Lublin is a small city located in East Poland. And when I say small, I mean they-only-have-two-check-in-desks-at-the-airport small. Each year towards the end of July, the resident slackliners throw an all-out assault on the ancient city centre with approval from the council and some seriously slack (pun intended) healthy and safety regulations.
I visited the festival for its fifth reincarnation two years ago, shortly after graduating. I had never been to Poland before and knew only two rude words in Polish, but somehow managed to find a room in a local hostel with a handful of change and one of the organiser's phone numbers. It later turned out the rigging team (which included a number of slacking celebrities such as Faith Dickie, the reigning female highline champ) were staying in the same hostel and had a bed going spare. So we stayed up drinking Polish beer and learning Polish songs before rigging the next day.
The old city centre has a giant square with what is now a museum in the centre. The surrounding buildings house a multitude of cafes, restaurants and bars, as well as offices and apartments. This idyllic location allows multiple highlines of varying lengths to be rigged from one giant central anchor.
The first few days of my visit were spent testing myself on the museum lines. Lengths varied from 10-40m at 12m high which was my comfortable range at the time. There was something quite exhilarating about walking highlines over crowds of tourists staring up in wonder, and people sat eating and drinking below.
Towards the middle of the festival, we moved over to the fabled church lines rigged between an ancient tower and one of the church spires. You have to climb 30m up an old, wooden staircase to reach them, and the exposure on the lines is breathtaking.
The festival usually lasts around 5-6 days and includes all manor of circus acts, street performances and live music as well as the titular highlines dotted around the city. The biggest lines of the week are the office lines rigged over a road between two high rise blocks.
I tried my hand at all three that were rigged (ranging from 65m to 80m) and it's safe to say I didn't get very far...
...don't worry, my heart stopped too!
Sadly, I haven't been able to attend the Urban Highline Festival for the last two years; I've just missed this year because we've bought our first house (yippee!) and work commitments are taking precedence. But seeing all the progress and improvements they've made since has got me gagging to go back.
The Highline Festival is open to everyone regardless of slack ability (it's a real good place to start highlining because of the wealth of lines to try out, and you don't need to rig anything!), but I would recommend visiting to anyone. The people are amazing, and there is soo much to see and do there as well as slacklining, including masterclasses, film nights, yoga sessions and acrobatics, not to mention all the delicious local and traditional food and music. And with cheap air fares, there really isn't an excuse!
Get set for your next adventure: