Kraków likes a party, so New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest nights out in the city. There’s a huge choice of bars and clubs, as well as grand costume balls, and a free event in the main square. Read on to find out more about the New Year’s celebrations in Kraków.
Polish champagnes – image © Piotr Drabik / CC BY 2.0
New Year’s Eve, known as Sylwester in Poland, is one of the most important party nights in the Kraków calendar. Every bar and club has a big event, and there is usually a free festival in the main market square – with live music and a spectacular laser display. Whatever you decide, book well in advance. This is not the time to leave it to chance!
What To Do On New Year’s In Kraków
Party In Kraków’s Main Market Square
On December 31, Rynek Główny, the huge square in the centre of Kraków’s old town, is still decorated from the Christmas markets. A large stage is erected in front of the Cloth Hall, ready for the big New Year’s celebrations.
Entry is free and the concert starts around 8.30pm, with big-name Polish performers and sometimes international singers and bands. Crowds begin to gather during the afternoon, so it’s wise to turn up early to get a space. The countdown starts just before midnight, followed by a stunning light and laser show. Then the party kicks into gear until 2am.
In 2018 and 2019, additional events were held in other locations, including Kazimierz, Podgórze, and out in Nowa Huta. These were also free and ran from 9pm-1am. The COVID pandemic put a halt to events in 2020 and there has been no official decision regarding 2021 yet. Check the Kraków Sylwester site for the latest news.
Some people dancing with fire in the market square in Krakow – image © Lars K Jensen / CC BY 2.0
Dance Until Into The Early Hours
If you plan on taking the party through to next morning, you have a vast choice of places to dance and drink. Bars and clubs operate on a reservation basis on New Year’s Eve and you should book ahead. Tickets usually go on sale in early November, and typically include a flute of Champagne at midnight.
The centre of Kraków is packed with nightlife, with different styles of music, cost of entry, and opening hours. So deciding which one to choose might be the most difficult aspect.
Pierogarnia Krakowiacy – image © Jason Weaver
See In The New Year With A Traditional Polish Meal
The range of restaurants in Kraków is impressive and it’s something of a tradition to offer a large set menu for New Year’s, with the full range of Polish and Eastern European dishes. See our page on Kraków Food And Drink, if you’re new to the local cuisine. Food tours are a fantastic introduction. Many restaurants will go the extra mile, putting on live music and other entertainment, and the new year is welcomed with dessert and sparkling wine.
As with everything else on New Year’s, restaurants get booked up early, so check out our recommendations for restaurants in Kraków and make sure you have a reservation nice and early. The district of Kazimierz is buzzing with bars and excellent places to eat at any time of year, and makes a fantastic alternative to the frantic activites around the Old Town.
Go To A Grand Kraków New Year’s Ball
Some of the grander hotels host a traditional New Year’s Ball. These can be lavish affairs with glamorous attire and usually include an open bar and food as part of the ticket. See the next section on where to stay and contact the hotels directly to find what they have to offer.
Other venues also host a themed ball for New Year’s, including the dramatic Przegorzały Castle, 7km outside of Kraków, on the edge of a forest and overlooking the Vistula river.
Where To Stay On New Year’s In Kraków
Kraków can be very reasonably priced, with excellent accommodation in every different price bracket. But costs do rise during Christmas and New Year. We have a guide to Kraków accommodation our section on Where To Stay In Kraków guide describes each of the city’s key areas, complete with hotel recommendations. Here are some suggestions for a truly special New Year’s experience:
- Hotel Copernicus: Luxurious 5-star interiors, just below Wawel Hill and the castle – view on Booking.com
- Hotel Wentzl: Overlooking the main square, this plush hotel is right at the heart of the New Year action – view on Booking.com
- Hotel Polski Pod Bialym Orlem: Close enough to where the celebrations are but quiet enough to escape from the crowds – view on Booking.com
- The Bonerowski Palace: Another fantastic choice if you want to be right at the heart of the festivities – view on Booking.com
- Hotel Stary: Still in the Old Town, this elegant boutique is intimate and idiosyncratic – view on Booking.com
It’s definitely worth checking for last-minute bargains via Booking.com, via the search box below. You can see where each hotel is located, with pictures of rooms, and reviews from recent guests who have stayed there.
New Year Weather In Kraków
The temperature hovers around zero at this time of year, and drops to -4°C at night. It feels cold once the sun has set around 4pm. So wrap up warm with hat, gloves, and You may see some snow, but rain is just as likely. Wear a waterproof coat and footwear.
See our packing guide to Kraków for advice on what you’ll need for a winter trip.
What’s Open Over New Year’s In Kraków
December 31 is not an official holiday in Poland, however most public services, tourist attractions, and stores close around 5pm. Bars and restaurants will obviously be open, usually through to the early hours, and public transport will continue to get people where they need to be.
January 1 is a public holiday in Poland, when banks, malls, and most shops will be shut. But many museums will be open and public transport will be running with reduced service. Restaurants and bars will also be open again in the evening, so finding somewhere good to eat won’t be a problem. New Year’s Day concerts are traditional in many venues.
Visit our Christmas In Kraków page for details on year-end festivities in the city.
Things To Do In Krakow
Start Planning Your Kraków Trip Now!
:: Find available Kraków hotels on Booking.com - usually you can reserve a room with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out. Free cancellations too.
:: Wondering where to stay in Krakow before you book your hotel? See our comprehensive guide to the city's most convenient areas for visitors.
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:: Book an airport transfer to take you hassle-free direct from the airport to your hotel with the driver meeting you in Arrivals.
:: Find out how to get your phone set up with a SIM card in Kraków.
:: Make sure you don't forget to bring any of the essentials with our comprehensive Packing List For Kraków.
:: World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while traveling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
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:: Need inspiration? Check our Kraków Itineraries for two-day, three-day, and four-day trips, as well as our Things To Do In Kraków guide for ideas of where to do and what to do.