Every season is great for visiting Kaunas – but there are certain times when our city is bustling with people, both local residents and guests from all around the world. Check out the list of major events planned for 2020 if you want to combine sightseeing and active leisure with cultural activities.
The Month of La Francophonie
Little Paris, the interwar nickname of Kaunas, isn’t the only thing in common between Lithuania and France. In fact, the friendship between the two countries is very close, and there are a lot of stories to tell, starting much, much earlier than 1930. That’s why March in Kaunas and pretty much the rest of the world is The Month of La Francophonie. Expect lectures, exhibitions, film screenings and food tastings.
International Day of Happiness
March 20th is the International Day of Happiness, which was celebrated in Kaunas for the first time in 2018. The day turned out to be a massive success and continued to grow in 2019, so get ready to experience all forms, shapes and colours of happiness again in Kaunas and Kaunas district in 2020 and coming years.
Born in 1990 together with independent Lithuania, the festival brings local and foreign jazz musicians to indoor and outdoor spaces all around Kaunas. It has extended the legacy of jazz outside the city limits, too – a couple of Kaunas Jazz concerts are held in Vilnius each year. Gregory Porter is coming back to Kaunas for the festival’s 30th birthday, together with many more talented artists from around the world.
A marathon like no other! Start in the city hall square, thriving with life from the 16th century, run by the remains of Kaunas castle, built in the 14th century. Enjoy the exceptionally flat route near two of the biggest Lithuanian rivers and examples of Lithuanian architecture from the Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Modernist and Soviet-era to modern times.
Kite festival “Between Earth and Sky”
For almost three decades kite enthusiasts have been gathering in Nemunas valley in Zapyškis, district of Kaunas, near a charming little church, to colour the sky for one day.
The worldwide event is much-celebrated here in Kaunas; most of the city’s numerous museums host special events planned long in advance and, of course, grant free entry till wee hours.
Kaunas 2022 European Capital of Culture Forum
The heads of culture capitals, participants from many EU states, politicians, culture operators, artists and other public figures will become the guests and speakers at the third European Capital of Culture Forum organised by the team of Kaunas 2022.
Putvinskio street day
Kaunas Artists’ House and the community of V. Putvinskio street are building a new tradition that gathers everyone to this historical axis of Kaunas. Concerts, games, flea markets, readings and other activities have proven to be the highlights of the block party like no other.
Imagine bringing your dinner table to the longest pedestrian street in the region and sitting down for a pleasant evening with neighbours and friends you’ve just met. That’s possible every May in Laisvės Alėja, thanks to the artist Vytenis Jakas whose projects aim for a happier community. Join us if you don’t have a table, too!
Kaunas City Birthday
The biggest party of the year will be traditionally held at the end of May. The city-wide event combines local Medieval traditions with innovative contemporary rituals.
A nation-wide initiative of bringing designers of all kinds closer to people has planted its roots deeply in Kaunas, occupying numerous spaces all around town to celebrate Lithuanian talent for one week every year.
International Folklore Festival “Atataria Lamzdžiai”
The traditional folk festival is held annually in May since 1984. The event is visited by participants from as far as Cape Verde! Its program stretches from traditional song and dance performances to photography exhibitions, arts and crafts workshops and music lessons.
Contemporary circus festival “Cirkuliacija”
“Cirkuliacija” [“Circulation”] is an educational contemporary circus festival that grows bigger since 2015 and attracts new and various audiences with each year. The main goal of the festival is to introduce contemporary circus to more people – its subtle and unique language, and also its educational and social capabilities. In 2020, the event will be held in Vilijampolė microdistrict.
FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament
The FIBA Executive Committee awarded Kaunas the hosting rights of one of the four FIBA Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments. Can’t wait to see our National team compete and hopefully win the ticket to Tokyo 2020 in Žalgirio arena!
Kaunas 2022 International youth summer camp
The daily activities of the international camp will consist of workshops, gatherings, cultural events, brainstorms, physical practices, outdoor explorations, debates and celebrations. Every day, Kaunas 2022 will invite the participants to different locations of Kaunas and Kaunas District and unveil the stories of the city and its surroundings.
Pažaislis Music Festival
What started as a small music festival at the Pažaislis monastery garden in 1995 today is a catchall name for numerous classical music events taking place all over Kaunas and elsewhere in Lithuania for three months each year.
International performing arts festival ConTempo
The festival, initiated by Kaunas 2022 and organized by joined forces of the Kultūros Platforma presents exceptional, bold, provocative and open projects presented by well-known artists from around the world. Its name refers not only to the contemporary program but also to the Kaunas city journey from temporary to contemporary capital.
Kaunas International Carillon Music Festival
The fourth edition of the festival will feature classical, folk and electronic music, performed by well-known Lithuanian carillonneurs and guests from abroad. The citizens of Kaunas and city guests will also have the opportunity to have a look inside the carillon tower: the concerts will be broadcast live on a big screen at the Vytautas the Great War Museum garden.
Every resident of Kaunas and Kaunas district are invited to join the unpredictable event that will take place in yards, balconies, staircases and other areas both public and private. The festival is one of the many steps of Kaunas in becoming a contemporary capital.
FIFA Futsal World Cup 2020
September 12 – October 04
Kaunas, Vilnius and Klaipėda have been confirmed as the Host Cities for the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020™, the first-ever FIFA competition to be hosted in Lithuania. The successors of the current FIFA Futsal World Cup™ champions Argentina will be crowned on 4 October. Our national team is also participating!
September – October
It’s the longest-running annual photo art festival in the Baltic States (since 2004). It’s also the most-attended photographic event in Lithuania, comprising 200-300 participants per program and counting its audience by tens of thousands of visitors. The exhibitions and activities of the festival have outgrown the limits of traditional galleries and spread all over Kaunas.
The third Sugihara Week is exceptional as it will be celebrated during the Sugihara Year, marking the 80th anniversary of Visas for Life, and 120 years since the birth of Chiune Sugihara. The main events planned for Sugihara Week 2020 will be the Opening Concert (Oct 12), Sugihara Symposium, Unveiling of Sugihara Sculpture in Kaunas and Closing Event (Oct 17). Besides, many other events introducing Japanese, Lithuanian and Jewish cultures are planned, such as World Tastes Fiesta, Lithuania-Japan Economic Forum, Sugihara kendo tournament, exhibitions, concerts, workshops, and sports events.
International Dance Festival AURA30
AURA is the only municipal theatre of contemporary dance in Lithuania; its history dates back to 1980. The international dance festival was for the first time organised in 1989 and is now an important tradition that encourages the popularity of contemporary dance and enriches the cultural life of Kaunas and beyond.
Kaunas 2022 Design Festival
The first-ever multidisciplinary design happening will be dedicated to the establishment of Kaunas as the UNESCO City of Design, as well as embracing the title on both local and international levels. The festival should reach its peak in 2022; it’s hoped to continue it after the year of European Capital of Culture is over. The first edition will feature the creation of design ideas reservoir.
Kaunas International Film Festival
The festival aims to enable undiscovered and unknown filmmakers to present their works to the audiences. The programme of the festival includes film screenings, debates, lectures and meetings with filmmakers.
Memory Office, one of the key programs of Kaunas 2022, initiated the event in 2019, aiming to tell the city and reveal its stories. The latter can be sad, happy, well known or completely unheard of. The stories were presented in spoken word, sound, light and visual language; the festival co-organised by dozens of local institutions and initiatives turned out to be a huge success. We can’t wait for the second edition.
International Contemporary Music Festival “Iš arti” [“Up-close”]
The contemporary music festival was born in 1997 out of the desire to promote the work of Kaunas-based composers and encourage relationships between Lithuanian musicians from different regions and grew into a substantial annual showcase of modern music.
Christmas in Kaunas
The patron saint of Kaunas is St. Nicholas; the fact makes Kaunas the unofficial Christmas capital of the Baltics. Each year an original Christmas Tree is set up in the Town Hall Square, and a vibrant market stays open until January 6. December is also full of gift bazaars, concerts and other festive activities all around Kaunas.