True Lithuania

City and Town Local Holidays and Events

Traditional city and town holidays have been celebrated at the time of the day of the patron saint of the local church. These are religious events, however, they also bring in traders who sell traditional long sugar sweets, among other things, and they make a pretext for family reunions.

In larger towns, concerts and other events also take place during these holidays.

Sugar sweets in a local fair in Inturkė, Aukštaitija. Such events, known in Lithuanian as kermošius, typically correlate with locally important Christian feasts. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

In the cities, the 20th century brought in a flavor of secular holidays.

In Vilnius, the traditional religious holiday is the St. Casimir's day (March 4th). What attracts more people to it than the churches is the Kaziukas (diminutive of Casimir) fair, typically held the weekend before. Covering several streets and squares in the Vilnius Old Town the stalls sell people's art, candies and other things, traditional and modern alike. St. Casimir day is so successful that Kaunas now attempts to emulate it.

Klaipėda has the Sea Festival (Jūros šventė), marked by concerts, other events and a procession of Neptune, attract many people to the seaside. First Sea Festival took place in 1934 and it is celebrated the final weekend of July. Many events are related to the sea and the concerts typically take place close to the sea or the Curonian lagoon.

Evening concert, a regular elemnt of the town festivals. Usually, mediocre known-only-in-Lithuania celebrities sing in the smaller towns, while the festivals of the major cities may attract the top talent. In this image Vaidas Baumila (made famous by a Lithuanian talent reality TV show) performs in the Klaipėda Sea Festival. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Resorts such as Palanga or Druskininkai also have many annual events (mostly May to September), taking the whole weekend and aimed to entertain.

Some of the smaller towns that lacked religious festivals have also established similar annual festival weekends after 1990 (usually no more than one per year). While some of them have names, usually these towns holidays are quite similar to each other, with the emphasis on a small business fair, daytime fun, and evening concerts.

Some international initiatives came to Lithuania, including the Museum night (May 19th) when museums are free of charge and open longer. One initiative originated in Vilnius and has since become international: it is the Day of Street Music, held in May, when professionals and amateurs alike are encouraged to go to the streets and play whatever instrument they can, or sing. The level of performances varies greatly, but when you dislike a musician you may always walk some 300 additional meters to the next one. The day of Street Music takes place in the Old Town and New Town of Vilnius.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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