Culture in Poznań



A new take on Saint Martin

Instead of St. Martin (Św. Marcin) Street Nameday, this year's event will celebrate St. Martin's Days. The street's extensive reconstruction in the city centre has compelled the organisers of this unique and popular Poznań event to change its venue as well as its format.

Photo from one of the previous St. Martin parade: picture of a men dressed as St. Martin and holding a big key in his hand. People watching the show in the background. - grafika artykułu
Święty Marcin Street Name Day in previous years, photograph: Grzegorz Dembiński

"For many years now, 11 November has been the day of exuberant celebrations of Saint Martin Street Nameday. Crowds of thousands would enjoy a good time together at the city's biggest "house" party. This year we are forced to move the event to a different venue", announced the event's organisers, the Zamek (Castle) Cultural Centre team, a few weeks ago.

In their announcement explaining their decision, they said: "It is with great regret that we have resolved to cancel this year's nameday celebration. However, we are instead happy to invite all revellers to Saint Martin's Days to be held in the Free Courtyard of the City Hall near Kolegiacki Square, in Chopin Park, and in our Castle building (...). Although perhaps controversial and surprising to many, these venues may be the only place for us to spend this special occasion together, albeit in a slightly different format. We sincerely hope to be able to resume nameday celebrations starting on 11 November of next year, and that the numerous renovation projects that are currently unfolding in the heart of Poznań will remain a distant memory".

This announcement sparked a debate on social media prompting many people to express their disappointment with the decision. Still, the organisers declined to abandon their plans and began to prepare a programme better suited for the three new venues.

This year's main theme - and the only one imaginable! - is solidarity with and support for the Ukrainians fleeing the war. They will be the focal point of all St. Martin's Days concerts and other events.

On 11 November from 11am to 8pm, Plac Kolegiacki will become the site of the Street Nameday fixture: St. Martin's Fair, and the Tablecloth Sewing campaign. That same venue will also be used by two of Poznań's well-known performance groups: Tęczowe Seniorki (Rainbow Seniors) and Asocjacja 2006 Theatre, which is the former organiser of the Saint Martin's Parade that is known to have drawn crowds to Poznań's streets every 11 November.

In the nearby Chopin Park, activists and NGOs will present their programmes throughout the day. Workshops will also be held by the Art-Cluster Active Ukrainian Women's Club and the Z Głową w Chmurach (Head in the Clouds) Theatre. Chopin Park will also turn into a sports arena with presentations and activities from Warta Poznań, the Poznań Ice Hockey Association and Poznań's only American football team: Poznań Army.

The main stage will be set up in the Free Courtyard of the City Hall. At 2 pm, authority to rule the city will be officially handed over to Saint Martin. This symbolic gesture, a part of every past St. Martin's Parade, will not be forgotten at the new venue. The Swarzędz Brass Band will make its appearance during the ceremony. Next up will be Ukrainian musicians, including the violinist Anna Chumachenko and the Ukrainian ethnic music band AtmAsfera. Eminent Polish guests are also in the line-up, among them Andrzej Stasiuk with the band Haydamaky and with music to words by Poland's national bard Adam Mickiewicz, and Renata Przemyk.

Sylwia Klimek

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

St. Martin's Days

Pl. Kolegiacki, Free Courtyard of the City Hall, Chopin Park

11 November, from 11am

Admission free

Organiser: Zamek (Castle) Cultural Centre

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2022