In summer the spotlight of all Lithuanian life moves to the Seaside. Klaipėda, Palanga, and the Curonian spit become the stages for many major events, celebrations and gigs.
Many summer weekends have a weekend-long annual celebration going on somewhere in the Seaside, with tens of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) inland dwellers attending and participating. Many events are sea-related (dedicated to shipping, fishing) but there are also modern musical festivals. Seeking to become a year-round resort Palanga has successfully established some festival weekends outside season.
A drawback is that many of these annual events lack a specified date meaning that every year they move in time a little. There are approximate dates however and you may Google up the exact weekend the year you visit. Moreover, pre-booking a hotel may be essential in some celebration weekends.
List of annual celebrations and events
These are just the more famous events. Additionally, every resort has a "Season opening" (May) and a "Season closure" (September) weekend. There are also many non-annual fests at the main venues or right on the beach. Among the more interesting venues is the Klaipėda Musical Ferry that offers concerts while sailing in the Lagoon.
|Palanga smelt holiday||Mid-February weekend||Palanga||Entire Basanavičiaus high street is turned into a large open-air restaurant for smelts in this culinary/fishing holiday. If you prefer catching a smelt yourself, you may do so at the Sea Bridge where there are angling contests. Or you may swim in the cold sea yourself with a group of “health fanatics”.|
|Ship parade and regatta||Third Saturday of May||Klaipėda||The start of summer is marked by a parade of ships in the Curonian Lagoon and a massive firework. A regatta takes place the same day.|
|Benai, plaukiam į Nidą||Final weekend of May||Nida (Curonian Spit)||The oldest summertime seaside musical festival in Lithuania (est. 1994) offers open-air concerts of different musical styles.|
|Lagoon region fisherman’s holiday (Pamario krašto žvejo šventė)||Mid-July weekend||Juodkrantė (Curonian Spit)||Fishermen from all over the lagoon meet up in Juodkrantė showing off their livelihood/art to thousands of tourists and letting them taste traditional fish recipes. Now they may be a minority but before the 20th century, everybody in Juodkrantė used fishing for subsistence.|
|Thomas Mann festival||Third week of July||Nida (Curonian Spit)||The Curonian Spit was ruled by Germany prior to World War 1 and even after becoming Lithuanian it used to be favored by German artists and writers. Thomas Mann spent a couple of summers there and the art festival named after him includes concerts and fairs held all over Nida.|
|1000 km race||Late July weekend||Palanga||Lithuania’s prime road race attracts many international teams. There are few limitations: old stock cars, Lamborghinis, buggies, and formulas all drive the same circuit. Trackside events include concerts a line-up of racecars in central Palanga prior to the race. The circuit is established by secluding a part of a highway.|
|Nida Jazz marathon||Final weekend of July||Nida (Curonian Spit)||A festival that brings international jazz to atmospheric spaces of Nida (old Lutheran church to a pier).|
|Sea Festival||Late July-Early August (one weekend)||Klaipėda||The main festival of Klaipėda with its roots in 1934 when it was started to promote Lithuania as a naval country. Currently, it attracts hundreds of thousand people from all over Lithuania. There are concerts, parades, fireworks and other events typically located near the sea or the lagoon, while some key ceremonies are directly related to the sea.|
|Palanga Table (Palangos stalas)||Late September weekend||Palanga||A long table spans across Basanavičiaus street full of various meals. A great emphasis is put on healthy foods in this culinary festival.|
|Autumn equinox||September 20th-22nd||Juodkrantė (Curonian Spit)||In this ceremony hay sculptures (crafted by artists that Spring) are set on fire in Juodkrantė Bay, symbolizing the defeat of Pagan gods.|