Every year is better than the previous one, right? In fact, one of the most famous economists in Lithuania has recently stated we haven’t lived that well for 424 years! Let’s leave the finance world aside, though, and take a look at the most significant events in Kaunas in 2018 - the ones that really added a lot of value to our lives. This list, of course, is just a short glimpse into the life of Kaunas. There’s something to attend and be happy about every single day of the year. Check back soon to take a look at our event calendar for 2018. But first…
The Centennial of the Restored State of Lithuania
On February 16, 1918, the Lithuanian Independence Act was signed in Vilnius and marked a new era of our country. A series of various events filled our calendars in 2018, including academic endeavours and pop concerts, discussions and exhibitions, new movies and music, dancing, eating and celebrating in all the possible ways. For example…
The traditional Lithuanian song festival was kicked off with an event in Kaunas on June 30, 2018. It was the last event held in the Song valley before its major renovation.
On July 6, the 7-metre tall and much-discussed sculpture of the Warrior of Freedom was revealed at the field of the Kaunas Castle. Its author is Arūnas Sakalauskas; the statue itself was made in Ukraine.
Picture by Andrius Aleksandravičius
On the same weekend, 100 hot air balloons performed several dances in the skies above Kaunas. We were lucky to hop on board one of the balloons! Here’s a short video we made…
Žalgiris and Ice Hockey Gold
In April, BC Žalgiris Kaunas made it to the Euroleague Final Four for the first time since 1999 - that’s when we won the most prestigious tournament of the continent. The 2017/2018 season was brilliant for the best basketball team in Lithuania; the final matches before securing the place among four best teams in Europe (we finished 3rd!) were historic, to say the least. A full home arena is not that uncommon for Žalgiris, as the team prides for some of the best attendance in Euroleague. Every single attendee got a green t-shirt as a present, and that definitely added to the atmosphere.
At the very same time, Žalgirio arena hosted the Division I Group B matches of Ice Hockey World Championship. That’s right - ice hockey rink was swapped with the basketball court overnight for a few times in a row. In a sold-out arena, the Lithuanian ice hockey team secured gold and made its way to Group A. Oh what a week it was!
Kaunas 2022: The International Day of Happiness and Beyond
March 20th is the International Day of Happiness, which, thanks to Kaunas - European Capital of Culture 2022 team, was celebrated all around Kaunas for the first time in 2018. By ‘all around’ we mean the railway station, the airport, the libraries, the schools, the cafes, the Žalgirio arena… The day turned out to be a massive success, so get ready to experience all forms, shapes and colours of happiness again in Kaunas and Kaunas district in 2019 (and 2020, and 2021, and, of course, 2022, when we become the European Capital of Culture - we hope, later, too).
The Day of Happiness was one of the many entertaining, meaningful, relevant and significant events organised by the unbelievably talented team of Kaunas 2022. They attracted a lot of international guests to the inaugural European Capital of Culture forum and a Modernism conference, kicked off a cultural training academy for the local professionals, planted the seeds of art and culture in the suburbia and organised the first ever international youth camp called 100 First Times. Make sure to follow our path to 2022 all around social media and check out the project's comprehensive website.
Remembering Jan Zwartendijk
On June 15, a memorial for Dutch diplomat Jan Zwartendijk has been opened in Kaunas, a city where he lived and issued visas for Jewish refugees in 1940 (We also recommend checking out the story of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat that also issued transit visas for Jewish people at the same time). The opening ceremony was attended by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė, children of Jan Zwartendijk and many more wonderful people. The memorial for soon became the go-to place of citizens and guess of Kaunas, especially at night. It’s a light installation designed by the fantastic Dutch artist Giny Vos.
The Papal Visit
In September, Pope Francis started his visit to the three Baltic states in Lithuania, visiting Vilnius and Kaunas. A holy mass held by the Pope drew a crowd of more than 100,000 people - citizens of Kaunas and guests coming from many different cities and countries - to Santakos (Confluence) park. Same park that John Paul II held a mass in 1993! It was a very special Sunday for our city. We even made it to the Vatican News…
Have you visited Kaunas in 2018? What were your highlights? Tell us!