Explore Vilnius, Lithuania, and its 700-year celebrations
Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, is a truly beautiful and lively city with lots of culture and history – worth exploring! Since the 16th-century Italian master builders created numerous baroque buildings in the city. For Vilnius is the largest Baroque city north of the Alps, and the farthest one to the east, it is sometimes also called „Rome of the East“. The old town has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.
Top 700th Anniversary Highlights
Vilnius has just started its celebratory 700th-anniversary year and is offering many adventures for the entire of 2023, especially the warm season. From „As Young As Vilnius“- music festival, Vilnius Biennial of Performance Art, Music for Vilnius project that unites world-famous composers, and exhibitions that delve deep into the city’s historical past to ample urban and nature activities, each visitor can have holiday to their taste.
One of the highlights of the 700th-anniversary summertime program will be the music festival “As Young As Vilnius“ (on July 21st-25th 2023), which was a huge success in 2022, garnering over 50K of visitors. The celebration marks St. Christopher’s—the patron saint of Vilnius—day, thereby inviting music enthusiasts to enjoy the occasion with a concert in one of the locals’ favorite hangout spots of the city, Vingis Park. International and Lithuanian artists will create a magical summertime dance party with captivating audio-visual performances free of charge.
“Music for Vilnius“, a music project uniting seven world-famous composers, is a must for visitors who’ll want to grasp the spirit of Vilnius through sound this May 6th-July 6th. Michael Gordon (U.S.), Anna Korsun (Ukraine), Toshio Hosokawa (Japan), Heiner Goebbels (Germany), and others will perform instrument or chamber ensemble pieces created specifically for some of Vilnius’ spaces. The chosen spots—the courtyard in a former Vilnius ghetto, the Gediminas Castle Tower, and others—have resonated with them for their architectural, historical, and environmental features.
Vilnius also plans to ease the vacationers into the autumn with the annual Vilnius Capital Days Festival 2023 on September 1st-3rd. The festival, which is the biggest of all city events, attracts large crowds each year, and this time will be dedicated to the city’s 700th anniversary. The event will wow the spectators with dance performances, the first piece of opera resurrected with the help of AI, a closing event of Vilnius Biennial of Performance Art, exhibitions, and music events featuring world-famous rock, pop, jazz, classical music performers, as well as a great many more must-visit shows.
A look into the past – through the artistic lens
The exhibition “Vilnius Poker“ at MO Museum (April 2023 – January 2024) will display the downfall of the Soviet regimen in Vilnius, at the same time giving a glimpse into Vilnius’ past and present, its national and cultural identities, and the transformation into a modern European city. The immersive travel through time will be directed by Oskaras Koršunovas, one of the most prominent artistic directors in Lithuania. (The exhibition is also a tribute to the novel „Vilnius Poker“ by Ričardas Gavelis, one of the most famous Lithuanian novels.)
From May to October city guests will have a unique chance to experience life in Vilnius as it was 200 years ago. The National Museum of Lithuania will present the opportunity through an interactive exhibition, pavilion: Vilnius 200 Years Ago, which depicts the 18th-19th century Vilnius and the cultural, demographic, architectural, and social changes the city underwent. Modern light, sound, projection, and augmented reality technologies will allow visiting the reconstructed former city and seeing how the visitors’ favorite haunts in Vilnius looked centuries ago, what urban gems have survived to date, where the elite and notable figures lived, and many other glimpses into the capital’s past. The pavilion model exhibition will be free of charge and open 24/7 throughout the entire season and will feature an intensive educational program next to the main exhibition.
Although Vilnius has 700 years of rich historical past, the city has never become one giant stage for modern-day performance art yet. Vilnius Biennial of Performance Art, a new festival designed for the 700th anniversary, will take the performance art out of the traditional setting and inject it into the most unexpected spots of the city: parks, streets, historic and new buildings (from July 26th to August 6th). The festival will offer to immerse into a thought-provoking program featuring well-known international and Lithuanian creators who will use the city’s spaces to reflect on the most prominent Vilnius values—multiculturalism and innovation, boldness, and creativity.
The warm season is also an ideal time to visit some of the most famous Vilnius landmarks like Gediminas Castle (the symbol of the city) and enjoy the uninhibited views of the urban panorama under one’s feet or bask in the warm glow of the summertime sunset. Visitors can combine a leisurely walk around the Castle with unearthing a morsel of Vilnius’ history and visiting an exhibition that displays a transcript of the letter written by Gediminas, the Grand Duke of Lithuania. The letter invited European merchants to come to Vilnius and introduced the city to the world for the very first time 700 years ago. Although it is kept in the archives in Riga, Latvia, the letter has been brought to Vilnius for the birthday and will be on display until August 27th.
As an added bonus to the music, art, and cultural experiences lined up for this spring and summer, the visit to Vilnius might be a perfect opportunity to explore the other faces of the city. Gourmets are invited to go on a gastro quest through the city’s numerous restaurants in search of a perfect delicacy—the famous cold beetroot soup that is the top dish for Lithuanians during the summer or a glass of high-quality craft beer with fried bread on the side. Some restaurants even recreated and offer characteristic historical dishes in Vilnius for the anniversary year — like Nelson’s zrazy or Jerusalem kugel— you might try this and hear the stories about it.
For more information check: www.govilnius.lt
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