Boleslawiec – pottery capital of Poland

The Boleslawiec pottery is a symbol of Poland – it is very popular among both Poles and tourists looking for a souvenir from the Vistula Land. The Boleslawiec Pottery Days have become a fixture on the Lower Silesia’s cultural agenda.

Fot Mariusz Cieszewski_Bolesławiec3.jpg The Boleslawiec Pottery Days, which take place once a year at the end of August, are the most important cultural event in Boleslawiec, a town in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship with a history that dates back to the Middle Ages. The event shows how important the ceramic industry and craftsmanship are for the region. Its popularity is so big that it has reached the status of a European tourist attraction.

“The interest in the Boleslawiec Pottery Days is growing from year to year. In 2013, over 100,000 people participated in the event. This year, we expect up to 150,000 visitors from all over Poland and the world,” Ewa Lijewska-Małachowska, manager of the Boleslawiec Cultural Centre – International Ceramics Centre, which hosts the event, told Poland.pl. 

In Boleslawiec, which counts less than 40,000 inhabitants, and in its nearest neighbourhood, there are over 20 ceramic manufacturing plants – from small family companies to big factories employing several hundred people, such as the “Boleslawiec” Pottery Plant, one of the biggest manufacturers of hand-crafted and hand-decorated tableware pottery. Its ceramics are produced using a unique stamping technique. However, Boleslawiec is Poland’s capital of not only the ceramic industry, but also clay modelling art.

Fot Mariusz Cieszewski_Bolesławiec2.jpg “By organising the Boleslawiec Pottery Days, we want to show people that clay can be used not only for producing cups and saucers, but also for making art,” says Ewa Lijewska-Małachowska. “The International Open Air Ceramic and Sculpturing Workshops, which have been organised in Boleslawiec for 50 years, are the best proof. Exhibitions of works created during the workshops are one of the main attractions of the Boleslawiec Pottery Days.” 

The “Ceramic Wave” Parade traditionally inaugurates the festival on Friday. Ewa Lijewska-Małachowska refers to it as the only ceramic carnival in the world, gathering several thousand incredibly disguised participants. The dress code includes clothes in cobalt blue, the colour of the traditional little stamps which decorate the Boleslawiec pottery.

The next day is the clay day. The Clay Parade (Gliniada) organised on this occasion gathers people in fancy costumes decorated with clay, who are called Clay People (Glinoludy). Initiated by Bogdan Nowak, a local artist, the Clay Parade has participated in this year’s Carnival of Cultures in Berlin, where it came ninth out of nearly 90 teams.

The event’s programme also includes concerts, ceramic workshops, shows of traditional pottery techniques, and championships in rolling the potter’s wheel.