Przystanek Woodstock, also known as simply 'Woodstock Festival,' is an annual free rock music festival in Poland, named after Woodstock, that has taken place since 1995. It is organized by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity in order to thank its volunteers. Generally a weekend-long event, its two stages are in continuous use from early afternoon to dawn, featuring performances by around 30 bands every year.
The festival started in 1995 in Czymanowo, a small affair where no alcohol was sold. By the time the second edition rolled around the prohibition had been partially lifted. The festival continued to grow, and nowadays the festival draws in crowds of upwards of a 100,00 people over the span of 3 days. The festival location has changed several times, and is now held in Kostrzyn nad Odrą.
Although primarily a rock festival, other genres of music are increasingly better represented, with the latest editions featuring reggae, electronic, and even classical music.
The motto of the festival is "Love, Friendship, and Music," in keeping with its American forefather which inspired the name. Although the hippies are gone, in this festival their spirit remains. The festival certainly has a social dimension, organised by a charity, but its no less a loud and wild rock n' roll festival.
Many Polish bands have made several appearances, including Myslovitz, IRA, Acid Drinkers, 2Tm2 3 and Dżem. Foreign bands also play ever year. Some big names include: The Prodigy, Papa Roach, and The Stranglers.
There is also a yearly battle of the bands, whose winner gets to play at the festival, giving a chance to less well known talent to play.
Stages and other entertainment
Along with the concerts on two stages there are many other events organized during the festival. The Academy Of The Finest Arts is a place where young people meet with well-known politicians like Lech Wałęsa, a former Polish president, artists, journalists, musicians, actors and religious leaders including Kesang Takla - the Dalai Lama's Northern European representative. In 2009, for the 40th anniversary of the original Woodstock Festival from 1969, Michael Lang, the organizer of the American event, was invited. The Hare Krishna movement also commonly shows up to organize an Indian food cafeteria, yoga classes, meditation exercises or meetings with their gurus.
The name Przystanek Woodstock - "Woodstock Station" refers to peace and friendship symbolized by the Woodstock Festival and the TV series Northern Exposure, aired as Przystanek Alaska (Alaska Station), immensely popular in Poland at that time.
The 2000 festival was planned to be held in Lębork, but due to permission uncertainties, and protest of local committees (Komitet obrony Moralności - The Committee for the Defense of Morality) it had to be cancelled. Nevertheless over 1000 people showed up and organized an unauthorized "rock'n'roll picnic" without any professional music bands. This happening was later referred to as the "Dziki Przystanek" ("The Wild Station").