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Katowice: Poland's Cultural Hotspot


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Forget Krakow and skip Warsaw, if you’re looking for progressive music, craft beer, street art and forward-thinking films, head to Katowice, Poland’s cultural gem.

A coal mining city once lost in the midst of Nazi occupation and tucked under the curtain of Communism, Katowice is now making new history as a must-visit for any Polish itinerary. So what’s changed?

As the industrial label peeled off, the city came to life: new buildings cropped up, small businesses opened shop. Investments rolled in and venues like the famous flying-saucer shaped Spodek arena, which glowed like a spaceship at night, started to attract some pretty out-there productions.

Then the artists flocked back, spray can in hand. The microbreweries soon followed. That’s all before the festivals, the music, the film and the art scenes turned Katowice into Poland’s cultural gem.

Now it’s time you gave Katowice a second chance. Let Festicket walk you through what it offers.

MUSIC IN KATOWICE
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As a city enjoying a cultural renaissance, it’s only fitting that the most progressive parties in the Poland are found in Katowice. Take August’s Tauron Nowa Muzka, If you like to hear bass bins rattle with radical electronica (Gonjasufi, The Field, Chet Faker and Kelis play this summer), the disused mine at Dolina Trzech Stawow has that and more.

There’s more music of an alternative lilt at OFF Festival, where electronica is replaced by rock, indie, black metal and drone music across five stages. The six string slingers, including Belle & Sebastian, Neutral Milk Hotel and Deafhaven in 2014, are offset with art installations, thought-provoking films, walkaround theatre and poetry.

Then, of course, there’s the monstrous Mayday Poland. The illustrious eastern leg of the German electronica festival brings the best of Berlin and beyond to the Spodek in November. Its line-up is still to be unveiled, but expect names big enough to do the sound system - and 0800 curfew - some justice.

FILM IN KATOWICE 

Native English speakers, get your giggles out the way now, because Ars Festival is less derriere, more documentaries. Katowice’s best-known independent film festival takes place across the city in September and is renowned and recognised internationally. Grab some popcorn for first screenings, directorial debuts, music flicks and space for video games.

ART IN KATOWICE 
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Those keen to see the easel should make their way to the BWA Contemporary Art Gallery Katowice, or the Parnas Contemporary Art Gallery. Both host regular visiting exhibitions, but it’s modern art with a message, one that speaks out against the rot of politics: the corruption and greed. 

Those that like their art al-fresco should visit the city in May when the Katowice Street Art Festival gives Katowice a fresh lick of paint. Attracting some of the greatest street artists on the planet, this is the Glastonbury of the graffiti world where the cans come out and the city’s cranes, walls, and bins become the canvas.

DRINK IN KATOWICE 
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Don’t think that everyone just drinks Żywiec and Tyskie in Poland. The craft beer revolution, which is sweeping the western world, has found time to stop off in Katowice. Gaze in awe, glass in hand, at the gazillion ales, lagers and stouts proudly on display Browariat Craft Beer Zone. The clue is in the name, but in this cellar-like space, which has beer barrels for tables, drinkers will find a fine array of alcoholic drinks. Try as many as you can sensibly manage, but the strong, neck-jerking Camba Amber Ale is our favourite.

Also worth a few pints of your time is the newly-opened Biała Małpa, With 10 rotating guest beers on tap, plus a collection of lagers and ales from Poland and the far-flung, froffy-drink fraternity of Germany, the Czech Republic and Belgium, the White Monkey (English translation) merges the boundaries of microbreweries and cafe culture with its strong, black java in the daytime. 

THEATRE IN KATOWICE 

Although the excellent Teatr Korez at Plac Sejmu Śląskiego 2 only hosts productions in Polish, it’s also a great spot to see some intimate music concerts, off-the-wall opera and experimental theatre. Despite the language differences, many shows are still worth a peek, but check with the venue before booking.

Alternatively, A PART Festival, which will celebrate its 20th year in June 2014, is an event that pushes the boundaries of theatre. Essentially a round-up of the best international theatre from the last 12 months, its artistic director Marcin Herich will bring together the weird, the experimental and the alternative to Katowice.

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