The tradition of St Dominic’s Fair dates back to the 13th century. On the final Saturday of July, throngs of merchants from Germany, France, England and even Spain and Portugal would come arrive in Gdańsk. Over 400 ships were known to call at the harbour with French and Spanish wine, silk, preserves, Portuguese spices, English tin and cloth. Circus acts, acrobats, jugglers and actors’ troupes would come from far and wide.
Today, St Dominic’s Fair is also an attraction for tourists and locals alike, combining a flea market with a huge agenda of cultural and sports events. The calendar of events includes a wide array of festivals, concerts and competitions. Over three August weeks, the city is the undisputed realm of Neptune, Hermes and the Apollonian Muses. The streets are teem with stalls and street theatre troupes. One can hear old shanty tunes and Gypsy romances, old Gdańsk music and charming organ grinders. The aroma of delicacies from overseas mixes with the scent of traditional Polish sweet kolacz pastries and home-made bread. Everyone can find a nice souvenir at an artist’s stall or a valuable antique at the flea market. The scale of Gdańsk’s St Dominic’s Fair is comparable to that of such well-known European events as the Oktoberfest in Munich and the Weinachtsmarkt in Hamburg.
Each year, St Dominic’s Race is an undisputed attraction, when thousands of runners run along the streets of Gdańsk’s Main Town.