Polish people enjoy going to concerts and to the theatre, and cities have many theatrical companies. Until recently, theatre tickets were cheap due to government subsidies. Theatre is more than entertainment in Poland: it's a medium of political, cultural, moral and historical education. Poles also enjoy visiting art galleries and reading books. They love classical, jazz and modern music. Children are introduced to these pursuits at a very early age.
In large cities, community centres offer exhibitions, plays for children, sports complexes and swimming pools for public use. Soccer tournaments are frequently held at schools and work places. Soccer is a national passion: it's not unusual to find streets deserted if an important match is being broadcast on television.
Poland hosts numerous international sports competitions, and both male and female athletes have won international fame. Numerous boxers, including Jerzy Kulej (middleweight) and Zbigniew Pietrzykowski (lightweight), are Olympic medalists, and Polish football and soccer teams have also won medals. Poland has produced international champions in speedboat racing, a sport which arose in the 1950's, and, more recently, in speedway racing.
Cycling has been popular since the 19th century, when the first race was held in Warsaw in 1869. The prestigious Tour de Pologne race around Poland, held in September, attracts athletes from across Europe.
Poland's mountains and national parks offer excellent hiking and skiing, and urban Poles love getting away for weekend in the countryside. The northern lakes and Baltic beaches are popular areas for fishing, canoeing and water sports. Many families enjoy going for a walk in the country to gather berries and mushrooms, or simply to enjoy the beauty of the landscape. Poles also have a long tradition of horse breeding and riding; although this activity is limited to wealthier individuals, the practice is respected both as an art form and an important part of Poland's military history.
Poles enjoy watching television, and Polish television stations produce high-quality programs. Many people also enjoy a game of chess. Above all, however, Poles enjoy good conversation with friends and family, and company is welcome any time. Politics is a favourite conversation topic, and Poles have raised the political joke to an art form.