Planning a trip to Kaunas, Lithuania in 2018? Great! We’ve compiled a list of the most kaunastic events so that you can start building your culture itinerary.
Centennial Festival of Lights
To celebrate 100 years of Statehood, 18 buildings in Kaunas designed in the interwar period will be showcased in the most unexpected ways.
The Act of Reinstating Independence of Lithuania was signed by the Council of Lithuania on February 16, 1918, proclaiming the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania. Latvia and Estonia followed later that year. In 2018, the Baltics are celebrating the centennial of independence – expect hundreds of various events in the three countries all year round.
For the first time in history, the German pioneers of electronic music are finally coming to Lithuania. Of course they chose Kaunas and Žalgirio arena for the performance.
Day of Restoration of Independence of Lithuania
82 years younger than its February sister, the Day of Restoration of Independence of Lithuania is equally as important for us to celebrate with joy, pride and hope.
IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B
April 22th – 28th
The story of Lithuanian ice hockey began right there in Kaunas – it’s about time we put ourselves back on the map! Žalgirio arena will be turned into a gigantic skating rink for almost a week full of intense games. Lithuania’s playing, too.
End of April–start of May
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.
Kite Festival “Between Earth and Sky”
(“Tarp žemės ir dangaus”)
End of April–start of May
For almost three decades kite enthusiasts, mostly families (thousands of them!), have been gathering in Nemunas valley in Zapyškis, district of Kaunas, near a charming little church, to colour the sky for one day.
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.
Gallery Weekend Kaunas
Well known all around the world, the tradition for most galleries in town to showcase what they have and know best in the scope of one weekend, arrived in Kaunas in 2016. The event turned out to be a great success, 2017 was an even bigger one, so the galleries are already planning May 2018.
Photo from the archives of Gallery Weekend Kaunas
International Folklore Festival “Atataria Lamzdžiai”
The traditional folk festival is held annually in May since 1984. The program stretches from traditional song and dance performances from different regions in Lithuania and abroad to photography exhibitions, arts and crafts workshops and music lessons.
International Poetry Festival “Pooetry Spring” [“Poezijos pavasaris”]
Last week of May
Since 1965, the last week of spring each year brings a stream of poetry to the cities and towns of Lithuania. More than 50 readings and meetings are held during the week. The festival locations in Kaunas usually include memorial museums and cozy courtyards.
The worldwide event is much-celebrated here in Kaunas; most of city’s numerous museums host special events planned long in advance and, of course, grant free entry till wee hours.
Photo from the archives of M. K. Čiurlionis National Museum of Art
May 18th – 20th
One of the most significant cultural events in Kaunas is the city-wide birthday of Kaunas. The medieval theme and intense program of the annual celebration distinguishes it from the rest of Lithuania. Yes, that’s true – Kaunas is the only Hanseatic city in the country.
Photo from the archives of Kaunas Municipality
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 its suburbs (and beyond!) for three months each year.
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 vast and flat route near two of the biggest Lithuanian rivers and examples of Lithuanian architecture from the Medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Modernist, Soviet era to modern times. In 2018, the event will be back for the 6th time.
Opening of the Centennial Song Festival
A showcase for the region’s tradition of performing folk art, this cultural expression culminates in large-scale festivals in all of the Baltic countries. Thousands of singers and dancers will gather into the Valley of Songs for the Centennial celebrations.
Kaunas Castle Operetta
The region’s sole operetta festival is held annually at the valley of the Kaunas castle.
July 14th – 15th
Held at one of the oldest aerodromes in Europe, the festival will mark the 85th anniversary of the first flight across the Atlantic Ocean by Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas.
Festival “Acacia Boulevard” [“Akacijų alėja”]
The Saturday closest to July 6th
A massive (15k attendees!) sung poetry concert is held every year in Kulautuva, a very green suburb of Kaunas. The genre is very popular in Lithuania and is characterized by a single musician, single instrument, no special effects and thought-inspiring lyrics.
Roger Waters live
Roger Waters’ of Pink Floyd legendary live performances are renowned as immersive sensory experiences featuring high class, state-of- the-art audio visual production and breath-taking quad sound. This new tour promises to be no exception. See you in Žalgirio arena?
Organized for the first time in 2017, the event aims to perpetuate the achievement of Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara. He lived in Kaunas) during 1939-40 and, same as Dutch Consul Jan Zwartendijk, issued the famous “Visas for Life”, thus saving thousands of lives of Jewish refugees.
Kaunas Photo Festival
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.
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 popularity of contemporary dance and enriches cultural life of Kaunas and beyond.
Kaunas In Art
The international contemporary art festival is organised every two years by Meno parkas, one of the most important galleries in Kaunas. The events of the festival, of course, are not limited to the gallery space at the Town Hall Square; in fact, the festival occupies the whole city.
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 solid annual showcase of modern music.
The festival aims to enable undiscovered and unknown filmmakers from all around the world to present their works to the audiences. The program of the festival includes film screenings, debates, lectures and meetings with filmmakers.
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 all through December.