About This Festival
There are many festivals in the world today that boast a motto similar to that of Woodstock Festival Poland: "Love, Friendship, and Music." However, there aren't many large-scale music festivals in the world today that are completely free to attend. Yes, it's actually free, which makes Love, Friendship and Music not just possible, but guaranteed. When thinking of Woodstock Festival Poland, a well-known quote comes to mind: "Be the change you want to see in the world" (Gandhi), which is what we've learned Woodstock Festival Poland is all about. Its success as one of Europe's largest festivals is because of a simple pay-it-forward approach, and that one act of kindness will surely lead to another.
Give Peace a Chance
Woodstock Festival Poland (sometimes known in Polish as Przystankek Woodstock, meaning "Woodstock Station") began in 1995 and was inspired by the famous American Woodstock Festival of 1969.Woodstock Festival Poland is more than just a festival in the same way that Woodstock (1969) was more than just a festival. It's a peaceful gathering and atmosphere, where the colossal strain of social and economic hardship dissipates, and love, awareness and understanding are exercised. The festival was also inspired by and adopted part of its name from the TV series Northern Exposure (aired as "Przystankek Alaska"), which centers around a peaceful Alaskan community. The mission of Przystankek Woodstock is to be "as much about music as [it is about] harmonious co-existence."
The festival is organized by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (which was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2017) to acknowledge all the volunteers and supporters who participate in the annual Grand Finale Fundraiser in January. Jurek Owsiak is the festival's organizer, mastermind and host extraordinaire. During the festival, you will find him mostly on the main stage, speaking to the audience and announcing artists. According to the festival, Owsiak is "the voice that gives Woodstock its unforgettable atmosphere." In 2015, he was named the winner and recipient of the "Best Festival Promoter" award at the International Music Industry Awards at MUSEXPO 2015 in Los Angeles.
Love Is Music
Since 2004, the festival has been held in Kostrzyn nad Odra. Prior to 2004, the festival took place in Zary (1997 - 2003), Szczecin-Dabie (1996) and Czymanowo (1995). The average attendance of Przystankek Woodstock over the last four years is 625,000 people and in 2014, the festival attracted 750,000 attendees to Kostrzyn nad Odra. Each year, Przystankek Woodstock features 50 to 70 performers, consisting mainly of Rock music, but in recent years have become known for including an eclectic mix of Folk, Experimental, Metal, Classical, Electronic and Reggae. The festival features four stages – First Stage, Second Stage, AFA's Stage and Viva Kultura Stage – in continuous use from early afternoon to dawn. Przystankek Woodstock also offers performers an opportunity to participate in "Preliminaries," a battle of the bands which takes place prior to the festival and where a winner is selected to perform at the festival.
One of the most amazing parts of Przystankek Woodstock is the Academy of the Finest Arts (AFA). AFA is unlike any festival offering we have come across to date. It's an opportunity for young people to meet with well-known politicians, celebrities, religious leaders, artists, journalists, actors, musicians and the list goes on. They can discuss faith, truth, dreams, life, adventures, philosophy, and much more. Nothing is off limits.
Other festival offerings include (what the festival refers to as) a massive mud shower, a tomato fight and the Hare Krishna Movement, which organizes an Indian food cafeteria, yoga classes, meditation and meetings with gurus.
Work Together, Create Together
And just when you thought benevolence could be no greater and go no further... Safety measures at the festival are provided by what the festival calls "The Peace Patrol." The Peace Patrol is a special community of volunteers, who work alongside a professional security company as well as with the Polish police. This is all despite the fact that Przystankek Woodstock is considered among law enforcement as one of the safest public events in Poland.
But wait, it's free. So, how do they make this happen each year? Przystankek Woodstock is funded entirely by sponsors. On the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity's website, they simply encourage attendees and the general public to "co-create" the festival by raising money online and becoming consumers of their dedicated sponsors. Przystankek Woodstock proves through the reciprocal support of its organizers, sponsors, patrons and volunteers that anything is possible, as long as we work together and that if we give back, we will most certainly get back.