.

The Holy Family is often depicted here surrounded by musicians dressed in traditional Krakow costume, and in addition to angels, shepherds, and animals, one can also see the Krakow hobbyhorse, or lajkonik in Polish. All these figures are placed by the authors of nativity scenes against a background of imaginary buildings inspired by Krakow and its architecture. Soaring Gothic towers are characteristic of Krakow cribs. When admiring these works, we can also often recognise Krakow’s heritage sites, such as the dome of the Sigismund Chapel on Wawel Hill or the tower of St. Mary’s Church.

This year, 229 cribs were submitted to the competition. As every year, the authors of the works presented them on the first Thursday of December in the Krakow market square, on the steps in front of the Adam Mickiewicz Monument. Then, in a traditional procession, the cribs were taken to the Krzysztofory Palace, where they were judged by a competition jury. The list of the awarded works and their photographs can be viewed at the website of the Museum of Krakow, Muzeum Krakowa, the host of the competition.

Krakow nativity scenes may also be admired across the city. This year, nearly 40 cribs were put on display in the city’s public space as part of the project “Around the Crib. A Stroll Around Krakow”. They can be found in shop windows, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, and in free-standing showcases. They include the works awarded in previous years in the Krakow Nativity Scene Competition. A special application prepared by the organisers of the campaign can help visitors locate the cribs. It can be downloaded here.