Szopka Competition

  • Szopka Competition Submission – Saturday, Nov. 18 –  Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023
  • Award Prizes for Szopka Competition – Sunday, Dec. 3, 2023

Szopka Competition Rules

1. Your szopka must be portable, lightweight and stable, and made so nothing falls or breaks off.

2. Your szopka should be no taller than 32″, wider than 16, or deeper than 8” (including the base). Any szopka exceeding these dimensions will be disqualified.

3. Your szopka should be constructed from recycled or found objects (boxes, paper towel rolls, milk cartons, foil wrappers, etc.). As much as possible should be made by hand.

4. Your szopka must have the nativity scene, which must include at the very least the figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Figures may be hand made, cutouts, or be store bought.

5. Your szopka must have at least ONE tower, which may be topped with flags, stars, or Polish eagles (but not crosses). Your szopka may have balconies, domes, windows, clocks, steeples, bells, and other architectural elements. While the traditional Krakow szopka incorporates that city’s architecture, we encourage using elements of Detroit area buildings (particularly its churches).

6. You may decorate your szopka using foil, wrapping paper, pipe cleaners, glitter, sequins, beads, fabric trim, etc. You may even add lights or moving parts to your szopka.

7. Your szopka must be submitted for judging, accompanied by the application form on the next page. Your szopka must also have your name printed in the back. Deliver your szopka on Saturday, Nov. 18 – Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023 during normal store hours, to:

Polish Art Center

Polish Art Center, Treasury of Polish Heritage
9539 Joseph Campau
Hamtramck, MI 48212-3437

Store Hours:
Monday through Saturday 9:30am – 6:00pm ET
Sunday 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Phone: 313-874-2242
Toll Free: 888-619-9771
Fax: 313-874-1302

All entries will be displayed at the Polish Art Center from Sun., Nov. 19 to Sun., Dec. 10, 2023.  Pick up of entries will take place on Monday, December 11 – Friday, Dec. 15 during normal business hours.

8. Entry categories are:

  • Children and Youth (ages 5-17)
  • Adult (ages 18 and up)

Group entries are encouraged, but the group’s age bracket is determined by its eldest member.

9. Prizes will be awarded for First, Second and Third Place in each category (providing there are sufficient entries).  Prizes will also be awarded on Sunday, December 3 by Polish Art Center for “Viewer’s Choice” of favorite szopka voted on by patrons of Polish Art Center during the period the szopki are displayed.

10. Anyone is eligible to enter and display his/her szopka.  However, an individual is not eligible to win a prize if he/she has received a prize within the last two years of the FPA competition.

11. The winning szopki will be displayed at the Friends of Polish Art Wigilia on Saturday, December 16 at the American Polish Cultural Center, Troy, MI.

Szopka Construction Tips

  1. Collect and use materials including cardboard, empty boxes, foil, shiny paper, gift wrappings, ribbon, metalic cord, beads & sequins, old jewelry, etc.
  2. Start with a rigid base; plywood is good.
  3. Form basic structure using boxes, cardboard, wood, recycled containers, etc; a traditional szopka has a shallow depth with a fully detailed facade and an unornamented, flat back.
  4. Use materials with brilliant colors (especially gold, silver, red, blue and green) and shiny surfaces
  5. Add surface architectural details using papercuts, shaped foil, etc.
  6. Top towers with flags, stars, eagles, etc. (but not crosses).
  7. Templates can be downloaded for free from either links:
    View Szopka Competition Templates (PDF) or

Szopka Judging

The following five criteria (each worth a maximum of 20 points) will be used to decide the winning entries. All decisions of the judges will be final.

  1. Construction Materials
    • Use of traditional materials: wood, cardboard, paper, foil, etc.
    • Imaginative use of found (scrap) materials.
    • The use of commercially produced dollhouse and miniature components is strongly discouraged (and will result in a reduction in scoring).
  2. Design
    • Use of recognizable Detroit (or Krakow) area architectural elements in design.
    • Use of traditional proportion: the szopka should be shallow (its depth should be no more than ¼ its height) with a fully detailed facade and a flat, unornamented back.
  3. Craftsmanship
    • Good craftsmanship in execution of project.
  4. Use of color (harmonious, dramatic, etc.).
  5. Attention to details
    • Architectural details
    • Decorative details (windows, flags, surface detail, etc.)

Competition Winners

All entrants will be notified of the judges’ decisions during the week of Nov. 26(“Viewer’s Choice Award will be notified by Dec.1″).   All entries must be picked up December 11 – 15 from the Polish Art Center during regular business hours.  All FPA prizes will be awarded at the Award Presentation held at Polish Art Center on Sunday, December 3, 2023 at 2:00 p.m.  All winners or a family representative must be available for the award ceremony.  A certificate of participation will be presented for every entry.

Three prizes will be awarded in each category as follows:

  • Children’s and Youth category – 1st place $100.00, 2nd place $75.00, 3rd place $50.00
  • Adult category – 1st place $150.00, 2nd place $100.00, 3rd place $50.00

All first, second and third place winners in each category will receive an award certificate…and the top 2 entries in all categories will be exhibited at the FPA Wigilia on Saturday, December 16, 2023.  Friends of Polish Art also reserves the right to add additional prize money in the event of a large number of entrants.

You must provide a collapsible box for transporting your szopka, unless you’re absolutely sure your szopka won’t be among the top 2 in its category making the trip to the Wigilia.

There will also be a Viewer’s Choice Award given by the Polish Art Center voted by their visitors.  The winners will also be announced on Sunday, December 3 at 2:00pm.

  • First Choice – $100 gift certificate
  • Second Choice – $50 gift certificate
  • Third Choice – $25 gift certificate
  • Additional prizes may be awarded as determined by the Friends of Polish Art.

Szopka Competition Application (PDF)