According to Wrocław City Council, some 54,000 people passed through the Rynek yesterday during the city’s New Year’s Eve concert and party.
This year’s event, which was organised under the banner of ‘Wrocław Respect’, featured a 45 minute set from 70’s pop group The Village People.
Kayah and Dj Gambit also performed, while Wrocław’s ‘Respect Orchestra’ played covers of songs by Bruno Mars, Beyonce, Pharell Williams, Rihanna, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd and other famous artists.
According to the organisers, the show intended “to unite people of different nationalities, races, religions and sexualities.” In the run up to Sylwester, Wrocław City Council emphasised that the event was open to everyone “who values virtues such as freedom, openness, tolerance and respect.”
The first 2,019 people to arrive in the concert zone received special scarves with ‘Wrocław’ written on one side and ‘respect’ on the other.
When the clock struck midnight, a rendition of George Michael’s Freedom was in full flow as streamers were launched into the crowd. Although there was no official fireworks display, there were plenty of fireworks set off by the public in and around the Rynek.
Later on, newly elected Wrocław President Jacek Sutryk passed on his New Year greetings in both English and Polish.
No alcohol was allowed into the official concert area, so many people chose to hang around on the fringes of the market square. Despite large numbers of people drinking heavily to celebrate the occasion, the evening passed without incident according to Paweł Szot of Wrocław City Council.
This year’s Sylwester event was probably the city’s most successful since TVP2 decided to take their cameras and concert budget to Zakopane.
The event wasn’t without it’s critics however. The comments section under Gazeta Wrocławska’s report on Wrocław Respect is peppered with negative (and homophobic) remarks.
That said, the vast majority of those who turned up to see the show did seem to be lapping it up. It will be interesting to see if the city decide to continue with a similar theme next time Sylwester comes around.