Culture & Society News Poland

Poland’s ‘Woodstock’ rock festival 2019 kicks off tomorrow

Warsaw, Poland – Pol’and’Rock Festival 2019, otherwise known as the ‘Polish Woodstock’ and recognized as one of the biggest open air festivals in Europe and most popular music festival in Poland, will officially kick off tomorrow.

The Pol’and’Rock Festival, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, will kick off tomorrow in the Western city of Kostrzyn nad Odrą, right next to the German border.

Although the exact number of visitors to this Central European Woodstock festival is hard to determine considering the event is a non-profit and non-ticketed event, more than half a million people are expected to attend one of the most popular music festivals in Poland between Thursday and Saturday.

The entire Pol’and’Rock Festival, including its musical performances and concerts, workshops, stand-up shows and discussion panels, are free, and relies on sponsors.

But the “Polish Woodstock”, as it was known until 2017 until they lost the right to use the trademark name, has been facing intense pressure from the conservative government, according to its organizers.

“Each year, we are stunned by the fact that the state attempts to make the organisation of the festival as challenging as possible”, said Jurek Owsiak, one of the main promoters of the iconic festival and founder of the charity that runs the event, Wielka Orkiestra Świątecznej Pomocy.

The Pol’and’Rock Festival aims to embody the ideals of the 1960’s hippie community. Credit: Pol’and’Rock Festival

The event, promoted as an “island of freedom, tolerance, a place where people can form a community based on mutual respect and their share love for music”, was created over two decades ago to echo the message and pursue the ideals and legacy of the historic 1969 Woodstock Festival. Until 2017, the festival was known as Przystanek Woodstock, which roughly translates as “Woodstock Station”.

“In Poland, which is currently more divided than it has ever been, the need for positivity and community is overwhelming. However, the government does not approve of the fact that it’s delivered rock’n’roll style”, Jurek Owsiak explained, citing the attempts from the state-run railway operator to limit and cancel trains going to Kostrzyn nad Odrą.

Festival-goes have already come flocking to Kostrzyn nad Odrą, gearing up for this year’s 25th edition of the iconic “Polish Woodstock”. Credit: Pol’and’Rock Festival

Despite the government’s pressure, which also includes increased health requirements and security and safety restrictions, Poland’s emblematic rock’n’roll festival is ready to kick off: “Fingers crossed, we are ready to go, and the festival campsites are slowly filling up with people, Owsiak said.

Once again, festival-goers will be able to enjoy an impressive line-up of Polish and international bands for this 2019 edition: Ziggy Marley is due to give the opening performance on the main stage tomorrow at 3 pm, followed, during three helter-skelter days, by an impressive list of well-established or up-and-coming artists, like The Adicts, Gogol Bordello, Happysad, The Casualties, Krzysztof Zalewski, Testament, Lordi, Kwiat Jabłoni and many, many more.

You can check the complete line-up of the 2019 Pol’and’Rock festival here.