More than 1100 events with 1.35 million participants. This is the result with which the ICE Krakow Congress Centre enters the 9th year of its functioning. Hundreds of organised congresses, conferences and business meetings, concerts, cultural and social events – Krakow has been consolidating its leadership position in the meetings industry since its opening in 2014. Krakow5020 is the operator of ICE Krakow.

The ICE Krakow Congress Centre is a business and cultural showcase of the city. Located in the very centre of Krakow, it makes the organisation of various events possible. As a multi-venue facility, it can host as many as three events on the same day. A music festival in the Krzysztof Penderecki Auditorium Hall, an evening banquet in the foyer with a view of the Wawel or a product presentation in conference rooms on the third floor of the building – ICE Krakow has been offering a multitude of opportunities to its clients since 2014. It has also been the source of unforgettable experiences hosting the stars of the Film Music Festival, the ICE Classic cycle, Diana Ross, Chris Botti, Zbigniew Wodecki, Garou, Dire Straits, Grzegorz Turnau and Zbigniew Preisner. And these are just a few of the many music personalities who stood on the ICE Krakow stage.

The fact that ICE Krakow is a recognisable venue appreciated by the meetings industry in Europe is proven by many awards and distinctions, for example the Meetings Star Award (2015 and 2016), A’Design Award (2015), The Plan Award (2015), Gold Meetings Star (2019, 2020, 2021) and MP Power Award (2014, 2017, 2020, 2021) and the ICCA Best Marketing Award (2021).

New hospitality

The functionality and architecture of the ICE Krakow Congress Centre designed by the Ingarden & Ewý studio make it possible to attract large congresses and conferences. The number of such events amounted to 292 in 2014-2022 and their share in the venue’s year-round offer is growing all the time. In 2023, all conferences and congresses will attract more than 30 thousand guests to ICE Krakow! Held almost at the foot of the Wawel Castle, these events bring the greatest benefits to the city: they create an image of a hospitable and modern city, stimulate business tourism and the economic development of Krakow. ‘New hospitality is the value we hold dear when developing the potential of ICE Krakow’, Izabela Błaszczyk, the President of Krakow5020 – the venue operator, says. ‘We strive to connect different entities present on the Krakow market and make the best offers to organisers and participants. Thanks to the Krakow Network project, we can prepare a service package that lets the clients choose the event organisation offer at the best price, invite competing event agencies or hotels to cooperate. We promote coopetition, which is the cooperation of entities that would normally compete with each other.’

This year, one of the most important events in the global meetings industry, i.e. the 61st International Congress of ICCA (International Congress and Convention Association) will be held in ICE Krakow between 6 and 9 November. The acquisition of this congress is a huge success not only for Krakow but also for Poland as a whole. ICCA is one of the most important events for the meetings industry worldwide; it gathers about one thousand most experienced experts in the organisation of international conferences and congresses each year. It will be an opportunity not only to learn about the current trends but also to define them.

(Sustainable) development of ICE Krakow

‘The greatest challenge we faced in the last 8 years was the pandemic’, Paula Fanderowska, the Vice-President of Krakow5020, says. ‘Event organisers have learned from the experience gained during consecutive waves and implemented restrictions and increasingly often choose hybrid events. This is why a hybrid studio that offers plan B if an event is cancelled has been established in ICE Krakow. Such studios are a new post-pandemic standard currently being implemented in venues worldwide.’ A hybrid studio complements the extensive range on offer at the venue. Life has returned to ICE Krakow since spring 2022 when all the restrictions were lifted. More than 100 events were held this year for 110 thousand guests.

However, being the local and the national leader entails the obligation not only to carry out projects with special attention to production quality but also to shape attitudes, educate about the activities of ICE Krakow and take care of the immediate vicinity of the venue. ICE Krakow hosted the work on the Krakow Network protocol – a strategy of operation in the post-pandemic reality prepared by representatives of the Krakow MICE industry. The courses of action identified in the document included the need to create innovative business models based on shared risk management, digital restructuring, promoting hybrid events, and building Krakow’s competitive edge by engaging local representatives of the meetings industry.

Thanks to the joint initiative of the City of Krakow, KBF (the then operator of ICE Krakow) and the Urban Greenery Management Board in Krakow, the Congress Alley was created in 2017. Organisers of most important congresses and ICE Krakow representatives plant trees along the Monte Cassino Street; it is a way to stress the positive impact of the meetings industry on the development of the capital of Małopolska and to commemorate the events taking place at the venue. There are 35 ‘congress’ trees adorning the street today. Representatives of the Krakow Network are also involved in CSR activities. They participate in the Poland Business Run, charity events for the Małopolska branch of the Polish Association of the Deaf and support #RatunkoweKalorie, i.e. a fundraiser to fund hot meals for Krakow’s medics from the J. Dietl Specialist Hospital in Krakow.

A cyclical social event for city inhabitants titled Good Morning ICE Krakow also takes place at the venue. Every quarter of the year, ICE Krakow transforms into the largest playground. The event has an educational aspect too: not only the youngest visitors but also their carers are happy to take advantage of free workshops.

Krakow5020, the operator of ICE Krakow and the hybrid studio located in it, is a municipal company established by the President of the City of Krakow responsible for the building and management of the city’s image and its promotion in cooperation with numerous partners. The main objective is to strengthen the brand of Krakow as a European metropolis that is attractive, open and tolerant, a city with the global cultural heritage and a thriving academic centre. Business co-ordinates and new hospitality are the buzzwords behind the development of Krakow in the area of the economy, innovation, science and culture.

The company is also responsible for the city platform VOD PLAY KRAKOW, PLAY KRAKOW NEWS, projects such as the Krakow Network and Power of 4, the ICE Classic and Good Morning ICE Krakow cycles, the management of a concept store in the Wyspiański Pavilion and the InfoKrakow Official Municipal Information Network.

The name of Krakow5020 refers to the location of the city that lies at the intersection of the 50ºN parallel of latitude with the 20ºE meridian.