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The International Soup Festival - Plac Nowy
One of the highlights of the year, the soup festival is a sign that summer has at last returned to Kazimierz. The only festival of its kind in Poland, it was first held in May 2002 and its initial success has meant that it is now a yearly event.
This friendly competition allows anyone and everyone the opportunity to compete for the coveted prize of the best soup of the year. This might seem a bit of a stuffy affair but in true Kazimierz style the public are invited, you're encouraged to try the soup and join in the fun.
You'll find all kinds of soups on offer, from typical Polish soups such as Zurek to more exotic creations. As any Pole will tell you, there's no such thing as a bad soup in Poland, perhaps it's in the Constitution, perhaps not, but if you're not happy with the soup in your bowl, you're not in Poland!
The mood of the festival changes during the course of the day. During daylight and before the soup runs out there is a street party atmosphere, you'll also find that each bar or restaurant tries to do something to attract people to its doors to try their soup, it might be something as simple as shouting as loudly as possible, or something a little bit strange like a machine to blow up balloons.
As night falls the easy relaxed atmosphere remains but the soup gets to be replaced by beer (in moderation!) and Plac Nowy becomes a giant dance floor. It's not the effect of the soup or the beer that leads to this; it's more to do with the open air concert that is as much a part of the festival as the soup, before you know it you might find yourself dancing away with the locals.
The winning result is announced around 10 p.m., don't worry if you get hungry during the day, there's usually someone selling some grilled "kielbasa" (sausage) and as always in Kazimierz good food is just a few minutes walk in any direction.
During summer Plac Nowy plays host to a number of events but this is the best. Quirky and full of colour, if you're in town in May this is a great weekend experience. You won't forget the festival or the soup you've tried.