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Warsaw - Poland

Warsaw has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment choices. There is something for everyone.

Those seeking opera and classical music will not want to miss the Teatr Wielki, the national opera. It is massive and beautiful and the standards of performance are very high. Also an excellent choice is Roma, or the popular Warsaw Chamber Opera. The Philharmonic is home to performers from around the world, as is the Lutoslawski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio.

More intimate classical performances can be seen at the delightful Moniuszko Warsaw Music Society in the Szuster Palace or in the Frederic Chopin Music Academy. The concert hall at the Royal Castle is a charming location to see great performances. It's also worth keeping an eye out for performances in some of the acoustically ideal churches.

Another wonderful venue to see and hear classical music is in Lazienki Park, at the open-air Chopin piano recitals in the Rose Garden. Pianists from around the world come to play here during the summer months.

If you're after jazz, blues or rock and roll, there are many local clubs that feature different acts on a regular basis. Try Proxima, Lolek or Tam Tam and see what's on.

One of the city's best-kept secrets is the so-called Dom Kultury (House of Culture) or Osrodek Kultury (Cultural Center) that can be found in every neighborhood. Often, these places are hives of artistic and creative activity and put on regular performances by well-known entertainers. Some particularly active ones are Imielin, Bielanski Osrodek Kultury, Warszawski Osrodek Kultury and Lowicka.

There are plenty of movie theaters in Warsaw. These range from huge Socialist old-timers, to brand new high-tech cineplexes. Some of the favorite cinemas are Capitol, a former Soviet cultural center, Muranow, which often shows alternative films, Femina, a central multiplex, and Atlantic, also right downtown.

Warsaw has a very active and diverse theatre scene. Performances of everything from puppets to classics can be seen here. The National Theatre (opened in 1765) is where the grandest productions take place. Ateneum offers modern favorites, Dramatyczny covers Shakespeare to Beckett, Guliwer has puppets and live actors, Komedia offers comic plays and Zydowski puts on Jewish performances. There are also many more theatres such as Rampa, Staromiejski, Studio and Syrena.

For those looking to dance until the small hours, Warsaw has an ever-growing selection of venues. Ground Zero, a massive central club in a former nuclear bomb shelter (really!) is an enduring favorite. Harenda has a mellower, more bar-like mood and Barbados is for the trendy set. Piekarnia is small and jam-packed with dancers. Tam Tam is very hip, Riviera Remont hosts lots of live acts and is popular with students. Proxima is a great place for dancing and live music with a young crowd, while Loch is the only nightclub in the Old Town.

For those who like sports, there are swimming pools such as the new Wodny Park or the outdoor Moczydlo. Evening ice-skating is on offer at Tor Stegny and Torwar II.

The city also has some great museums. These range from the traditional —like the National Museum—to the less conventional such as the Warsaw Gasworks Museum. The Museum of Measurement is unique and very interesting while the Chopin Museum is also a favorite.

Another source of entertainment are the cultural centers and institutes of other countries. Places like the Goethe Institute often sponsor events, the French Institute also has a busy schedule and the British Council and the Austrian Institute also have excellent options. The Cervantes Institute offers some fairly eclectic and interesting entertainment.

One of the advantages of living in the capital city is that there are many celebrations and holidays which you can participate in. Warsaw hosts parades, concerts and special events on a regular basis. There are also some excellent annual festivals, such as the Warsaw Summer Jazz Days, the Mozart Festival, the TPSA Music and Film Festival and many others.

Another excellent option is to stroll through one of the wonderful and majestic parks, such as Lazienki or Wilanow. These peaceful green spaces are self-contained entertainment complexes, with museums, sculptured gardens, concert stages, cafés and restaurants. Above all, these offer the visitor the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind.

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